Is Technology a Threat or an Opportunity for Real Estate Agents?

Editor's Note: The following is a guest blog post by Ticketyview Co-Founder Tim Scott. Ticketyview is based in Adelaide, South Australia and is a member of the We Get Around Network of Matterport Pro 3D Camera Photographers. Tim's article first appeared in the Matterport User Group Forum.

Technology is advancing at a rapid rate and there isn't a thing we can do about it. Look back 10 years ago; people were just starting to dabble in myspace. Not long after that and people would say, "what is myspace?" Today's reality is that almost everything is available online. Not only is it available, it is extremely convenient in an increasingly busy world. The interconnectedness of Facebook allows for a slew of marketing techniques at a reasonable price. So where does all of this fit in with the real estate industry?

I myself have been a real estate enthusiast, amateur developer and investor and I struggle to remember a time before (now known as When I dig deep enough I do however recall the pain of trawling through the weekend paper thinking to myself, "what if I have missed something?" I used to stress whilst trying to find my first property in Adelaide back in 2001. How could anyone possibly have the time to find a property for sale, inspect it and go through the entire process of sorting finance? In reflection I'm not sure, but it happened. 

Tickeyview Team | Pictured clockwise from top left are Ben, Lachy, Tim and Mick. Image courtesy of Ticketyview

Tickeyview Team | Pictured clockwise from top left are Ben, Lachy, Tim and Mick. Image courtesy of Ticketyview

Having said that, things were a lot slower back then. Social media wasn't prominent and online marketing was in its infancy. Now enter 2014 – has 99.9% of available property right in the palm of our hands. Easy and simplistic in its form, an agents dream. A one-stop shop for anybody looking for real estate. What more could we possibly want? Simply put, more! I will not even entertain the thought of a property online unless it has a large amount of professional photos and a well constructed floor plan accompanying the listing. If it doesn't have these, it better be in the golden lasso and be at a bargain basement price. What vendors don't seem to realize is that whilst people may now find your property easily, they may not have the time to give it the attention it deserves. 

Our culture is fast paced and unforgiving and the old adage of you snooze you lose is more prevalent than ever. Why is it that in an age where we have cost effective solutions to these problems, a majority of agents are still afraid of what this means for their industry? Shouldn't they embrace digital solutions with open arms? Not yet, it would seem. Despite a a need in an online world to have a marketing edge, some agents see it as a threat rather than a marketing tool. Right now the technology exists for people to have their property scanned and photographed in under an hour at a price less than an ad in the paper or professional photography, it allows for a fully accurate scaled 3D model and a "true" 3D virtual tour allowing prospective buyers to tour a property the moment it goes online. Not only can they tour it, they have access to an interactive floor plan whereby they can enter and exit the tour where and when they like. It sounds to good to be true, but this service is already available in South Australia. I know this because myself and my three business partners have brought it here. 

The interesting thing we have found in bringing this amazing new technology to our sleepy state is that the vast majority of agents are intimidated by it. A strange thing that we didn't see coming. Buyers and vendors love it and seriously can't get enough, but not all agents see the pros. Some of the feedback from agents so far has been "what if no one comes to my open house," or "what if there are parts of the house we don't want people to see," or "what about security?" Surely agents only want people that like the property and are genuine buyers at their open houses, surely when people come to an open house they will see all parts of the home and finally if they wanted to case the place – they'll probably be at your open house. Sure, like anything there are pros and cons, but in this instance the advantages certainly outweigh the negatives.

This technology also allows us to build full virtual reality experiences using Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR. Facebook didn't buy Oculus for $2 billion to not see it in every home. Buyers love the ability to quickly and easily assess the suitability of a home, and vendors only like spending hours presenting their home for informed and genuine buyers. Once more agents start to consider these advantages (plus the many more), hopefully they will embrace the changing technology and do what they do best and use all of the potential marketing tools available to their advantage. One thing we know is that the tech has arrived and its only getting better. 


Editor's Note: To participate in a lively discussion around this topic, please see this thread in the Matterport User Group (MUG) Forum.

Dan Smigrod

Founder, CEO & Chief Photographer, 3527 Knollhaven Drive, NE, Atlanta, GA 30319-1908, USA