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Developments including AI are an opportunity rather than a threat to real estate agents

The saying “data is the new oil” has been cropping up with increasing frequency as industries explore the many applications of this 21st-century commodity. 

And while the real estate industry might be a step or two behind the curve when it comes to leveraging the power of data to enhance its services, a few forward-thinking businesses have been championing the movement.

“The discussion around technology within the real estate industry, to date, has been largely centred on disruption and replacing traditional estate agents with virtual services,” says Schalk van der Merwe, franchisee of the Rawson Properties Helderberg Group.

“This has ruffled quite a few feathers in the industry but the unfortunate side effect is that a lot of agents have been so caught up in the drama that they’ve missed the opportunities data and technology bring.”

The fact that technology can streamline much of the transactional side of real estate is a “big win” for traditional estate agents. So many have been focused on the transactional side of their responsibilities that Van der Merwe says consumers have lost sight of the value they deliver in return for their commission. 

“That’s the real reason low-cost, digital real estate platforms have taken off. Not because the value of using a real, live, experienced agent isn’t there, but because that value isn’t being communicated in a way that’s visible, efficient or relevant to today’s property owner. 

By embracing technology, leveraging big data and using artificial intelligence (AI) to assist with daily tasks, Van der Merwe believes realtors can rectify that oversight and demonstrate how valuable their services can be.

“The actual real estate transaction is only a tiny part of most consumers’ property journeys. The difficult part comes before and after – finding the right property, and doing the right things with it. There’s plenty of information on this available to consumers, but interpreting that information in context with specific goals and circumstances is not easy.

“That’s where the support, advice and hands-on experience of a tech-enabled agent can revolutionise the customer experience.” Leveraging technology in real estate isn’t just about freeing agents to concentrate on customer service, however. Data itself can play a big role in enhancing the customer experience. 

AI, in particular, is bringing some “very exciting” capabilities to the table. “Among other things, we can now profile customers more accurately to increase the relevance of our property recommendations, and maintain long-term relationships that deliver value to our clients long before and after the conclusion of a sale.”

He adds:“Leveraging data and AI has enabled us to deliver a more comprehensive and insightful service to our clients without needing any additional time investment from their side.”

If real estate agents can leverage data and technology to unlock a better customer experience, it “could be the new take on an ageold industry that we’ve all been waiting for”.


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