The advent of online-only realtor services seemed to threaten the very existence of the traditional local real-estate agent. But even if many might still think – or even want – that to happen, the former’s deficiencies have only underscored the merits of the latter.
Where mass-market digital realty excels
Online portals can supply property buyers with the same data portfolio offered by their offline counterparts concerning property availability, historical pricing, building class, zoning, tax and more.
Furthermore, the maturity of VR (virtual reality) viewing technology means that a buyer can filter more houses from their shortlist without having to visit them in person. Sellers, too, are finding the process of posting has been upgraded.
Things now move quicker and smoother, so both commercial and residential properties hit the market much sooner.
Cause for concern?
Doesn’t all this rather confirm the inevitable demise of main-street real-estate professionals? Not at all.
For all the benefits of running a business online – no premises needed, lower overheads – the customer still values face-to-face interaction with the person guiding them through one of the biggest transactions of their life.
Often a long-established fixture in the local business community, a local, main-street realtor simply cannot survive for long without the oxygen of positive word-of-mouth publicity.
Be slick, be reliable – most of all, be there
For the clear majority of people, a property deal is the biggest transaction they will ever make. When bricks and mortar are about to change hands, buyers and sellers alike often prefer to entrust the process to someone they have met in their own bricks-and-mortar premises.
For realtors, the message is clear: your greatest advantage is being on hand to learn about your ‘territory’ in ways a digital database never could. Now it’s down to you to make that competitive edge really count.
Stay real, stay relevant
Online realty sites can arguably never truly understand a business district at ground level because their employees don’t experience it – don’t drive through it, walk down its streets or eat in its restaurants – unlike their offline counterparts.
Prospective buyers love to drill down to street-level, into micro detail, so your task is to learn as much as you can about your territory’s attractions.
Make it explicit that you know the property because you’ve already been there. Sure, a buyer can replay video clips of a building interior countless times. And yes, they could message the site’s realtor to ask dozens of questions.
But many people will prefer to hear from someone who’s actually used the elevators, checked out the stylish boardroom and experienced the astounding birds-eye view of the city from the 20th floor.
But don’t neglect your online presence
But don’t neglect your online shop window. Many buyers will find you through Google or check out your online listings after visiting your offices – so get your SEO strategy right and invest some time and money into a mobile-optimized website.
Given that buyers search for around 21 days or so before approaching a realtor, you should have cookies in place to assist with the retargeting of buyers with relevant property information throughout that crucial time window.
And don’t neglect social media, with Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest particularly productive platforms in this sector. Courtesy of Wishpond, this is a fantastic, in-depth guide to exploiting social media for realtors, featuring example social posts.
Nevertheless, don’t ever forget that the personal touch remains your most potent advantage over faceless digital agents. Being ‘on the ground’ gives you a real advantage. People buy from people, after all.
Melanie Luff is an Online Journalist for PropertySales.com, the market-leading directory of commercial property for sale from Dynamis. Melanie writes for all titles in the Dynamis Stable including BusinessesForSale.com and FranchiseSales.com.