THERE IS A NEED for real estate specialists to reposition themselves as being at the centre of transactions, writes LJ Hooker CEO Grant Harrod.
TECHNOLOGY has transformed how we live, interact and work. It creates efficiencies in our daily operations and solves problems in real time.
Every industry has been transposed to varying degrees by the advent of new technological innovations. The changes which have affected the way the real estate industry operates are obvious.
Our customers have embraced change, become technologically savvy and their expectations have increased as a result.
But while the online world has offered numerous conveniences, its growth has also worked to disintermediate many industries and the players within it.
An example of this trend of disintermediation is the insurance industry.
With our time poor lives, we don’t think twice about going online nowadays to secure car insurance. A few short clicks and we can be on our way.
But rather than using the online world to augment their services, the insurance industry allowed itself to be completely commoditised by online transactions and lost its ability to engage personally.
Insurance specialists lost their perspective and appreciation of the needs and preferences of their customers.
And now the insurance industry is forced to pay aggregators to acquire customers. Why? Because the old world of shop fronts was an onerous experience where you’d be forced to wait in interminable queues, fill out exhaustive reams of paperwork and then wait to be ‘approved’.
I’ve been asked whether the real estate industry, with its proliferation of real estate portals, could be exposed to a similar downfall.
The answer is no. However, complacency and apathy – the failures of any industry – are ever present.
At LJ Hooker, we foster a culture in which our sales people are driven to understand customer service, and the need to go beyond what all our competitors offer.
We make sure our offices are engaging, dynamic and inviting. Their appearance and functionality are part of the benchmarks we have set for customer service.
We must never lose sight of the fact that selling via agents is the most effective channel for all participants. If we become complacent of this fact, we lose our role within the real estate transaction.
There is a key axiom in long term sustainability of business: never let anyone stand between you and your customer.
As an industry, we must constantly reinvent ourselves so we forever remain relevant to the consumer, whose needs are constantly changing. We need to be much more than the data we produce.
Granted, within the internet age, consumers will research real estate information online through a multitude of portals, real estate libraries and other offerings. But when they are ready to activate their plan, whether it’s buying or selling, they will always engage a real estate specialist in which they identify value.
Our role within the real estate transaction is much more than listing. Our value proposition is our knowledge, our network of relationships, ability to personalise our service, and achieve results for all stakeholders.
Our agents live within the communities they serve and utilise this advantage in their daily operations. Their daily interaction with vendors and buyers enables them to understand key emerging trends which are integral in tailoring customised and effective marketing programs to provide superior customer service.
Our training programs ensure our agents respond to the changing needs of a marketplace, improve their own personal standards and, above everything else, understand the intrinsic value they offer to the real estate transaction.
Through this process of improvement and adaptation, and harnessing the full suite of technology to assist us to reach out to consumers and best promote listings, we will be able to build the individual profiles of agents and offices, and continue to improve the way we communicate with our clients and customers.
But technological innovations must never usurp our practice or our value proposition. We can take many learnings from how other industries have failed in this regard.
A highly skilled and professional real estate sales professional will always be central to the process of buying and selling real estate, it’s just up to our industry to ensure that it stays that way.