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Op/Ed

Algorithm predicts uncertain future for real estate professionals, now what?

A new study predicts that real estate professionals are at risk of being replaced by machines, but is that possible, and if so, how can the industry circumvent this?

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uncertainty ahead

Is it War of the Worlds all over again? I’m probably dating myself when I tell you that on the night before Halloween in 1938, millions of radio listeners were shocked when radio news alerts announced the arrival of space aliens. At that time, listeners panicked when they learned of the Martians’ attack on Earth. Many listeners ran out of their homes screaming, and others were said to have packed up and fled.

What radio listeners actually heard on this day was a portion of Orson Welles’ adaptation of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. And despite the fact that this was fiction, many listeners believed what they heard was real.

The concept of machines replacing up to 50 percent of the U.S. workforce may incite a level of panic not much different from that which occurred on Halloween day in 1938. Unlike the publicity stunt however, the mechanization of America may, in fact, be true.

Will Machines Take Over the Work Force?

Just last month, Bloomberg reported that 50 percent of the U.S. workforce would be at risk of being replaced by machines. In a study entitled “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?”, Frey and Osborne shared what happened when they created an algorithm that analyzed the types of jobs subject to automation and predicted the probabilities of future automation for 702 different occupations.

The results were particularly favorable for those working as recreational therapists, since this field was the least likely to be automated with the probability of automation listed at 1/20 of 1 percent. If you believe that an algorithm can predict your future, this study does not bode well for telemarketers (automation probability of 99 percent). Loan officers came in at 98 percent and real estate professionals came in at 86 percent.

Will a Machine Replace the Real Estate Agent?

It’s true that a lot of what real estate professionals do every day can be automated or perhaps handled via computer by the consumer without need for an intermediary. That’s probably what resulted in the Frey and Osborne automation probability of 86 percent.

In 2013, Seth Godin wrote about this very issue. Godin stated, “If your project or organization depends on knowing things that other people don’t know (but could find out if they wanted to), your days are probably numbered. Ask a travel agent.” What Godin is referring to is the fact that years ago, we phoned a travel agent to make flight and hotel reservations. Now we can search locations, and make our own reservations online.

Not unlike the travel agent, real estate professionals have previously provided information that the consumer didn’t have: information about properties available for sale. Now, of course, much of that information is available online free of charge.

So, what can be done to avoid the potentially numbered days of the real estate professional? The solution “is obvious,” Godin says, “provide…non-commodity service and customization.”

How to Provide Non-Commodity Service and Customization

Real estate professionals must think long and hard about how they provide a unique value in the marketplace, and they must market that value to their current and future clients in order to assure that the machine does not wipe them out. And it’s a good idea to start on that now before “the war of the worlds” becomes a reality.

Here are four ways that a real estate professional can provide value in the current and future marketplace.

  1. Process navigation. Individuals who only buy and sell a few homes in their lifetime will need assistance in navigating an extremely challenging process. Real estate professionals know what to expect, how to avoid legal issues, and how to make the process of selling what is possibly the most valuable item in an individual’s portfolio as easy as humanly possible. Consumers may believe that they understand the process. But, will they know how to respond correctly when the seller takes the bathroom fixtures or if there is a rat infestation prior to closing?
  2. Paperwork preparation. Depending upon the state in which you reside, the paperwork required for state compliance can be upwards of fifty different documents or contract addenda. While a computer program may be able to spit out a list of documents, will that list be correct in each situation? Will the consumer know how to complete them? Will the consumer understand the legal ramifications of each document?
  3. Transactional Nuances. Lots of real estate transactions have very subtle nuances—little issues that are hanging out on the sidelines that need to be resolved prior to closing. These may include clouds on the title, financing limitations, encroachment or boundary issues, and zoning and permit issues. Only an experienced real estate professional would be attuned to these nuances in a way that can get the deal to the closing table the very first time. No computer can do that.
  4. Personalized Customer Service. While the Internet is great for getting the word out about a property or getting a document signed at record speed, there is no replacement for face-to-face communication. Personal consultations, as opposed to quick text messages, provide clients with the detailed information that they need in order to understand the scope of the real estate process. Additionally, busy real estate professionals have long lists of homebuyers who may be looking for a home that meets specific criteria. Agents can leverage personal connections to put a strong, solid deal together in no time flat.

What’s Next for the Field of Real Estate?

When asked about whether the future of the real estate professional will be mechanized anytime soon, Michael McClure, COO of T3Experts, stated, “I do think there will be a more-rapid-than-most-expect concentration of power in which those who leverage technology and other large societal trends most effectively will gain real competitive advantage and differentiation.” McClure also asserts is that it does not necessarily matter whether the information provided is accurate; those professionals who leverage technologies will have the upper hand.

Consumers will become increasingly reliant on the Internet as a research tool before selecting an agent to use in their next real estate transaction. McClure points out that previously “lots of agents have been able to hide behind the ‘ambiguity of information.’ That is, sometimes people don’t ask a lot of questions because they are simply not comfortable asking them.” McClure goes on to say, “I believe that’s a reason why the agent that does one or two deals a year can do one or two deals a year: because people often don’t dig very deep in researching agents.”

