Real estate agents play key roles in the buying and selling of property. Whether selling land, office space, or a dream home, agents take care of all of the under-the-hood tasks that go into property sales. Even more importantly, real estate agents show those properties to potential buyers and mediate face-to-face interactions among buyers and sellers in many instances. But while the real estate business has traditionally relied upon these person-to-person interactions, technology has begun to shift that dynamic. From paperwork assistance to intelligent lead generation systems, different technological applications are making every step of the sales process more efficient.
Few people understand this better than Roy Dekel, CEO and co-founder of real estate and tech startup SetSchedule. Roy began working in real estate more than a decade ago, founding a venture fund that purchased, renovated, and re-sold high-value properties to clients using traditional real estate methods. But as technology came to the forefront, Roy recognized its importance: SetSchedule relies on machine learning and artificial intelligence to find agents leads who are more likely to buy property than the average person. Here, we’re sitting down with Roy to understand how real estate agent roles might change in the near future.
Hello, Roy. Can you start off by giving us a little bit of your background in business and real estate?
Sure. I spent the first 5 years or so of my career serving as a Navy Seal and later as an officer in the Israeli Army. This gave me the foundation and high- level of drive that I put into all of my business ventures, especially SetSchedule. In the states, I started my professional career managing a development company and later running one. This experience eventually launched into the development of my entrepreneurial venture in an Investment group, and a large residential portfolio of homes when the opportunity arose during the 2008 recession. I have always had a love for the real estate industry and through, experiences saw that agents need an online community for lead generation, business development and growth, and from this, the referral marketplace was born.
What was running a real estate investment fund like?
There are a lot of intricacies in running a real estate fund. Ours was operable during the recession. So it gave way to many unconventional opportunities, While you can plan and analyze risk, at the end of the day you are always subject to the market. When I started the investment fund, we had the trifecta, it was the right time to buy, we purchased in the right areas, and the ROI was unprecedented. But with real estate, you sometimes have to be patient. Like the economy, there are ups and downs, but the long term investment of real estate never fails. Today with COVID-19 affecting many businesses, we may face another round of similar circumstances, and my advice is to look for those unconventional opportunities, where you can find them.
How did the shift from a traditional real estate venture to a technology-driven company occur?
It was an easy shift. I had seen real estate from many levels with my work running a construction company, and later through my residential portfolio. From an outside global perspective, I saw that real estate technologically was behind the revolution that other industries were embracing. I knew that developing tech, AI and machine learning, would alleviate the pain points real estate agents faced, and help grow and scale businesses. The right tools can help agents to create efficiencies and increase profitability. I wanted to be the one that created this change. SetSchedule was born out of the very traditional thought process of digitizing referral leads, and creative unique one of a kind technologies, like our virtual open house and free CRM.
Since you started working in the real estate industry, have you seen changes in how real estate agents work?
Change is hard for many people, but with the competition that agents face in the marketplace, technology really makes a difference on so many levels from home appraisals to finding customers, tech can help agents run their business more efficiently, streamline the sales process and work. The problem with real estate agents jumping on the bandwagon is that technology can be expensive, or hard to obtain. Many agents are slowly migrating to tech tools that help, and as more and more buyers, sellers and investors also start to utilize AI, you will start to see more jump on the bandwagon.
What aspects of technology do real estate agents already use in their day-to-day professional life?
Real estate agents are always on the lookout for ways to create and focus on revenue-driven activities. Technology is on the radar for all, and to stay competitive agents need to use some sort of technology. Recently SetSchedule conducted a small batch survey with 1,100 real estate agents, in which 61% of the participants named the SetSchedule CRM, as the technological tool, that they cannot live without. However, many of the technologies used daily by real estate agents are hidden. For example, agents may not be aware of how machine learning helps recommend leads that are the most likely to be of interest, or how the use of AI creates the verified lead on the referral lead marketplace, but they know enough to recognize the value of any technologies to streamline the business or makes day to day business operations more efficient.
Why do you think that real estate agent roles are going to shift? In an industry that’s been around for so long, why are these changes occurring now?
We are in a technology revolution. It is only natural that when things change and there are more efficient and effective ways to operate that the industry changes as well to continue to remain competitive. As technology creates changes in the way real estate agents operate and even communicate with clients, you will never take the personal touch out of the relationship because it is still a very service-oriented business. So while technology may create a dynamic change in operation, the business will always remain about people.
Are buyer and seller preferences changing in the real estate market, and if so how does that impact real estate agent roles?
I don’t think preferences for sellers are changes, but the way we communicate, and conduct business is changing more and more to meet clients where they are.
What is the single biggest role change you expect to see for agents in the next decade?
I see the industry banding together in a way that allows for greater contribution, collaboration, and better services for their clients.
How do you think technology will impact the real estate industry as a whole?
Technology is already impacting the real estate industry. Lead generation is another animal. Today, you can log into SetSchedule and pick up twenty new customers to put in your pipeline, all before your morning cup of coffee. Technology has created a better way to transact, organize, get clients, and operate.
What’s one tip you can offer aspiring real estate agents from your years of expertise?
Talent and skill can only take you so far. The agent that puts 100% into his work, will outsell another agent that may have the skill, talent, or knowledge if they do not put in the effort. It is not enough to have the skill, you have to have the drive and motivation to get you to the finish line.