Armed with renewed determination, a fierce refocus and a plethora of new learnings thanks to 2020, we can safely charge into 2021 with fresh eyes and ensure we have our absolute best year in real estate.
Here are three things I’m expecting from 2021 and how agents and property managers will be able to thrive through them:
Expectation one: Our own ‘Roaring ‘20’s’
With our industry now swinging its doors open to hyperactivity, we’ve immediately witnessed a dramatic response, experiencing an influx of activity, as buyers and sellers’ confidence returns. The “economic cliff” was a prediction, not a reality and whilst there may still be emerging pain to follow, the property market has once again shown its resilience.
Our goal as agents should be to thrive within our individual markets pushing towards market dominance, however, the landscape has changed. Agents are no longer bound by geographical boundaries and as was evident in 2020, those that embarked on “following the client” will win the market share battle. For those agents who remained connected to their community, 2021 and the decade ahead will be a period of huge business growth not seen before.
It is in this present moment we will see a division within the industry, as those agents who flattened along with the government-enforced industry halt, now scramble to keep themselves relevant in the peak of such market momentum.
To thrive, stick to the basics – follow and engage with the client, well before they become a client.
Expectation two: Technology is now here to stay
It was a proud moment for us all, witnessing the real estate industry “pivot” and rapid response to virtual operations. Instantly, a revolutionary approach across the board showcased a modern world where agents could customise and deliver their service, without leaving the comfort of their couch. Virtual reality was now our own reality, and a welcomed world for many.
But here is the catch. Most technologies from virtual inspection tools, online bidding platforms, electronic signing, Zoom meetings and “live streaming” just to name a few were available to all agents well before COVID-19 brought our “regular” operations to a standstill. Agents were just not using them and the resistance to change has always been a challenge for our industry. However, that train of thought can no longer apply. The consumer has adapted to the change and is now expecting it as normal. Imagine telling a client in 2021 you do not have “electronic signing ability” of formal documents or the facility to pay deposits with BPAY! You will be viewed as prehistoric.
“IT IQ” is now a significant differentiator between one competitor and another. It is now a minimum prerequisite to be technology-savvy.
Expectation three: A changing of the guard
I wrote an article some time ago that the impending technology changes that were being introduced into our industry will see a “changing of the guard”. What I was referring to was that many predicted that technology would see the “agent” being displaced from the selling process. That is, technology would allow seller and buyer to transact directly and thus the middleman, the agent, would no longer be a part of the equation. Effectively decimating our industry.
I saw it differently. I had always felt that the agent could not be replaced by technology as our transactions were emotionally charged and no piece of technology could replace “the last 15 meters up the driveway”. That was truly apparent in 2020; the agent was cemented in the transaction and we can all agree that we will be around for some time yet.
What I saw as the biggest challenge, or more so opportunity (depending on which side of the fence you were sitting on) to our industry was the emergence of new business models and how in the future the agent and/or property manager will engage with a principal. That is, I saw the disruption not come from the direction of client and agent but rather how an agent or property manager will engage with a principal.
COVID-19 has dramatically brought forward this emerging change; what I perceive as “a changing of the guard”. We will see a shift from big office, high-overhead operations to boutique, client-centric high-profit teams. These emerging teams have an agile and boutique approach and easily adapt to client needs taking significant market share from the more traditional agency models.
The high-touch/client-centric service delivered by a low-cost/high-profit real estate practice has come of age. It will be the business model of 2021 and beyond.
It is an extremely exciting period for our industry. I believe 2020 has highlighted the real value and need for a professional real estate agent in the sales and property management transaction. I also believe it has highlighted the requirement for every agent to lift their game to meet the expectations of the modern client. Those that embrace and apply the expected changes will thrive; anything less will simply not make the cut.
Manos Findikakis is chief executive and co-founder of Eview Group