Real estate industry publications like Market Leader suggest that 44% of online home
buyers prefer to work with an agent who’s “most responsive,” rather than one who’s
academically qualified or aggressive. And with property prices fluctuating in response to
prevailing economic conditions, the ability to identify likely prospects, cement
relationships, and close deals requires individuals and organizations in the real estate
sector to have access to rapid and reactive communications channels to facilitate that
Managing property databases, client lists, and agent rosters introduces another element
into the communications mix, and the need for a system capable of integrating and coordinating
all these demands.
Cloud-based telecommunications solutions such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
telephony and hosted PBX (Private Branch Exchange) systems can contribute real benefits
to subscribers in the real estate sector.
Presence, Mobility & Call Routing
With real estate agents habitually on the road, they need to have an office in the palms of
their hands – and VoIP technology makes this possible.
The “presence” function of VoIP communications puts a panel on the desktop (smartphone
or tablet screen, or desktop/laptop computer monitor) of each user on the network, and
enables agents to post their own current conditions and monitor the status of their
colleagues (“On A Call”, “Available”, “Do Not Disturb”, etc.).
Mobile apps and a centralized control panel in the cloud ensure the distribution of calls to
whoever’s most appropriate to handle them – and the Auto-Attendant (virtual receptionist)
feature can be configured to route calls based on pre-set rules, reducing the pressure on
human receptionists at head or branch offices.
Find & Follow
The “Find Me/Follow Me” feature enables real estate agents to configure their telephony
system to route incoming calls to any device they specify, so if a client is unable to reach
them on one number, the call can be redirected to the agent’s cell phone (for example)
rather than their having to wait to replay a voicemail message.
Calls may even be set to simultaneously ring on several devices at once until an agent picks
up – severely reducing the chance of a missed call and missed opportunity.
Hosted PBX services based on VoIP technology can also host virtual phone numbers, which
operate independently of a specific cable link or hardware device. With these, agents can
assign two or more additional numbers to their phones, assigning each (for example) to a
different client base.
Real estate businesses can also choose virtual numbers to establish a presence in certain
locations with a local, regional, or international area code, or toll-free numbers for
customer access via websites, directories, billboards, and other public channels.
Call Monitoring & Recording
Call recording and monitoring tools can provide transcripts and performance statistics for
evaluating and educating agents in more competitive sales environments.
From an operational standpoint, call transcripts can also provide clarification and
documentation of what was said or agreed upon by whom, in a particular transaction.
Unified Communications & Messaging
The Unified Communications or UC aspect of VoIP telephony involves the integration of
different digital data streams (voice calls, office productivity applications, information
processing, etc.) on a single platform. So it’s easy to co-ordinate customer databases,
property lists, and transaction histories.
Real-time communication becomes possible over a number of channels and media types,
such as email, SMS, Instant Messaging, live chat, and video conferencing. Agents can also
pull in data from their company’s accounts, Customer Relationship Management (CRM),
sales and marketing platforms, without having to terminate a call.
Features like email to fax transcription make conveyancing and the transfer of legal
documents an integrated part of the communications process.
Co-ordinating Branch Office Activities
VoIP and hosted PBX systems make it possible to easily co-ordinate operations between
multiple branch offices, remote, or international sites. Calls and messages can be
transferred seamlessly between locations via the internet, with the caller being unaware of
the true location of the agent dealing with their case.
Since communication takes place on a single platform, it’s easy for real estate organizations
to create and present a consistent and unified brand image across their entire global
Easy Management Options
Account management and provisioning for cloud-based telecommunications systems like
VoIP and hosted PBX typically takes place via a user-friendly software console that may be
configured to assign phone lines and telephony features without the need to install
Systems can be scaled up or down in minutes to accommodate new hires, staff turnovers,
and changing market conditions.
Availability & Business Continuity
Call routing, presence functions, and mobile apps ensure that workers in the real estate
sector can be reached at any time of day, and in any location.
Hosted PBX providers should also have options in place to allow for continued business
activity and communications in the event of local network outages that might occur in the
event of a severe weather incident, human or natural disaster, or security breach. Typically,
this would include the automatic re-routing of calls to designated mobile devices, or the
transfer of network services to the provider’s mirror locations.
There’s no need to purchase, install, manage, or maintain an in-house PBX with a hosted
solution – a fact that saves significant amounts in capital expenditure, at the outset.
Call charges with VoIP telephone systems are significantly lower than their traditional
network equivalents, with calls within the organization typically being free, and local rates
applying to long-distance and international calls over the internet.
With rapid or real-time response capabilities, a wealth of features, customizable settings,
reduced costs, and ease of management, VoIP and hosted PBX services are a winning
proposition for organizations in the real estate sector.