Agents' good and bad use of technology

I was just thinking about techology, agents use of them and how they have changed the way they work.

The two most influential are the mobile phone and the internet. The former reduces the role of office staff/receptionists as customers can call agents direct.

While the internet reduces the 'home open' and 'showing' part of the agents job (the internet increases 'out of area' exposure but allows prospective buyers to say 'no this is not what we want' and not call the agent for an inspection).

However the internet has NOT reduced the role of the agent in assisting in presentation (photos are more important than ever because of their bigger audience online) nor in vendor relations nor negotiation with buyers.

Then there are technologies that are available but have had much less an impact.
Eg the home/business phone answering machine and email are much lower down the list.

SMS information about homes for sale is another possible tool, but I don't see it being that useful given that more and more people have the internet on their mobile phone.

If used correctly all the above technologies are beneficial.

But sometimes agents are stupid and use technology as it's there, not because it's any good.

Take the LCD screen, for instance. LCD screens are good. They're great on computers and produce a nice sharp picture on flat-screen TVs. They've won rapid acceptance for both home and business users.

But that does not mean that they are good for agents windows, contrary to what some would have us believe.

The typical agents window is full of properties for sale. Each house for sale has its own sign, with photo, description and ideally inspection times, price and address.
The exception is where agents are a bit light on for stock and where they have corner windows - they'll sometimes have two signs for the one property ... good merchandising you see - empty 'shelf space' is bad in retail. And if they still can't fill it up they'll have notices praising their 'red-hot' sales team and/or testimonial letters from customers.

The great thing about this is the one property - one space (more or less). You can quickly make comparisons and can very easily scan the window for properties you might like. And this works very well.

One or two local agents have thought that as LCDs are great for computers and TV it would be good for their windows as well. So they ripped out the window display and replaced it with (I think) 6 LCDs. One would hope that they have more than 6 properties for sale, hence each property loses its own space on the window.

By sharing screen time with other properties the exposure of each is reduced. And window shoppers may not be in a hurry but still want to make comparisons and quickly move their gaze between several likely prospects. Even where there are buttons, people don't want effort, and in my view it's better to have the information all on the window without further 'drilling down' into computer menus.

Granted LCDs look good at night, but when you add window reflection and ambient light, they don't look as good as photos during the day. So visibility suffers again.

Touch-screens and LCDs do have their place on agent windows. It would be great to use them for video tours of properties people are interested in. But they should not replace seperate photo-based window listings until LCD gets cheap enough for every property to have its own LCD screen, shared with none other.

I am near a long street full of agents. I can say that I spend much more time looking at ones with traditional windows than those with LCDs only. The latter require too much effort and are too slow to scan each offering, so I don't bother stopping there.

Though it's good for many purposes, LCD screens that show multiple properties are bad for showing them off compared to normal photos. If I was a vendor I'd skip any agent who used them, as I'd prefer a seperate window display (which is part of the justification for their sales fees).
 
I'm still waiting for agents to switch on about (youtube) and use this technology to sell to the new FHOB tech savey buyers.

Maybe when the property market starts to slow down some bright spark might look into using this form of free advertisement.


Geoff
 
I'm still waiting for agents to switch on about (youtube) and use this technology to sell to the new FHOB tech savey buyers.

Maybe when the property market starts to slow down some bright spark might look into using this form of free advertisement.

Good point. There could be privacy issues with tenanted properties, but for vacant properties or where the owner occupier agrees then it could be good (provided they're aware of increased burglary risks).

I suspect agents are of the school that you only tell buyers enough to get them to make a call, and that it's good business to deliberately withold vital information (eg address or price) to generate buyer enquiries (so they have something to tell the vendor and/or get future listings).
 
Here's another 'stupid agent' story.

1. I buy unit from them about a year ago

2. Unit next door comes up for rent, with them the management agents

3. Instead of the agent taking photos of the actual unit for rent, they dig up an old pic of my unit from 12 months ago, representing that one as the one for rent

4. I fire off email, asking them to remove that pic and substitute one of the unit advertised

I guess the temptation to use things from their photo vault is too strong for some, even if it's the wrong property!
 
Take the LCD screen, for instance.
But that does not mean that they are good for agents windows, contrary to what some would have us believe.

I was going to raise this point too.

I personally loathe these new LCD agency displays, for there's no way I'm standing there waiting for the listings to scroll through. I just move to the next agencies window where all the listings are displayed in front of me to scrutinize.

These things are of incredible detriment to an RE agency IMO.

Does anyone like these things and why please?
 
We used one recently on a display stand at a fair.
We had 4 images on there, with very big high-contrast text on them with not very many words, on a 5 second rotation. With the speed of passing foot traffic it worked a treat.

But for a REA window? Ewwww! There are two REA windows on our main street (ok, one is the window of the shearing supply store and they obviously pay the owners for the space and the agent across the road has a window so small their display spills over to the quilting shop next door, but y'know) and the best thing about the paper displays is you know that a property you have your eye on is in the top left corner, so you can look straight there to see if the price has changed or it has grown a sold sticker. You just can't do that with a rotating display.
 
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