Let’s Talk Tech Trends for 2022
It’s difficult to find success in the real estate industry nowadays without wholeheartedly embracing technology. Whether it’s maintaining a presence on social media, using a client relationship management system (CRM) to manage your business, or adding 3D virtual walkthroughs to your listings, there are plenty of ways for real estate agents to use technology.
Some emerging technologies might seem intimidating or far-fetched — the average agent isn’t likely to be facilitating a transaction using cryptocurrency this year, for example — but there are plenty of tech tools that you can integrate into your everyday life in 2022 to boost your business.
We sat down with Chris Harrington, President and Co-Founder of Usherpa, a marketing CRM for real estate and mortgage professionals, to talk about the tech trends that you should have on your radar this year.
A Changing Tech and Marketing Landscape
Harrington started working in the mortgage industry in 1992 as a loan processor and loan officer assistant. In 1995, she transitioned into marketing automation and working with CRMs.
A lot has changed over the decades, she says.
In the ‘90s and early ‘00s, “marketing was pretty much blast-faxes,” Harrington said. “We actually did blast-faxing in 1995 — we did a weekly blog piece on what was going on in the housing market. And then there was direct mail.”
But in the years since, mortgage and real estate professionals have gained so many options beyond direct mail, phone calls, and faxes.
“Your marketing mediums have really, really expanded today,” she said. “You still have your direct mail, but again, with the addition of email, text, video, and social media, there are so many ways to do that multi-channel marketing.”
And, of course, everything has gone mobile. Harrington said she works with mortgage companies that see nearly 40% of borrowers completing the loan application on their cell phones.
As new tech tools have arrived, the way that real estate agents and Mortgage Loan Officers are expected to market themselves has changed.
In years past, “content was more static — you were lucky if you could even change out an image,” she said. “And now, content is so much more dynamic. It’s local, [and] it’s much more personalized to the end recipient.
“We have a piece that’s called our local housing video, and we’re in 70 markets across the country. It’s a video that goes out every single month with the latest home stats, and it goes to just the people that are in that particular market. So, we’re sending very relevant information to them.”
Another thing that’s shifted over the years? “Back then, data was kind of standalone,” she said. “We had all of these silos of data — data was locked in [a particular] system.”
But now, application programming interfaces allow data to be shared between multiple platforms, she said.
That’s helpful “because you're gonna have access to more types of data and versus using this system, and then this system, and then this system,” she said. Instead, “those systems kind of talk.”
The only thing that hasn’t changed, Harrington says, is the importance of relationships in the real estate and mortgage industries.
“Relationships still exist, and relationships are still extremely important,” she said. “That is one thing that hasn't shifted. But just the ability to stay in touch and engage with that group of people that know you, work with you, and are likely to work with you again has gotten easier.”
2022’s Must-Have Tech Tools
There are a few tech tools that every agent should embrace to take their career to the next level, Harrington said.
The first must-have tech tool is a CRM. (The term “CRM” can apply to a wide variety of products, but in general, it’s a system that helps you stay organized and connect with clients. Salesforce defines it as “a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers,” including contact management, sales management, and agent productivity.)
“[Agents] need to embrace a CRM for their past customers,” Harrington said. “I think that is probably one of the biggest untapped markets. I think your top producers who have been around for a long time have figured out how to do that… [but] I would say to anybody that is new to real estate: Get a system.”
Getting comfortable with video is a must, too.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, many people who were still using conference calls had to quickly learn how to switch to video calls, she said.
“How many of us, in the last two years, have bought a video camera to sit on top of our monitor? How many Zoom accounts have been created?” she asked.
“But besides just doing our Zoom conference calls, I think professionals need to get comfortable with doing video. There’s quite a few different video delivery systems out there. (Again, make sure it’s integrated with your platforms.)”
Harrington’s tips: Invest in lighting and work on creating more personalized content. “People aren't wanting just vanilla content — they're wanting things that speak [directly] to them.”
She also recommended that agents ask whether the different online systems they use on a regular basis can work together, she said.
“There’s a lot of new ways that data systems can talk with one another,” she said. “If you have a platform or another system that you’re using, if you think, ‘Wow, it would be really cool if this system and this system talked,’ it actually really might be possible today, so it never hurts to ask that question.”
On that note, what excites Harrington most about today’s tech tools is how easy they make it to exchange information and data.
In years past, “things were just so siloed, and the fact that you can have these different platforms talk to one another and share data is really helping the individual user,” she said.
“I think that’s really important, and it just makes it easier than ever to build those relationships so we can help more people achieve the joy of homeownership, whether that is through a loan that fits them or finding the perfect home.”
Agents should also consider exploring how artificial intelligence can help them analyze data to improve their business, she said.
“There's a lot of algorithms out there that can help figure out and predict borrower behavior or buyer behavior,” she said. “For example, we have over 6 million loans in our system that go back 30 years. Well, we hired an independent data analytics firm to take a look at all that borrower behavior and determine, When is somebody going to be more likely to be in the market to buy a new home? Or, on the mortgage side, to refinance a new home?”
To learn more about Usherpa and how their deep dives into the data contribute to their clients’ 57% increase in repeat business, visit Usherpa.com.
Technology for Real Estate Agents
Are you interested in reading more about the tech tools that real estate agents should be aware of in 2022? Check out our blog, Smart Home Technology: What Real Estate Agents Need to Know. You’ll learn how a thorough understanding of smart home features can improve client satisfaction, differentiate you as an agent, and even result in a higher commission.
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