At PropTech Solutions Group of Companies (GryphTech and Phoenix Software), we provide international technology solutions to franchises and real estate companies in over 60 countries and in over 40 languages. As the CEO, I have been asked a number of questions as to how this worldwide challenge, has and will, change our industry in terms of the technology we use and how we conduct business.
While all of us have been forced to change our lives in dramatic ways to deal with the realities of the pandemic, in the real estate industry, we have also been forced to adapt and adopt new ways of doing business that may in fact change things for the better in the long run. In that light, here are some of the most frequent questions I hear on this topic and my thoughts in response:
1. What is the most significant change in how your clients use the technology you provide during the pandemic?
This is an easy question to answer. The most significant change we have seen is simply an increased use of technology, and in particular, those tools that allow an agent to communicate with clients and prospective clients. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. With face-to-face contact largely eliminated or greatly reduced, especially in the early stages of the pandemic, our clients could use our various technology tools to maintain contact with their clients in a safe manner and ensure not only continuity of business, but in most cases, continued growth.
2. Your company provides a full suite of real estate technology products, from company management, to listing tools, to more advanced tools such as prospecting, marketing, collaborations and managing transactions. Are there specific functional areas being used more or less as a result of the pandemic?
Yes, definitely. As you might guess, technology that allows agents to share information about a property without actually going there in person is used very heavily. Although these tool are the most heavily used tools at anytime, they have certainly seen increased use during this challenging time of social distancing. In addition, newer technology such as our Virtual Showings and Virtual Open House tools, became in greater demand. With use of these tools, agents were able to continue to provide outstanding exposure to their listings while keeping everyone safe.
3. Do you anticipate that these changes caused by necessity, during the pandemic, will have any lasting impact on our industry?
I do! One of the things that all technology creators know for certain, is that most users of any technology use only a portion of the available features in their day-to-day business. As we create new, cool and very valuable tools, we constantly strive to bring awareness to their value for driving business growth and encouraging adoption. As creatures of habit, not all real estate agents love to embrace and learn new technology. Most real estate agents love to be with people, often being one of the main reasons they were attracted to the business to begin with. They love the interaction, helping people face-to-face, and being out of the office building their business. So, to get these “people persons” to sit down and really learn new technology, even when it is definitely good for their business, is a challenge for any company in our industry. However, in our experience, those tech-enabled agents who do embrace technology tend to realize the significant benefits of doing so much more rapidly.
The necessary changes one needed to make to their usual business practices as a result of the pandemic compelled many agents to look for, and learn, new ways to reach their clients. This is one of the positive aspects I mentioned earlier, that can come out of a crisis event. If things had just continued on as usual, people being creatures of habit would, for the most part, just use the tools they know. Very few of them would take the time to learn new technology and experience their very real benefits. When the survival of their business is threatened, this all changes!
Many agents have become more adept at using our extensive online marketing tools, our virtual open houses and other virtual tech to offset the restrictions we are all faced with. The good news is, once learned, I believe they will continue to use these tools long after the pandemic is under control, because they offer great value not just for them but for their clients and consumers. We have become very used to researching and buying things online in all aspects of our lives and this “forced education” has made it clear that we can do a lot of things in real estate this way as well. It is actually becoming more and more common for properties to be listed and sold, in some cases, with the buying party never seeing the property in person prior to the sale. Is this the norm, no, it isn’t. It does happen though and what is the norm is that a lot more of the initial research, communication and even contract work can all be done online now, so I believe the experiences we have been forced into by the pandemic will continue well beyond our current health crisis.