The real estate industry in Malaysia has come a long way, from the familiar advertisements in newspapers to leaving its trail in our social media platforms. Living in Malaysia, you can be sure that at point or another, you will know (or have known) somebody working as a real estate agent, or knows somebody who is in the real estate industry – kind of like insurance agents, to be honest. Such is the nature of real estate professionals that it is important for them to adapt to, and adopt, the latest trends in technology in order to stay relevant in the industry.
Traditional property marketing methods such as print media and radio advertisements are still very much alive today, but as consumers and potential clients’ purchasing and research habits change, digital marketing tools and techniques can be used to influence and interact with prospects and customers.
For example, there are many ways the real estate industry can work with tech start-ups and property websites in order to keep up to with the latest trends in the property market. Property developers can use insights – often referred to as Big Data – provided by these tech start-ups to make informed decisions to determine the kind of projects they should launch based on consumer habits and market demand. At the same time, consumers are able to find and get the best deals through the tools provided by these tech start-ups. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.
A large number – in fact, most – property agents and negotiators use online property portals (e.g. Estate123.com), social media (e.g. Facebook and Instagram) and even instant messaging apps (WeChat, Whatsapp) as key components to their property marketing strategy, mainly because consumer behaviour has changed considerably, with more people having access to the internet. It was reported that 90% of property buyers now go online first to search for, and get information about, properties before any form of media, as it is both instantaneous and convenient. After all, most property portals now have mobile apps to allow users to search for properties according to their search criteria.
It is important for real estate agents and negotiators to use technology to stay relevant in the industry, or risk being left out. Besides online advertisements and marketing, property developers and agents have to venture into different and more creative avenues online to stay ahead of the game. Online property portals only started picking up in Malaysia during the mid-2000’s and has now expanded into a market that covers not only Malaysia but also links buyers to properties all over the world. Therefore, online property listings and marketing tools are a great way to advertise properties and attract potential buyers, who often search for properties online instead of going through the effort of physical footwork. (Of course, if you have the means, you can also throw a lot of money into making a music video to sell a multi-million-dollar mansion.)
One of the most talked-about and innovative concepts is selling properties to overseas investors through virtual reality property listings. Developers and real estate agents are exploring the possibilities of using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to market their property projects and property listings. VR technology can be used by agents to give their potential buyers a ‘live’ experience of the property no matter where they are, allowing agents to showcase their listings with a 360-degree view or tour instead of just photos. As for the usage of AR in real estate, it can be used for potential customers to make layout plans of their home or office by incorporating virtual furniture, flooring and even paint colours inside the virtual property. It will not only offer a glimpse of the possibilities of the property, but also a great attraction point for potential clients.
Nevertheless, despite the calls for real estate agents and negotiators to keep up with the times, there is little to worry about their services becoming obsolete, as technology is unable to solve human problems like price negotiations and disputes. It’s also not as simple as adding a property into your online shopping cart and checking out your purchase. Many people do not have the time, resources or necessary knowledge to sell their property due to job commitment, location or other circumstances, therefore the services of a real estate agent is still required. It will refine their role but won’t completely replace them. Technology will only help make real estate agents’ and negotiators’ work smoother and more convenient, as well as enhance potential buyers’ buying experience.