For as long as real estate agents have existed, much of their work has been manual. From taking clients to physically tour properties to obtaining signatures for purchase agreements, the average real estate agent carries out a dizzying number of manual tasks before a deal can close.
However, automation technology within the real estate field is changing the way agents work, and it may not be long before agents rely more on automation to carry out their everyday tasks.
In the United States alone, the real estate industry has a combined annual revenue of around $470 billion, and further efficiency brought on by automation can potentially increase that even more.
In this article, we will look at the automation that is currently used in real estate and how it may change in the future.
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The History of Automation in Real Estate
Automation isn’t exactly new in the real estate industry. For years, tech companies have been innovating at different points of sale. For example, platforms such as Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia have been at the forefront of innovation.
Specifically, Zillow emerged in 2006 as a “database” for real estate, aiming to connect buyers and sellers with agents while using algorithms to calculate sale/rental prices.
In many ways, Zillow and similar platforms changed the way buyers receive information about homes. Thanks to these platforms, buyers, and sellers now have more information at their fingertips than ever before.
This has certainly come with some advantages for agents, like having better-informed clients. At the same time, some agents may argue that these online platforms can cause information overload and even misinformation among some clients.
How Automation is Changing the Way Agents Work
Databases like Zillow are just one example of how automation has changed real estate since the early 2000s. In addition, agents have also seen the introduction of platforms that automate the marketing and networking sides of the job.
Meanwhile, other platforms make it easier for agents to collect and organize data about any given property in a matter of minutes. Even the process of pulling comps and calculating home values has been automated to some degree by real estate technology.
And thanks to automation in the form of e-signature technology, long gone are the days of agents chasing down physical signatures on paper forms.
Building off this, other technologies are emerging that allow agents to calculate the probability of closing a sale based on the asking price, current market, property details, and other factors.
The Benefits of Automation for Agents and Clients
For new real estate agents and seasoned agents alike, the idea of automation can be scary. Anytime there is significant automation in any industry, the concern is that it may eventually take over the entire field and render hardworking people obsolete compared to computers and algorithms.
Those working in real estate hardly have to worry about this. There will likely always be a market for experienced and knowledgeable real estate agents. Regardless of how automated the buying process becomes, people will always need somebody to guide them through the deal—automation just makes it easier for agents to do that.
With this mindset, agents are embracing automation technology rather than grasping onto “traditional” ways of doing things. The role of the real estate agent has evolved greatly in the past couple of decades—and the most successful agents are the ones who embraced the changes as they rolled in.
There are many ways in which agents and clients alike can benefit from automation technology across the industry. For starters, platforms like Zillow and Trulia now make it possible for real estate agents to be matched up with potential clients more easily than ever.
Rather than relying on a physical referral from another agent or being in the right place at the right time, these online platforms can easily connect potential clients with the right agents for their specific needs.
Meanwhile, platforms that automate the marketing and data management side of the job can free up valuable time for a busy real estate agent. It’s no secret that agents’ schedules are often jam-packed, so manual processes like entering information into a database can add up.
Through automation technology, agents can better use their limited time and tackle more important tasks that can’t be handled by a computer or algorithm.
Last but not least, automation technology can help agents close more deals. For example, using tools to calculate the most accurate home values allows agents to price homes more accurately and with greater confidence.
This, in turn, can help them sell faster regardless of the current market. Likewise, using automation to calculate the likelihood of a sale can protect agents from wasting their precious time on a deal that’s not likely to work out.
The Future of Automation in Real Estate
While platforms such as Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com have been changing the front end of real estate transactions since the early 2000s, less has been done to automate other aspects of the deal, such as financing, insurance, and closing. That is, until now.
More than ever, consumers are becoming accustomed to transactions that take place 100% online. When consumers want to buy something, they shop around online, add it to their carts, and buy it with no more than a few clicks. Could automation make this type of transaction possible with homes and other types of properties?
The answer is yes, and this may be a reality across the industry sooner rather than later. With the use of automatic money exchanges through blockchain technology, it may soon be possible for people to purchase homes in a single transaction online and assume ownership on the same day.
Thanks to innovations that include e-signatures, e-notarization, and other blockchain technologies, the future of automation in real estate looks bright.
In addition to the changing landscape of the real estate deal, experts also predict that data science technology will also be used to foster new deals. For example, the software may analyze an investor’s past deals (including the property type, location, and price purchased) and then automatically generate and present similar properties that may interest the investor in a future deal.
Agents Should Be Ready to Work With Automation Technology
Over the past few decades, automation technology has especially changed the scope of the real estate agent’s job. Many of these innovations have benefited agents and clients alike, leading to better-informed clients and freeing up valuable time for hardworking agents.
Meanwhile, new technology promises to automate the transaction process in the coming years, simplifying closing for everybody involved.
No matter what the future holds, the truth is that successful agents will find ways to embrace and use new technologies to their full advantage. Automation is here to stay in the real estate industry, and it’s only going to keep growing from where it planted its humble roots.