With real estate sales slowly picking up post the pandemic, agents are back to dealing with busy schedules—organizing open houses and chasing prospective buyers. But there is one part of real estate that hasn't changed. Just how are realtors expected to stay on top of all of the moving parts of a sale?
Well, the answer is doing what we do in other parts of our lives—use technology to make it easier. In this case, real estate technology.
For realtors, picking the right technology means that your clients have a better buying journey: faster responses, personalized communications, and automated property-viewing schedules. But it also helps brokers bring in more ‘interested’ leads who are further down their buying/selling journey, which ultimately leads to deals closing faster.
While several realtors now leverage the latest real estate technology to get an edge over their competitors, some brokerages are still reluctant to use tools like real estate CRMs because they're unsure about which one is right for them. Ready? Let's get selling 🏡
To stay competitive, real estate agents need to stay on top of any changes that could affect the market, from movements in society and the economy to technology improvements. For 2021, here are three top trends realtors should watch out for (and how real estate technology can help).
Millennials are looking to swap their rental leases with their first home or rental property. According to the National Association of Realtors, they are now the fastest-growing buyer segment in US real estate. But realtors need to remember that targeting millennials will require different tactics than marketing to Generation X or Baby Boomer buyers. How?
In the past, buyers would approach realtors at the start of their house-hunting journey—but this has changed. Millennials now use the internet to do their own research about not just properties (44% of buyers now use the internet as the starting point of their property search) but also the processes involved and legal obligations of buying and selling.
Online mortgages have also become common, with fintechs and NBFCs stepping in to provide easy home financing and credit on demand while pushing traditional bank loans away. Millennials are also turning to tech to communicate with realtors more transparently, opting for SMS or emails as the first step instead of calls or face-to-face meetings.
What does this mean for realtors?
Realtors need to adapt and think about ways to connect with buyers on channels they prefer
Agents should have a chronological view of past engagements that empowers them to tailor conversations based on search terms used or properties viewed to build trust with millennials
Real estate marketplaces are disrupting the industry with their low-cost ownership model.
Think about it: a decade ago, Airbnb was only just getting seed funding, and WeWork was still a startup co-working space. Now, they are just two of the many real estate businesses that have shifted the dynamics and forced agents to rethink their involvement in the sharing economy model.
But, just what is the sharing economy model? In the context of commercial real estate space, think about what the average search for an office involves. Businesses need to find a property they like. Calculate whether it's within their budget and if it's the right size. Schedule a viewing, finalise a property. And then comes the legal paperwork.
In today’s sharing economy model, a marketplace solves these challenges and makes searching for property convenient for buyers—and sellers. By connecting realtors, agents and property managers with their prospects using multichannel platforms, finding the right property is now easier and faster.
For example, there's a lot of potential for sharing or renting short-term office space, and marketplaces make it easier to search for the perfect space. Think about how enticing that would be to a startup—instead of having to work out of an apartment to get their business off the ground, the owners could instead search for unused office space without having to commit to an expensive lease. And people building office spaces or rental apartments now have the option to rent them out for a short term through centralized marketplaces.
Not only is this a huge step toward easy, efficient, risk-free subleasing for small businesses, commercial real estate owners, and startups, but it also provides opportunities for the realtors, too. Thanks to customer-engagement technology, agents can use integrated tools like real estate ERP and CRM to free up a significant amount of time they would usually spend on one-way leases and to grow their revenue with short-term deals.
What does this mean for realtors?
Real estate technology can help connect each touchpoint of the buyer's entire experience and give them the tools to match their home search with the right property and locality with all information in one place.
Sharing marketplaces are opening up more short-term opportunities for realtors, but the competition is fierce. Agents need to engage with prospects early on and have automated processes in place to deal with multiple leases simultaneously to support quick turnarounds.
Another trend real estate companies need to keep an eye on is the role tech—especially newer tools like Artificial Intelligence (AI)—is playing in property search. Real estate marketplaces like Zillow, Compass, and LoanSnap are now using AI to help buyers find their dream homes.
Algorithms now recommend properties based on a buyer's preferences like reviews of local schools, information about the local transportation system, and even parking space availability. But AI is useful for agents, too.
Thanks to AI, it's possible to create accurate sales forecasts to predict revenues coming in through trackable payment milestones inside a CRM. AI can even piece together information about a city or suburb to predict when homes will likely come onto the market so agents can approach homeowners about selling. Realtors can then use the insights within a CRM to price the home based on recent sales data that can be pulled in seconds.
An example of a lead that Freshsales has labeled as ‘hot’ so an agent can follow up promptly
What does this mean for realtors?
Agents can now automate parts of the early sales process, like lead generation and qualification. Because AI-based algorithms point out ‘hot’ leads (a person who is ready to buy), agents can prioritize them and close more deals.
AI can spot when a deal is in trouble and alert the agent in charge of the sale. The agent then has time to get ahead of at-risk deals and course-correct so they don't lose them.
With all of these trends, it's clear to any brokerage that to stay competitive, a tech investment is needed. The only way to give prospects the experience they want—like quick responses, personalized outreach, and communicating on their preferred channel—is with a customer engagement tool.
And that's where a real estate customer relationship management (CRM) tool comes into play. It can store prospect information, track deal progress, and highlight viable leads to agents. For your agency, it all ends with one thing—more closed deals.
But, how should you pick a CRM? We're glad you asked.
Realtors have to deal with a wide variety of challenges—and we're not just talking about competition. Agents face fluctuating marketplaces, changing consumer expectations, and complex transactions every day while dealing with prospects who have their specific home needs.
