Real estate is naturally dynamic, but regardless of market conditions, agents and agencies need a way to make sure they're standing out from the crowd. A real estate phone system that facilitates both client inquiries and agent collaboration without breaking the bank or bogging down network performance is key to staying ahead of the industry curve.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), more than 5.5 million existing homes and 612,000 new homes were sold across the United States in 2017. The flip side? There are approximately 2 million active real estate licensees in the U.S., meaning more client choice, more competition, and thinner margins for error.
For companies looking to make the jump and empower their sales or wanting to upgrade an existing system to better serve clients, here's a look at key selling points of a phone system that helps drive better business outcomes.
Market Value: The Real Estate Phone System
What's wrong with using personal smartphones and a communal office phone to handle client inquiries? There are real estate agencies still doing solid business this way, but here's the caveat: Real estate clients now expect agents to respond quickly if they have questions or inquires. And quickly no longer means days or even hours — it means ASAP if you want to keep potential clients interested and bolster their confidence in your abilities.
Communication subtext is also critical; if you can provide what clients are looking for before they ask, you're setting yourself up for powerful positive association.
How does a real estate phone system play into this trend? Consider:
- Professionalism: While having agents provide their mobile number to clients for business phone calls helps foster a sense of connection, it also creates a potential problem: What happens if the agent is sick, on vacation, or leaves the company? Using a cloud-based business phone system lets you link all phones via a single business number — clients call the office and are then sent directly to the agent of their choice. If that agent isn't available, someone else is notified and able to take the lead.
- Collaboration: Real estate is a team effort; the best agents always have a hardworking team of office assistants, photographers, professional stagers, and peers around them to help deliver the most value to clients and close the most sales. The result? Agencies need phone systems that support communication anywhere, anytime, over any platform. This allows agents to quickly collaborate on documents, develop presentations, or double-check facts and figures before they meet with clients.
- Video Tours: As noted by Venture Beat, tech advancements such as high-quality video conferencing are making their way into the real estate market. This technology is key when considering clients who live half a world away but are buying their first vacation property or suddenly need to move for work. High-performance video conferencing options allow agents to conduct virtual property tours, which give prospective buyers both a clear view of the property itself and a look at the surrounding area.
- 24/7 Response: Clients don't always call during business hours. They might be in another time zone or could stumble across one of your properties during a late-night drive or while browsing the market online over the weekend. Business phone systems — which include customizable APIs for chatbots and other advanced automated tools — let agents provide critical information to clients even when they're not physically available and also allow quick follow-up with prospective buyers during regular business hours. Put simply? If you're not available, someone else will be, so make sure your phone system supports your client base.
- Data Ownership: Who owns client data? The clients themselves. Who uses it? Agents with access and permission. The challenge? Using personal smartphones and devices, individual real estate agents become the custodians of client information even if they leave the organization. Using a business phone system allows agencies to record and store this data on corporate servers rather than risking its loss if agents change firms.
Changing market demand means you need a system that scales up and down along with workload.
So, what are some key characteristics that should be sought out in a real estate phone system provider?
Start with maximum uptime — you need a provider able to keep your system up and running 24/7/365. Look for high uptime guarantees paired with specific promises about what happens if unexpected downtime occurs; these could include automatic cloud failover or on-site backups. Also critical? Reliable cloud hosting. While VoIP and unified communication tools have made significant strides in the last five years, the right cloud backbone is critical to ensure crystal-clear calls and latency-free video tours.
Agents should also consider the need for support. The nature of real estate means agents can't spend time lingering around the office waiting for a support technician to arrive — they need 24/7 on-demand support to address any issues, and this support needs to happen wherever they are and however they choose to connect.
Last but not least, changing market demand means you need a system that scales up and down along with workload. If sales are up and clients are beating down the door, you need more bandwidth to handle additional agents and more virtual tours. If the market takes a downturn, meanwhile, there's no reason to pay for bandwidth and resources you aren't using.
Real estate is hard work, and client expectations are on the rise. Meet the market head-on with cloud-based phone systems capable of empowering collaboration and virtual communication backed by providers who understand the need for 24/7 scalable and adaptable solutions.