In 2016, as the industry sat on the precipice of major disruption, Ouwens and Casserly posed the question, by 2020 will the world’s largest real estate service have no agents?
Uber owns no taxis. Alibaba owns no inventory. Facebook employs no publishers. Airbnb owns no properties. Was real estate headed down the same path?
The pair predicted the relevance of agents in 2020 would involve understanding what the next major disruption was and embracing the change.
“Tech will take care of tech – it will make our role simpler and easier,” they said.
“Charles Darwin taught us that those who are most adaptable to change will survive, it’s the most adaptable who will remain relevant.
“Over the last 30 years it is those agents who embraced change that have not only remained relevant but accelerated their success. Look at the likes of James Tostevin and John McGrath, for example. The agents of 2020 will be relevant if they both believe they can provide great value but also are prepared to embrace change.”
Ouwens and Casserly predicted the bulk of a real estate agent’s role would remain relevant in 2020 – the skills, tasks, KPIs and all the tools learnt from the best Australian real estate trainers and events would stick.
To be relevant in 2020, agents would still need to make sure they were consistent and robust (score of 9/10) at prospecting, listing and selling.
And the new generation of agents would be upskilled more quickly and more easily than any era ever before.
“As parts of the community move to use websites to tender for business, it is more important than ever to be connected to and have authentic relationships with your local community,” the pair said.
They believed it was unlikely people who agents had a relationship with would tender the sale of their home to a website, making those relationships and connections more important than ever.
They cited a study by Robin Dunbar that showed 150 people is the average number of people we can have an authentic relationship with, and 1500 is the average number of people we can recognise by face or name, but have not the same in-depth relationship.
“The 150 are your circle of influence, best referrers, gold clients, interest groups such as sporting clubs, charity organisations, children’s schools, Facebook friends or LinkedIn contacts, or simply an old friendship group.
“The 1500 people is your CRM system/referral software system – 1500 clean contacts of people to communicate with about real estate, with 5 per cent selling on average every year makes for a solid pipeline if properly nurtured.”
In 2016, Ouwens and Casserly asked, “Why do we need an agent if pricing a property is becoming automated?”
They argued that negotiation involves dialogue between two or more people or parties intended to reach a beneficial outcome.
While some tasks in the real estate process will become more automated and made easier by tech, they said by 2020, more than ever agents would need to demonstrate that their ability to negotiate will extract a premium price, otherwise the auto valuation sites will take over.
“As agents, our skillset must be our ability to negotiate a higher price. A price higher than the owner could negotiate themselves, and a price higher than any auto valuation site.”
They said learning how to set the rules and framework of negotiation and having the ability to articulate and role play your negotiation skills in the lounge room when going for a listing were vital.
Ouwens and Casserly predicted the relevance of agents in the year 2020 would be heavily dependent on the experience they provide to each customer they deal with.
“If the experience is world-class, then the customer will see value and provide repeat and referral business. It is the same reason we now use services such as Airbnb and Uber because of the customer experience, trust and story we get to tell, as opposed to the poor experience of booking hotels or taxis that gave us no choice.”
They used Disneyland as an example of remaining relevant over many generations, building a business on repeat and referral through world-class customer experience.
“So if Walt Disney was an agent in the year 2020 what would we see?” they asked.
- World-class opens
- Online forms for all documentation
- Building inspection reports for each property
- Pre-approved finance for every buyer
- Price guides on every property
- Immediate phone, email and SMS responses
- Pay wave-type registration systems at opens
- A customer satisfaction system such as Net Promoter Score
Their top advice for agents hurtling towards 2020 was that real estate is a pretty straight forward industry – don’t overcomplicate it.“You just need to be the best version of YOU. We all make mistakes but that’s part of being real. It’s how you bounce back,” they said.
“Being likeable isn’t enough on its own anymore. People need to trust you.”
They said while there is nothing wrong with money as your main driver – in fact, you need to be hungry and competitive – being authentic was the number one value for those entering their company, and it would remain so into 2020.