I used to carry my bank card with me in fear of one of those methods failing me or merchants not accepting it. Now I’m used to swiping up from the bottom of the phone to reveal my virtual credit card and confirm the payment using my thumb through NFC. It’s less effort and more secure than carrying cards or cash with me. The only risk, of course, is facing a flat battery at the pay point.
Early adopter problems
It wasn’t smooth sailing from the start. I was an early adopter of Samsung Pay in 2018 and most merchants at the time were confused with the technology, so I had to do a lot of explaining. As a result, my use of the tech in 2018 and 2019 was limited. Then the pandemic hit us and the rest is history. Now merchants are used to people tapping their cards, phones, or watches to pay. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of contactless payment systems. It has changed both consumer and merchant habits. For me at least, the wallet is history. If you are a cyclist you would understand the joy of having to carry around less.
Disruption happens gradually and then suddenly. It takes me back to an older form of payment, cheques. They are now a thing of the past but I still have this old company chequebook at home:
I remember cashing in Google Adsense Cheques at the bank more than 10 years ago. The first one (for around R20k-R30k) arrived via mail all the way from Silicon Valley. I had to sign them on the back and also explain to cashiers who this Google is and that the payment was for. (Later we we decided to go ad-free with our property portals in exchange for cleaner user interfaces).
Frictionless also wins in real estate
The most successful entrepreneurs will understand how frictionless transactions boost sales. This includes real estate, and Wall Street is starting to throw lots of money at companies that aim to make real estate transactions smoother. Just look at the race between Zillow, Opendoor, and others to be the king of instant cash offers with the iBuyer model. Zillow has even taken it up a notch, making their famous Zestimate their cash offer. Look up your home, check if you are happy with the Zestimate, and press a button to sell. Sure, it won’t work for everyone, but for a lot of buyers, convenience wins.
How do agents compete with disruptive new models like this? By making the real estate transaction as frictionless as possible. It’s more the sum of all parts than focusing on a single issue:
- Be available and respond quickly to the preferred contact method from the buyer and seller. Nothing will kill your real estate business quicker than slow response. Provide a single point of contact.
- Manage expectations by communicating any required tasks or expected delays upfront. This can be done in an automated fashion as soon as any conditions are not met. Use a good CRM to track leads and keep a detailed history of communication with your sellers and buyers.
- Use your experience to accurately predict selling time frames and the best listing price for sellers, reducing any delays. Have those stats handy for sellers. Overpricing is one of the biggest problems in real estate:
- Use clear and easy-to-read contracts with less fine print.
- Be transparent with buyers and sellers on everything, including defects, overpriced homes, poor curb appeal, and other items that can have an impact.
- Make sure buyers are on time for viewings.
- Use experienced transfer attorneys you can trust.
- Pre-qualify your buyers before initiating any viewings. Portals will send you lots of leads but are also known for creating buyers out of thin air. Time is your biggest asset, and you need to protect yours and that of your seller at all cost.
- Virtual tours is a time saver for both buyers and sellers to narrow down the listings they want to see.
- Review every transaction when sales are concluded. Ask buyers and sellers for reviews and what their biggest pain points are. Keep a history of that and work on that for future transactions.
- It wouldn’t hurt to have company brainstorm sessions to see how you can ensure smoother transactions. Nothing beats experience, and it is here where experienced brokers and data from historic transactions play a vital role with guidance.
Real estate is still very much a relationship business, but technology is helping agents to improve the experience, cut down on waste and provide more frictionless transactions. All the tools are there to make a difference.