The Future of Real Estate Communication

Posted by: Jay Thompson on December 31st, 2008

Yesterday I was perusing online through my cell phone bill. I took note that my two teenagers ages 15 and 17 had sent and received over 10,000 text messages – in December.

The two adults in the home sent and received approximately 400 text messages this month -– mostly between the aforementioned teenaged children. Sometimes it seems like I text them more often than I talk to them.

This got me to wondering about the future of communicating in the real estate industry.

As I write this, I’m looking at an email inbox containing 5,586 messages. Lousy email management skills aside, this is an indication of how often I send and receive emails. As I look into my sent mail folder, I see that I have sent an average of 11.33 emails each day this month. These are emails sent from my account and does not include things like listings emails generated by my MLS and IDX providers, or any other auto-emails. 11+ emails a day, every day from me to one or a couple of people.

Meanwhile my kids are sending roughly 83 text messages a day. Each.

I just asked my 17 year old son this question: “How many emails have you sent this month?”

His response: “Emails? Emails?? Maybe 10?”

Neither of my kids use email to communicate with their friends. They text, and use Facebook and to a lesser extent MySpace. When they use email, it’s almost exclusively to send files and photos, often just from one PC in the house to another.

You may be asking yourself, “Self, who cares how a 15 and 17 year old communicate? What is this guy’s point?”

The point is, the way we communicate is changing. According to some researchers there will be 2.3 trillion text messages sent this year. Wikipedia says that 80% of 13 – 24 year olds use text messaging (compared to 18% of 40 – 49 year olds). That’s a whole lot of texting by a whole lot of soon to be first-time home buyers.

Business communication is changing as well. Many businesses are beginning to use social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to communicate with clients. The other day I got notification on Twitter of discounted tickets to a Phoenix Suns NBA game -– only available to Twitter users. Doctor’s offices are sending appointment reminders via text. You can even order a pizza delivery via text message.

Whether we like it or not, the way people communicate -– in day to day life and in business -– is changing. Those that stay on top of these changes will have a distinct advantage over those that do not. If you don’t communicate with your clients and prospects the way they prefer, then they will find someone who will.

Are YOU changing the way you communicate?



17 Comments on “The Future of Real Estate Communication”

Nick Bastian

Jay, you make an excellent point with this post. Those in the real estate industry that are able to move with (or ahead of) the pack should have distinct advantages of those who prefer “business as usual.”
Many agents are remaining successful to this point with outdated business plans but I believe the tide will continue to shift towards those who take advantage of new ideas. Heck, by the time my kids are teenagers, a text message will probably be as “outdated” as an email. Remember when fax machines were cool? :-)

Dean Ouellette

Jay this is a great piece. I think most of us who are into technology know it is coming and know the numbers roughly, but seeing those numbers on paper is an eye opener. Thanks for blogging it.

D. Patrick Lewis

Amazing, how do your children not have carpal tunnel? I have found one way to stay on top of both email and SMS text messages is to use gmail. Gmail now allows you to send SMS messages from gmail. So I can use the old and the new together and somewhat seamlessly. Just my two cents.

Louis Cammarosano

Jay I am still grappling with this. I think it depends on the purpose of communication and matching it to the medium (email, text, twitter, hopne call face to face meeting).

Perhaps email will end up being like “business correspondence” like the old formal business letter banged out on the typewriter.

Text messaging for ordering pizza should suffice. For other thoughts and substantial business twitter and texting probaby isn’t sufficient

Great points ! I’ve never seen a blogger take their own statistical data from their own family… love it!

Jay Thompson

I don’t think email will be replaced (though I bet that was said of the typewriter too). You can’t attach files to a text message (yet).

We’ve had clients that said “Text me when you send an email so I know to check it”. We’ve had clients that we’ve never spoken to on the phone or met face-to-face. If you’d asked someone in real estate even just 10 years ago if they thought they’d ever sell a home to someone they never met or spoke to, I suspect they would have thought you were nuts.

There are lots of was to communicate, with more seeing to come out all the time. Who knows what the future will bring, but folks like us best keep up with the changes!

Andy Piper

My kids just straight out get it done on Facebook and text messages. I know where they will be going when it is time to buy something.

Margaret Safford-Metro Atlanta Realtor

I agree it seems crazy to sell a home without really talking to the buyers, but now it seems that texting is the way of the younger generations. Sounds like it is time to pay for the “unlimited texting” phone option….

Bobbie McGowan-Ottawa Real Estate Expert

It will be amazing to see what types of technologies will come in the future, though I have to agree that email will hard to replace.

Thomas Johnson

Email stored in the cloud is heck of a lot easier to access than a txt msg with a court subpeona. From a compliance standpoint, I think client communications are better maintained in an accessible form.

Jay Thompson

I see your point Thomas, but if a client tells you they prefer communication via text are you going to say, “I’m sending email in case you decide to sue me”?

I would find that an uncomfortable conversation.

How are phone conversations good from a compliance standpoint? What about face-face interaction and communication? Should we record these or have a witness? Surely not.

I suppose you could transcribe text messages in a similar fashion as some do with phone logs and notes on what was discussed directly with a client.


Great points Jay –

I know several people that text every minute (or at least it seems) and have found that sending them a quick text is the easiest and quickest way to get their attention and a response.

In addition, when I look for service providers, I typically lean towards providers that send emails or chat with me via messenger…if you provide a service, a part of your service should be communicating with your clients how they want you to.

The most amazing thing is how quickly text has caught on and how quickly it’s changed things.

Dru Bloomfield

Great insights, Jay. My son just went 6 months without checking his email, but when I was trying to reach him last night, he responded to my text in less than 30 seconds.

I do use a tool (TreoDesktop) to regularly download my phone log and SMS communications from my phone to my computer, so I do have a trackable record of my text messages – both timestamp and content.

Paris Real Estate

Will you agree with me or not…but not only quikly web-tehnologies can pass more important things of our adult life.
What is more actual for teenagers? In general, they want to send or get all info about their own life or their friends.
They want to get info as soon as possible. But…many busuness people don’t use messengers in correspondence because it’s
insecure. So they couldn’t send any official documentation by messengers.
And some people havn’t descovered some modern means of message transfer. Everybody can’t send info right now, especially if you
are in a wild jungle :) .

Overland Park Real Estate

Text messages are great for quick, less informal communication with a client, like “the closing company is at 123 XYZ street”. Another point on not having records is that smart phones like the iphone keep a log of your entire conversation with the messenger, not just that individual text (unless you delete the conversation). I get messages from client I have sold a house to long ago that still shows the entire text message conversations we have had.

Real Estate Taxi

Social Media isn’t just some craze. It give us the ability to communicate with many people, whom we otherwise may not ever talk too. Its a great tool but also a great way to stay in touch

לימודי רפואה משלימה

big like! – thanks .

השכרת רכב

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