What McClure recommends is that agents “leverage things like advanced search technologies and the next generations of review sites.” It will be more important than ever, McClure states, “to actively manage your online reputation.”

How to Ensure That You Are Not Replaced by a Machine

There are actually some things that real estate professionals can do right now to attempt to protect themselves from the mechanization of their profession.

First and foremost, put a process in place to manage your online reputation. Set up Google Alerts for your name and the name of your company, if applicable.

Next, develop strategies to increase your online reviews. Utilizing the large syndication sites, Google, and Yelp, continue to build your online reviews. You can even install WP Customer Reviews, a plug-in for WordPress.

One final—and perhaps obvious—suggestion would be to continue to develop professionally. You need to be constantly reassessing your business model to be sure that what you are offering the public is “non-commodity service and customization” and not just Swiss cheese. (The profession of cheese sales, by the way, has an automation probability of 96 percent.)

Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.

Op/Ed

5 Consumer behavior shifts caused by the pandemic

(EDITORIAL) COVID-19 has changed the way a lot of people look at and act in the new world. These are the biggest 5 changes you should be aware of consumers.

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COVID-19 is affecting businesses in multiple ways, depending on the industry. One thing that affects every business, regardless of industry is customer behavior. It’s no surprise that customers are changing behavior to meet the challenges of the pandemic. Google just released information that should help your business. It’s estimated that over 4 million people are staying home around the world to slow the spread of coronavirus. Use this information to help you shift your marketing efforts.

  1. Consumers are using multiple devices more than ever before.
    With kids home trying to do school, parents who are working, and people who are furloughed, content is being consumed at record rates. According to Google, Americans are watching 12 hours of media content each day.
  2. Increases in search for critical information.
    Online grocery shopping and cooking videos are top searches these days while Americans are staying home. Telemedicine is another hot search topic. People are looking for ways to stay home and protected.
  3. Consumers want to stay connected online.
    Google announced that in April, Google Meet hosted over 3 billion minutes of video meetings. YouTube has seen an increase in “with me” videos. People are filming themselves going about their day to connect with their friends and family. Virtual events have changed how people meet up.
  4. Routines are changing to be “internet-first.”
    Telecommuting is a top search these days as consumers try to find ways to work from home. People are looking for exercise options that can be managed at home. Consumers are using the internet to find options that keep them socially-distanced but connected to their routine.
  5. Self-care is taking a higher priority.
    Meditation videos are being consumed at a higher percentage than before. People are looking for books, games and puzzles to stay occupied at home.

Consider Your Business Against Consumer Behavior

COVID-19 restrictions may be easing, but consumer behavior may not change much until there is a vaccine. Your business can use this information to change your marketing to meet consumers at their point of need.

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Op/Ed

5 Secrets to a more productive morning in the office

(EDITORIAL) Productivity is king in the office, but sometimes distractions and other issues slow you down. So what can you do to limit these factors?

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Regardless of whether you’re a self-proclaimed morning person or not, more efficient mornings can be catalytic in your daily productivity and output. The only question is, do you know how to make the most of your mornings in the office?

5 Tips for Greater Morning Productivity

In economic terms, productivity is a measure of output as it relates to input. Academics often discuss productivity in terms of a one-acre farm’s ability to produce a specific crop yield, or an auto manufacturing plant’s ability to produce a certain number of vehicles over a period of time. But then there’s productivity in our personal lives.

Your own daily productivity can be defined in a variety of ways. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting the desired results with less time and effort on the input side. And as a business professional, one of the best ways to do this is by optimizing your morning in the office.

Here are a few timely suggestions:

  1. Eliminate All Non-Essential Actions


    Spend the next week keeping a log of every single action you take from the moment your eyes open in the morning until you sit down at your desk. It might look something like this:

    • Turn off alarm
    • Scroll through social media on phone
    • Get out of bed
    • Eat breakfast
    • Take shower
    • Brush teeth
    • Walk dog
    • Watch news
    • Browse favorite websites
    • Get in car
    • Starbucks drive-thru
    • Arrive at office
    • Small talk with coworkers
    • Sit down at desk

    If you do this over the course of a week, you’ll notice that your behaviors don’t change all that much. There might be some slight deviations, but it’s basically the same pattern.

    Now consider how you can eliminate as many points of friction as possible from your routine. [Note from the Editor: This may be an unpopular opinion, but] For example, can you skip social media time? Can you make coffee at home, rather than drive five minutes out of your way to wait in the Starbucks drive-thru line? Just doing these two things alone could result in an additional 30 minutes of productive time in the office.

  2. Reduce Distractions


    Distractions kill productivity. They’re like rooftop snipers. As soon as they see any sign of productivity, they put it in their crosshairs and pull the trigger.

    Ask yourself this: What are my biggest distractions and how can I eliminate them?

    Popular distractions include social media, SMS, video games, news websites, and email. And while none of these are evil, they zap focus. At the very least, you should shift them to later in the day.

  3. Set Measurable Goals and Action items


    It’s hard to have a productive morning if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be productive. Make sure you set measurable goals, create actionable to-do lists, and establish definitive measurements of what it looks like to be efficient. However, don’t get so caught up in the end result that you miss out on true productivity.

