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The Real Estate Industry – Overdue for Overhaul
This expert piece was written by Wissam Moubarak, General Manager of Propertyfinder Lebanon
The past few years have witnessed a major shift from traditional transaction experiences to a more curated online experience in most (if not all) industries with real estate being no exception. With countless opportunities for technology to weave its way into real estate, digital real estate platforms are helping open the market by bridging the gap between real estate agents and potential consumers.
According to the eCommerce Foundation’s recently released “United States Ecommerce Country Report”, 88% of consumers pre-research their buys online before making their online or in-store purchase. Moreover, consumers are taking charge of their buying processes and demanding proper access to whatever information they may need to make their decision. Today, this also applies to those renting and buying property.
Communication Is Key
From Peer to Peer, to Online Communication
Back in the day, brokers and brokerage firms had to rely on traditional sales channels such as newspapers, classified ads and “word of mouth” to bring together buyers and sellers. Nowadays, tools such as business listing sites, online/social media advertising, e-mail marketing, remarketing and retargeting technologies all allow for better communication, efficiency and hence better results, for both buyers and sellers.
Brokerage firms now regularly upgrade their websites, looking to enhance user experience by offering live chat support for example. Moreover, recent technologies are making it easier for SMEs to achieve good positioning and credibility in the real estate market –as long as a user’s experience is a positive one.
Innovative Sales Outreach
Online platforms are allowing brokerage firms to reach buyers everywhere, even abroad. Features such as virtual tours, photo galleries, video tours, ratings, saved searches and alerts save customers significant amounts of time. Industry research firm RIS Media states that 73% of homeowners are more likely to list with a real estate agent who uses videos to market homes and properties.
Propertyfinder.com.lb, for example, is a real estate marketing portal established to bridge the gap between property developers, brokers and consumers in the MENA region. The platform has recently introduced new features such as the option for developers and brokers to upload virtual tours and videos, and for consumers to save properties of interest to be accessed later. Other features include “freshness of content”; dynamic ads to ensure personalized real time retargeting of clients; tutorials on new features; as well as a full translation of all property listings into Arabic.
Quality over Quantity
As much as brokerage firms care about the number of clients, an online experience demands that quality of content takes over quantity. The sales process must therefore feature higher resolution photos and videos, well written titles and descriptions, as well as clear features and amenities. Good content is key.
The Strategic Components for a Better Sale
Scientific Figures Support your Sales Pitch
Online presence and website tracking allow sales teams to make use of solid figures from reliable analytical resources. The data is then aggregated into meaningful reports, which help the website management team make decisions.
Inbound Leads Generate a Bigger Data Pool
A powerful online presence opens the door to inbound leads, allowing the quantity of properties to grow faster. In other words, more listings generate more potential buyers and a bigger pool of data. Instead of reaching out to prospects, a trail is laid out for the individual to follow and consumers have learnt to tune out sales and marketing efforts, and take charge of their own research.
CRMs are Efficient Tools
Gone are the days when real estate marketing was about postcards. Today, it is all about automated email and online lead generation. CRMs now allow brokerage firms to keep track of every potential lead, which helps build a solid database upon which future strategies are drawn.
Brokers in Lebanon for example have started implementing CRMs as tools to track leads and exchange properties upon demand, in an organized and efficient manner. The Lebanese real estate market, unlike most other countries, has no strict regulations when it comes to property selling, which allows property owners to sell directly, while making use of social media. Despite the small Lebanese real estate market, brokerage firms have taken the initiative to integrate advanced tools and technologies into their growth strategies.
Technology and innovation hold the key to reshaping the real estate industry, which is why companies are working hard on integrating them into the new digital real estate ecosystem. Who knows how long it will take before there is complete automation of both the real estate sales and rental process. Time will tell.