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Marketing has always been central to successful real estate sales, but how buyers and properties connect has changed dramatically over the past decade. While real estate agents still place signs on front lawns, digital technology has become the tool of choice for leading realtors. Conducting virtual tours, using augmented reality (AR) applications and artificial intelligence (AI) are just three trends poised to change the industry.

Digital technology in real estate marketing

Digital technology is critical to successful real estate marketing. According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 97% of homebuyers used the internet to find a property in 2020. Granted, that figure may have been influenced by the pandemic. However, more recent data confirms the trend.

Figures from 2023 show that more than four in ten homebuyers start their search online, and 50% of buyers are finding their next property online. With one exception, all generations are likely to see their new home online before contacting a realtor. The only exception is the so-called ‘silent generation’ of people born between 1928 and 1946. Their search tends to commence by contacting a real estate agent.

The picture is clear — without digital technology, real estate sales would be impossible, and more than 90% of realtors use relevant tools daily, including social media, websites and other channels. To truly stand out, though, realtors need to look to emerging technologies.

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1. Transforming the viewing experience with virtual tours

During the pandemic, in-person property viewings and open house events became impossible. Even before 2020, these viewings were less than ideal for buyers not living locally. To bridge the gap between properties and buyers, agents used professional imagery.

The pandemic forced real estate agents to offer something better than still images, giving birth to virtual tours of properties. Virtual tours ‘walk’ potential buyers through a property, often while filming what viewers would have seen, to provide them with an experience that comes close to visiting the house in person.

Virtual tours benefit both buyers and sellers. Aside from offering a more engaging overall experience, prospective buyers better understand the property before committing to a viewing. Sellers will also find the process more convenient, as they have to show the property less frequently.

Today, statistics show that listings featuring videos attract more than 400% more attention than others. Virtual tour developers Walk Us Through Ltd cite the example of Seattle-based Redfin Corporation, whose listings with virtual tours receive 50% more views than those without. Those properties also sell faster and for a higher price than comparable listings.

2. Leveraging augmented reality in real estate marketing

Augmented reality applications take property visibility one step further. Through AR, buyers can not only see what the property looks like at the moment but also overlay digital information to test a different look.

AR allows real estate agents to stage properties in different styles to suit buyers. Rather than taking a virtual tour of an empty, undecorated property, viewers can compare various furnishing styles or change the designated use of rooms to a degree. An easy way of thinking about AR is to imagine moving furniture around the property without doing any of the heavy lifting.

One of the main goals of in-person viewings is to give potential buyers a chance to imagine themselves living in that property. AR allows them to do just that, only to a higher degree. Real estate agents offering their clients this experience can choose from various applications.

3. How AI influences real estate

Arguably, artificial intelligence has recently captured more headlines than any other emerging technology. Its strength lies in distilling actionable information from vast quantities of data. In real estate marketing, agents can use AI to process prospective buyer information and deliver personalized property recommendations.

AI can also be a good first point of contact for new customer inquiries, connecting the right customer to the most suitable agent within a company. By delivering personalized property recommendations, AI is not replacing human agents but helping them work more efficiently.

Consider a location with a lot of housing stock available. A real estate agent can’t remember all the details of those properties. Conversely, AI thrives at crunching data that helps deliver the best possible customer experience.

In addition, real estate agents save time. Rather than showing their clients many properties, which can be time-consuming, they can take buyers directly to those houses that best match their requirements.

Taking advantage of these emerging technologies could be easier than many real estate agents think. Aside from working with a dedicated developer, agents can use ready-made applications to enhance their property listings and create a more engaging experience for their clients.

The goal is to work smarter rather than harder and accelerate property sales overall. Delivering a more customized client experience contributes to that goal while increasing overall client satisfaction. Perhaps most importantly, embracing these emerging technologies will allow agents to position themselves as leaders in their market.

Related: 5 Ways AI Can Help Real Estate Agents

The future of real estate marketing

Just a few years ago, virtual tours of a property would have been a figment of the imagination. Technological developments and the pandemic’s influence have made those tours an integral part of countless property sales.

As technologies like AI and AR continue to develop, the real estate sector is only beginning to explore them. Future developments in AR could include a wider choice of more realistic staging options. Buyers may also be able to explore the neighborhood they are considering without ever having to leave their homes. Understanding and implementing them now is critical to real estate agents’ success.

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