Real estate is a very competitive and complex selling environment. There are a lot of stages in the sales and closing process, and many entities are involved in each transaction. From the online multi-list through the closing, agents rely heavily on the technology that underpins their industry. No agency can afford to be stifled by failed technology. However those who make their living in the fast–paced real estate industry cannot take the time to oversee the support and maintenance of their agency's technology. This also isn't their field of expertise. This article discusses the extent of the real estate industry's reliance on technology and new ways of managing that infrastructure.
Reasons why MSPs make life easier
- The realities of the economy: When the real estate industry was hit hard by the recession, in-house IT teams were the first to take the hit when the recession struck. Consequently, agencies found themselves scrambling without sufficient IT support. The short-term solution is the "break/fix" approach. Basically, ignore it until something bad happens and then call in expensive outside support to patch things up until the next crisis. The problem with this solution is that it is a very expensive and risky way to handle the technology that underpins your business operations.
- 24/7 web MLS listing requirements: This is a very significant aspect of any real estate agency's services. Your day and night web presence is absolutely essential for your revenue growth. Just like a retail sales website, if a shopper can't easily find what they are looking for or the site is down, they are going to go elsewhere. Also, just like the retail world, the expectation is that the site is available 24/7. With the proactive approach of managed service providers, you can be sure that your sites have 24/7 proactive monitoring and support.
- Document storage and management: Many agents store their documents on Google Drive or Dropbox, which can present security concerns. They also need help storing, importing and managing property images that MSPs can easily provide.
- Multiple branches and sources of communication: Real estate firms have multiple branches and use multiple sources of communication. For example, wireless devices that provide "in-the-field" access to files and documents. These layers of connectivity create complex support issues.
- Software upgrades and regulations: An upgrade to existing software has to be carried out or new software has to be implemented to accommodate a system rolled out by the local board of realtors. Who in your office is keeping on top of these requirements? Busy agents aren't able to focus on these things, but failure to do so means older software that is vulnerable to hacking and viruses.
- Miscellaneous issues: There are several other issues where realtors need an IT expert's help. They need help with Outlook set-up, wireless connectivity, mailing list management, hardware support and software integration. MSP technicians are trained individuals who are able to provide all the help related to IT.
- Employee turnover: Real estate firms face high employee turnover. Scaling up the sales team, adding more agents and brokers could mean a steep hike in IT costs. Having an MSP offers them the flexibility that is needed in their IT infrastructure to suit changing employee numbers.
- Software upgrades and regulations: Often a local board of realtors mandates a new system that needs to be implemented. This means installing new programs or carrying out upgrades to existing ones.
- Monitoring: One way to avoid critical breakdowns and security breaches is 24/7 monitoring. This is the surefire way to avoid and control security breaches, viruses and hacker attacks, but it isn't something a small firm can do on its own. It requires the presence of 24/7 labor, plus investment in exceptionally sophisticated software and hardware. This sort of investment is not practical for smaller firms.
To summarize our discussion, real estate firms need people who will monitor their systems 24/7, and keep them current with the latest technology so they remain accessible anytime, from anywhere. Proactive solutions will keep systems secure.
When you have that kind of peace of mind you can focus on your core business.