That's where a real estate CRM comes in. For your agents, it's where they can manage their contacts and automate some of their daily tasks to be more productive and help your agency reach its revenue goals. Here's how to pick the right CRM for your real estate business 👇
A brokerage firm's first step should be searching for a CRM that'll best serve their company’s growth needs and one that is going to be adopted well by agents. This often means defining a shortlist criteria that looks beyond the number of features on offer. Start by answering a few questions:
What are your lead generation sources?
What are the most inefficient sales processes that slow down your deal closure?
How are you going to get your end-users to adapt to the new system?
What core systems do you plan to integrate with the CRM?
Answering each of these questions will point you toward the tool that’s right for your agency.
Gathering and analyzing data inside a CRM can keep agents in the loop and give details about:
What properties and prospects to focus on each day
When to check in with leads using real-time push notifications, automated mailers
Where prospects are at in their sales journey (e.g., last time they made contact)
Open house attendances and post-event follow-up engagement
For agents, tracking specific KPIs is more important when the goal is fast revenue growth and higher commission. Other metrics real estate agencies should be tracking include:
This metric measures how effectively an agent is utilizing their time when working on multiple listings. It compares the number of listings an agent has acquired against the number of meetings booked.
Why it's useful: To motivate agents to increase meetings with prospects and improve their sales pitch.
How to calculate it: Total number of listings ➗total number of booked meetings
Tracking DOM measures how long it takes for a home to sell after it has been put on the market. This metric helps agents get a feel for whether it's a buyer's or seller's market. For example, a low DOM indicates the market is favoring sellers, while a high DOM signals a weaker market that seeks out more buyers.
Why it's useful: It helps realtors spot properties that are sitting for longer on the market so they can approach the seller and negotiate better deals for clients.
How to calculate it: Simply check when the home first went on the market based on data stored in your CRM.
This gives agencies a realistic idea of how well their properties are performing during specific time periods.
Why it's useful: It's an accurate indicator of the rate of overall revenue growth
Pro-tip: Get a better idea of how fast your agency is growing by comparing specific time periods. For example, comparing listings closed from June 2020 to June 2021 could indicate how well the market in your area is recovering from the pandemic.
This tracks market selling conditions in certain suburbs and regions. It calculates sales in a geographical location and if there are enough properties to meet buyer demand.
Why it's useful: It can also help agents tap into hot spots and up-and-coming areas based on buyer appetite, local market demand, and rising selling prices.
How to calculate it: Total number of properties sold ➗total number of properties listed
This real estate metric measures whether your agents' output into each deal (e.g., their time) is less than the revenue earned. For example, if agents are spending lots of time closing lower- priced properties, their commissions (and your overall revenue) will be lower.
Why it's useful: Helps agents spot high-value opportunities to spend their time/effort closing
How to calculate it: Total commission Value ➗Total number of sales
Now that we know what all of these metrics mean, it's important to see how they'll help grow revenue. Some metrics, like Listings to Meeting Ratios and Listings Closed, are vital in giving you an accurate idea of just how much money your agents are bringing in.
There's another reason why CRMs are so useful when it comes to metrics: they can create visual dashboards to analyze forecasts. Think about what it would mean to your agency if you could interpret these in real-time to make strategic decisions.
The first step is thinking about how you can unload manual tasks that fill your real estate agent's day, like calling leads to schedule appointments and viewings. Think about automating introductory text messages, scheduling open house viewings/site visits, and sending follow-up emails.
Your deals may involve different departments depending on how big your agency is.
With a real estate CRM, it's possible to create separate pipelines (like one for different kinds of projects, one for marketing to track on lead progress, and one for critical, large-value deals) to make sure there isn't any friction when moving between departments or within sales teams. And as these pipelines show status updates in real-time, it's easy to monitor leads and see if they are on track to close.
To meet the expectations of buyers, sellers, and renters, realtors need to get all the moving pieces of a sale under one roof. But realtors also need to make prospects feel like their interest is the main priority, which makes staying on top of every deal difficult.
Using a real estate CRM, agents can keep tabs on property viewings, follow up on leads from open houses, and even track verification of legal documents and sale agreements while they are progressing. Here's how a realtor can track a lead in Freshsales:
Once a buyer has shown interest in a property, every action is tracked inside a CRM—from past conversations to upcoming appointments and next steps. Thanks to a unified approach, agents can also access key contract information, and manage individual payment milestones and follow-ups, so every interaction is personalized to the prospect.
Don't forget to keep on top of analytics and insights to get the most out of your agents.
Because all data points are plugged into your CRM, you can instantly see what source, agent, or territory brings in the most revenue and change your selling strategies accordingly. All of this data can be pulled up easily with dashboards to give you real-time updates on:
Open House Lead follow-ups
Open Contracts without a proper close plan
And if this is your first time using a real estate CRM (or you're just stuck for time), the right tool will have ready-to-use report templates with a simple drag-and-drop interface to make it quick and easy to plan your territory.
An example of reporting analytics inside Freshsales, where dashboards are tracking revenue forecasts, sales velocity, and conversion rates.
Following these steps helps you choose the right real estate CRM for revenue growth because your brokerage will be able to:
Identify the pain points in your sales processes and decide what your CRM implementation will look like
Choose what metrics your brokerage and agents will be measured against
Understand what processes can be automated to ensure better communication with prospects as well as internally with sales reps
Combining these three elements can supercharge your growth strategy: smoother processes, better data, and happier customers is a recipe for a successful brokerage to scale.
If you're worried about your real estate agency getting left behind—it's time to start thinking about investing in real estate technology.
Just think about how the real estate industry looks now and what its future holds. Buyers and sellers now have marketplaces and online resources to help educate themselves and find properties that fit their needs. Without investing in real estate technology and advanced tools such as AI to help meet changing expectations from buyers and sellers, brokerages risk falling behind.
So, the only question left to ask is—what real estate CRM will you choose?
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