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Residential Real Estate for the 21st Century Entrepreneur

published on August 20, 2012

As technology advances, so must the real estate industry. At issue is whether real estate agents and brokers are changing with the times to stay ahead of the competition or are avoiding change at risk of becoming obsolete.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, a typical REALTOR® earned 19% of business from past clients and 20% through referrals from past clients, while bringing in only 3% of business from a website. With so much technology at their fingertips in the 21st Century, why are REALTORS® getting such dismal results from website presence and available technology?


The answer seems to stem from legacy belief systems in the real estate community. According to Austin, Texas real estate broker Brian Talley, who founded Regent Property Group LLC, “There is resistance to change from well-established brokerages that have relied on reputations and networking skills to grow and maintain profitable real estate businesses. Many of these established firms are losing market share to newer, rapidly arising firms that focus on technology to enhance the ability of their agents to network, get their names out there, and build a strong referral base.”

So why is there so much resistance to change? To start with, technology is rapidly advancing, hard to understand, and expensive for a typical broker­ and even more so for an average real estate agent. The typical real estate agent had a sales volume of $1.3 million and a median gross income of $34,900 in 2011, while working 40 hours per week, which doesn’t leave much time or income for an effective technology strategy. There also is a lack of general technological knowledge among the real estate community, compounded by limited third-party resources with sufficient knowledge to employ a winning strategy.

Despite the dearth of sound resources, established brokerages tend to have plentiful financial resources to implement an effective strategy – when they have the vision. This lack of vision has caused many firms to fall behind, while new, tech-savvy firms have pushed full steam ahead, in many cases eclipsing and even shattering conventional market share. Emerging real estate firm Regent Property Group is one of these dynamic brokerages.

austin skyline viewTalley started his business from scratch in 2007 as the economy began to slow. With no customers, no database, and limited resources, he put his efforts into building a state-of-the-art website focused on Austin real estate, including active listings.

“After about six months of building the website, I began to connect meaningfully with people searching for homes for sale. I rigorously followed up with them via phone, email, and social networks to establish rapport and build relationships.”

This discipline enabled Talley to close 60% of his early transactions from website leads, almost unprecedented in a traditionally relationship-generated field. “Since we were heading into a recession, my business would undoubtedly have failed without a meaningful online presence. I would have been forced to take a job somewhere when nobody was hiring, and, instead, grew my business beyond transactions for myself to a credible and respected team of agents known for substantial production, including higher-end homes, such as prestigious waterfront Lake Austin properties.”

Talley admits website leads can be difficult to convert into closed sales but points to his results to demonstrate that, when a strong desire is present, good technology and hard work can transport one’s real estate business to a higher level of productivity. “As one of the strongest real estate markets in the nation, Austin’s residential real estate industry is incredibly competitive – but the internet changed the game, allowing real estate agents and brokers to compete on a more level playing field. My suggestion: let this technology work for you.”

four seasons austinRegent Property Group’s technology focus is well-rounded: marketing, email, social media, print and internet design, website technology, search engine marketing such as SEO for REALTORS® and Google Ads, media and public relations, phone calls, listing maintenance, and advanced contract-to-close practices. To maintain these areas, Talley relies on a support team. “Any truly productive broker will tell you we have to leverage our time in order to be successful; that means getting the right people to implement their knowledge base so we can focus on the big picture.”

What are aspiring entrepreneurs and real estate agents intent on success to do? Talley suggests, “Find a broker who understands the fundamentals of real estate and who understands how to build a growing referral base utilizing technology.”

Start by performing an internet search. See who ranks on search engines for your local terms, like Austin real estate, Austin luxury homes, Austin home search, plus neighborhood-specific terms.

Call these brokers, and ask what they can do to help you enhance your online presence and how they are utilizing technology to improve their business.

Learn what results brokers have achieved implementing their technology strategy. If they are not forthright in their response, that is a red flag.

If you find they are not able to help build your online presence or improve your use of technology, or if they have not had success converting online leads into closed sales, move on to another firm. When you do find the right firm, don’t expect these brokers to just start handing you qualified leads right away; it isn’t normally that easy for any broker. But, be sure they have a plan that can get you moving in the right direction.

Talley also recommends: “To compete online, you need to focus on your area of expertise. If you can’t afford a substantial website or don’t have the time to create informative content consistently, find a broker with the resources to provide that for you. Be patient for results, and dedicate yourself to consistent and diligent follow-up once you do connect with prospective customers.”

There are approximately 2 million active real estate brokers and sales agents in the U.S., according to the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials, and there were 4.55 million homes sold in the U.S. in the year ending May 2012, according to NAR. That leaves an average of only two sales per active real estate broker and agent. What steps are you taking to increase your ability to compete in the marketplace? With a focus on technological advancements and opportunities to enhance the future of your real estate career, you can bring your business into the 21st Century – and your bank account into an unprecedented location, location, location.

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