Looking to stay ahead of the competition and the latest technology? Check out these three innovations that’ll help you impress sellers, generate leads and build a name for yourself as an agent who is one step ahead of the rest.
1. Virtual and Augmented Reality
First, a quick primer on the difference between virtual vs. augmented reality. Virtual reality (VR) is all about putting a client in a space that makes them feel like they’re there when they really aren’t. Companies like Matterport build realistic and interactive 3D tours and VR experiences so it feels like you’re really in a house or in a building, which is ideal for construction projects or listings that are far away from buyers.
Augmented reality (AR) actually takes the space you’re in and superimposes different imagery onto what you’re seeing. Bernice Ross, a real estate coach and trainer explains that this is becoming popular in the UK. “They are using this now for regular listings where you can go in and you can actually decorate the house right there online and order the furniture using augmented reality,” Bernice tells us.
AR is also popping up in the US as a way to bypass home staging and let potential buyers see their style reflected as they tour the home.
So how on earth do you wade into the world of VR and AR? “Maybe talk to your managing broker at the office or your broker,” suggests Brian Hopper, a broker with Sotheby’s International Realty in Kirkland, Washington. “Some offices are even doing a VR room. … where they have a specific room or a portion of their office set aside to where a client could come in and put on the goggles, and there’s preloaded VR tours and they can actually walk through some properties.”
Beyond the world of AR, chatbots put agents into the world of artificial intelligence (AI). For those moments when people are browsing your listing at 2 a.m. and you’re (hopefully) asleep, chatbots can converse with prospective clients 24/7 and “let you convert leads when you’re not there to convert them,” Bernice says.
There’s different tech out there — such as Automabots, Structurely, and roof.ai — that power these smart conversations. So when someone lands on your website, a bot greets them in a chat window and invites them to ask questions so they can help.
“So you type, ‘I’d like to know the price on 123 Main Street.’ So [the bot] pulls up that, and also will send you the property information and videos and other things depending on how you have that set up,” Bernice says. “And then it will continue the conversation with you and ask, ‘Would you like to set up an appointment to see this property?’ If I say yes, then it can actually go into my calendar and schedule the appointment.” She says roof.ai takes it a step further by bringing SMS text messaging into the mix and also integrating with print marketing.
All in all, chatbots are an innovative way to show clients that you’ll nurture every lead. “This is something I want to show sellers — I’ll say, ‘Contact my competition, how soon do they get back to you? Call one of their listings to see how quickly they get back to you,’” Bernice says. “If I can show them this and they can see that instantaneous lead conversion that comes in, it’s quite impressive.”
Another way to stand out from competitors: Incorporate drone photography into your listings. For real estate purposes, a drone is a small, remote-controlled aircraft that can be equipped with a camera to take aerial photos of properties. For agents who want to show the true scope of acreage or a unique bird’s-eye view of the property, drones allow you to take stunning photos that really make a property stand out.
Jay Stringham, Internet marketing coordinator at Real Tour Vision, is a big proponent of using professional photographers to take listing photos, and suggests asking prospective photographers whether they use drones or specifically hiring a drone photographer to make your listing pop.