The world of real estate has been so utterly transformed by technology that those who thrive in the field today are those who most effectively employ the many interfaces of tech, both for the good of their clients and for the success of their business.
“The more willing an agent is to adapt technology to the needs and style of the customer, the more successful they will be,” said Nancy Umbreit, broker and owner of Equity Colorado-Front Range.
Success with technology in real estate often starts with a learning curve – something Umbreit provides to her agents’ advantage. At Equity Colorado, learning opportunities are woven into the business model and are generally available at no charge. Equity brokers have access to frequent classes on every aspect of working in real estate, and Umbreit’s weekly newsletter provides additional educational support and tech guidance. New agents are mentored one-on-one for a year by Umbreit, who draws on her 30-plus years in the field along with her early utilization of technology to help realtors build a strong business platform from day one.
In classes, open to all Equity agents, brokers not only learn the ins and outs of the latest technological opportunities in real estate – from creating a presence on social media to virtual staging to using the best apps to search and show homes – but they also network with like-minded professionals, review contract scenarios and learn how to price a property based on informational technology available to appraisers. As a bonus, many Equity classes count toward ongoing education requirements for licensure.
How tech has changed client needs
Umbreit noted, “Buyers come to us much better prepared than in the past.” When she first entered real estate, much of her job was talking to clients about what they prioritized in a home and “sometimes even what city they wanted to land in,” she said. Now, she continued, “They’ve looked at all the websites, seen every room in a house. We ask our agents, ‘How are you going to meet the changing needs of clients?’”
Umbreit begins that answer by connecting Equity agents with the tools to create “that important virtual presence,” she said, starting with virtual staging. “A house with empty rooms is less likely to sell, online and in-person,” she explained. Equity Colorado agents learn to use virtual staging to give buyers an online peek into a home’s floor plan and furniture layout. “Realtors with extra staging find they get a better response from buyers when they can envision how they would live in a home, thanks to virtual staging,” she added.
An online presence often includes social media. “This doesn’t have to be intimidating,” Umbreit said. Again, resources and classes from Equity can get agents off on the right foot, whether they’re establishing themselves on LinkedIn or digging into MLS sites. “Some of our agents have set up blogs, posted on Facebook and Instagram and have been able to reach people they might not have gotten before,” Umbreit said. “We present it all in our classes, and people can decide what works for them.”
Tech tools for real-time sales
Equity’s “great support and technology tools” convinced long-time broker associate Kris Flynn to partner with Equity Colorado last year. She’s appreciated tech for decades, she said, recalling,
“Realtor.com came on the scene in the late 1990s, and when I was planning a move back to Colorado, I remember feeling so empowered being able to actually see photos of homes for sale from my house in southern California.” Flynn jumps between at least a dozen tech tools daily to personalize sales and streamline administrative tasks.
As an example, she said, “I can be sitting with a client in their home, coffee shop, anywhere really, who want to sell their property. Within minutes, using an app from a title company, I can show them right there what they could walk away with at multiple different pricing scenarios with all the title fees, taxes and pay-offs figured in.” She regularly shows properties in Colorado via Zoom or FaceTime to buyers from out-of-state, and if they ask to see a different home mid-tour, she said, “I can pull up the MLS on my phone, get every property near us, or any other location criteria, that is available and schedule showings in just moments.”
Equity equips agents with cloud-based, real-time contract software that can identify which properties in a selected area are likely to sell within the next year and view turnover rates in seconds. Flynn said she’s excited to see where AI and other technological advances may serve real estate in the future. Of course, Umbreit said, “We’ll be doing classes on AI to prepare our agents.”
Office space for business on the go
Since technology has also shifted how business is done, Umbreit provides office space in downtown Longmont to Equity Colorado agents. “Gone are the days when you’d go to the office, do your work, then go out and show homes,” she said. “Now you’re working from home, working on the go, pulling up things on apps on the fly.” The Equity office space and conference rooms offer brokers the option to pop in when desired without racking up leasing fees. “You can work for an hour or the day, bring in a client or video chat,” Umbreit said.
Equity Colorado agents pay a monthly membership fee of $59, a fraction of the usual rate in the field, and in return, most educational support is free, office space is included and mentorship and tech opportunities are always on tap. As for home transactions, Equity receives a flat fee of $699 per sale, significantly less than the 30 to 40 percent split often required by competing brokerages.
To learn more about buying or selling with Equity Colorado or to join the Equity team, contact Umbreit at [email protected], visit coloradofrontrange.equityrealestateusa.com or stop by the Equity Colorado office at 710 Kimbark St. in Longmont.
By Sarah Huber, At Home Colorado