Brokerages and real estate professionals can benefit from Web-based platforms that allow them to meet with colleagues and consumers in cyberspace.
Real estate was one of the first industries to be disrupted by the rise of the Internet, and most successful practitioners have long appreciated the importance of successfully integrating the Web into their practice.
At first, that meant simply having a Web presence, in the form of a personal or business site, social networking profile, blog, or some combination of these. Next came things like video home tours and online resources for local markets.
The latest real estate–related Web frontier involves collaboration tools, especially video conferencing via webcams that are now built into many laptops, tablets, and smartphones. In today’s connected world, home buyers and sellers expect information to be accessible anywhere, anytime.
Online collaboration tools are an easy, effective way to make that happen. They let you not only see and speak with the person on the other end, but also use the software to share materials like PowerPoint presentations between the two devices, so that each person is looking at the same thing.
Here are five ways that online collaboration tools can help real estate brokerages and professionals build strong client relationships.
1. Face time: In the early stages of a relationship, nearly every real estate pro prefers an in-person meeting to a phone call. (And a meeting is certainly preferred over a series of e-mail exchanges.) When it’s impossible for the two of you to get together under the same roof, perhaps for reasons related to scheduling or physical distance, a video conference is the next best thing to being there. These days, nearly everyone uses video conferencing to keep in touch with relatives during the holidays or on birthdays. That means your clients will probably be familiar with it before you even suggest it.
2. Listing presentations: Sending off e-mail blasts showing your latest listings doesn’t always move the meter with consumers. A more effective approach might be to set up an interactive session where you can control a presentation visible on both your desktop and your client’s. You can walk them through listings, highlighting the strong points of the property and answering any questions they might have as they come up.
3. Virtual home tours: Collaborative presentations are especially useful with out-of-town clients. If someone is moving into your area and looking for a place to buy, their lack of proximity is no longer an obstacle to getting them to see a home. Meet online and show clients video tours to make sure you’re not losing precious time; as a result, they might be settled in a new home weeks or even months sooner than they would be otherwise.
4. Contract negotiations: For both buyers and sellers, negotiations over the final terms of a sale are perhaps the most nerve-wracking part of the entire real estate process. Even when the negotiations go relatively smoothly, both buyers and sellers can get nervous about what’s ahead. You can ease anxiety by meeting with clients in a video conference as you work through details of offers and counter-offers.
5. Team meetings: It’s often hard for real estate professionals who work together — even those in the same office — to find the time to meet. With video conferencing, however, colleagues can log in anywhere, from any device, and have the chance to connect. They can share presentations, take meeting notes and even record conversations for later use.
There are a number of different tools for virtual meetings and collaboration available online. Real estate brokerages and practitioners would do well to add it to their professional arsenal.
Source: “5 Ways to Use Online Collaboration Tools” realtor.org, June 2012