The New World Of Real Estate Is On Your Phone

By Richard Scheinin
The Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) At a recent California Realtors’ expo there were dozens of vendors in booths, representing old-school services and products like mold-and odor-removal services; title companies and property inspection services. But the real focus for many of the realtors was all about the new world that’s unfolding around them. Stay relevant, they were repeatedly told, and keep up by leveraging technology.


Walking into Exhibit Hall D at the Santa Clara Convention Center earlier this month, real estate agent Lisa Faria scanned the day’s schedule and spotted a talk she wouldn’t miss: “Look at this one,’A Day in the Life of a Mobile Savvy Agent.’ I am so not a mobile savvy agent. I definitely need that panel.”

A few minutes later, she got the lowdown from Kristi Kennelly, a national speaker for who used to be a Broadway dancer. Seriously. Among other shows, she appeared in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

The opening act for the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors’ 26th Annual Convention and Expo, Kennelly led her audience through a fictitious day on the phone: how to succeed in business by trying hard, with apps.

There’s an app, she explained, that tracks mileage for tax purposes (MileIQ), as well as an app (Legend) that transforms photos into videos with written sales pitches, and yet another app (FiveStreet) that answers clients’ 3 a.m. inquiries with prewritten messages: “Catching a few zzz’s right now. Can I call you at 8 a.m.?”

You know, leveraging technology.

“Mobile-friendly is what it’s about,” said Kennelly, who proposed an app for just about every 30 minutes of the workday, starting at 6 a.m.

Faria, who works for Coldwell Banker, intends to use “Great Schools,” which can get agents up to speed with detailed ratings, reviews and test scores for neighborhood schools, and “slydial,” which lets an agent leave messages for clients without their phones ringing.
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She picked up a bushel-full of tips: “Lots of easy-to-use apps that we need in our oh-so-mobile lives.”

Around the exhibit hall, there were dozens of vendors in booths, representing mold- and odor-removal services; title companies; property inspection services; banks and other lenders; an off-price carpet outlet; even a chiropractor. Old-school stuff, most of it.

But the talks attended by the 1,700 agents and real estate professionals who registered for the convention were all about the new world that’s unfolding around them. Stay relevant, they were repeatedly told, keep up.

Joseph Lin, a product manager for in Silicon Valley, said he hoped to scope out “the new stuff on the market, maybe to help me build my website better.”

He had his eye on a talk called “Strike it Rich Using Real Estate Data with Five Market Mining Habits,” to be given by Sean O’Toole, CEO and founder of PropertyRadar, a marketing and customer management service.

“When you know your target audience’s behavior better, then you can create more services that fulfill their needs,” Lin said.

“Then you can be successful.”

Another talk, about building successful brokerages, was titled “If You Build It, Will they Come?”

The two presenters, Chris Trapani, founder and CEO of the Sereno Group, and James Dwiggins, CEO of NextHome, talked a lot about improving productivity and professionalism. Dwiggins discussed establishing “brand standards” for his agents, while Trapani described effective team-building: “We are very picky about who we hire,” he said. “We don’t care if somebody does 150 deals a year if they have too big an ego.”

He wasn’t holding back, and the audience cheered him on when he said, “The real estate industry needs to stop hiring people simply because they passed the state exam.”

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