Australia is perfectly positioned for growth in this ‘Asian Century’, and Australian property will be highly sought after and increasingly valuable. But will the real estate sector be as valuable and desirable?
Yes, but only if it continues to keep pace with changing technology, demographics and customer expectations.
Here are the top 10 things you can do now to future-proof your business for 2020 and beyond.
1. UNDERSTANDING THE NEW BUYER
You may have built your business by selling to couples who want to relocate their families to the area, or to investors looking to buy and hold for capital growth.
But the buyer of the future could be a very different type of person.
It could be foreign buyers finding you through social media, inspecting a property using walkthroughs in VR (virtual reality), communicating in a foreign language using software machine translation and make international payments using online tools.
They may also be a different type of buyer, such as a split real estate investment group (CoreLogic says this type of investing is growing rapidly) or someone using AI (artificial intelligence) to help with their decision-making ( Skyline uses AI to help with commercial real estate transactions, and Singou Technology has robots that help agents sell to Chinese speakers).
You don’t need to immediately invest in all this technology, but at least be aware of it in order to be prepared.
2. UNDERSTAND SMART BUILDINGS
The rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) means that more and more properties are equipped with Internet-connected sensors, for access (digital locks instead of keys), security monitoring, management of energy, security, entertainment and more.
Smart homes are also attractive to older people who want to continue living in their homes rather than moving to aged care facilities.
This opens up a new potential buyer market for you if you understand the technology and can explain its benefits.
3. INVEST IN YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
While some of the proven offline marketing techniques still work, now it’s essential to also create a strong online presence for your business.
There was a time when you could design and manage everything yourself, but those days are long gone.
Pay for professional advice on your online marketing strategy (ideally from an expert who understands real estate), just like you pay for other expertise in your business.
4. CREATE MEMBERS
Before Uber fought to be legal, it lobbied governments by asking their users to campaign on their behalf.
He could do this because he had a database of users and called them “members”, making them feel part of their company.
Contrast that with the taxi industry, which sometimes still refers to its customers as “fares.”
The same goes for real estate. Do you refer to your customers as “suppliers” and your database as “buyers”?
What would change if you treated them as “members” and offered them ongoing value based on their membership?
This doesn’t mean you’re taking away or diluting any of the services you already offer them, but rather adding more value.
For example, you can host a quarterly members-only webinar that has an 80% value and a 20% promotion.
5. IMPROVE YOUR IT
In a traditionally high-touch but low-tech industry, it’s no surprise to see an explosion of technology now available in the real estate sector.
According to Forbes, global real estate technology (PropTech) funding has been growing at around 36% annually and shows no signs of slowing down.
If you haven’t reviewed and upgraded your IT infrastructure in the last three years, you’re probably way behind.
This is especially important because more efficient technology drives down commissions (according to Macquarie Bank research), so your outdated technology is costing you money.
You don’t have to invest in cutting-edge AI, VR, or AR technology. Start by making sure everything is in the cloud (stored on the internet and accessible from anywhere by anyone on your team).
6. SHUT UP!
A downside of making everything connected and accessible is the greater risk of security issues.
Cybersecurity is particularly important in property and real estate with risks to privacy, confidentiality and physical security.
This is a bigger problem than you might think, with Fairfax/KPMG estimating that 60% of midsize businesses are vulnerable to cyberattacks that could put them out of business.
Call on professionals to secure your computer systems.
It’s easy not to invest in cybersecurity, but by the time you realize you need it, it might be too late.
IT security firm Webroot estimates that it costs an average mid-sized business $1.9 million to recover from a cyberattack.
Once you have secured your IT system, the greatest remaining risk comes from your staff.
It only takes one careless mistake to expose your entire system.
Teach your team to take proper precautions (VPN, strong passwords, up-to-date antivirus, latest OS updates, avoiding public WiFi, etc.).
7. USE ONLINE LEARNING
Since we are talking about education, it is essential to include online training in your learning and development plan.
According to the Manpower Group, most employers are now investing in learning platforms and development tools, and your younger team members (Millennials and Gen Z) take this for granted.
8. HIRE A REVERSE MENTOR
Many experienced agents and managers fall into the trap of assuming that what has worked for them in the past will continue to work in the future.
This is no longer true, but it is difficult to shake this belief without deliberate action.
This is where reverse mentoring can help. Instead of being a mentor to more junior people, ask them to mentor you.
You become the student and listen to the experience, expertise and – most importantly – a different perspective from the more junior members of the team.
9. ADD CUSTOM VALUE
Savvy agents already stay in touch with potential sellers by sending reports on trends in their neighborhood.
Technology (thanks to big data and artificial intelligence) is now taking this to another level, providing detailed insights into things like rental demand, tenant turnover, and mortgage default rates.
This allows you to provide personalized, personalized value to your “members”, instead of just sending out generic information to everyone in your database.
10. TAKE CARE OF YOUR STAFF
The talent war is real. According to Deloitte, more than 80% of small and medium-sized business (SME) leaders ranked “attracting skilled resources” among the top three concerns.
The cost of replacing staff is also high.
The real estate industry is notorious for its high staff turnover (particularly in property management, but also in sales).
Even if you have loyal and dedicated employees in your business, continue to take care of them.