Must-have tech tools for estate agents

Jul 26, 2018 | Tech

“These tools are crucial to an agent’s success in their career as they can do a better job of staying in touch with current clients, reach new clients whilst still providing an improved experience for them”

Estate agents today have such a vast array of technological resources to choose from that it can be quite a daunting task to know where to expend your energy best in your already busy life. How should you use Facebook, should you blog or rather make online videos? Three property experts share their input on what they consider the must-have tech tools for estate agents today.

“Taking how quickly technology moves forward there are always new and exciting applications for estate agents to use to help them to generate more business,” says Jonathan Acutt, managing director of Acutts Estate Agents. The sixth generation Acutt in Acutts, Jonathan is tasked with taking one of the country’s oldest real estate companies into the future with real estate-related technology. The following is a summary of applications and websites that he uses.

Facebook Ads: Acutts says the age of advertising your services on your Facebook profile is slipping away. “Quite frankly, our friends know that we are in property so no need to remind them,” he says. He says estate agents need to focus part their attention and marketing budget is towards meeting and interreacting with people outside of their circle of influence. This can be achieved through the Facebook Marketing and the Facebook Ads application (app).

Google Ads: Just like Facebook Ads, this can also be a helpful tool to attract more people to your agency. Acutts recommends to focus your energy on advertising your office location and services rather than on a specific property.

Google Business to update Google Places: Google Places appear before the organic searches on Google and therefore should form part of your marketing and branding strategy says Acutts. Places can be updated through signing up for the Google Business product.

Magisto for property videos: We are all aware that online marketing videos are a must today and Acutts says the Magisto online video editor programme is an old favourite of his. “Although I’m not creative in the picture or video sense of the word, Magisto takes your pictures and videos and sews them together in a simple and smooth video, as well as adding a bit of a background sound. Easy to use and a must for agents, he says.

Clips: Clips is Apple’s video editing app only for iPhone and iPads. You can add different images as well as a voice over description of the room displayed in the image. Acutts says it is really fun and easy to use.

Adobe Fill & Sign app: This free application allows you to write your client’s name and property details directly onto the PDF document and you can email it directly to your client from your phone. “Gone are the days of printing, filling in and scanning sale agreements, this makes for a much neater sale agreement plus you get to save a few trees at the same time. Talk about smart,” says Acutts.

Whatsapp: Lastly, Acutts says his number 1 app for agents is still Whatsapp. “Communicating with clients, other agents in my team and suppliers on the go would be impossible without this application. It’s going to be hard to beat this application, but I look forward to the one that does,” he concludes.

“With us living in an era of great technology, the need to stay up to date forces the real estate industry to rise to the challenge to embrace technology, not only to boost and improve profitability but add more time to an already busy day too,” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

He says technology is changing the way agents market properties and engage with their clients. The mobile and desktop options available can simplify and enhance day-to-day activities such as automating tasks, organizing and analysing information in a more concise and informative manner. “These tools are crucial to an agent’s success in their career as they can do a better job of staying in touch with current clients, reach new clients whilst still providing an improved experience for them, advises Hutchison.

Herewith Engel & Völkers’ top 5 recommended tools for today’s busy agent:

Smart phone: It is hard to believe we used to be able to operate from landlines. Today this is probably the most essential tool of all, to any real estate agent. Being able to not only use it for communicating with clients in the traditional ways, it also allows for social interaction on the go – interacting with clients on their terms.

Camera: This has always been a must for any agent. Although time has evolved to virtual reality and 360 degree visuals. Agents should have all options at their disposal, with accompanying software to ensure images are always crisp & clear.

An efficient and effective customer relationship management (CRM) system: Long gone are the days of capturing a client’s data onto a spreadsheet or standard CRM system. Hutchison says Engel & Völkers have an extremely high-tech system with which they have ensured that they assist their agents in their daily tasks with the minimum desk-time.

Website presence: South Africa is a tourist destination, with many clients opting to either relocate or invest here. Your web presence must reach beyond local and ensure SEO for those clients near and far.

Keeping up to date: One of the most essential tools an agent can invest in is their growth, experience and knowledge. Ensuring that you are always the leader of the pack in terms of legal jargon, accurate valuations, customer care and, of course, industry knowledge and experience. For that reason Engel & Völkers have their own academy which offers year-round training and coaching.

Vanessa Hawkins, digital marketing manager of Jawitz Properties, believes there are a number of tools and technologies that are critical to the real agent industry. Jawitz was one of the first local agency groups to develop a virtual property showroom.

Website: Invest in a great website that will allow for a great user journey experience and ensure your search functionalities give the user more than what they are searching for, for example by including neighbouring areas when searching in a particular area.

Internal management information system: Find a great one that can handle your listing of new homes to take them to market – being first to market is critical.

Customer communication: Ensure all parties are ‘in the know’ regarding their sale or purchase. Jawitz use an internal management system that they developed in-house for this purpose.

Agent commission tracking:  This is also essential – once again, this is an internal management system that was developed in-house. It is not an off-the-shelf product.

Social media platforms: It is not just about having a presence, but about being part of a community and to do that, you have to be authentic and #real. Jawitz have a dedicated team with a watchful eye on their Facebook page that ensure that they respond timeously.

“Whilst many estate agencies have multiple systems, it is important to ensure they are integrated and speak to each other seamlessly. They need to have the ability to report at all levels and many more functionalities,” concludes Hawkins.

Do you have a favourite tech then we would like to hear about it and why you recommend it. Email editor@propertyprofessional.co.za.