Old-Fashioned Technology
Makes Real Estate Comeback

“Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore. It’s too crowded.”
–Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra could easily say the same things about the Internet today, especially with respect to real estate. Consider:

–Online photos are now routinely so overly-flattering, you literally don’t recognize the home when you’re standing in it.

–Facebook and MySpace are crawling with Realtors, job seekers, and people selling . .. something.

–Sites like Zillow — never very accurate at pricing homes — are actually getting worse (their business model isn’t to displace Realtors, but to attract eyeballs and advertising dollars).

–Interest rates quoted online are virtually meaningless because they don’t take into account the borrowers’ unique circumstances. Or, they’re loss leaders that 1% of the borrowing public qualifies for (in retail, this is called “bait and switch”).

Given all the clutter, distortion, and sheer noise on the Internet today, it seems fair to ask, “Has the Internet’s utility peaked?”

For many people, the answer is “yes.” That’s true even as an estimated 80% percentage of all prospective home Buyers now begin their home search online.

Underwhelming — and Overwhelming

Unfortunately, once they get there, they’re likely to be both underwhelmed — and overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed by the sheer number of real estate sites and information out there. Underwhelmed by how little of it is actually useful, if not outright misleading.

What’s taking the Internet’s place? “Low tech,” and in some cases, “no tech” (John Naisbitt anticipated this phenomenon years ago with a 1999 book titled, “High Tech, High Touch”):

–Old-fashioned shoe leather and tire-kicking: if you really want to know what a property’s like, go look.
–For Realtors marketing a home: personal networking, word-of-mouth, and an especially low tech tool: the phone.
–For prospective Buyers looking for a Realtor: referrals and personal interviews. Plenty of newbie Realtors are great at technology, including Facebook, but don’t have a clue about selling real estate (how would they? They’ve never done it).
–For borrowers looking for a loan: one-on-one contact with a lender.

So is the Internet going away?

Hardly. Once I’m working with a client, the Internet’s various productivity tools (email, online forms, government Web sites) greatly expedite communication, work flow, and access to information.

However, purely as a marketing medium, the Internet’s value arguably has peaked.

Just like junk mail, the more ubiquitous it becomes, the less it seems to register with people (this blog notwithstanding, of course!).

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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