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Real Estate Technology

Startups are making real estate more efficient (or are they?)

As technology advances, so does the opportunity to accomplish more things, faster, but does one more startup move the chains?

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As technology advances, so does the opportunity to accomplish more things, faster. Technological advances have allowed for growth and productivity in nearly every industry, except perhaps real estate.

One editorialist posits that startups are making real estate businesses more efficient, and while I believe this can be true, I also believe startups are making business more difficult. Allow me to explain; while there are certainly a wide range of apps and businesses seeking to assist real estate professionals in particular, they also come with a several caveats.

First, to successfully integrate a new technology into the office, or your own business, you need to decide from the thousands of available apps and startups, which one will be most effective for your sales style and environment. This alone can take up a great deal of time and effort.

Brokerages with the best data ultimately make the most money, but how do you decide which data is “the best?” Your business can absolutely benefit from faster and more reliable data, but it is imperative you find an option that fits your budget, as well as your data needs. Which brings us to the second caveat: there will be the added expense of whichever program you choose to use.

Herein lies the problem, as TC so aptly worded it, “The average residential real estate agent spends very little time at his or her desk. Every minute spent sending marketing collateral or pulling listings information is time that could have been spent with sellers and buyers closing homes, which is ultimately how realtors get paid.”

Engaging productivity apps, such as appointment reminders, time management apps, and automated email responses for when you just do not have time to pen an individual response can save you time and money, but deciding which app to use for things like contracts, data analytics, and work collaboration can be time consuming and actual take away from your workflow productivity.

Suggestion: if what you’re doing is working, keep doing it.

If you feel like there are some areas that could benefit from mobile technology, or other startups, pencil in time to take a look at what’s available, as well as, asking friends and colleagues for their recommendations. To successfully integrate new technology, it should enhance what you’re already doing. Given the sheer number of startups, selecting an effective program can be overwhelming. This isn’t to say there aren’t a number of startups that are absolutely useful.

I fervently believe in the benefit of technology in the real estate profession, however, I also believe that no single program is going to give you the magical fairy dust to sell a home without first building those critical personal relationships.

Technology can help you keep in touch and remain productive, but it is not a replacement for personal, working relationships and embracing what’s already working for you. Never will be.

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Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Real Estate Technology

Using text message marketing? This class action lawsuit may change your mind

(MARKETING NEWS) A new class action lawsuit may have your team reconsidering whether or not text message marketing is worth the risk.

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Imagine sitting on the sofa with your family and your phone vibrates. It’s a text message! You’re expecting your brother to let you know if he’ll make it to dinner tomorrow.

But it’s a text from a real estate brokerage, loudly proclaiming an “OPEN HOUSE THIS WEEKEND” in all caps, with a link to the listing.

How did they get your number? Why are they yelling at you? Why doesn’t the link have a brokerage name in the URL? Why would I click that link? Why am I being bothered during family time? Why, why, why?

Most people would block the number and move on, or text “stop,” in hopes that the future barrage of unsolicited texts would stop. We all get them from every direction, nearly every day now.

But not Floridian Steve Grossberg, who took a screenshot of a text message from a Coldwell Banker agent, and hired an attorney. A class action lawsuit has since been filed in the Southern District of Florida, and a court date is set for this Friday, April 12, for Judge Federico A. Moreno to review the case.

The lawsuit claims the text messages were sent without written permission from the recipients (required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) since 2012), causing the Defendants “injuries, including invasion of their privacy, aggravation, annoyance, intrusion on seclusion, trespass, and conversion.”

Class action status is being sought for this case – Grossberg’s attorneys claim individual cases for all those impacted would overwhelm the court system and be too financially cumbersome for potential individual plaintiffs.

They’re seeking up to $1,500 in damages for each violation, which they say exceeds the $5,000,000 threshold for federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The “Class” would include anyone in the past four years that have texted by Coldwell Banker or anyone on their behalf, using automated equipment (or an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS)). Interestingly, in the “Class” description, the attorneys don’t include permission status at all, just “anyone” that has been auto-texted by the brokerage.

Court documents outline in detail the technologies used that allegedly violate federal statues, and Grossberg isn’t just suing the local agent or brokerage, but the international company, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, claiming the text messages sent violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The lawsuit does not outline in such detail, the chain of permission that was or was not given.

Real estate professionals that hire a marketing firm or a tech startup that promises to modernize their marketing, have an expectation that their money is being spent on something that is in compliance with all laws, be they local, state, or federal. Especially if that is what the company being hired specializes in.

