“Hey, remember that house with the robot in it?” Movoto is experimenting with cutting edge technology to make their listings stand out. Top agent Christopher Diez shares his experience helping pioneer the new era of “smart” properties.
My journey in real estate extends far beyond the 13-plus years of experience I’ve had as an agent—I come from a family of Realtors, and I’ve been fortunate enough to watch how the industry has evolved from when my parents were agents to becoming one myself. Advances in technology have been on every agent’s radar for decades, but the industry has been notoriously slow to adapt. How many other business sectors still rely so heavily on physical mailers in an age when snail mail has become almost obsolete? That’s why becoming an agent at a technology-enabled brokerage like Movoto and experiencing firsthand how much emphasis they put on empowering their agents with the latest technology has been a breath of fresh air, and as I’ve seen with my own eyes, a worthy investment.
Now I’m proud to say we’re one of the first to utilize something as novel as a robot to help sell homes.
‘Join’ Me In
It started with our Managing Broker, Max Diez, exploring how we could leverage technology to maximize our agents’ time and better communicate their expertise, as well as make the entire experience more efficient and pleasant for both buyers and sellers. He had done some research and learned about different robots that were being used in other industries. The idea is that it could enable agents to be in two places at once. I suggested we put it to the test and have a robot stationed at one of my open houses where I could ‘join’ in from a remote location and answer prospective buyers’ questions in real time.
The robot is essentially a screen that sits on a motorized carriage system that I control remotely via a mobile or desktop app. It’s completely Wi-Fi enabled so no matter where you physically are, you can follow a potential buyer around an open house, see what they’re seeing, and have a live conversation through the screen.
I was surprised by how easy it was to adopt. There wasn’t any cumbersome installation involved and I downloaded the software without a hitch. The only limitation was that it can’t surmount big humps or stairs. Movoto backed me the whole way, determined to try anything that could boost their agents as long as it was financially viable. Logistically, as long as you have reliable Wi-Fi, it’s ready to go.
The value it provided was evident in its maiden voyage. Not only was I able to join the open house without having to physically be there, I could also connect a buyer directly with a lender who answered mortgage questions or another agent who answered questions about the school district and neighborhood amenities. Whereas agents usually have to respond to questions about a house by telling buyers they’ll get that answer for them later, I could research and access that information instantly and share it through the robot. It allowed me to, literally, roll right in, answer questions, connect them to licensed professionals, and even begin the offer process if they were ready.
The Wow Factor
Beyond the convenience, the undeniable “wow” factor was exciting to see in action. The seller, other agents, and buyers were absolutely blown away by it. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the first reaction was, “What is that?” before their confusion transformed into, “That’s so cool!” They had never seen anything like it. Buyers, particularly in such a tech-savvy market as the Bay Area, were impressed with the level of care we were putting into make the listing unique and memorable. And it wasn’t long before the initial shock wore off and they were communicating with me naturally through the robot.
For the agents, they recognized it as an absolute game changer. When I explained its value to them, they were floored. In its most practical application, agents could seamlessly juggle multiple listings, property tours, open houses, and broker tours. If they invested in several robots, they could join at two or three open homes. It could also act as powerful training tool for junior agents who could be at open houses and gain real-world experience, while a senior agent offered support through the robot.
But what about the bottom line?
After just two open houses, the property received 21 offers, all above the asking price. A good agent knows that there is never one factor in the success of a home sale, but there’s no denying that the robot made the property stand out. Not only was it an extra set of polish for a listing in such a tech-savvy area, we were able to reach more buyers with real-time information, and it allowed us to move quickly and efficiently in a market where transactions move fast.
While I wouldn’t put any one thing on the success of this listing, if you look at the sum total of parts, Movoto had leveraged the latest technology to give the entire experience a futuristic, cutting-edge feel throughout. And I can confidently say that that translated into more appeal for the property.
The Future of Real Estate Technology
To grow your business as an agent, you have to be able to scale. That means hiring a ton of assistants as your client base grows or finding smart ways to leverage real estate technology. Cold calling every potential buyer or agent in the industry 24 hours a day wouldn’t come close to achieving the reach you can get with a singular Facebook post, and is definitely not scalable. Technology like the robot is.
Robots are just the first step toward the future of technology, and Movoto has made a very bold, aggressive statement by becoming an early adopter. Soon, agents will be able to do everything virtually—from virtual reality tours to digital contracts. Finding homes on your phone is already the norm, and smart locks and smart thermostats that provide remote access are becoming the norm. Movoto is truly pushing the envelope as a technology-enabled brokerage that recognizes this shift and is investing heavily into making these tools available to their agents.
And, let’s be honest, how cool is it to respond to a property tour request no matter where you are with, “I’ll be there!”
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