    “There’s a big difference between movement and achievement; while to-do lists guarantee that you feel accomplished in completing tasks, they don’t ensure that you move closer to your ultimate goals,” TonyRobbins.com mentions. “There are many ways to increase your productivity; the key is choosing the ones that are right for you and your ultimate goals.”

    In other words, set goals that are actually reflective of productivity. In doing so, you’ll adjust your behavior to come in proper alignment with the results you’re seeking.

  4. Try Vagus Nerve Stimulation


    Sometimes you just need to block out distractions and focus on the ask at hand. There are plenty of ways to shut out interruptions, but makes sure you’re also simultaneously cuing your mind to be productive. Vagus nerve stimulation is one option for doing both.

    Vagus nerve stimulation, which gently targets the body’s vagus nerve to promote balance and relaxation, while simultaneously enhancing focus and output.

  5. Optimize Your Workspace


    Makes sure your office workspace is conducive to productivity. This means eliminating clutter, optimizing the ergonomics of your desk, reducing distractions, and using “away” settings on apps and devices to suppress notifications during work time.

Make Productivity a Priority

Never take productivity for granted. The world is full of distractions and your willpower is finite. If you “wing it,” you’ll end up spending more time, energy, and effort, all while getting fewer positive results.

Make productivity a priority – especially during the mornings when your mind is fresh and the troubles of the day have yet to be released in full force. Doing so will change the way you operate, function, and feel. It’ll also enhance tangible results, like income, job status, and the accolades that come along with moving up in your career.

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Op/Ed

5 Side hustles that could turn into your new career

(EDITORIAL) With COVID throwing all jobs out of whack, maybe now you can explore something new and actually make a career change. Here’s 5 side hustles to try.

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side hustles

When you think of finding a side hustle, you might picture yourself finding an obscure job as a bike courier three nights a week or maybe even walking your neighborhood dogs. Both of these positions can be fun and pay extremely well depending on who you work for.

There are endless opportunities for part-time, enjoyable, profitable side hustles. However, if you take on any of the following side gigs, you could end up with a new career.

1. Day trading

Day trading is the purchase and sale of a stock, bond, or security all within the same day. Many entrepreneurs are drawn to day trading because it’s fast-paced and risky, but with the right skills, day trading presents a potential for serious profit.

If you’re curious about day trading, RJO Futures published a guide on how day trading works. RJO’s article explains that whether you trade from a large firm or on your own, you’ll need three tools:

  • Access to a trade desk. This will give you instant order actions the moment your trades are placed.
  • Analytical software. Analytical software will help you identify key indicators to inform your next move.
  • Access to news outlets. Day trading – specifically day trading futures – is volatile. Prices move by the second and having access to news outlets will give you a heads up if your market might be affected.

Be aware that if you enjoy day trading and get good, you might want to go full-time. It’s possible to turn day trading into a career, but the learning curve is steep.

2. Investing in real estate

Real estate is a lucrative industry, but it’s not for everyone. Popular among entrepreneurs, investing in real estate requires long hours of study, extensive research, and getting your hands dirty.

Usually, real estate investors have side hustles to supplement their income. However, many people get into real estate as a side hustle and end up turning it into a career.

If you want to get started in real estate, don’t jump to investing right away. Take the expert advice from the folks at Bigger Pockets and start by learning about the industry. Get a part-time job as an assistant property manager to pick up industry knowledge and learn your local landlord-tenant laws. If you’re going to invest in real estate to rent out, you’ll be a landlord at least for a short period of time until you hire a property management company.

If you know someone who can help you make your first investment, you don’t need to wait. However, to be successful you have to think outside the box to gain a full spectrum of industry experience.

3. Content writing

Every business needs content writers and many are willing to settle for any level of proficiency. If you have any writing skills, you can easily pick up some content writing gigs on job listing sites.

If you love writing, you might start out writing one blog per week and decide you want to pursue writing full-time. If it’s truly your passion, stick with it and you’ll find the right clients who will pay you generously for your work.

4. Coaching

Whatever people are struggling with, there’s a coach to save the day. Life coaching and business coaching are the most popular, but you can coach people on anything you’re passionate about.

Being a coach isn’t easy. Even people who intentionally start a career as a coach struggle. What most people don’t realize about coaching is that passion does not equal profit. Coaching is a hard sell, but life coaching is especially difficult. Running a coaching business requires more than business skills – you need to be proficient at helping people solve their problems.

If you’re good at helping people solve their problems, there’s a chance you might get addicted to being a coach. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping people grow and transform their lives.

5. Thrifting

It’s not hard to find sellable items at your local thrift stores. However, you need an eye for what people want to buy. If you’ve got that eye, you could end up with a new career.

For example, Natalie Gomez, a former merchandise planner at Macy’s, took on thrifting as a side job and wound up making thousands of dollars. Gomez was interviewing for a new job when she realized she was already making a good living selling clothes.

Enjoy your side hustles

Even if you don’t turn your side gigs into a career, take on gigs you enjoy. Money is necessary, but it’s never worth sacrificing your happiness.

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