One thing I'll likely always remember is attending the LeadingRE annual conference in March of 2020. The conference theme was "Wealth, Wisdom, and Wellness," and Delta Media Group® CEO Michael Minard was hosting a seminar titled "Taking Advantage of the Roaring '20s." Why is this relevant to technology migrations? The world was caught off guard by COVID-19 the same way many brokerages find themselves caught off guard when their technology vendor suddenly decides to let their business be acquired.
If there's one major theme in the real estate technology sector over the last three years, it has certainly been mergers and acquisitions. One in particular, though, stood out from the rest. Booj, one of the industry's leading technology firms, who had made their name inside of the independent brokerage circles like LeadingRE®, suddenly became a part of the RE/MAX family. Over 60 brokerages representing nearly 100,000 real estate agents had the rug quickly pulled out from under them and needed to start reevaluating their options. That's not to say that wasn't the right move for Booj and RE/MAX, but it certainly created stress in the industry.
We also saw other major moves such as PropertyBase merging into Boston Logic, Compass acquiring Contactually, and Inside Real Estate acquired by private equity firm Lovell Minnick Partners. The fact of the matter is that unless you have something in writing with your current technology provider giving you some kind of protection in the event of a technology acquisition — like many of our clients at Delta Media Group have — then you need to be prepared to evaluate the landscape of options in this space.
Any technology provider that has raised funding or is backed by Venture Capitalists has one simple objective above all others. Provide an ROI for the company who invested millions into their business. You can see how this story has played out over and over again in the last 20 years. A tech firm raises money, and within 3-5 years they have sold their business to repay the VC. It means that there is always uncertainty for real estate agencies. That's why truly knowing who you are trusting such a large element of your brokerage's business with is so important.
So, where should you begin?
In March 1983, RE/MAX DFW Associates opened the doors to its very first office, serving a client base of only a few thousand people near the DFW Airport. And while the beginnings may have been humble, the potential for growth was obvious. Now, in the nearly four decades since those early days, RE/MAX DFW Associates hasn't just become one of the most trusted names in local real estate, but an integral part of the DallasFort Worth community and one of the top brokerages in the entire country.
For plenty of North Texans, RE/MAX DFW Associates is their go-to-choice, whether they're looking to purchase their first house, upgraded their living spaces, or find their forever homes. With knowledgeable and well-trained agents, locals know that when they turn to RE/MAX DFW Associates, they're getting a real estate partner who will work with them to make their dreams a reality.
Thirty-seven years ago, just after graduating college, Mark Wolfe, President and Owner of RE/MAX DFW Associates, began the process of building his company from the ground up. Long days and hours upon hours of work later, Wolfe has done more than simply create a lasting business. With over 300 agents, RE/MAX DFW Associates continues to grow every year, cementing its place in the industry and evolving into the de facto real estate leader in the area.
According to their website, in November 2020 alone, RE/MAX DFW boasted 596 new listings, up almost 100 from the previous month, while homes spent an average of only 72 days on the market. That number was down from 88 days in October 2020. DFW also ended 2020 with over $1.46 billion in closed sales volume, up 3.6% from the previous year.
Talking about RE/MAX DFW Associates' commitment to success and how that dedication helps them build long-term relationships with their clients, Wolfe says: The secret to our success, I think, the bottom line is that we absolutely care. I am involved seven days a week, almost 24/7 sometimes. It's not like so many other companies where you can't get ahold of the broker on the weekend, or you can't get ahold of the manager or whatever it may be. You can get ahold of our executive staff and our managers, seven days a week, and they're there to help, they're there to assist."
It's a new year and, after the year we've just had, it couldn't come soon enough. Now that we've made it through all of the surprises 2020 threw at us, there's no better time to revisit and recommit to your marketing efforts in order to make the most out of 2021.
To that end, I put together this article to reintroduce you to some of the tools in the DeltaNET™ that you can use to help you make the most out of that SOI you've been building for years. There might even be a thing or two in there that can do all of that with just a little bit of setup, so you don't spend your days on the phone prospecting new clients as well. Let's start out 2021 right.
