Technology is supposed to make everything easier, and yet it is often the source of so many problems. While you can’t do your job without relying on real estate technology to some degree, you do have to be extra careful when you use it. Convenience often comes with a price, as these examples will attest. Here are six ways technology can hurt—or even ruin—your real estate business.
1. Clients demand instant gratification because of real estate technology
Everything moves at lightning speed these days, and technology has made us all hungry for instant gratification. Potential clients can find properties and then reach out to you literally with the push of a button. If you don’t respond quickly enough for their tastes, they’ll move on to the next agent quickly.
Takeway: If you aren’t prepared to respond to all the new client inquiries, incoming showing requests, and current client communication, your real estate business will be in serious trouble.
2. Bad photos can hurt your real estate business
Photos really are worth a thousand words (or more). With so many online real estate portals beckoning potential clients, pictures are everything. “The days of ‘adequate’ photos are totally gone,” says Gretchen Koitz, principal of The Koitz Group, a firm that specializes in luxury properties in Maryland. “It is imperative that agents turn to professionals so that properties are shown at their very best. That can often mean hiring decorators and stagers as well. As potential buyers search for properties, they are making quick decisions, and it is essential that those first impressions are good ones,” she adds.
Takeway: If you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer for each house you sell, it may be time to invest in a quality camera and some photography lessons. Today’s buyer expects to browse through many well-done photos before deciding which house to view.
3. Your online reputation lasts forever (or at least a really long time)
No doubt social media and online marketing are critical to your real estate success in today’s digital-crazed world. Still, when your life is an open book online, the story you tell can hurt your real estate business.
Ellen Cagnassola, owner of Sweet Soaps Media LLC, works with multiple real estate clients. “When I’m consulting, I emphasize thinking twice when posting on any social media,” she says.
“You can delete a post but your words stick around in Google long afterward. Even liking inappropriate photos and statements by others can reflect negatively on you,” she adds.
Beyond that, people can bad-mouth you and your real estate business online with negative comments or bad reviews. That can be just enough to keep people from contacting you.
Takeaway: Be very careful about your social media activity, and ensure that anything you post, share, or even like is content you’d be fine sharing with potential clients. Better yet, only share content that will add value to your real estate business.
Additionally, make sure that you aren’t ignoring or deleting negative comments. Always address even the worst comments with a positive attitude and with the goal of improving the situation. You may not change the complainer’s mind, but at least the other people “watching” will see that you tried to rectify the situation.
4. Over-reliance often leads to big problems
Many real estate agents are using programs and applications that quicken the process. For example, agents commonly use electronic signatures for convenience and to speed up closings. However, says Maryjo Shockley, of The Shockley Team of Keller Williams Realty in Wellington/West Palm Beach, Florida, if you’re not careful, the convenience of it can really come back to bite you.
“I have seen where agents will complete a document/contract in the system and collect signatures, but then when they change something, they erase information. For example, an agent added ‘$2,000 of buyer closing costs will be paid by seller’ in the initial document, and then something else was negotiated and new signatures/initials were needed somewhere else on the document. She did not realize that her original document was not saved when the new changes were made, and the closing costs were no longer in the contract. That was a HUGE ISSUE at closing.”
Takeway: Don’t rely on technology too much. If you want your real estate business to run smoothly, you still need to be diligent and check everything multiple times.
5. Easy usually comes with a catch
Setting up automatic listings is a really easy way for you to share properties with your real estate clients. Clients, too, will often set up their own automatic listings to make sure that they don’t miss properties. However, the more properties that they are aware of, the more they want to view. And that can be problematic for your real estate business.
“We once had a client who had us schedule at least 20 to 30 showings before finally deciding on the ‘right house.’ We were officially under contract, yet our buyer kept sending us emails to schedule more showings on different listings. We finally realized we hadn’t removed him from the automated property updates. The buyer was continuing to get new listings and just wanted to compare them to what he already had under contract,” says Jeff Knox, owner of Knox & Associates Real Estate.
Takeway: With great convenience comes great responsibility. Expect more clients, more showings, more questions—and be prepared to manage it all.
6. Zillow and other sites can really complicate matters
Websites such as Zillow and Trulia have continued to grow in popularity in recent years. You can bet many—if not most—of your clients are checking those websites out before and during the time they work with you.
The problem is that much of the information on these sites is outdated or inaccurate. “I think everyone has a Zillow story. I got a call recently from someone who was very upset that she didn’t see a home for sale on any site but Zillow. Unfortunately, and you know the punch line on this one: The home was sold…two years ago!,” says Joshua Jarvis, owner of Jarvis Team Realty in Buford, Georgia.
Takeaway: Familiarize yourself with Zillow and other sites, because that is what customers will likely be using. However, be prepared to address misleading information that could get clients’ hopes up.
As with everything in life, using technology for your real estate business comes with its pros and cons. The key is to use it to improve how you work—not let it do the work for you.