Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
Ever since the invention of the wheel and the smoke signal, technology has attempted to make labour less strenuous and communications faster. Today, those efforts have resulted in automated chatbots that can fool people into thinking they are chatting with a live human, and the autonomous robot seems like it will be announced any day now. Luckily, estate agency is still a people business, but there are ways to use technology to gain an edge that you may not have realised. Let’s take a look at a few unexpected uses for ubiquitous tech, starting with the behemoth that seemingly no one can avoid, Facebook.
Facebook, it seems, has realised that as many as 450 million people use their app to buy and sell various items, similar to Etsy and eBay. To mark their foray into this lucrative territory, they recently introduced Facebook Marketplace, which allows users of the app to search for, buy, and sell items like bikes, televisions, etc. This makes sense, as the app knows where you are in the world thanks to geolocation data it receives from your phone. It can limit its search to a specified range, meaning that you won’t be inundated with information you don’t need.
This makes its addition of a “Housing” category all the more relevant. Now, property listings, including links, photos, or any relevant information can be added to the Facebook repository, making it an attractive new portal that people can use via an app they already have. Facebook actually re-organised their app to put greater emphasis on the Marketplace, leading many industry insiders to believe that they have big plans for this feature. Since such an integrated search portal could speed communication between agents and prospective clients, it might be worthwhile to start getting familiar with this new marketplace.
This isn’t the only way to use Facebook to find potential customers. “Real Estate Farming” is the term used to describe how agents use various Facebook tools to attract new customers. This article can provide a few more details, and a quick Google search of the term can also yield multiple results, but the main takeaway is that in order to make it work, you need time. It may take a few months, but eventually you should see your pool expanding without having to spend advertising money, making it a convenient solution for agencies of any size.
These examples of how to use Facebook to grow your business may be only mildly attractive at the moment, but when you take a step back and view the entire picture, it quickly becomes clear that Facebook could possibly be the future of estate agency portals. Getting ahead of the curve now could mean that your agency is in a prime location to attract new customers when these new technologies become mainstream.
We’ve mentioned the Matterport camera in previous posts, but as a quick reminder, it is an easy-to-use camera that can instantly create a 3D model of a home’s interior that can then be used as a virtual walkthrough. Facebook is heavily invested in virtual reality having bought the Oculus Rift. It makes sense that they would want to pursue these kinds of innovations in conjunction with their already growing Marketplace.
It’s not difficult to imagine a future where Facebook’s property portal could provide fully immersive virtual reality tours of homes for sale right from their own app. Even if the user doesn’t own a VR headset, these tours can already be run on current smartphones without a headset, making them even more accessible.
Another example of an underutilised avenue for attracting clients is YouTube. A simple video tour of a home can convey its sense of space in a way that static pictures cannot match. As new homebuyers enter the market, they will expect at least this level of interactivity, having grown up in a world where videos are literally everywhere.
Already, special YouTube videos can be configured to work with VR headsets and smart phones to provide 360° views, and it won’t be long before buyers will want to see such images and sellers will definitely want to provide them. Imagine being able to walk through a home with a special camera and then posting a fully immersive video to YouTube before you even leave the property. This is a fast approaching reality.
Automation and streamlined workflows are at the heart of the Dezrez philosophy. The less time you spend on repetitive tasks, the more time you have to spend on attracting new customers as well as provide excellent service to the clients you already have. Twitter, in conjunction with a few other apps, can also help in this regard by automating searches based on criteria that you define.
Services like IFTT (pronounced “if it”) and Zapier allow you to run constant searches on Twitter and alert you when someone tweets keywords that you have given it. For example, if someone tweeted “So excited about moving to Leeds!” or “Starting our house hunt tomorrow in Leeds!” you could be notified, and the process is not as complicated as it may seem.
To get started, you simply decide which keywords or phrases you want to search for. As an example, if you were an agent in Leeds, you could enter something like the following in your Twitter search criteria: “moving to” OR “house hunting” OR “house hunt” OR “property” AND “Leeds”. Zapier or IFTT would then alert you anytime someone tweeted any of those phrases along with the word “Leeds”, which is what the ‘AND’ denotes. The app can then email you an alert, or add their twitter handle to a Google Spreadsheet automatically, allowing you to follow up with a Twitter cold call. You could then simply tweet at the user something like “Hi (their name)! I’m an estate agent in Leeds and would love to help you find the home of your dreams!”
Another way to use Twitter to stay engaged with your community is to keep yourself informed on local hash tags and follow them. If there’s a popular #leedslife hash tag, then an agent in Leeds would want to stay updated on it as it would give them a good idea of what’s at the front of their community’s mind. Reacting to any specifically property related tweets would be a good way to establish yourself as the local property expert.
If all of this technobabble sounds confusing and irritating, take heart. Blogging is used by most major companies to keep themselves at the top of search results and broaden their base. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind if you want to start such a blog.
First and foremost, your blog will only be interesting to other people if it helps them in some way. This is a tenet of the Inbound Marketing Strategy, which goes like this: Help. Help. Help. Sell.
What do you know that can help people who are thinking about buying or selling their home? “Five Tips to Boost the Curb Appeal of Your Home” would be a good one. “Thinking of moving house? Here are Three Things to Consider.” If you cast yourself as the friendly, helpful agent, you will see your customer base expand as people look for someone they can trust to help guide them through the process.
Virtual reality tours? 360° Videos? That stuff is years away, right? How can Rezi help agents with things that aren’t even real yet? Well, one of the more powerful aspects of Rezi is its ability to integrate with third party apps via their own software, creating a central hub that you can manage from a single place. It may be true that few people are making VR videos now, but it will quickly become the standard. And when that happens, Rezi will be able to integrate it into your existing system, helping future proof your business. No matter what new technology comes along, Rezi is designed to help you get the most out of it by helping your business adapt seamlessly and manage your tech from a central location.
In this way, Rezi acts as a kind of command center, giving you unparalleled visibility into what’s happening with your business at any given time. And with its own focus on streamlining and automation, you will be able to listen to, react, and communicate with future customers in the ways most comfortable to them, help you grow your business in less time.
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