Part II: Why Real Estate Agents (Largely) Haven’t Adopted Mobile Technology

In Part I of this article series, we explored how the mobile market in the United States is poised to grow dramatically in the coming years.  Both Europe and Asia are already ahead of the curve when it comes to mobile technology – abroad, people use wireless technology more, text more and respond to more marketing offers than in the United States.  But this will change in the coming years as the U.S. market catches up.  And this means more opportunities for you as a Realtor to take advantage of new technologies to expand your business.

In this article, Part II, we will explore the current approaches Realtors are taking toward mobile technology and the trends in the industry today. Make no mistake about it: agents are using mobile technologies and having success with it right now.  But there are still several shortcomings and blind spots holding the real estate industry back from widespread adoption of the mobile platform.  In Part III of this series, we’re going to try and predict the best mobile strategies for real estate agents that will develop as the market matures.

While no firm numbers exist, the total percentage of Realtors using mobile technology for anything other than personal use has to be quite small.  Here’s why:

Realtors use mobile technology – but not mobile marketing technology.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a real estate agent without a cell phone glued to his or her hand, but that doesn’t mean they’re putting mobile technology to its full use.  It’s fair to say the real estate industry has a blind spot when it comes to mobile technology – they use it to keep in touch with their clients but they don’t yet see it as a tool to build their businesses.

Many vendors make mobile marketing complicated

Current mobile technology implementations are often both counterintuitive and time-consuming, and Realtors feel their time is often better spent elsewhere.  In addition, vendors often charge fees of more than $50 per month per property – a price point that scares a lot of realtors away.

There’s no single solution or answer out there on how to reach the mobile consumer.

Current vendors in mobile technology take a shotgun approach to the market – fire a lot of shells out there and hope something sticks.  This creates a confusing market for the real estate agent – especially if they’re not mobile-savvy to begin with.  There are so many different solutions and so many different strategies out there – how is an agent suppose to know what works?  Add in the fact that many vendors charge huge fees for their service, and you can see why agents are staying away.  Even a brief foray into mobile marketing can be an expensive proposition.

There’s an overinvestment in single-platform technology like the iPhone.

As soon as the iPhone came out, there was a huge wave of vendors who started to offer Agents solutions to market their properties on the iPhone.  Lost in this veritable frenzy of development was the fact that only a miniscule percentage of the market actually had an iPhone … just .3 percent as of August!  Moreover, this number isn’t going to grow markedly anytime soon. Think about it – even if a new cell phone comes out with enormous buzz like the iPhone, most mobile customers are locked into long-term contracts with their wireless provider.  There’s a lag time before the vast majority even can afford to get the technology.  Realtors who invested time and money in solutions for products like the iPhone must feel swindled because their fancy new technology was viewable only by a small percentage of their leads.  Mobile marketing vendors need to focus more widely used technology like SMS text messaging and the mobile web.


Like any technology, mobile real estate marketing was bound to suffer some growing pains.  But as the mobile market grows and matures, so too do the solutions available for realtors.  The good news is it’s becoming easier and more affordable for agents to reach out to customers on the mobile platform.  The dark days of difficult, expensive and proprietary solutions are ending, and mobile marketing is becoming viable for realtors in every market. Vendors are beginning to look past the bleeding edge of mobile technology and focus on more time-tested mobile marketing solutions that hold real value for Agents.

Stay tuned for Part III, where we tell you all about it.

SPS recently announced SPS Mobile Marketer, which offers Agents an automated and FREE way to engage mobile consumers with Instant Text Property Flyers, Mobile Web sites and Text Lead Alerts.  For more information, go to

3 thoughts on “Part II: Why Real Estate Agents (Largely) Haven’t Adopted Mobile Technology”

  1. Trulia introduced the listings for all phones yesterday. Originally only for the iPhone.
    Most MLS’s is an add on service and the boards don’t usually add it on, some do.
    I’ll check out the site on Activerain as I blog there too.

  2. We are seeing an increased awareness of the need for agents to get involved with texting. It is a slow process of change but none the less it will happen and those that embrace the new web 2.0 will benefit tremendously. We would like to link our real estate video networking site to texting so that the videos could be view on the mobile devices. Our site is new and still in beta but we are getting tremendous support from the industry because just as agents need to be texting they definitely need to be taking videos of their listings to please their sellers and the viewing public. Our site is poised to be the premier real estate video network. If anyone has any ideas as to how we could link these technologies we would be interested in a further discussion.

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