Agents chat online in real-time with clients

TRD New York /
Jan.January 08, 2010 11:41 AM

Century 21 NY Metro is the latest New York City brokerage firm to ramp up its social media efforts. The firm launched Live Agent Chat last week, a feature on its Web site which allows potential buyers to chat online with agents while perusing listings.

The system connects potential clients with agents who are logged in at that time and cycles the next client to the next agent, moving through those logged in.

“With more buyers and renters finding that even e-mail is too slow in this era of texting and tweeting, an immediate chat response is often preferred,” said Marc Lewis, president of Century 21 NY Metro.

The agents are reporting success with the new feature.

“I’ve come close to closing a deal and many of my colleagues have been successful the first day the chat feature was up and running,” Century 21 NY Metro agent Deborah Abraham told The Real Deal during an online chat.

Not everyone thinks the new feature is useful.

Kathy Braddock, executive consultant at recently-established Web agent guide,, and co-founder of real estate consultancy Braddock + Purcell thinks that while the live chat feature is a step in the right direction, she is skeptical about the random method in which brokers are paired with buyers.

“If the agent that happens to be online has expertise in a particular market and the buyer is seeking information about an entirely different market, the chat session may not be very effective” Braddock said “I think it’s a good move, but they need more refines.”

But Century 21 NY Metro agent Gabriela Turnauer is confident that any quick tidbit of information will help prospective buyers or renters in their search for a new home.  

“I will have an answer for anything real estate-related and I always share as much or as little as I can when clients message me,” she told the The Real Deal during an online chat.

Century 21 NY Metro is not the only New York City real estate company to increase its social media efforts as of late.  

Prudential Douglas Elliman is also working on making its Web presence more interactive and consumer-driven.

“By the end of the first quarter, we hope to launch a blog feature on the Web site where prospective buyers and sellers will be able to discuss listings [with each other] and comment on apartments,” said Stephen Kotler, executive vice president and director of sales at Elliman.

Mala Sander, senior vice president and associate broker at the Corcoran Group, said she thinks the live chat feature is of note.

“Online chat is interesting and something worth exploring because buyers typically call agents as they browse web listings,” Sander said.

There has been an overall shift in the industry toward further reliance on mobile devices to interact with clients via Twitter and text.  

Earlier last month, Corcoran launched its iPhone application, which allows users to browse Corcoran listings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Hamptons, and South Florida — anytime and anywhere. And, Warburg Realty announced it would be releasing a similar app.  

Following the trend, Elliman is planning to release a listings app sometime this year for the iPhone, Blackberry, and Verizon Droid, Kotler said.

“As the world becomes increasingly connected and reliant on technology, buyers want to quickly and easily search for a new home at times convenient to their lives,” Century 21 NY Metro’s Lewis said.

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