In the real estate game, referrals are a crucial path to revenue and growth. Because the relationship between agents and home buyers/sellers is so rooted in personal connections, personal referrals go a long way when it comes to acquiring new clients. They are so important, in fact, that most brokerages have programs specifically designed to manage referrals; ranking them by lead quality, nurturing the relationships and maintaining contact lists.
However, as the market becomes more crowded and the industry increasingly more data-driven, person-to-person referrals are not as scalable. For agents and brokers to grow their businesses in a highly competitive space, they need to shed their traditionally tech-wary ways and embrace artificial intelligence and data analytics.
AI has already begun to work its way into real estate, though not in the ways some might imagine. AI doesn’t mean robot agents providing tours, but it can mean chatbots help gather initial information that aids in the qualification of leads. It can also mean algorithms that streamline sales and marketing by automating processes and workflows, and delivering predictive analytics that help agents better focus their efforts. Mountains of data and documentation can be filled out, checked for completion, monitored for errors and consistency, stored and reported, all with little human interaction.
What AI really boils down to is an ability to gather, parse and analyze more data faster than a human could, leading to significant operational efficiencies that let agents focus on the human part of the equation, and giving them immediate access to the personalized insight they need to build those relationships.
In this way, AI is also changing the way agents approach referrals; instead of simply going with the first agent to pick up the phone, or just using the same guy their brother in-law did, home buyers can now be matched with the agent that is perfect for their needs based on deep data analytics and AI-powered algorithms. An agent who not only understands the market but also understands who their clients are as people, what they and their families want in a home, their plans for the future, and so on, will be better equipped to find ideal properties. This leads to an increase in their closure rate and the development of long term relationships, which in turn lead to even more referrals and steady growth for the business.
By powering their referral programs with AI, agents also save hours and hours of legwork and prospecting, and ensure their time is spent on the most valuable leads, those most likely to sell or buy. AI can streamline the lead qualification and nurturing process in a referral program, and make data-derived predictions about properties that are likely to enter the market, so agents can get a jump on hot leads before their competitors.
Real estate is, as it has always been, an industry about people, so AI-powered solutions are not aiming to replace people and their referrals. What they are doing is making those referrals more relevant and easier to follow up on, as well as more effectively develop and manage those relationships as they grow. If your referral program is taking up a significant portion of your team’s work hours, it is worth finding out how AI tools could help reduce the manual effort involved in customer acquisition and increase its return, delivering exponential growth to your business.