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‘The dinosaurs now are using DocuSign’

By Grace Ormsby
29 October 2021 | 11 minute read
Tom Panos new2 reb

Technology use in real estate no longer represents the cutting edge of the profession, according to Tom Panos, but what’s prompted the shift?

Speaking on a recent episode of Real Estate Exposed alongside Phil Tarrant, the Real Estate Gym founder acknowledged the huge impact that “COVID clarity” had given the real estate sector.

“What’s come out of COVID, since March 2020, is that all these digital changes that we were always talking about.”

One of those changes, according to the REB head coach and trainer, is simply that what once was considered innovation is no longer so innovative.

“Even the dinosaur real estate office owners, who would always shy away from change … it appears that these people, the dinosaurs, are now using DocuSign. The dinosaurs now are using pieces of technology [that are] set and forget.

“It’s default. It’s no longer for that cutting edge agent that wears a black T-shirt and white sneakers.

“We’re talking about the agent that wears the old Lowe’s shirts and the Hush Puppy shoes going off and using digital pre-list kits – or they’re using things like marketing campaigns that are provided by going onto an app and getting them financed, or things like online auctions,” he outlined.

Drawing on his oft-used quote, he quipped, “if you don’t like change, you’re going to really, really hate extinction”.

“Right now, I can pretty much tell you, even the dinosaur offices simply are saying, ‘I’m not going to drive off to the Central Coast to get a signature on a piece of paperwork’.

“It’s not going to happen. I’m sending out this email; bang, it’s done. I’m not going to go off and worrying about getting or sending COVID to someone where I can simply just get this stuff signed. And people don’t have to leave their job working at retail on a Saturday to sign a contract; they sign it on their mobile phone while they’re at work, you know? That’s how easy it is.

It led the coach to consider that “anything in life that is fast, good, [and] reasonably priced is normally a winner”.

“Whether it’s Uber, whether it’s Spotify – fast, good, and then reasonably priced. They’re the three things that I think, because then everyone’s a winner.

“If everyone’s a winner, if all stakeholders win out of it, it means technology is actually helping, not harming,” he explained.

“There have been plenty of pieces of technology that actually harm businesses because ... Who knows? Glitchy, complicated, expensive.”  

Zero-based thinking’s place in business

With so much proptech out there that does help rather than harms, Mr Tarrant proposed the question: “Why did it take COVID for people to rapidly accept this utility that has been there for many, many years?”

In response, Mr Panos expressed the belief that “you’ve got to actually go through a process, and there’s got to be consequences in that process”.

“If nothing changes, nothing changes.

“You’ve got to go through a process where you turn around and say, ‘Hey, we are suffering major consequences if we don’t actually come up with a solution for this’.

“When you’re not faced with that, it’s pretty easy to just keep going with the flow, even though there is a better way to do it,” he argued.  

It led him to highlight the concept of zero-based thinking as a decision-making process “that we can all ask in our business every day”.

“If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing today, would I actually start this process in a business?”

Urging all real estate operators to take a look at their business in this way, Mr Panos encouraged asking the question: “If I was buying [this business] tomorrow, what would I keep and what would I change?”

“The truth is that every day, you have the opportunity to make those changes to a business that you already own.

“You’ve just got to sit there and say, ‘Are these things that have happened because they once served a purpose, they no longer serve that purpose, but we still hold them? Or has this had an expiry date, and what I’m doing is actually working with something that actually has got its use-by date?’”

According to Mr Panos, “it’s a great question to ask yourself in your business every day”.

You can listen to the full conversation between Tom Panos and Phil Tarrant here



Grace Ormsby

Grace Ormsby

Grace is a journalist across Momentum property and investment brands. Grace joined Momentum Media in 2018, bringing with her a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from the University of Newcastle. She’s passionate about delivering easy to digest information and content relevant to her key audiences and stakeholders.

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