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Is Your Communication Style Outdated?

November 03 2015

Like a shot of adrenaline in the arm, technology has invigorated the real estate industry by accelerating the time it takes to list, show and close a home. Think about it--buyers no longer need to look in the paper or troll neighborhoods looking for "For Sale" signs; they can find homes for sale from wherever they are, right from their mobile phone. Agents no longer have to meet clients to sign papers; today, everything can be signed electronically.

However, if you think about how information is communicated between agents and clients, the model we use is still very linear. For example, let's say a couple found a home online that they're interested in viewing. First, they tell their agent that they want to view the home. Their agent then contacts the listing agent, who, in turn, contacts the sellers to propose a viewing time. Then the communication reverses and goes back through the listing agent to the buyer's agent and, finally, back to the buyers.

That's five touchpoints just to schedule a showing--and we're assuming the buyers are available at the proposed time! If not, the process starts all over again. As you can imagine, the touchpoints in this linear model add up pretty quick. The more touchpoints, the slower the process becomes and the greater the chance for miscommunication. The image below from showing solution TourSimply illustrates this well:

TourSimply is interesting because they've transcended this inefficient communication model by using a shared calendar. Here, the seller's role changes from reactive ("Yes, my property is available at that time") to proactive ("Here are the times that my property is available"). Sellers set times that their home is available for showing on the calendar, which the buyer's agent can access to schedule an appointment instantly. Once scheduled, notifications are then sent to all parties. This centralized model looks more like this:

Appointment scheduling isn't the only type of communication that can be improved by reducing touchpoints. Here are a few more examples:

  • Property info requests - Sign riders are one of our favorite ways to streamline the sharing of property information. By using automated numbers that buyers can text or call for immediate listing information, you eliminate the back and forth, satisfy the lead's desire for instant information--and have the prospect's mobile number for follow-up.
  • Property search - In the past, agents would suggest homes to their buyers and, if the buyer thought it sounded promising, would then go view it. Today, many search apps have a collaborative feature that lets both buyers and agents suggest properties, communicate back and forth, and leave notes for each other on individual listings. Both parties can view extensive listing information, photos and decide whether or not the home is worth viewing--saving both time and hassle on unnecessary showings, and speeding up the entire search process.
  • Signing documents - Electronic signatures have become one of the biggest time savers for agents. You no longer have to meet clients in person or deal with multi-page faxes just to get a signature. eSignatures also give you the competitive edge when submitting offers in areas with low inventory.
  • Multiple MLSs - There's been a lot of talk recently about the inefficiency of overlapping MLSs. Agents have to enter and update the listing in multiple systems. Because the listing is in two or more systems and both MLSs will likely syndicate it to various portals, the listing is in danger of being duplicated across the internet. While there's no way to overcome this yet, the still-in-development Project Upstream should solve this problem.

Agents, it's your turn: What are some of your communication pain points and how do you overcome them?