How to Embrace (And Not Fear) Technology

Are you (or someone you know) afraid of implementing new tools in your business? These simple steps will help you learn to stop worrying and love the tech.

July 2, 2015

It’s no secret that technology is essential for real estate professionals today. Twenty-seven percent of agents spent between $501 and $2,000 on technology in the last 12 months, according to NAR’s 2013–2014 REALTOR® Technology Survey. Most in the industry know the importance of investing in new technology—and you’d be hard-pressed to find an agent without a smartphone.

But these investments aren’t just about acquiring a cool new gadget; they’re for survival. And while many agents recognize the benefits, some are hesitant to implement new technology. After all, there are plenty of gimmicks out there, and it can be hard to know what’s valuable and what’s a waste of time.

This can translate into the opposite of the so-called “fear of missing out” (colloquially known as FOMO on social media and elsewhere). It’s a sort of “fear of tech-ing up,” wherein real estate professionals are missing out on business because they’re paralyzed by the vast field of technology solutions out there to help—or sometimes hurt—them.

Fighting Fears

Fear of new tools is relatively common. Some psychologists believe that most people have at least some amount of nervousness when confronted with new technology. It can be difficult to give up something that you’re comfortable with in exchange for something that’s relatively unknown. And in today’s constantly changing world, it’s easy to feel disconnected and out of touch. Unfortunately though, this fear of technology is exactly what’s holding many of us back.

Despite these fears, it’s becoming increasingly necessary for real estate professionals to embrace technology to stay competitive. Consumers are increasingly self-informed, and that’s influencing how they shop for real estate. With online listing portals at the ready, clients have easy access to information that was once exclusive to real estate pros. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 89 percent of home buyers consulted the Internet in some way for their real estate transaction.

Additionally, with tech-savvy millennials joining the industry, there’s even more competition. Decked out with supercharged phones and apps, they’re able to provide clients with prompt and in-depth information on demand, enabling a faster and smoother transaction.

“Technology is one of the few tools that agents can use right now to differentiate themselves and be more productive,” speaker and author Stephen Canale said in the Real Estate Agent’s Field Guide. “Those who don’t embrace technology tend to attract only consumers who are also not embracing technology. The agents don’t realize that there are other consumers out there who might do business with them if they had other capabilities.”

How to Overcome These Fears

It’s easy to fear what we don’t understand. Investing the time to master new technology allows you to familiarize yourself with new tools or software, and will in turn help you to become more comfortable with that which you fear.

First, it’s important to focus on the benefits of new technology. While learning how to use new tools may seem daunting, you can make this easier by actively cultivating a fresh perspective. Think about what new technology can do for you or your clients. Don’t let fear stop you from making a good investment in your business. See past short-term apprehension and look toward the long-term outcomes with the power of positive thinking.

Next, immerse yourself in training. Take a class or attend a webinar on the new technology you understand the least. Search for tutorials on YouTube and follow a few technology-oriented blogs. The more you know about the technology you seek to implement, the less daunting it will be.

Figuring Out Which Technology to Use

It’s no surprise that the tools that successful real estate professionals are drawn to tend to be the ones that help them to be more efficient, productive, and organized. Apps that enable them to respond to queries faster and keep them up-to-date with valuable information for clients are also popular.

The key is to think of new technology as an opportunity to fix breakdowns in the real estate transaction process. To cover the bases, real estate pros should consider tech solutions for mobile communication, real estate data, information storage, relationship management, listing presentation and staging, and social media management. If you don’t have a useful tool in each of those categories, you might want to look into what you’re missing.

While there’s no shortage of new technology available to tackle these tasks, the challenge is finding ways to use these tools to help make customers’ lives easier and better. By putting yourself in your clients’ shoes, and looking for ways to provide them with the best experience possible, you’ll stay competitive and current in this quickly changing digital age. I often find myself solving company and client problems with technology. The first thing I think to myself when we’re facing a problem is “OK, there has to be an app for that.”

Brenton Hayden is the founder and chairman of the board of Renters Warehouse. A Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Business graduate, Brenton leads a team of over 140 employees and franchises in 21 states with a portfolio of managed properties valued at just under $1 billion.