Real estate prospecting’s new frontier is not who makes the most phone calls or whose database is bigger, but whose A.I. is the most sophisticated.
Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate’s founder, President, and CEO Sherry Chris said artificial intelligence and amassing vast amounts of deeply analytical data is not the future of real estate, but rather the here and now of real estate and anyone not on board is going to be outgunned.
Ms Chris, speaking exclusively to The REIQ Journal ahead of her keynote presentation at WIRE, said the power of data coupled with artificial intelligence to create predictive modelling was the best way real estate sales agents could succeed.
“With data and A.I., one is not complete without the other. Gathering data is important. The deeper the data is, the better,” she said.
The importance of the artificial intelligence comes with creating predictive modelling and understanding where the consumer is on their real estate journey.
“The artificial intelligence helps us determine, from a real estate perspective, who’s more likely to buy or sell in the near term and how can we communicate effectively to consumers who are interested in doing something near term, the mid-term or the far term,” she said.
“And the way we communicate to consumers using that information is very different. As an example, if somebody is not going to be making a purchase for the next 18 – 24 months we don’t want to be harping on at them every day with new listings.
“What we want to do is to help take them to the dreaming stage, and help them become more excited about the opportunity to make an investment in real estate.
“If you contrast that with the near-term buyer, based on the data that we’re able to gather on their online habits, if they’re vigorously looking at many, many properties, that tells us that they’re getting closer to making a decision so we communicate with them in a different way.
“This is going to become mainstream in our industry. Technology is very sophisticate and those who are not aligning themselves with companies or brands that have access to this are really going to be left behind,” she said.
Ms Chris created Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate 10 years ago and has focused very much on creating a company that lives up to the values it promotes. Ms Chris said social responsibility and being authentic and true to those values was attractive to real estate consumers who aligned with those values.
Social media is an area where Ms Chris said some agents are struggling to find the best way to use a very powerful tool.
“For the most part agents could be using social media better. When we think about social it is really the new communication and marketing tool,” she said.
“In the old days we used to have classified advertising and that’s how we connected with consumers. Today we use social.
“What social shouldn’t be is an advertising stream on Facebook or other social media just listing your listings, putting your houses up there. We need to go deeper than that.”
Instead, Ms Chris said good use of social media is connecting with people through shared values in an engaging way.
“Social media should be a way to connect with consumers who are culturally aligned with you. If you have similar interests, there’s a good match,” Ms Chris said.
“That’s how consumers find us online. It’s very important how we portray ourselves online and how we actually connect effectively with consumers online.”
Named the Inman Innovator for 2010, Ms Chris is well known for her insights into consumer behaviours and her abilities to forecast trends. She sees Facebook, rather than the myriad other channels on offer, as the arena where the main game is played.
“Facebook is the most important. It’s where the largest audience is and we’re able to go deeper and connect with potential consumers.
“Obviously Instagram is very popular right now, particularly with the milliennial generation and I see agents who are effective using Instagram. What I always like to coach agents on is don’t be mediocre at every media channel, pick one that you like and go deep with that and that’s where you’ll connect best with consumers,” she said.
Her latest area of research is into what she calls Generation C. Ms Chris said Generation C was not a generation defined by age, but rather one defined by culture, shared interests and common goals.
“This is an exciting new area of research and understanding these consumers can be very powerful,” she said.
Ms Chris will be speaking at the REIQ WIRE event on Thursday, 9 August at Victoria Park Golf Complex. Tickets are on sale at REIQ.com/WIRE.