It’s a COVID conundrum.
The pandemic forced more than a million Realtors nationwide to work remotely and embrace digital technology at a record pace. One leading real estate tech executive told me more progress took place getting agents to adopt technology in the first five months of the outbreak than the last five years.
The professional pivot was incredibly stunning. Agents morphed their businesses to meet consumer needs and massive market demands during the most challenging time many generations have ever faced. The 2020 residential real estate marketing went down as an economic wonder, a banner year that set a new record for annual existing home sales.
Brokerage leaders have noted that none of this could have been accomplished without technology. Let’s face it: technology for Realtors is no longer a tool. Realtors are now fully entrenched in technology, and their tech use and needs will continue to grow exponentially.
Then why hasn’t the National Association of Realtors made tech support a benefit for all 1,463,806 Realtors in America?
It makes no sense to me, especially since most Realtors are still WFM (working from home) and will be in the future at least part-time.
You would think that the most impactful way NAR could help its members would be to guarantee that every Realtor in America had access to tech support.
According to the US Census, there are 309,393 real estate brokerages (rental and leasing firms) in America. At least 100,000 of these are residential real estate brokerages.
Not all agents work for big franchise brands that offer in-house tech support. It’s quite the opposite. People forget that the vast majority of licensed brokerages in America is small – with less than a half-dozen agents.
But when it comes to offering tech support as a standard member benefit, the NAR has remained AWOL.
The craziest thing is that NAR doesn’t have to go very far to find the perfect solution. Tech Helpline, created more than a decade ago and still operated by the Florida Realtors, is the No. 1 tech support service for real estate agents and brokers.
Having worked with the folks at Tech Helpline for a half-dozen years, I can vouch that they deserve the moniker “Real Estate’s Genius Bar” because they only hire smart and friendly people.
Tech Helpline’s team of tech advisors has over 300+ years of combined IT experience. They are all US-based (Orlando), offer full multi-lingual tech support in English and Spanish, and most importantly, work with real estate agents every day. They understand the challenges agents have with technology and are eager to help.
Through its efforts, Tech Helpline continues to grow its footprint throughout North America. Recently, the Florida Realtors announced that Tech Helpline recently added five Realtor Associations, including Missouri Realtors and Iowa Association of Realtors. The continued expansion gives new access to more than 26,000 members located in three Midwestern states and Connecticut. Tech Helpline now is available to nearly 667,000 Realtors.
It’s a remarkable accomplishment, yet the NAR now has over 1.46 million members. Unfortunately, that means a little more than half of all US agents don’t have access to Tech Helpline as a member benefit.
Florida Realtors has been doing more than its share to reach more Realtors through its rapid growth. Just as the pandemic started in March 2020, Florida Realtors reported 184,652 members. As of March 2021, the NAR Monthly Membership Report shows 199,239 members. That’s 5,000+ more members than the California Association of Realtors at 194,121.
The Florida Realtors is now the largest state association in America. That’s right, the Florida Realtors has eclipsed the CAR. The CAR has been the largest Realtor Association after NAR for as long as I can remember. Now that title goes to the Florida Realtors. Another unexpected impact clearly accelerated by the pandemic.
Realtors and technology are inseparable, as NAR’s member research illustrates:
• 96 percent of Realtors do business with a smartphone.
• 94 percent prefer to communicate with clients using text messaging.
• 70 percent have a website for business for an average of five years.
• 66 percent of REALTORS® use multiple listings software daily.
• 59 percent use social media apps daily, with 85 percent using social media apps several times a month.
Tech Helpline supports all the tools an agent uses and more. Its advisors have answered tens of thousands of questions about their tech challenges, ranging from troubleshooting Smart House devices to helping restore lost files after a computer crash.
How cool is that?
After all, who can an agent call when working from home and they get a computer virus? Or keep getting disconnected from Wi-Fi? Or waste hours trying to connect a new wireless printer?
Tech support should be a standard member benefit, and it is time the NAR made it so.