The real estate industry is constantly in flux. Growing, changing, adopting new ways of working through emergent technological approaches - you name it, and the market has gone through it. It’s enough to make the head spin of any real estate professional! Yet no matter how complex the industry gets, you’re going to have to keep up if you want to remain competitive. That’s why one of the most useful strategies for staying current on where the real estate markets are going and how you can leverage the new directions they take is through leveraging agile methodology.
If you’re scratching your head right now, don’t worry - you’re not the only person who might not understand exactly what “agile” methodology is. This is because it comes from the world of information technology, specifically software development. An agile methodology is one that focuses on the idea of iterative development. Solutions are sought and requirements are met on the fly through the efforts of both single developers as well as teams, rapidly tested, and then returned to for troubleshooting and further development.
Agile methodology seeks to break down traditional, conservative barriers to efficiency by eliminating silo-based linear value chains as they’re simply too restrictive. Instead of pursuing a single goal to completion before moving on to others, an agile development methodology focuses on reaching iterative milestones on as many different goals at once, allowing you to pivot whenever your focus needs to shift.
While the idea of agile software development makes sense, it may seem less apparent how such a methodology can be applied to a different industry. Buying, selling, and investing in properties is far removed from writing and then testing code, after all. Yet despite what seems like vast differences between these two markets, the core functionality of agile methods can be applied to both with some surprising results.
In this case, “agile real estate” takes the form of building a real estate portfolio that allows investors to adapt to market conditions as they occur to foster growth and overall longevity. At the same time, this process involves reducing risk exposure and decreasing the up-front capital that you invest in properties.
So how does agile real estate manifest in practical situations? An excellent example is to choose not to maintain a physical office space, as this can end up draining resources over the entirety of a long-term lease. Instead, an agile approach to maintaining offices would include opening offices in strategic locations where matching talent pools are available so that you can attract high-quality employees before your competitors can do so.
In the end, any business practices that allow you to reduce your overhead, limit your risk exposure, and still perform in the highly competitive real estate market can be considered an agile real estate strategy. In fact, if you’re a real estate agent that works primarily from your home office or spends lots of time in the field, you’ve already adopted many of these methodologies, perhaps without even realizing it!
The barriers to adopting agile methodologies in your own real estate business aren’t necessarily high. Transitioning to a work paradigm that focuses on being able to pivot when needed and not ensconcing yourself in silo-like work activities (such as chaining yourself to a desk in an expensive office) is easy enough to envision. However, the biggest challenge you may need to overcome is in throwing off a traditional mindset.
The idea that “things have always been done this way” might give you pause before pulling the trigger on adopting an agile methodology mindset. However, the sentiment is simply not true; things have not always been “done this way”, as the real estate market has grown and changed over time. Additionally, just because something has always been done in a certain way doesn’t make it necessarily the right way to do it - not when there are non-traditional approaches that can provide better results.
Adopting agile methodologies in the real estate sector isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes determination and a willingness to step out of your comfort zone so you can give a new way of doing things a try. Yet by the same token, much can be said of entering into the real estate industry in the first place.
Think about when you were first getting started as a real estate professional. You didn’t have the skills and experience that you do now, and looking back at those early days it’s easy to see how uncertain things might have felt at the time. Yet today, after learning the industry the way you have, you’ve grown confident in your expertise and your abilities - and this couldn’t have ever happened unless you made those first few steps into that strange new world. If nothing else, you owe it to your professional development to give agile real estate methodologies a try!