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How to harness the power of technology in the real estate industry

January 28, 2018

If I cast my mind back only 20 years, I recall a real estate industry that was dominated by paper contracts, lengthy procedures, real estate agents, and billboard or print advertising.

That memory now strikes me as quaintly archaic, because it stands in such stark contrast to the digital transformation taking place in today’s real estate sector.

Now, leasing and buying activities have largely moved online, the majority of developers have fully-fledged websites and social media accounts, and ‘virtual house hunting’ has become the go-to method for property buyers. Technology has also upped the pace and efficiency of our work — a trend that is only set to continue when technologies such as chatbots and blockchain enter the real estate sector in earnest.

The rate of technological progress is astounding, but while these are all important advances, at MAG Lifestyle Development our most important consideration is how the digital era has changed our customers, as well as their behaviour and desires when it comes to buying properties. The digital era has given rise to an entirely new type of consumer that according to recent research from the National Association of Realtors, spans all age groups and sexes.

So what does this new real estate customer look like? The Internet is their king, their go-to and their constant companion. They know it inside out and are comfortable across multiple digital channels, using many, if not all of them, to find their dream property. They may start with Google search, but the next moment they’re browsing social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest, or switching back to read blogs and websites. Armed with this wealth of information, our new customer is adept at cost and quality comparisons, making them savvy, demanding and on the ball. Their research doesn’t have to take place at a desk; in fact, they conduct the majority of their research on the go. They are mobile, discerning, multi-channel digital natives and they know precisely what they want. It is at their fingertips.

At MAG Lifestyle Development, when we talk about harnessing the power of technology in the real estate industry, what we mean is optimising the potential of technology as a tool to reach, connect, inspire and serve our customers on a more meaningful level. At MAG LD, we are confident that we have the ideal home for each of our customers; the question is how to instil them with that same confidence. The answer is to meet them where they live — online.

In this competitive environment, first impressions matter. To stand out from the crowd and capture a customer’s attention, real estate websites must be captivating, user-friendly and visually striking, while also providing all of the information in a clear and concise way. Photos, comprehensive property details, virtual tours, interactive maps, infographics, and neighbourhood information are all crucial. It is also important to provide customers with contact details and application forms so that they can conveniently move from consideration to action. With a carefully designed website in place, search engine optimisation is critically important for enhancing visibility, and must be a focus of all online efforts.

To match the customer’s multi-channel dexterity, digital marketing strategies must encompass all touch-points, including paid search, video, mobile and social. Social media content should be customer-centric and responsive, lending real estate companies a human face by showing that they care about their customers’ questions, concerns and confusions. Simply posting regular updates on social media accounts is no longer enough; everything shared must serve to help customers find their dream home. While many real estate companies are concerned that they may lose their ‘human touch’ in the digital era, MAG LD has strengthened its customer relationships by turning the page in its engagement playbook – by incorporating social media in its engagement strategy to listen and respond to customers in a sensitive and informative way.

At MAG LD, we are harnessing the power of technology to deliver on our promise to surpass our customers’ expectations. At each step of their journey with us, they will find seamless online information and processes at their fingertips, making their lives as convenient and pleasant as possible. MAG Lifestyle Development’s vision of providing customers with a whole new lifestyle begins from the moment they start their search for us.

– Talal M. AlGaddah is the Chief Executive Officer of MAG Lifestyle Development and CEO Middle East Awards’ ‘Young CEO of the Year’ – 2017.