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How “tech savvy” agents became passé, and why “paperless brokerage” is next

The phrase “paperless brokerage” has replaced “tech savvy” as the concept du jour – how it happened, and why it has to stop.


In years past, the phrase “tech savvy” was popularized by tech leaders, tech vendors, bloggers, and news organizations, and in in the early days of its use, it was an accurate description of a small segment of the end user market. It was a descriptor for the professional who mastered tech tools and was on the cutting edge of adoption, and was used legitimately.

Then came the “me too” crowd.

Every Realtor who knew how to turn on a computer and compose an email called themselves “tech savvy,” and the phrase became as overused as the phrase “oh-em-gee” at a table of teen girls.

The phrase became a cliché. There will always be a phrase, word, or concept that becomes used and abused.

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The new popular phrase du jour is “paperless.”

Paperless was a concept originally developed by transaction management and cloud hosting companies, both within the real estate space, and outside of it.

Vendors that had little to do with paperless-ness jumped into the fray, offering webinars about how to go paperless, or claiming that their product gets you one step closer to being totally digital, despite their offering no tool to offer that led an agent or broker to become paperless.

They gave moving speeches about the future of real estate, they made a few bucks, and they now want you to be a “paperless brokerage.”

The real estate industry moved on

Then, the real estate industry dumped “tech savvy” like their first pizza-faced boyfriend, in favor of being a “paperless brokerage,” running into the arms of the jock who gave them the slightest attention.

Both phrases were designed by a handful of people that were seeking to help the industry to improve and join the 21st century, but vendors with little to offer, and brokers with even less to offer, jumped on the bandwagon, overused and pillaged the phrases, made a few bucks, and will soon move on to plunder the next phrase.

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Who should and should not use these phrases

It is not the phrases that are illegitimate, it’s the vendors and agents on the periphery that abuse them to make a dollar that are truly illegitimate.

The truth is that because these phrases are typically coined by vendors looking to connect with their customers, although they may ask agents to associate with the phrase, they really should be the only ones identifying with the phrases and using them in their marketing.

Quit worrying about a new catch phrase to add to your glossy business card to separate yourself – let your expertise and experience do that for you, otherwise it’s just a gimmick.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.


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