Five Tips to Help Real Estate Professionals Compete in the Digital World
Real estate professionals are increasingly investing in e-signature and other technology to simplify the real estate transaction process and gain a competitive advantage in this changing industry. Clients expect convenient, around-the-clock service and agreements delivered digitally from agents and brokers. You can no longer differentiate with mere access to property data but you can offer unique value by providing superior customer service and local market expertise. That is, unless managing the inefficient paperwork and forms involved in transactions is preventing you from spending quality time with clients.
Focusing your efforts on these five tips will streamline the real estate transaction process and free up time for your agents to better serve clients.
1. Take a mobile-first approach
Real estate transactions happen on the go. Deals are done on site, in coffee shops, and from the car as agents are driving from one property to another. Going digital isn’t enough; you need to go digital in a mobile-first way. For example, if you have listing forms digitized as PDF files, that’s digital but it’s not mobile-first. Why not? Because PDFs are essentially digital pictures of paper. On a typical smartphone, a PDF’s text is often tiny; agents and clients must repeatedly pinch and zoom to read it. It's frustrating and decreases adoption of digital tools by agents.
The modern expectation is responsive digital content that automatically adapts to a mobile device’s screen size and orientation – agreements should be no exception. Even if a PDF version of a real estate sales contract exists, a responsive version should also exist for mobile agents and clients. Remember how you felt the last time you tried to use your smartphone to visit a website designed to be viewed on a laptop? You don’t want a client that’s about to purchase their first home, or sign a multi year lease on an anchor commercial retail property, to feel that same frustration.
2. Bring everyone involved together, digitally
Real estate deals are large transactions. For consumers, it’s often the largest purchase of their lives. For businesses, real estate is often the largest expense and represents multi-year commitments on the balance sheet. Appropriately, there are a lot of people involved in every deal – buyer and seller agents and brokers, attorneys, inspectors, appraisers, lenders, and more. The number of people is what often drives the complexity and delays involved in real estate. Has the appraiser filed their report? What’s the status of financing? Have the potential commercial tenant’s attorneys redlined the lease agreement? With so many people involved, it can be hard to keep everyone on track and deals moving forward.
Real estate software solutions make it possible to transform every step of a complex real estate contract into a simple automated process. For example, solutions like DocuSign Rooms for Real Estate create a secure, digital workspace for all of the files involved in a real estate transaction. Configurable permissions by role allow you to invite not just your agents or employees into a transaction, but also external parties such as attorneys or inspectors to share documents. Flexible workflow allows you to guide everyone through the deal, eliminating the typical delays that result from wondering where a document is or waiting on an approval.
3. Integrate existing customer and property data into every agreement
Real estate firms have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to digitally transform how business is conducted, from marketing automation systems, multiple listing services (MLS), customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and more. Yet too often the data from these systems resides in silos, and agents have to manually re-enter information that already exists in other systems. Worse, sometimes clients are asked to fill out the same information multiple times on different forms, applications, or agreements.
Choosing an e-signature solution that integrates with the tools you already use enables data to be pulled from other systems automatically to populate agreements. For agents or employees, it’s a remarkably right experience to have agreement fields filled in; it saves time when multiple systems are connected seamlessly. Errors are eliminated, completion times reduced, and everyone’s experience improves.
4. Focus on ease of use and remove barriers to adoption
With so many people involved in a real estate transaction, changes to the process, or the introduction of new technology, can be extremely complex. Often individuals that are necessary to keep your deal moving forward don’t work for your organization. New technologies to modernize the agreement process need to be intuitive and extremely easy to use, not just for your employees, but for all parties involved.
Additionally, having a change management plan is critical to the success of modernizing your real estate transaction process. Evaluate and select technology providers with the ability to support your evolving organization. Consider factors such as ease of integration, cost, mobility, and user-friendliness. Most people in real estate are not technologists, so simplicity is key.
5. Insist on full compliance across your contract processes
Increasingly digital and automated processes create new challenges and opportunities for regulatory compliance. Full audit trails, available on demand, provide the ability to view and report on who signed, reviewed, or approved each step of your transaction, helping you deliver evidence of compliance easily.
Meanwhile, completed agreement documents are stored in a secure, high-availability system and can be easily retrieved when needed. And, the underlying technology infrastructure has the security, privacy, and reliability standards that meet or exceed those of even the largest banks, government agencies, and industry organizations. To regulators and clients, the message should be clear: you are using new technologies not only to fulfill but to enhance consumer protections and compliance.
From lead to close, simplify and accelerate real estate transactions with a modern system of agreement.