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Why aren’t real estate agents fully mobile? You need your database on your phone

Real Estate Business Real Estate Tech

This week I was tasked with writing an informative little number on the benefits of mobile tools. Ergo, how much more efficient we’d all be if we started using our smartphones for more than just playing Candy Crush Saga on the toilet. Like, if you had your database on your phone.

But I quickly ran into a problem. The thing is, smartphones have become so surgically entwined in our day-to-day lives that the only real research I could find on the matter was done circa 2010. Which is, in technology years, roughly a billion years ago. The age of steam and cogs; when everyone had Motorolla flip-phones and rode around in Model Ts.

This is, of course, hardly relevant now we’re working with an extra three generations of iPhone processing power.

It wasn’t the first time we’ve run into this problem either. Early last year when we were doing our initial research for the new Rex mobile app we hit a similar wall. Evidently, no-one’s interested in mobile efficiency anymore. It’s old news. So we figured we’d better just do our own damn research.

So after surveying almost 400 agents (you can thank us later), here are the results:

  • Agents spend, on average, 60% of their time out of the office. Makes sense. Face-to-face interactions are their bread and butter.
  • Surprisingly though, only 27% of them were really happy with the way they worked remotely. The majority seemed to feel there was room for more productivity.

Now, here’s an unpopular opinion in the real estate technology industry. This isn’t so much real estate agents’ fault as it is software providers’. When it comes to mobility, we’ve been painfully light on any real innovation. So light, that when we asked agents what their best tool was outside of the office, the most popular response was a ‘diary or notebook’.

Obviously, there’s a pretty huge window for improvement right there.

Out of all the industries out there, real estate seems to be the most in need of solid mobile tools. Agents spend more time out of the office than they do in it. They need to be in constant communication with HQ. They need access to all kinds of documents and information while they’re out and about. The list goes on. And on. You need your database on your phone.

Mobile phones: the perfect solution

Phones are – as they are for most other industries – the perfect solution. Everyone has one, and the benefits are clear:

  • Agents will be better informed outside of the company – improving their decision making capabilities and effectiveness. Access to client information anywhere, anytime, would help improve relationships and client satisfaction. Just look at Salesforce’s research; a 15% increase in sales productivity when given access to a mobile CRM.
  • Better communication between coworkers, even at a distance, increases productivity. Slack has shown an average 32%(!) productivity boost when teams used their messaging software.
  • Real time data collection would reduce double data entry and errors.
  • Mobility reduces costs on physical space and transport. There’ll be far less popping into the office to use the photocopier if you can just access and send contracts and brochures from your phone.

We could go on. So why is the technology industry wasting its time on Matterport Cameras and VR open homes when we’re still yet to get a decent mobile application to market?

Sure – there are a few mobile apps available for real estate agents. You probably have one or two on your phone right now. But the majority of these are one trick ponies. A trumped up contact book, for example, or a mobile open home register. Nothing really tackles the full gamut of problems agents face on a day to day basis. Instead, you need to drive back and forth between the office and open homes, the office and appraisals, the office and inspections – surely there’s a better way?

We think we have one.

Get ready for Pocket

After six years of hard work (roughly the lifespan of a lucky guinea pig) we have enough resources to finally tackle the mobile problem. And we’ve put a huge amount of effort into doing it properly. It’s taken over a year of painstaking research, design and development, but we’re on the final sprint. Australia’s first fully-mobile CRM system is only a few short weeks away. Pretty soon, agents will have the ability to do everything they do in the office, out of the office.

Sure – while it’s easy to get excited about cool, new, surface-level innovations, we really need to be focusing on the basics first. If your agency boasts free drone photography, but you take hours to reply to email enquiries – you’re doing it wrong. We need innovation from the ground up. And that starts with making agents truly effective during the 60% of their week that they spend outside of the office. Mobility means more than just having your CRM contacts and work calendar accessible via Outlook.

Mobility means the ability to process reminders, call and track outcomes, view and share listings, access your database on the fly, keep in the loop when you’re out in the field, run OFIs – you name it. With your database on your phone, you can work wherever you need to.

Brace yourselves. We’re about to put your office in your Pocket.

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