Using analytics in real estate’s real world
Tips for using big data in your every day business practice
There has been talk about how analytics, or big data, would transform real estate for years.
The National Association of REALTORS® announced on Oct. 21, 2013, that it had hired an expert in data analytics to make sense of the volumes of information about how people approach and conduct real estate transactions. And in an article in the January 2017 REALTOR® magazine, big data was named one of seven big technology assets that could set apart real estate agents and brokerages in 2017. Yet, ask many individual agents if they use analytics to better serve clients or differentiate themselves among their competitors, and they might say no.
Big data remains elusive to many in real estate because the concept isn’t easy to grasp, let alone apply to business. But once you learn to turn big data into accurate, usable information, it can transform the way you do business, according to experts. Analytics expert Mark Thrasher described the big data wave as a shift in approach. “The dawn of the digital age marked the sunset of the heuristic age, where gut feelings have been overtaken by data-based decision making,” said Thrasher, senior manager of enterprise accounts at
Metric Theory
, a data-driven marketing company.
Accuracy is the key when it comes to making use of big data, according to Feir. Agents who don’t have the skills to interpret analytics or collect data lose credibility and business in real estate, he said. “You have to have direction,” he said.“You can't survive on gut feel.”
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To put it in day-to-day perspective, real estate agents might use analytics to better understand who visits their websites, what those visitors spend most of their time doing while on the site (which pages or properties) and other behavioral patterns. Agents can then take that knowledge and identify factors that may lead to more showings and offers, according to Thrasher. REALTOR®
Ron Feir
, office manager at Greenspan Brokerage, Pahrump, Nev., has learned the ins and outs of analytics, using it to serve all of southern Nevada, including but not limited to the Las Vegas Valley. “Personally, the majority of my real estate work is with buyers. I utilize social media and miscellaneous digital campaigns to attract and draw in clients,” Feir said.
Feir said he uses third-party analytics as a starting point for creating his long-range business plan. He collects third-party data on such things as market trends, as well as personal data from his social media activities, daily and updates his business plan quarterly. “Quite frequently, I find that the best real estate experts in Nevada can't compare with the accuracy of my own data, collected in the field. Data collected, by me, is vital in personal marketing. Analytics drive our agent recruiting. We can review the success or failure of competing offices. Analytics tell us what type of [real estate] product buyers want (farms, ranches, city-style homes, manufactured, second home, investment, hi-rise, condos, etc.),” he said. “The common purchase method (loan type, cash) is projected [by analytics]. Key buying and selling periods are projected. Additionally, I backfill key categories with collected data to create and complete the picture. The cycle goes on.”
Feir encourages engagement from people who visit or stumble upon his website by offering information they can use, including a 100-page relocation guide. “The Relo Guide is one of several resources I offer. I'm all about providing information – online and at the office. Booklets and digital information of all types keep the focus on my brand,” he said. “It proves that I'm the REALTOR® with the answers. I'm the area expert. The challenge is making sure that I have the most recent and accurate data.”
Once you learn to turn big data into accurate, usable information, it can transform the way you do business.
Analytics drive our agent recruiting. We can review the success or failure of competing offices. Analytics tell us what type of [real estate] product buyers want ...”
— Ronald Feir

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