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I was recently lecturing in Fiji for TRET – to Australian Estate Agents about the future of Real Estate marketing.  I live in London, but whatever your nation, many issues are the same when it comes to selling property.

Blank Sheet Challenge

If we were starting with a blank sheet today – how would we create a market for residential property?  And if the answer is very different, how do you shape up your own business to fit the future?

Estate Agent models are often 100 years out of date

Many Estate Agents are still using a model that dates back over 100 years: customer walks through the door or phones asking for a visit.  Details are written up and sent out, visits booked, negotiations made, deal struck, small fortune charged.

You can lose 80% of property sales in 20 seconds

Any website that takes more than 20 seconds to load is likely to lose at least 80% of business. We live in an impatient age – yet are only in the first days of the digital revolution.  What about tomorrow?  80% lost in 20 seconds?  How long does it take you to answer the phone?  Why are you still expecting people to get in the car and visit your office?  Why should people wait for someone in your office to pull details from a filing cabinet or a printer?

One in six Estate Agent jobs lost last year – why?

10,000 out of 60,000 Estate Agent staff in Australia lost their jobs in the last 12 months alone – a period of relative price stability, no crash, no massive property crisis.

So how many will lose their jobs in the next 5 years?  What is happening?  How many people do we really need to provide a great service across Australia?  How much can be (and will be) completely automated in the next wave of mobile, digital innovation?

Online property revolution has only just begun

My wife and I recently put our own home on the market to test the waters, just to see what the opportunities were, and were looking around at the same time. We soon realized it was a complete waste of time to talk to estate agents – at least during the initial search phase:

1)    We were happy to look at a wide area so which office do we contact?
2)    We found in seconds we were able to scan over a million properties online
3)    We found instant access to recent sales prices for every area
4)    We could view detailed satellite images (Google)
5)    We could walk around the neighborhood (Google Streetview)
6)    We could listen to community chat (bulletin boards, Facebook, Twitter)
7)    We could see detailed floor plans, photos and videos

Floorplans are vital to future sales

Incidentally, it is shocking how few Estate Agents do detailed floor plans as they are the single most important way to describe a property, and instantly reveal not only size but also layout, far more powerfully than photos.

Simple video is worth a million words

It is also shocking how few are using video – not glossy, commercial style, but the kind of video that I would make for a member of my family if I was having a quick wander around.  And make sure you talk us through what you are seeing as you walk around.  You can use an iphone or similar - don't need to be too sophisticated about it.  Remember we buyers want to see what a property is REALLY like and the aim of the video is to do just that.

A single picture is worth 1000 words, a floorplan must be worth more than 10,000 words and a three minute video clip uploaded in seconds for free on YouTube must be worth at least a million.   It takes only a couple of keystrokes more to embed the video so it looks as natural on the property web page as if coming from your own servers.

Move from Web to Mobile

In some communities over half of all Google searches are now on mobiles and every real estate company needs to think mobile.

So why do I still need to use an estate agent?

Property is the largest purchase that most people make in their lives, so they want reassurance they are getting it right.  They also need help in the negotiating process.

BUY NOW buttons

Or do they?  Can we imagine a world with a BUY NOW button on a national website, or a BID NOW button?

People selling property would deal with email enquiries or phone calls from people who want to come and see.  Once they have done so, there is no reason why a simple bidding process cannot be carried out virtually.  There would be no obligation on the seller to accept the highest bid, so the bidding process could include an opportunity for the buyer to sell their own credentials as a suitable person to contract with.

Perhaps this will be a step too far for many, but it makes us think.

In Scotland, UK there is a sealed bids buying process which is well accepted, and once the winning bid is opened, there is an obligation to follow through, with sales completed within 6 weeks or so.

Aim to be the best local expert, mentor and guide

I am sure that we will continue to see an important role for local property experts as mentors and guides for people through the difficult process of buying and selling.

We will also see Estate Agents continue to diversify into other areas such as property management on behalf of landlords.

Expect price pressure on charges for basic things such as promoting a property – with much done online, and rapid fall in newspaper or magazine advertising except at the top end.

Its all about service and personal recommendation – well at least the case in most other industries, but sadly in this one, the person you are building a relationship with may well be relocating next time around, so we need to cultivate virtual networks, social media and so on, to ensure your light shines just when it needs to.

Great estate agents can become long term family friends, confidants, investment advisors, and business partners.

Take hold of your future – or the future will take hold of you.

Future of Real Estate Agents - Future of real estate marketing: online and face to face sales.  Impact of social media on real estate marketing.  Slides of keynote presentation for TRET Australia.

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Thanks for promoting with Facebook LIKE or Tweet. Really interested to read your views. Post below.

January 01, 2015 - 23:50

I totally can't wait for this to happen but I don't know if ill take advantage of this.

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