In the past, families who were shopping for a home knew nothing about the local real estate market until they’d consulted with a Realtor. Real estate agents themselves depended on huge binders and notebooks chock full of property information that was time-consuming to update.
Many hours were spent driving from house to house, most of which could be eliminated as possibilities on sight.
But recently, technology has significantly streamlined the house-hunting process, to say nothing of the search for commercial structures. Broker websites and mobile applications have empowered buyers and investors while similarly equipping Realtors with the latest information on any given property.
Prospective buyers — even the uncommitted ones — can dip their figurative toes in the real estate waters without ever having to speak to an agent. Websites such as Trulia.com and Zillow.com provide useful general information on properties.
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Relevant statistics on these resources include the last sales price, number of rooms, property taxes, and local school information. Such knowledge can assist prospective buyers in narrowing their search.
Even more effective are the online listings posted by brokers and agencies. The Dwellus Group, for example, offers detailed information on homes in northern Virginia that are actually listed, and includes the features of each room as well as the asking price.
The National Association of Realtors assists its members with promoting their businesses through an online presence. By consulting e-books, blog posts, and links to educational articles, brokers and agents can stay abreast of changes in the law, technology, and markets.
Prior to the information age, access to this kind of helpful information required numerous subscriptions to trade publications via snail mail. Beyond continuing education, practical technological applications make a Realtor’s life easier these days.
Among these are online invoicing apps for transmission to settlement agents, three-dimensional modeling programs for more comprehensive previews of prospective properties, and management tools for rental properties.
Getting from here to there
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have revolutionized business as well as personal travel. For real estate professionals and home buyers, the revolution is experienced up close.
Finding listed properties to show no longer requires perusing roadmaps and straining to see street signs. By giving oral instructions at every turn, GPS programs enable the agent and clients to engage in dialogue without the distraction of having to consult a map or written directions.
A multiple listing service in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. is launching a GPS app that’s specifically tailored for Realtors who work in the field from their smartphones.
Like other forms of commerce, real estate has benefited from the growth of social media. Professionals of course can utilize it as a potent form of marketing. Buyers, on the other hand, can solicit advice from friends and followers regarding:
- home inspections
- mortgage lenders
Conversation about such topics on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, among other venues, is advantageous to buyers because the reviews are unfiltered. For real estate agents, social media outlets serve to create connections in a way that classified ads or the yellow pages never could.