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VOLUME VI16 Tech Tools in the Realtor ToolboxBy Jonathan Pressman The impact of technology on the real estate industry is indisputable. There’s no shortage of real estate tech tools on the market, but it can be challenging to determine which ones are worthwhile for Realtors to use. To keep pace with the ever-evolving landscape and work more efficiently, Realtors will likely want to add (or keep) certain tech tools in their toolbox.
1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System CRM systems help Realtors stay organized with their clients, including features like calendar reminders (ex. lease renewals), drip marketing, newsletters, email communication and document storage. According to a RealTrends study, 96.2% of real estate brokerages reported that using CRM software contributed to increased productivity.
2. Electronic Signatures Electronic signatures provide secure, digital signature tools. E-sign saves Realtors both time and money compared to printing documents, and offers clients the convenience of being able to sign transaction documents remotely.
3. Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) Software CMA tools take property and sales data, and make the necessary adjustments to automatically valuate a subject property. Additionally, CMA software templates may include images and customizable content. Instead of manually compiling CMAs by searching for individual, comparable properties, the software enables Realtors to quickly generate presentations that they can share with customers and clients.
4. Virtual Staging Software With virtual staging technology like 3D renders and furniture removal, Realtors can take photos of any room, then stage it digitally. This simulation can aid in renters’ vision of what the home could look like fully furnished.
5. Electronic Lockboxes An electronic lockbox includes the features of an ordinary lockbox, plus the added benefit of unlocking doors via smartphone Bluetooth. It also allows Realtors the option to choose walk-throughs on specific days and times. Electronic lockboxes track keyholder identity, so Realtors can see who is accessing the property and when they’ve returned the key.
6. Mileage Tracking Apps Mileage tracking apps automatically log trip distances using a phone’s GPS, allowing Realtors to categorize trips and manage business expenses. At year’s end, these apps also create reports for submission to the Internal Revenue Service for deducting mileage expenses.
7. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Predictive Analytics Driven by artificial intelligence, predictive analytics tools identify which leads are more likely to close. These tools analyze large swaths of information and, based on historical data and outcomes, try and predict clients’ behavior. While the accuracy of predictive analytics software isn’t perfect, it can provide some direction for where to find quality leads and which leads to prioritize.
8. Content Management Systems (CMS) A CMS is a software application for creating and managing digital content for storing, sharing and collaboration. Realtors can use CMS to save on storage costs and maintain and access documents remotely, making it easy to work on the go and save transaction documents. (Real estate documents have to be kept for a minimum of four years in Texas and five years in Florida.)
9. Internet Data Exchange (IDX) IDX tools connect property listings from the multiple listing service (MLS) to other websites. The IDX feed is used primarily for displaying local listings directly on a Realtor’s public website.
10. Image Creation Software With 95% of Realtors reporting daily email use and 57% logging onto social media, image creation software makes it easy to create visual content for email marketing and social media posts. Image creation software can also be used on Realtor websites, business cards, flyers and direct mail campaigns.
11. Digital Scanning App Mobile scanning apps use a phone to recognize text on a page and create digital copy that appears like a scanned document. These digital docs also come in handy for accessible attachments and online recordkeeping.
12. Social Media Scheduling Tools Realtors can leverage social media marketing to schedule posts in advance and simultaneously post to multiple platforms via a single interface. (Keep in mind that some social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram will require images while text-dominant platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter do not. Image creation software will be useful for this reason, too.)
13. Email Marketing Services As Realtors collect prospect email addresses, this marketing software is useful for sharing news and rental listings.
14. Drones Drones can take real estate photos to an entirely new level. Real estate drone photography is especially useful for capturing photo and video of larger properties, land and commercial properties. Realtors should always bear in mind that drones are subject to licensure, registration, and local and federal regulations. Federal regulations state that anyone operating a drone must have an airworthiness certificate and register the drone under Part 107 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Small drones (under 55 pounds), like those used in real estate photography, must be registered online. Drones are required to fly at no more than 400 feet and, if flying within five miles of an airport, must notify that airport’s air traffic controller. In Texas, it is unlawful to fly a drone over a person’s private property, though there is an exception if a licensed Texas real estate broker captures these images in connection with a transaction involving that property.
15. Real Estate Chatbots A real estate chatbot, software used to have an online conversation with prospects, gives website visitors an immediate response and interactivity at any hour of the day. Chatbots can also collect and log conversations with prospects, which can automatically synchronize with a CRM system. Realtors can also use chatbots to establish an initial touchpoint for exchanging basic information.
16. Automated Scheduling Software These web-based calendars can be shared and updated to show availability and book appointments during pre-determined available times. Automated scheduling software saves Realtors the hassle of back-and-forth emails required to book appointments.
Realtors who want to do more business often turn to technologies to optimize the way they work. These 16 tech tools in a Realtor’s toolbox can help make prospecting more efficient, automate follow-up, increase engagement and better manage relationships. While every Realtor has a different style of conducting business, these tech tools can help improve client relationships and close deals.