The Real Estate industry is in flux, which is not exactly a “new” thing– it’s always been somewhat unstable and inefficient compared to other markets, but it is also in a state of flux that can only be brought on by the disruptive, innovative forces of the constancy of new technology, which never seems to cease flooding into the way that real estate functions.
It does not seem to be that long ago that a real estate agent’s biggest questions were things like:
“Is it worth it to put my face on a bench? If so, which bench?”
“Should I put my newspaper ad in color, or will it be fine if it’s black and white? Should I run the ad in small town papers, big city papers, or both? Is it worth investing in putting the listing on the Real Estate channel?”
As a matter of fact, it was not that long ago. Needless to say, the Internet disturbed everything.
Although it is true that, in this article, we’ll be exploring the current state of real estate in America, that does not mean that I’ll be making any wild predictions regarding bubbles popping, markets crashing, or anything of the like. Despite the fact that the 2016’s recent hikes in real estate property values in every major city around the country are quite incredible:
- Portland 12.32%
- Seattle 10.67%
- Denver 9.45%
- Dallas 8.65%
- San Francisco 7.77%
- Tampa 7.77%
- Atlanta 6.51%
- Miami 6.44%
- and San Diego 6.34%
These numbers are significant, and it will be interesting to see what happens next. A move toward the mean is to be expected, but dramatic conversation revolving around “bursting bubbles” reads mostly as inflammatory. and I think that, by now, enough of those predictions are constantly being formulated, and enough have “judgment days” have whizzed right by without any impact at all; skipped like a stone that never even made a splash.
What I will talk about is how technology is having an impact on real estate. Starting with the most obvious example of this, social media.
At this point, it is probably safe to say that the relationship that most individuals have with social media is a complicated one– which proves even truer if you are a professional. Although branding is not a new concept, the intimate, multi-dimensional form of being your own brand that has been brought on by the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is one that would not even have been able to be imagined in our wildest dreams even one decade ago, let alone at the turn of the century, or before that…
It is no secret that an active, vibrant, and savvy social media life has become such an important factor to the modern real estate agent that it is not even an “advantage” to be digitally literate and apt, but it is actually a prerequisite in most situations, should you hope to have any success whatsoever.
What you post, how often you post, how many people see your posts, and how those people respond to it, forms your external identity to whoever decided to click on your face / name and evaluate if you might be the right option for them, or not.
If you ignore this aspect of modern real estate, this doesn’t mean you’re not participating, it means that you’re probably not doing a very good job. The rules of the game have shifted, and it’s up to you to keep up.
Even broader than ‘social media’ is google. A whole new breed of internet specialists have emerged with the science of SEO (search engine optimization), and are ready to share the benefits of what they’ve learned. By consulting with an SEO specialist, you can make sure that your name appears near the top of the page when common google searches are typed in relating to the service you provide. Like “best realtor (insert city here)” — don’t you want to show up in that search?
Real Estate was a lot simpler twenty years ago. People asked their friends, family, and colleagues and referrals; it seemed that other than the occasional classified ad or face on the bench, everything was word of mouth. This still exists, to an extent, but not enough to depend on.
Recent data suggests that when Americans need solutions, 70% of them ask Google first. Get on that demographic, and have the right social media and online marketing materials to sway them to invest in you.
The Internet In General
This may seem vague and overly broad, especially as it covers everything that we’ve already covered. But it would be next to impossible to overstate the impact that the digitalization of our culture, and the rise of the internet, has had on real estate. Databases of homes for sale and rent are only a few clicks away at all times, and with the maturing millennial population, and the rate of technological advancement, now is the time to try to catch up to the curve, rather than contently wait for it to curve back into the old-fashioned way.
I can express how this all culminates in a simple, specific example. Let’s say I want to look to purchase a second property (a vacation property) to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. If I’m among the majority of Americans, and we’ll say that I am, I’ll google something along the lines of “outer banks real estate” and see what happens. In this case, an established company called Twiddy & Company emerges. Twiddy is clearly a high functioning organization that has invested in proper online infrastructure. Their SEO is up to scale, as they were high on the first page of my google search, and I am soon directed into the world of their website, which is very professional looking, and Twiddy & Company’s various social media accounts, which are all heavily followed, with many people responding to their posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As an average millennial, I instantly see a legitimacy about this organization, and have good reason to trust that they are reputable and successful.
As I said before, real estate will likely never be completely “stable”, but it is up to real estate professionals to be agile, adaptable, and ahead of the curve. This is possible, it just takes an investment into remaining current, relevant, and knowledgeable about digital culture, and how it is impacting the world of real estate.