How has cell phones and tablets changed the way we buy and sell houses in 2016?
When I began to sell Real Estate in the late 90’s, everyone was so concerned about how the Internet would change our industry. The thought at the time was that the consumer would no longer need a realtor because it would become so much easier to find or advertise a home online.
The death of the realtor was greatly exaggerated. The fact was (and is) that gathering information, and understanding it, are two very different things. Unknown at the time, the real estate industry was about to experience one of its greatest booms, and also one of its worst crashes. However, even with newer and better Internet, and an ever increasing reliance on the new technology, the Realtor continued to be a valuable part of the buying and selling process.
Now in 2016, it’s actually quite different. With the introduction of the smartphone and tablet, everything has changed. The speed in which information is gathered has increased so much that it’s actually frightening.
Companies such as Redfin and Zillow have become dominate players in the industry. Their smartphone apps have drastically changed the way in which people find homes. 90% of people search for homes using their smart phones or tablets. The desk-top computer has been replaced by small lightning-fast mobile devices and once again, people are expecting the death of the Realtor. Which hasn’t happened, but it could.
As long as people think the only job of the realtor is to market and find homes, the Realtor’s importance will continue to diminish.
But how has this technology actually changed the way in which we buy and sell homes?
Speed. For one, homes are updated instantaneously. It no longer takes days to identify a home; it takes minutes.
If your home is not selling in the first week or two at the most, it probably won’t sell without a price reduction!
Open houses now account for almost 45% of home sales, as opposed to 1% years ago. The reason is simple. The buyer knows exactly how much a home is before seeing it. They can also set up instant alerts to notify them as to what homes they want to see.
But the most important change is the importance of quality photos. The average buyer now looks at the photos on their phone and can decide in less than 6 seconds whether or not they want to see a home.
The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer.
Pricing has also changed. Most Realtors will tell you that sites like Redfin are not accurate representations of a home’s true value. That may be true, but remember, the buyer sees the price estimate, which will definitely have an impact on their decision to see a home or not. So if you ignore this, do so at your own peril.
In short, we live in a mobile world the moves at the speed of light…literally. The days of thinking all I have to do is wait, and a qualified buyer will make an offer, are over.
This is a world in which the home buyer has never been exposed to so much information, and for better or for worse, if you want to be successful in today’s world you need to market to the cell phone.