Tom Schick on What’s Next in Tech for 2016

Inman is interviewing industry thought leaders to find out what’s next in 2016. Here’s Tom Schick, an agent at The Boutique Real Estate Group.

What are your technology predictions for 2016?

The push towards the high-tech agent is expanding the gap between the great agents and the good agents. I see the best companies hiring technology specialists to assist with clients, listings and marketing.

I also see the rise of marketing automation, to stay in touch with people, generate new leads and respond to property inquiries. More agents in 2016 are getting into the tech trends to improve agent websites, capture leads through apps, ads and websites, and to tell the story and capture the emotions of buyers in property websites.

We at The Boutique Real Estate Group pride ourselves on staying in front of the tech curve.

What big tech trends are you watching?

I’m personally moving marketing dollars around from the typical Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com spending, and moving it into Adwerx, Google Adwords and lead-generating sites such as “get your home value” or localized sites to target specific neighborhoods.

I use apps like MLS-Touch to give my buyers and sellers the most up to date information when we’re out in the field, and I really like what RESAAS is doing to connect agents all around the world through a social site similar to Facebook. I’m involved in several groups in the RESAAS network including referral groups and brainstorming panels for marketing and tech trends.

What is more important: mobile or cloud?

I think mobile is still more important for my clients, but the cloud is more important for the doc-sharing and collaborating inside of our real estate firm. In my world, they are both critical to growing my business.

I use an iPhone 6 Plus, and I love being able to share my incredible property videos and websites with clients. Here’s an example:www.4582OceanRidge.com.

Today, I use my mobile device to type more emails than I do my computer. Being able to be out with my clients or out being social is critical to me growing my business, so I don’t like to be at a computer for more than a couple of hours a day.

I also use mobile apps like Docusign mobile, zipForms mobile, the Google Drive app and the Dropbox app.

Will the tech bubble burst?

No, I don’t think so. It’s not a bubble. Today, the tech world doesn’t have a ceiling or an end in sight.

What is next for Zillow?

Is it taking over the world? No, just kidding.

Zillow has become this online real estate listing giant. I saw that its agreement with ListHub has come to an end, so it’s going to have to develop new relationships with individual MLSs and individual brokers.

Just like everyone else, Zillow has to continue to reinvent itself, or it will get lost in the dust. Individual agents and brokers are creating their own search sites, and I think that will take away from the major portal sites.

Will the Broker Public Portal be launched in 2016?

It looks like its close to happening. Broker Public Portal LLC, is working on coming up with the data license agreement with MLSs. I like the idea of being able to brand the MLS experience for clients.

Will Upstream be launched in 2016?

Yes, it looks likes NAR and Upstream are working through the details now. It’s about time that technology jumps into our MLS system to streamline data entry and help autopopulate forms. We use the CRMLS system, which is getting better, but going into other MLS systems can be quite the time-waster for a busy agent.

Hopefully, Upstream will help to streamline record keeping and data entry.

How will predictive search change homebuying?

I think predictive search will help agents key in on the specific locations and needs for their clients. When buying a home, there are so many factors such as location, size of house, school districts, traffic and freeways, shopping, crime rate, local hobbies, etc. I think buyers will have a better idea of where they want to search for a house and this will save time for both the buyer and the agent. I’ve worked with some buyers that know what they want, and others that are relocating and want to see 10+ cities, to narrow things down.

Will on-demand showings go mainstream?

I think on-demand is a great backup plan if time is limited…but I believe that you can’t replace a good, seasoned agent with a randomly chosen agent. Buyer’s agents constantly complain about losing clients to other agents, or buyers not being loyal. I think building a relationship and trust with your buyer is critical, and I haven’t lost many buyers over the 12-plus years that I’ve been in real estate.

It’s not all about locating the house and moving right in. A seasoned agent can negotiate price, repairs and many important details of a buyers transaction.

Will the automated offer become reality in 2016?

I don’t think the automated offer will become a reality. Some sites claim that they help cherry-pick the best real estate bargains and submit offers for their clients. I don’t think it’s smart, and I don’t like the idea of automated offers.

A seller and a buyer need an agent who works specifically with their best interest in mind, and automating offers doesn’t sound like a good way to accomplish that. Buying a house isn’t a small investment, so I feel that a lot of time should be spent with a trusted and respected Realtor.

Will Closing in a Box happen in 2016?

Closing in a Box is a great idea. We already offer all of these items to our clients, and my amazing transaction coordinator keeps my files neat and orderly. Having all of these functions in one app or website is a great idea, though.

How will machine learning change real estate?

Machine learning will help agents and loan officers see which people are likely to buy or sell. It will cut down on time and save a lot of marketing money.

We have a couple systems that show us trends, such as ReboGateway, but one of our lenders at Primary Residential Mortgage has created a system that has really helped my business.

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