In today's world, technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Everyone is affected by it and most embrace it. It affects the way we live and the way we do business. One industry which has been changed the most by technology is real estate.
Before computers and smart phones, the Realtor was the resource if you wanted to buy a home. In as short a time as the last 15 years, this role has undergone a major change. No longer are agents the primary source of information for buyers and sellers, we have our smart phones now. In fact, last year 92% of people used the internet when searching for a home and 54% searched from a mobile device. Mobile apps are becoming ever more popular as well with 57% of home buyers saying they used a mobile app in their search. The rates are increasing every year as millennials come of age and enter the housing market.
These days, the savvy Realtor knows that a yard sign is not enough, not by far. An agent must be able to connect with potential clients online and on their devices. Therein lies the modern challenge of real estate, keeping up with the pace of technology and evolving with it over time.
The Physical Web
The latest technology evolution is the Internet of Things (IoT) also known as the Physical Web. In addition to smart phones we have smart homes, smart cars and now, smart things. Bluetooth devices are everywhere and everywhere, people are connected. From fire alarms to fridges, the smart devices are here and multiplying fast. And then there are the Beacons.
What Are Beacons?
Beacons are small Bluetooth-enabled devices with one purpose: to emit a URL – any URL you want. When someone is within range of a beacon, their app equipped phone will automatically pick up the Bluetooth signal and notify the user that there is a beacon nearby. The user can then choose to interact with that beacon, which will take them to the URL programmed into it.
Beacon technology is hot! You use them already but probably don't even know it. From major airlines using them to update passengers to department store chains offering coupons at the door and everything in between, Beacon use has become a trend which shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, although the technology is still relatively new, it stands to incorporate itself into every part of our lives. Estimated retail sales alone resulting from Beacon notifications are expected to exceed $44 billion in 2016.
How It Affects the Real Estate Market
One of the primary challenges in modern real estate is how to connect with clients in this age of information. It isn't uncommon for an agent to receive a call from someone already sitting at a house they found online, requesting a tour. On the downside, how many didn't call? Some of today's potential buyers don't even want the first contact with an agent to be a call. Contrary to what social media may want you to think, people have become more private and many prefer text or even an email over direct contact. So how do Realtors reach people in such a private society? If only the house itself could talk to people as they drive by...
With Beacons, the house can talk to people. Using a Beacon, information about a home is transmitted to anyone nearby with a mobile device equipped with a beacon detection app. Beacons aren't a sign with a phone number to call or an app requiring a user to send a text to receive information. The visitor doesn't have to initiate contact, the Beacon does that. Beacons actively engage anyone within range, 24/7, 365 days a year. Mobile users receive a notification on their device and with one simple click, information about the home and listing agent is opened on their screen. To the passerby, it's as if the home itself sent them a notification.
Needless to say, this is a game changer for real estate. Case studies have shown that Beacon equipped houses sell faster and receive more engagement than unequipped homes. Beacons never sleep, they transmit their URL to every visitor and they increase conversions from today's hi-tech buyers who search for and visit properties before contacting an agent.
Realtors Take Back Control of the Destination
With Beacons Realtors can send property visitors to the property listing page they choose instead of hoping their site is chosen from a list of search results. Beacon applications like BeaconSage-RE even have the ability to pull property information directly from the MLS and automatically generate branded property pages. This makes it easy for both the agent to provide listing data with Beacons and for the client to easily receive accurate information.
There are some other interesting ways Realtors are using Beacons as well. Most Beacon using Principal Brokers keep one at the office transmitting the agency site to everyone who walks in the door. A Realtor in Arkansas recently had a novel idea, he keeps a Beacon in his pocket transmitting a link to his agent website where ever he goes. At meetings and restaurants his site is transmitted to everyone around him.
Evolution of the Realtor
Tech and real estate keeps evolving but Realtors have proven themselves resilient over time by embracing technology and learning how to use it to their advantage. Agents are using Beacons to integrate the IoT into their business with great success. What's next, a house that sends messages to your phone? Looks like that is already here.
Statistical Data Source: Annual Real Estate Trends Report. (2016).