Using the internet to search for real estate is the new norm. Ninety percent of home buyers begin their search online, and there’s been a staggering 253% increase in real estate-related searches in the last four years.
This means there’s a ton of data out there for real estate agents, which is great. However, sifting through it all to find opportunities can be arduous and similar to finding a needle in a haystack.
Web scraping and automation are viable solutions to this problem and can supply you with key real estate data. Here are some specific ways you can use these techniques to gain an edge over your competitors.
Why Is Web Scraping Being Used by Real Estate Agents
Web scraping, a process that extracts data from websites, allows you to collect valuable information you can use to identify hot leads and guide your decision-making. This data can come from several different sources such as property listings, seller profiles, property prices, and so on. Some specific data elements to scrape, according to Scrap.works, include:
- Property and price data
- Property size
- Rent price
- City, state, and zip code
- Agent information
After obtaining this data, real estate agents can use it for several different purposes, such as making smarter investment decisions. Real estate data is notoriously hard to find when using conventional resources like government and competitor sites, but it becomes much easier when aggregating it from these types of sources.
By amassing relevant, up-to-date data, you can perform in-depth analysis to identify which properties are most worth investing in. This increases the odds of a positive return on your investment – and seeing the return in a timely manner.
Another application of web scraping is using it to determine the price when selling a property. Aggregating data from a variety of different resources allows a real estate agent to come up with a fair price in relation to comparable properties in the area. This is beneficial to buyers because they get a good deal, and also to you because it helps you sell a property more quickly.
You should also note that the web scraping process has evolved significantly in recent years. Web data integration is a newer, more robust solution that provides a means of cleaning, optimizing and preparing a large volume of data.
In turn, it’s much easier to consume and provides intuitive reporting for easy analysis. This allows you to exercise quality and control over the data, transform, and normalize it all within a single platform.
Streamlining Real Estate Process
When it comes to hiring, automation can be a tremendous asset to real estate agents. The average time to fill a position in the U.S. was quite lengthy at 43 days in 2019. Anything you can do to streamline this process and find top industry talent saves you time and money. And using automated hiring tools allows you to do just that.
One of the most commonly-used tools is an applicant tracking system, which allows real estate agents to filter applications using criteria like skills, keywords, years of experience, and so on. If you receive a high volume of applications, you can quickly filter through the candidate pool to find the candidates that are best suited for the position and that meet your specific criteria.
Automated emails keep applicants informed throughout the hiring process. You can keep them up to date on their status, let them know if they’re still being considered for the position, or if you’ve chosen to move forward without them.
Scheduling interviews is another example of how hiring can be streamlined with automated recruitment apps. Trying to find a time slot that fits everyone’s schedule can be tricky, but with the right software, you can seamlessly coordinate schedules and align calendars to automatically select an interview time that works for all parties.
Besides that, automation can help with onboarding. You can create automated workflows where new hires receive onboarding materials like welcome emails, orientation information, training guides, and relevant contact information in a logical sequence. This ensures that new hires have the necessary information to get started while requiring very little manpower.
Big Data and Sales Intelligence
When combined, these two forms of technology can be also used for competitive analysis. For example, you can use crawling software to quickly determine which keywords top competitors are ranking for. From there, you can analyze their landing pages to see what techniques they’re using to rank highly and replicate their strategy.
On the flip side, you can also identify pages search engines are ignoring to figure out what they’re doing wrong. Rather than laboriously dissecting their site on your own, automation and web scraping offer a complete picture of a competitor’s link profile with minimal effort.
Another example is using automated web data collection to detect when prospects complete an action that indicates a change in lead status. One case study details how a financial services firm defined and tracked sales leads and fed the data into a web data integration solution.
The updated data was then fed to the company automatically where leads were either updated or eliminated daily for optimal sales intelligence. As a real estate agent, you could follow a similar strategy to keep tabs on prospects throughout the sales cycle and capitalize on leads while they’re hot.
Finally, it can be used to instantly compare prices on property listings with key competitors. Get a quick snapshot of the pricing strategies they’re using, and stay up-to-date on any promotions they offer to determine what’s helping them increase business. You can then use this information to shape your own strategy and reel in more customers.
There were 1.3 million real estate agents in the U.S. in 2018, up 6% from 1.22 million in 2017. Competition is fierce in many markets, and anything you can do to gain an edge is helpful.
One of the best ways to do that is by utilizing cutting-edge technology like web scraping and automation. It can be used for everything from making smarter investment decisions to hiring top talent and performing in-depth competitive analyses.
Which specific aspects of your business are you looking to streamline? Share in the comments below.
This article has been contributed by Luke Fitzpatrick.