Have you ever felt like you were shooting darts at water while searching for property on a broker website or a search portal?  Maybe you’ve narrowed it down and drilled into a property that you love and started to arrange your furniture, so you take the next logical step and click on that evil little email icon (the one that should effectively be renamed abyss or black hole) and you sit back and wait for an eternity that never comes.  Well you aren’t alone. In fact, over 48% of online leads submitted via email (contact forms included) are never, ever responded to.

That stat doesn’t bode well for those sellers who entrust real estate agents to be responsive to all methods of communication in order to sell their largest lifetime asset.  A quick randomized test using Canada’s largest portal realtor.ca and you’ll see how many agents respond to emails about their listings.  We emailed five random agents with condo listings all under a price point of 300k and asked a simple question about the condos they had listed and what the pet policy was. Not one email was returned. Zero.

There’s lots of talk these days about how much longer email has left on this earth. Entire companies have given email up completely and actually banned their employees from using it, because at the end of the day some things aren’t made to wait. Real estate sales should specifically be added to that list.

We were just spot checking a couple of agents when we threw out our one liner: “Does this building have a pet policy in place and if so can you tell us more about the restrictions. ” This was a question that required a very simple answer, either yes or no and then maybe one or two more sentences to explain the yes or no answer.  For example, “Yes. You can have one dog or one cat no bigger than 21”.

Pretty simple, but is email really the best way to negotiate that conversation? Absolutely not. I would say the best way would be over telephone, but unfortunately even the good ol’ telephone has been getting a bad rep for being a privacy invader these days.  Somehow phoning someone that isn’t expecting your call has become like showing up uninvited to a wedding. It’s downright tacky and that sentiment is even spilling over to the business world. So how do we connect and make it simple?  Chat for one. And text messaging for two.

This is a new powerhouse combo that allows us to save email and phone for the right context and start funneling leads who are still in that courting phase, down the right path.

SYNCRO has taken the powerful combination of chat plus text to a whole new level by also integrating a third factor into the powerhouse combo. Data. We’ve made it so that a broker or a portal or an agent with lots of listings can embed a chat window into each individual property listing.

Screencaps of SYNCRO website chat to SMS text embedded into an IDX data feed.

Screencaps of SYNCRO website chat to SMS text embedded into an IDX data feed.

This allows a visitor to stay immersed and intrigued on the property details page and call up a ‘chat with the listing agent now’ box.  They can ask their simple question without having to give up too much personal information and feel comfortable knowing that they still have a shred of privacy while they test you out. The benefit to the agent, is that all of the information, including what listing the person is viewing, is sent over to them via text message. No matter where they are in their busy day they can take a couple of seconds to respond immediately and engage in a back and forth dialogue  with the customer who is viewing their listing.

Why do we say immediately?  How many text messages (your mom’s not included) do you ignore or save until later when you’re more comfortable?

Take a read through these four points about text messaging and see if it fits better with how you’re handling your online lead right now.

Text messaging according to David Nield, Demand Media, was designed for:

Immediacy – Texts are delivered immediately and directly to a device that most of us have with us at all times. Not as many of us are checking email on such a regular basis — even if someone owns a phone capable of sending and receiving email, there’s no guarantee email is being checked as regularly as text messages. SMS messages have more of a sense of urgency, whereas email tends to be seen as information that can be responded to at a later date. With cell numbers typically more closely guarded than email addresses, a text message also represents a more personal and intimate connection.

Mobility – The benefits of being able to receive an SMS anywhere also apply to the sending part of the process — a text can be sent from any location you can get a data connection, and there’s no need for email client software to get up and running. Most modern smartphones now come with built-in email clients, but texting remains simpler to do, and is the only option if you’re using a more basic cell phone.

Brevity- SMS messages are almost always typed out on a mobile phone keypad, whereas emails are generally composed on a full-sized keyboard or a bigger tablet keypad. This limitation can work to the advantage of SMS, encouraging shorter messages that get to the point. Paragraphs and text formatting are all stripped away, leaving only the message itself. While email may be preferable for discussing topics in-depth, texting has the advantage when it comes to making quick arrangements or sending shorter messages.

Security- Spam messages and group emails have to some extent diluted the impact of email. Messages sent over email can easily get lost or inadvertently filtered out of the inbox. While text messages can be sent to a group, or used to spam users, the problem is not as widespread as it is with email — this gives the SMS format another advantage. Virus attachments and malicious links are other problems with email that don’t exist to the same extent on text messages, making it a more secure platform as well.

So if you are a broker or portal with lots of real estate listings you might want to consider embedding chat into your data. It might just solve some immediate immediacy issues encountered by consumers.  What do you think?  Do you think leads are better sent via text so that they can be dealt with more efficiently?  Let us know in the comments or message us on Twitter.