Only by grasping digital, will real estate agents thrive

According to Greg Troughton, Chief Executive Officer at the Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA), real estate is set to go paperless and agents serious about their business need to get on board.

We spoke to Troughton about the impact of digitisation – on both agents and the customer experience – and how REISA is helping agents adapt.

Can you tell us more about REISA and why you’re championing the move to digital for real estate agents?

REISA is South Australia’s peak real estate body, representing more than 2,000 professionals. The work we do enhances the professionalism and financial viability of the real estate profession. By helping our members go digital, we can do both.

How do you see the real estate industry changing?

The paperless office is finally in reach for real estate professionals, through changes to legislation and technologies like Docusign that make it viable for property transactions to take place end to end online. Some refer to this as disruption, but I think the term is overused. It’s more about enabling customers to transact in a modern way, and in the future, that may mean more customers transacting without the direct handholding by an agent that happens now in the formality of the paper and ink world.

I see the pace of business increasing as well. Customers expect more timely communication and don’t want to wait a week for paperwork to be sent through the post or even email. They certainly don’t want to then have to print out, sign, rescan and send documents back to the agent.

What does this mean for the volume of real estate businesses established on an existing model?

To stay competitive and relevant, real estate businesses need to adapt and make it faster and easier for customers to transact. This involves spending some time digitising and automating workflow which some wrongly perceive as boring and unnecessary.

I see the impact of digitisation every day. Trust me, there’s nothing boring about the agent who has saved himself $1,200 in petrol and countless hours of driving time through DocuSigning agreements. The time and cost savings offered by digital technologies have the power to transform our profession. Importantly, legislation and compliance practice have dictated to the profession, as well as customers, the way it had to be done up until this point – now the consumer is in charge, and demanding convenience!

Can you think of other examples of documentation processes being reimagined through the use of cloud tools?

REISA has partnered with REI Forms Live to digitise all our standard real estate forms and make them available to members online. Fully integrated with Docusign to be digital to the end, REI Forms Live supports them to digitise the workflow for contracts and lease renewals.

I believe the next big opportunity for real estate is the digitisation of payments. The ability to execute contracts and collect payments, digitally and at the point of agreement, would offer game changing efficiency to our members.

For me, that’s what the business of real estate is all about, having these really slick systems in the background that free agents up to spend more time with customers.

How can real estate agents make the most of the current climate and come out on top?

For starters, they should take the simple step of checking out REI Forms Live and seeing for themselves how it could impact their business. There can be a resistance to adopting new tools when you are talking about an industry that has remained largely unchanged for 20+ years. Whenever we demonstrate it to members though, they can’t believe how easy it is. It’s a much more secure way of doing business; it’s like sending your documents back and forth in an armoured van rather than sending an unsecured fax.

More broadly, I’d tell the next generation of real estate professionals to never stop training. Continuous improvement is more important now than ever, and if you’re not taking advantage of tools like Docusign to save you a ton of time and paper, you’re not serious about your business.

If you want to learn more about Docusign for real estate, click here.