First and foremost, get that customer database of yours imported into the DeltaNET. There are plenty of tools in the system to help you organize your database, help you reach out to your customers, and even reach out to those customers on your behalf, but none of that does you any good if your customers aren't in there. It can hold a lot, too, so don't be shy about adding in every contact record you have. Keep in mind that, though the system contains a lot of functionality related to emailing clients, there's functionality for phone, text messaging, and even physical mailing as well. So, even if your contacts are just a name and a physical address — or really even only that address — don't be afraid to put them in there. You never know what contact could lead to a closing just because you got in touch with them at the right time.
Don't forget about the old, inactive contacts either. You might have filed them away years ago when you reached out, and they told you they weren't interested, but what was true five years ago might not be true today, and it might just take an automated Market Watch Report to get them interested again. At this point, it's worth it, in the long run, to organize them as best you can. You'll thank yourself later when you're setting up email campaigns or market watches and need those emails to go to the customers that are most likely to engage with them.
In every issue of our magazine, one of our goals is to showcase Delta Media Group® customers who take a different approach to succeeding in the real estate industry, as well as those who have stood the test of time. Counselor Realty checks both of those boxes. Here, we'll look at what the Minnesota-based brokerage has done to foster over 50 years of business and how its agent first approach helps separate Counselor from the rest of the real estate pack.
THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF LONGEVITY
A full-service brokerage and agent-owned company, Counselor was established in 1964. Since then, it's become one of the most trusted real estate names in Minnesota's Twin Cities and across the entire state with over 200 agents and 15 offices.
With a structure that President Andy Prashad likens to a co-op, or even similar to how an attorney would join a law firm, Counselor provides its agents with their own voice and the tools to use it. Not only for their success, but profit as well, even during the unusual circumstances presented by 2020. Prashad adds that Counselor prides itself on providing the best available "services to our agents...so they can, in turn, provide that service to their clients. We're all about agent support, very agent-driven, and agent focused."
While plenty of things have changed since Counselor Realty opened more than 50 years ago, the fundamental principles of the company remain as solid as ever. Throughout the ups and downs of the market, Counselor stays a strong, consistent presence across Minnesota, providing home buyers with a sense of confidence and security.
As a household name across the state, Counselor is also able to focus on opportunities for its agents. From shareholder options to sharing information based on a vast pool of experience, Counselor's continued success rests largely on their ability to foster collaboration and teamwork.
Says Marketing Tech Co-Chair Kevin Bumgardner, "You really do lean on agents around you. I recently told an agent, as a brokerage, we put agents first who put customers first. We are really geared toward the full-time full-service agent who plans to sell as their full-time job."
Helping buyers connect with properties and neighborhoods is as crucial as ever in the COVID-19 era, but in-person tours simply aren't practical or possible in most markets due to the pandemic. As with so many of the unique challenges in the COVID-19 real estate world, technology is helping to bridge the gaps and allow buyers to fall in love with homes from a distance. Aerial drones filled a valuable niche in real estate marketing even before the pandemic, but their use has only grown more prominent during the last year. With creative use of drone footage, you can help buyers fall in love and help sellers show off their properties from a whole new perspective.
The challenges posed by COVID-19 and precautions in place to prevent its spread have impacted every part of life, including real estate. Many markets have restrictions currently in place that make touring homes and neighborhoods in person impractical, or sometimes even impossible And while there are some more "open" communities around the country, many real estate clients won't be comfortable making tours in person. Virtual tours and online research have taken an even more important role in buying a new home than ever before, with drones providing valuable footage that simply can't be obtained in any other way.
The good news is that even with all of the unique challenges we have faced in 2020, buyers are still very interested in purchasing homes and sellers still want to find the right buyer for their properties. Today, buyers rely on virtual tours for learning about the homes and neighborhoods that pique their interest. They are looking for detailed footage that really helps them fall in love with a home and neighborhood. This includes all of the photos/video that you're already used to gathering from ground level, but a view from above can really help tie the whole package together. That's where aerial drones enter the picture.
Read on to discover all the ways drone photos can give buyers and sells a brand-new angle on the real estate market.
While 2020 was a year of tough changes that were mostly forced upon us individually and as an industry, I see 2021 as the year the real estate industry embraces those same changes. A new chapter in the real estate story is about to begin, and I see our industry rising to the challenge.
It seems that nearly all the real estate firms we speak with are working on acquisitions and mergers, while also working on streamlining their business with office, technology provider, and marketing platform consolidations, and more workflow automation.
