2018 is expected to be a good year for homebuyers: existing home sales are expected to rise 3.7 percent, while newly built home sales should increase 13.9 percent.
“Positive momentum across financial, real estate and mortgage markets is fueling confidence heading into 2018 and there’s good reason to continue that restrained optimism for the year ahead,” Tom Rydberg, senior vice president of residential lending at Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp., based in Downers Grove, Ill., said in a news release.
In fact, Realtor.com’s 2018 Housing Forecast expects to see an increase in home inventory. That increase is expected mostly in the $350,00 range, as more Millennials and other buyers move up into bigger homes as salaries increase and families grow.
But that’s not the only trend to watch for in 2018. As newer technologies enhance many industries, including the real estate industry, many Realtors have wondered about the use of bots and other technologies and how those will affect their profession.
Turns out, while these technologies can help or improve a real estate agent’s level of service, they are only tools and don’t look likely to take over. Simply put, people want help from agents, not bots. While home shoppers usually do Internet research on the house they want to buy or sell, they often turn to knowledgeable professionals who understand the buying and selling process.
According to the National Association of Realtors’ recent Homebuyer and Seller Profiles report, in 2017, 89 percent of home sellers worked with a real estate agent or broker.
So, how can agents fully utilize these new technologies to enhance their business? Patrick Ryan, senior vice president and managing broker of Chicago-based residential brokerage Related Realty, says it’s important to have a strong online presence via a website and through social media.
“Every brokerage should have its website optimized for easy use across mobile devices, along with a dynamic presence across social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” he said in a news release. “Buyers shop online first, so brokers should utilize engaging videos, eye-catching photos, educational graphics and qualitative insights into emerging trends and niche markets to establish a connection with prospective clients early on in their home search.”
As technology becomes more pervasive, it’s important that Realtors and agents take precautions to protect client information. In 2017, for example, $969 million was diverted or attempted to be diverted to fraudulent accounts.
One cyber scam involves agent’s email accounts. Hackers take over an email account from agents by creating one that’s almost identical to the agent’s account. They advise clients to send funds to another account (theirs). Because the email looks legit, they simply follow instructions, losing their money in the process.
“Buyers, real estate brokers and lawyers represent large sums of money to a hacker because of their roles in real estate transactions,” David Garside, executive vice president of title and escrow operations at Proper Title, LLC, based in Chicago, said in a news release.
Garside says agents can prevent this type of scam by asking customers to verify all instructions by phone before sending money.