Will agents be replaced by robots? Not if you listen to this advice from Agent Summit
Nearly 400 hundred agents joined PropertyGuru for our annual Agent Summit. This year a lineup of attention-grabbing speakers addressed exactly what was on everyone’s mind – the real estate industry is facing digital disruption, so where does this leave me? What is my role and how do I stay relevant?
We sought to answer those questions with the advice of several successful industry insiders. Here’s the wrap up from PropertyGuru Agent Summit: Seizing Opportunities for Success by Embracing Digital Transformation.
Changes are headed your way
Mr Thomas Tan, President, SEAA & KEO, Real Estate Matters, Singapore Estate Agents Association kicked off the day with a talk on the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map: Where Are We At Now?
Today agents need to run around to several different agencies and online sites (like PropertyGuru!) to market a property, negotiate the price, confirm status of both the buyer and the seller and process payments. Agencies may be going paperless, but agent’s work is far from seamless.
That’s going to change and change fast.
Mr Tan focused on the work of the Digitialized Property Transaction Workgroup, a group of Government agencies, Banks, Developers, Fintech companies, Proptech companies and estate agents that has come together to streamline the real estate industry through the use of technology.
They’re exploring the use of APIs* to allow real estate agents to easily go from posting a listing to paying the IRA, all from their phone. APIs would allow SLA, MOM, MyInfo, Banks and IRA to verify buyer and seller information, collect signatures, and make payments.
Not all technology is threatening your job, technology is also working to make your job easier, Mr Tan stressed.
As consumers get smarter and technology advances, agents should focus on providing the services that technology can not, specifically high touch, personalised relationships. Agents are moving into an advisory role, and should turn to the many training opportunities (like PG Academy, NTUC and SEAA courses)
An agent’s job is getting more complex
Mr Lim Yong Hock, KEO, PropNex agreed that training and skills upgrading was the path to success and outlined exactly how an agent should modernise his/her career during his talk, ‘The Skills and Role of the Future Agent’.
He challenged the audience, “If you had a client who had 3 million dollars to spend, what would your advice be?”
An agent’s job, he pointed out, is not to be a tour guide, showing clients property based on their changing ideas of what they want to buy. Instead, an agent’s job is growing more complex. To stay relevant an agent’s job needs to evolve into:
A Spender and Wealth Creation Strategist – Someone who knows how to spend and invest their client’s money. Agents need to understand more than the details of one showflat, they need to understand the market, investment opportunities and the best direction for the client (even if this means decoupling or buying multiple properties!).
A Presenter, Actor, Director and Script Writer – Successful agents need to embrace new technology to promote and market themselves and their listings. The way to speak about property has to change. An agent’s job is no longer simply about showing a client around a flat, but to position the listing in an appeal, visual context, like the video above.
When market conditions cool, there is opportunity for knowledgeable agents
Mr Chris Chen, Senior Group Division Director, ERA, emphasised the same need to up your skill set and learn how to be an advisor, not just a tour guide, in his talk on ‘Monetising the New Launches’.
A real estate agent will not be able to stay relevant in the face of technology-enabled, smart buyers if they’re focused on basic facts of a single property. It’s no longer a hot market where an agent can succeed by staying at the showflat. Instead, agents should look to becoming a knowledgeable advisor about nation-wide new launches and market them online.
But, even in a market that faced with cooling measures, agents have huge opportunities. He pointed out that during past cooling measures, developers have offered higher commissions and lowered property prices. Agents can still make a great income by growing their knowledge of the market, and focus on selling property that offers higher comms.
It’s not a crisis! This market is an opportunity for you!
Success is possible
Our panel of top performers agreed. Mr Tony Teo, Associate Senior District Director, Huttons Asia, Mr Andrew Ho, Associate Division Director, PropNex, Mr Ryner Koh, Senior Group Division Director, ERA unanimously agreed that success in the real estate market IS POSSIBLE.
All three top performers cited digital marketing, and the drive for knowledge as huge proponent to their success. Success is not dependent on your education or background, it’s founded on the desire to learn, improve and work with technology.
These skills don’t happen overnight, though.
“Spend a small amount of your income each month and learn,” advised Mr Koh. Digital advertising is a competitive space, but an agent needs to understand how to move their business online. Take it slow and learn, before you “spend 5 figures a month” on google ad words.
Mr. Ho and Mr. Teo agreed. Agents need to adapt and adopt new ways of doing business, so that they can decrease the amount of time they spend at work, and increase their productivity. Agents should be able to take a holiday, and spend time with family, without the fear of missing out on a deal. The ability to drive interest online and connect with potential clients from anywhere, means that agents don’t have to miss out on huge opportunities, even if they’re out of the country when huge demands hits – like it did on July 5th!
Join us next year – or next month!
Don’t wait an entire year to join us at Agent Summit. PropertyGuru hosts monthly training to help train agents on digital marketing and advanced features on our platform. We’ve also partnered with NTUC to help agents capitalise on the many platforms that are essential in driving your business online and develop a comprehensive understanding of how to compete in today’s real estate market.
*API stands for Application programming interface, it’s a technology that allows computers to speak to each other.