Technology Tightrope Internet, Gadgets Changing the Way Real Estate Agents Do Their Business
Donovan, Deborah, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Deborah Donovan Daily Herald Real Estate Writer
Technology is essential for real estate agents - but it can also be taken too far.
Jana Pinc, broker/owner of Realty Executives Midwest in Darien, says she watched two agents in her office get so hooked on technology that their business dried up and they had to leave the industry.
"In wanting to have the latest thing and upgraded everything, instead of working on selling and prospecting, they were addicted to sitting in front of a computer," she said.
In other words, agents still need to get on the phone and on the street and talk with clients - sitting in front of a screen is not going to sell houses.
"People like the human touch," she said. "They need to hear from you and hear your voice."
On the positive side, Pinc loves the exposure her firm's listings and agents get on the Web and the help with accounting that technology brings.
John Veneris can be considered a leader in using technology to sell real estate, but he agreed with Pinc that agents can get too wrapped up in all the bells and whistles.
"I call it 'paralysis by analysis,'" said Veneris, who chairs the technology task force for the Illinois Association of Realtors. He is broker-owner of Pro/Team under the Realty Executives label in Downers Grove.
The franchise company recently held a small technology fair to get Chicago-area salespeople and brokers more comfortable with new tools.
Agents and brokers have a real need to be educated because consumers see an explosion of information and bring their questions to the salespeople, said William A. Powers, chief operating officer for Realty Executives International, based in Phoenix.
"To be fair, all companies are trying to do this - get their people up and running," Powers said.
He estimated 20 percent of his agents are technologically savvy, but said that was higher than the general national average.
"It's changing," Powers said. "For the last three years, the National Association of Realtors has had a technological focus."
So what will buyers and sellers of homes find on the technology horizon?
Wireless technology is the coming thing, Veneris said.
The Multiple Listing Service of Northern Illinois recently put all its houses for sale on the Internet. By mid-2001, this will give agents wireless access to homes that are for sale, he said.
Agents with personal digital assistants, such as Palm Pilots, will be able to search the Internet and send and receive e-mails from their cars, Veneris said.
Web-enabled telephones will also do much of the work of laptop computers, said Veneris, who has used a computer at work since 1988.
Here is some of the technology demonstrated at the fair and other products and services that Pinc and Veneris are seeing in real estate offices:
- ENeighborhoods presents information on neighborhoods and schools that can be compared with other areas the buyer is considering as well as the town he or she is leaving.
"I e-mailed information to someone in Puerto Rico," Veneris said.
"They can compare Puerto Rico to Naperville or Downers Grove. They can compare schools, average income, crime statistics, market values and appreciation."
ENeighborhoods is from a company called iPlace Inc. …