by Dan Krell © 2013
Besides face to face meetings, the telephone was the only way real estate agents could communicate with their clients up until about 1990. By the mid 1990’s the fax machine was a fixture in every real estate office and was a major method to send home listings and contract addenda to clients. By the housing boom in 2004, large numbers of home buyers turned to the internet to get the latest home listings before other buyers; and during that time, many real estate brokers and agents were taking to the internet finding rudimentary uses for email marketing.
Much like the advances in previous technologies that made the “business” of real estate easier, current advances also seek to make the process increasingly convenient and efficient. Before the internet was widely used, the increasing abilities of fax transmissions made communication faster and more accurate. And even though there has not been a major technological advent since the internet, the internet experience has much improved due to the exponential advances in computing power as well as widespread wi-fi access and increasing bandwidth.
Ten years ago, most home buyers and sellers used their desktop computer to access the internet; mobile computing was somewhat in its infancy. Advances in mobile technologies, including smart phones, have untethered home buyers and sellers; they now have access to real estate information at their finger tips any time of day, wherever there is a signal. Additionally, real estate websites can now send listing alerts via text messages. Technically known as “short messaging service” or sms, texting is not only allowing the “set and forget” convenience of the home search, but allows anyone to communicate contract details and showing instructions with minimal effort.
The internet as a platform has really changed the home buying and selling experience. Home buyers and sellers don’t have to wait for their agent to send listing information; and because they don’t have to meet with their agents to sign documents, fax machines have basically become obsolete.
Electronic signing is a technology that is becoming increasingly popular, especially for those who have busy schedules. The technology allows a person to review and electronically sign a document it via the internet. Too bad for Fed-Ex, as e-signing has all but eliminated the need to send packages of documents to be signed; most notably, the use of electronic signatures has made the process easier for international home buyers and sellers.
It might seem as if technology is not only allowing consumers to conduct the business of real estate with increasing convenience and efficiency, but also lessening the reliance on real estate professionals. Ten years ago, most home buyers relied solely on their real estate agent for home listings. Today, however, a majority of home buyers search the internet for home listings and public information.
However, as information is increasingly available, real estate professionals have become even more relied upon to decipher and provide perspective to the information that consumers are accessing. A real estate agent’s role is continually changing from the information “gate-keeper” to information analyst.
So, I don’t expect real estate agents to be replaced by androids or Star-Trekesque holo-decks in ten years time; however, new technologies will continue to make the home buying and selling process easier and increasingly efficient. But, who knows, maybe one day the holo-deck could allow buyers and sellers, who are thousands of miles apart, to attend settlement together.
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of June 17, 2013 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.