As technology continues to take the real estate industry by storm, we are seeing a whole new level of speed and convenience for property buyers as well as agents. Property Consultant and Auctioneer Tom Hector shares his experience of taking his real estate business digital and how the ability to manage contracts digitally is giving rise to a new, mobile agent.
As one of the owners of Harris Real Estate, tell us what you’re known for in the industry?
Harris Real Estate was founded just eight years ago and we’re now South Australia’s largest independent real estate firm with 150 employees in five offices. Our value proposition lies in the customer experience. It’s our focus and the reason we needed to modernise our processes. Our customers are generally time-poor and can do without the hassle of coming in to sign documents, or printing and scanning them from home.
Were there other drivers for you to want to modernise the way you do business?
Digital disruption is taking place across every industry and you can see this in real estate with the popularity of property portals and websites. This will only increase over the next three to ten years, and if you’re not aligned as an agent, it’s going to be scary.
Also, for us, digitisation was a way to improve the customer experience and sell more houses in a shorter amount of time. We knew the time spent sending and chasing up contracts could be much better spent building relationships, prospecting and selling. By using DocuSign to electronically manage our contracts, we remove all that admin and get contracts signed faster so that there are no delays going into the cooling off period.
How are you using DocuSign?
We’re using DocuSign integrated with REI Forms LIVE to complete and send contracts without needing a physical, printed copy. It has fundamentally improved the way we prepare, sign and manage agreements and made the process much easier for customers. They can sign contracts electronically from any device and most do that straight away. If they don’t, we can check DocuSign to see if the contract was received, and then phone them to address any questions or concerns.
What’s been the reaction from your customers and colleagues?
We have customers of all ages now signing contracts electronically, and they say DocuSign is very simple to use. It’s more convenient than the old way of doing things and they like that we offer a new approach.
For agents, the increased speed at which we’re getting contracts back is a game changer. We have much more time to spend with customers and it’s helping us easily go from 180 to 300 sales a year. Already, we’ve achieved our best quarter ever with 60 properties sold in three months, more than any other agency in the state.
We’re already using DocuSign to finalise agency agreements and gain confirmation on reserve prices, and we’re also evaluating other potential uses within HR and property management.
How do you see this influencing the future of the real estate industry?
We’re seeing the emergence of the mobile agent. You no longer need to be in the office to do your job, you can sell properties from anywhere and get the contract done in DocuSign – even on the road.
We had a situation recently where a family was headed to the airport on their way to New Zealand, and they wanted to purchase a property ahead of the auction. I was able to negotiate with the vendor in Melbourne and finalise the deal using DocuSign, all on a Friday night from my car. In the past, that deal would never have taken place and I think that shows how much our industry is evolving, it’s a good place to be right now!
Any last pieces of advice for fellow agents looking to gain a piece of the success Harris Real Estate are currently seeing?
Yes, if you’re not keeping up with technology you’ve got no chance of making it. Embrace the tools that are available to you to drive great customer satisfaction and big success.
For more information on how Harris Real Estate is leveraging DocuSign and REI Forms to create a better customer experience and sell more houses, watch our full Customer Spotlight interview with Tom Hector.