Laying it at the feet of the end user (brokerages) is unfair, and it is curious that no service provider is named as the Defendant. Perhaps Coldwell Banker’s pockets seem deeper.

Additionally, the topic of permission is convoluted, as website visitors will often fill out their information when viewing homes, and the IDX provider will use that contact information to send even more information, thus written permission to contact.

Lumping the above activity in with telemarketing spam would be inaccurate. If a brokerage bought a list of phone numbers to cold text without consumers’ permission, that would, however be illegal.

Regardless, in the text message showcased in the lawsuit, the URL provided (ishomenow.com) forwards to listingstoleads.com – Listings-to-Leads (L2L) which says it is a “leading inbound marketing platform with a lead generation system.”

It appears to us that the lead generation company is the originator of the text message, not a specific Coldwell Banker agent or broker.

This Friday will determine next steps in this case, but for now, it is worth investigating your own text message marketing efforts (whether done yourself or through a third party) to make sure proper permissions have been obtained, and that all use is within current federal guidelines, because a potential $1,500 per text message sent in violation of the law would hurt any brokerage.

Be sure to read the lawsuit in its entirety as it outlines the specific behaviors in question, and review this potentially helpful compliance checklist in the meantime.

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Real Estate Technology

The app for pros that rely on their network for sales

(TECH NEWS) When you network frequently as part of your sales strategies, connections can get confused and become impersonal. This app intends on fixing that.

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Part of any successful professional’s life is networking in person, be it within your network, or among consumers. But keeping everyone straight takes a lot of brain power and skill.

You can never have too many apps when it comes to networking. Which is why I’m thrilled that with the arrival of Hippo, we have a meaningful entry in the field.

Like its distant cousin “personal finance and budgeting,” there are more apps out there than I have fingers and toes. Yet Hippo is attempting to do what dozens of other networking apps are trying to do as well: Get and keep your attention.

That said, it appears that Hippo is trying to tap into your vein of nostalgia by letting you know that networking is akin to happiness. In other words, the more people you know, the happier you are – their premise is supported by a giant TED talk on their website’s landing page.

The Hippo app lets you personalize your entries: names, ages, descriptions, personal notes, special dates.

For anyone involved in sales, Hippo could offer one hell of an advantage.

For those of us used writing things down about the people you meet, Hippo makes your conversations instantly searchable. Hippo can find notes using any obscure keyword you can remember. The search is brilliant.

The app promotes the idea of the “Farley file,” wherein Franklin D. Roosevelt’s campaign manager, James Farley kept notes of every single person they came across, including personal details that could be accessed by Roosevelt days, weeks, or even months later to improve the personal touch of any conversation. This was not the standard method at the time and many believe it changed how politicians were expected to communicate.

Hippo is just waiting to be downloaded.

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Real Estate Technology

Partners in Grind is an accountability match-making site

Partners in Grind is a website that strives to help you find an accountability partner – something that could really help with inspiring productivity.

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We all have that friend who serves as our “partner in crime,” the one they go on crazy adventures with and have great stories to tell as a result. For me, all of my friends fall into this classification; but I digress…

While these relationships are fun for “every once in a while” behavior, not everyday needs to be an adventure. But, it is difficult to find the day-to-day friends that encourage good, even productive, behavior.

This is now possible with Partners in Grind which strives to help you find an accountability partner – something that could really help with inspiring productivity.

Speaking from experience, it can be extremely difficult to find self-discipline and motivate yourself to work; especially when working in a freelance role. However, when you have someone else in the know of your work, you are likely to try harder.

According to the company, “Partners in Grind is match-making tool for accountability partners to promote proper habit building. Habits are everything – our daily habits dictate the quality of our lives.

Research shows social accountability is critical during the formation of habits, but finding someone to kick ass with can be HARD.

“Partners In Grind will handpick an accountability buddy based on the specific Success-Habit you want to add to your life. Build new habits like Working Out, Eating Healthy, Meditating, Reading, and Mastering Your Mornings with an accountability partner. As an added bonus, every week you receive a mini present in your inbox of pro-tips and inspirational clips specific to that habit.”

This free service works with the ideas of science, support, and challenge. With science, studies show the significance of social accountability. Having the support of someone on your team to contact at anytime for motivation is priceless; and this leads to challenge because playful competition is likely to transpire.

To find your “Partner in Grind,” you can fill out a sign-up form, which leads to personalized guidance, then receive challenges and tips. And, if you are your partner are incompatible, you have to option to be re-matched.

Stay in touch with your partner through text, Skype, or email. Being able to share with someone else the completion of a project is incentive enough.

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