real estate agents turn to technology for competitive edge


RISMEDIA, Oct. 16, 2008-California Association of Realtors® Executive Vice President Joel Singer presented results from the Association’s “2008 Use of Technology Survey” during the “Wired for Change: Industry Experts’ Take on Technology and The Future of Real Estate” opening session at Tech Tuesday in Long Beach, Calif. Tech Tuesday offers a full day of technology training and information preceding CALIFORNIA REALTOR® EXPO 2008 at the Long Beach Convention Center Oct. 14 to 16.

“Wired for Change” panelists included Jeff Culbertson, executive vice president of the Southwestern Region of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, NRT LLC; Brad Inman, founder, “Inman News” and; and Mike Silvas, president and co-owner, Morgan Lane real estate brokers.

The annual survey, conducted in the third quarter, tracks current trends in technology used by the Association’s members. Realtors are queried on topics ranging from computer and technology adoption to Internet usage and trends.

According to the survey, the top business uses of the Internet for Realtors include e-mail (93%), checking online listings (90%), MLS access (89%), access to brokerage websites (59%), and access to WINForms® electronic forms software (55%).

“Since most Realtors have a high-speed connection in their homes, the Internet has evolved into a crucial tool for Realtors,” said C.A.R. President William E. Brown. “Realtors are doing more than ever on the Internet-marketing, maintaining their websites, posting their listings, and communicating with clients. As a result, they are generating more business from the Internet than ever before.”

The survey also revealed that Realtors also are turning to high-tech instruments such as handheld Internet devices, e-mail, and websites to communicate with their clients. Twenty-two percent of Realtors said they own a handheld wireless Internet device for their real estate business to respond to clients more quickly; 32% of respondents said they answered clients’ e-mails instantly and another 34% said they did so within 30 minutes to one hour. Realtors also are making use of their personal websites to be more easily accessible to their clients. More than three-quarters (77%) of Realtors who have personal websites include an IDX feed to display listings, along with other features such as virtual tours (53%), contact me options (42%), and interactive maps such as Google Maps (33%).

Additional survey highlights include:

- Thirty-three percent use a laptop or tablet computer in the field, up from 27% last year. Seven out of 10 of those who use their laptop in the field (70%) cite conducting listing presentations as the main reason for doing so, an increase from 58% a year ago
- Twenty-seven percent indicated that a hands-free cell phone was their most important business upgrade in the last 12 months
- Thirteen percent said they purchased a new computer, down from 20% in 2007
- When asked how technology helps them in their real estate business, 45% said their use of technology gives them a competitive edge over other agents in the field
- Sixty percent pay for upgraded listings on, up from 48% in 2007
- Eleven percent of respondents send their clients an electronic newsletter, while 7% of Realtors say they participate in online real estate forums or blogs
- On average, 48% of Realtors’ business originated from the Internet in 2008, compared with 44% in 2007
- Fifty-eight percent said keeping up with e-mail is one of the biggest technological challenges they face in today’s real estate marketplace

Realtors are striving to meet the demands of their clientele by delivering an unmatched customer experience as well as stay on the cutting-edge in terms of their use of technology, the vast Internet resources available, and software tools at their fingertips. As Realtors move forward with respect to technology, it will remain challenging for some Realtors to keep up with the latest trends, but will offer an opportunity for greater productivity and efficiency in the real estate transaction as well as contributing to the value a Realtor adds to the real estate transaction.


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