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The Not So Simple Act Of Communicating

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It is a known fact that strong communication between borrower, lender, Realtor and title agent makes good business sense and is an integral part of a smooth transaction. When all parties are informed and up-to-date, problems that could derail the closing are more readily resolved. Yet, in today’s world, the one simple act of communicating is not all that simple.

Long gone are the days when communication was limited to in-person, over the phone or by mail. With the rapid growth in technology and the resulting new communication tools, we in the real estate industry have more ways than ever to communicate with our customers and business partners. And while these new tools have greatly improved our industry’s overall level of service, they have come with a new set of challenges for us to address.

The Speed of Communication

With the universal adoption of mobile devises, email, text/ instant messaging, live chat, etc. we have near instant access and 24/7 communication with our customers. From a customer service perspective this is a great development. But it also means that your customers are increasingly expecting near instant access and 24/7 communication from you; and therein lies our challenge. For even the largest entities, meeting this expected level of service can be daunting. Yet it is a challenge that if we do not meet on our own, may be thrust upon us by the next generation of home buyers who grew up expecting the toy they bought online today to show up at their house tomorrow.

Mandated Communication

Though not directly a result of technology, the CFPB’s mandated 3-day disclosure requirement imposed a communication challenge for our industry. Granted, at this point, this specific challenge has largely been addressed. However, it will continue to present challenges going forward. For institutions currently providing traditional paper disclosures, the cost of items such as paper, printing, overnight delivery fees and maintaining the personnel need to send the disclosure will continue to be a challenge. Furthermore, as Millennials and younger generations become home buyers and demand greater levels of electronic communication, these institutions will have to address the challenges of transitioning from a paper disclosure to an e-disclosure.

Generational Differences

The introduction of new communication technology has, for what may truly be the first time, divided generations by preferred communication methods. As such, when communicating with our customers we have to be cognizant of how they prefer to communicate. From Baby boomers preferring phone calls over emails unless communicating after business hours to Millennials who prefer electronic communication, we are now challenged to not only know how to communicate with different generations but what channel that communication should take. Interestingly, while there are differences is how each generation prefers to communicate, recent surveys have shown that all generations place a high value on face-to-face communication.

Security

With international hackers routinely stealing Non-public Personal Information from well-known establishments, hardly a day goes by when data and communication security is not front page news or the lead story on the nightly news. For our industry, with the significant amount of NPI we collect, the large amount of money that trades hands during a transactions and the number of professionals involved in the transaction, data and communication security is and will be an on-going challenge. While some in our industry have reverted to older technology to address this challenge, e.g. accepting information by fax or mail only, this is more a stop-gap than a long term security strategy. As new technology is introduced and younger, tech-savvy homebuyers enter the market, those that do not have secure electronic communication channels will find themselves at a significant competitive disadvantage.

With any new technology there are always challenges and hurdles to overcome and new communications methods are no different.

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