The change that excites me most is the workflow automation.
All the other changes have been very common in the real estate industry for the past twenty years, but, workflow automation, true workflow automation, has not been common to the real estate industry as a whole. In fact, it was only the "disrupters" in our industry that focused on workflow automation like Zillow, Redfin, Movoto, and other "digital" firms.
However, I would strongly argue, that true workflow automation is upon us in 2021 for traditional, brick and mortar real estate firms. And I think this is a very good thing!
While you could argue that the industry, as a whole, had access to utilize automations in the past, you would also have to admit that only a few really did it. As we change the calendar, and turn our attention to the new year, that's all about to change.
Before I go any further, I should probably discuss what automations I am talking about. So, let me go over just a few.
What is marketing automation?
If you search for a definition of marketing automation, you'll find options such as this one from Wikipedia: Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online and automate repetitive tasks.
What's the difference between going home and going to work? For many of us in 2020, the answer was "not much." Most of us have spent more time at home this past year than ever before, so it's only natural to be looking for ways to make that time at home more enjoyable and efficient. Smart home devices offer so many options for making life easier, more convenient, and more sustainable at home. Buyers, sellers, and owners are embracing smart home products like never before, and that trend is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Now is the time to turn the page to a new year and learn what your clients want in a smart home, beginning with our Smart Home 101 guide.
Like with many types of technology, you will see the highest adoption of smart home products among the younger demographics of home buyers and owners. But Millennials and Gen Z are definitely not the only ones embracing the convenience and connectivity of smart homes. Anyone who owns a smartphone can download apps to connect with their smart home products, and buyers of all ages are doing just that. Most smart home devices are designed to be user friendly, easy to install, and easy to connect with the rest of the home. Add it all up, and you have a very diverse group of clients who are embracing the smart home trend.
The Internet of things (IoT) is comprised of all the devices in the home that have online connectivity, and it's growing rapidly every year. Everything from light bulbs to toasters, TVs, and larger appliances can be part of the IoT. These devices often have their own software that allows them to be controlled remotely and have WiFi connectivity to exchange data. For people who already love smart features, IoT devices are a natural fit. These devices can also provide an easy entry point for anyone who is dipping their toes into the waters of smart home items for the first time.
With the ability to talk to thousands of past and current clients for a few dollars a month, email scales with your practice better than any other digital marketing technique. Sophisticated email drip campaigns that use data directly from your Customer Relationship Management suite can run 24 hours a day with little intervention.
Still, email has a learning curve to conquer before you'll be able to make the most of it!
There are two significant challenges when it comes to a flourishing subscriber list:
• Getting leads to consent to join your list
• Providing useful and informative content
Excited to get started? Don't forget: Before anyone gets to see your carefully crafted messages, they have to opt-in. Federal laws prohibit sending unsolicited commercial email, and many U.S. businesses strive to comply with the standard set by the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, which is even more strict.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways for real estate pros to give leads a chance to opt-in. For example, you could send an automatic invitation to prospective buyers who register for an open house. Many will join if you offer something valuable, such as inside information on the local market. The bigger challenge is keeping people on your list until they become confirmed customers.
2020 was a challenging year, and 2021 starts off with plenty of uncertainty. How long will it take for COVID-19 vaccines to reach the average person? What will the economy look like next quarter or even next month? How will the real estate industry continue to respond and evolve in a seemingly ever-changing world?
These are all reasonable questions to have, but to position yourself for success in 2021, it's crucial to focus on the things you can control. Managing your priorities, schedule, and energy levels will get you where you really want to go. Speculation can leave you running in circles with no more clarity than before.
Luckily, the start of a new year is also a natural time to "start over" and focus on what matters most to you. Coming up with a plan and, most importantly, sticking with it can help make 2021 your best year yet.
If you've been in the real estate business a while, you've probably heard of colleagues who are working 80-hour weeks to build their practice. We've all seen someone brag about how little they sleep. But a dash of time management know-how can help you get just as much done in a fraction of the time.
Dedication counts, but you also can't sprint forever. Consistency is what truly sets real estate professionals apart from the rest of the pack, and that level of consistency only comes from defining the level of work you can do every day without fail.
In turn, that comes from determining what you need to focus on to move your business forward the fastest.