Once upon a time in real estate, life was simpler. If you wanted to reach out to a client, you picked up the phone and called them, or wrote them a personal note. Occasionally, you might even stop by their home and say hello. If they wanted to find you, your phone rang, or they walked through the front door of your office and asked for you. Times have changed, though, and they keep on changing. You are just as likely to hear from a client (perhaps more likely) via an email, a text, a facebook message, or a tweet. In the future, are we looking toward real estate transactions done completely virtually?
In Back to the Future 2, Marty McFly envisioned 2015 as a year with hover skateboards...we are only three years away from the date he jumped forward to. While that still seems very futuristic and beyond our scope, you can easily shop for a home online, pick one out, contact an agent (using any number of online methods), complete an offer using your electronic signature, and the only time you would really need to appear in person is at the closing table. Or perhaps in front of a notary, who could overnight the documents to the settlement company. In fact, I have a listing under contract right now that the overseas military family purchasing it has only seen virtually. (Yes, their agent has toured the home for them.)
Realistically, though, buyers still want to tour homes, and sellers still need to meet with their agents. The way that we communicate with our clients, though, is a changing landscape. Can everything be done through texts, emails, and tweets? The short answer, is yes.
The long answer though, is that your clients are going to lead you, and you will follow. One client may prefer to reach you via text message, and expects a concise answer quickly. Another client may reach out with a long email detailing all of their questions, and wants you to respond thoughtfully and in detail. You might even have a client that wants to use tweets, which are in the public space, to have a back and forth discussion of their plans...and their friends may chime in. Of course, there are going to be clients that still need the comfort of speaking to you in person or on the phone, to talk it out, hear an explanation, and get the nuance that voice or face to face conversation gives them. It really depends on your client. Just follow their lead.
So as an agent, how do you prepare yourself for dealing with clients that want to communicate using different channels? For starters, carry a smartphone that allows you to text or email on the go. Learn the basics of using facebook and twitter. You don't have to live and die by them, you only need to know how to use them enough to respond if that's your client's chosen way to communicate. Most of all, keep an open mind. If your clients can't reach you in the manner that is most comfortable to them, they may move on to a different agent that is able to 'talk' to them that way.
Need help? As part of our training program here at Redwood, we hold classes almost every week to help our agents bone up on technology skills. Email me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org