It seems like technology and all of its magical advances in the last few years are consuming and permanently altering almost all industries. Real estate is an industry that has altered dramatically as first the Internet, then high-definition photos, and now virtual reality have been introduced.
The Old Fashioned Way
The first changes to real estate came from the Internet in 1996, when home listings were published online for real estate agents and buyers/sellers to see. Prior to that, listings were printed on paper and distributed in newspapers or in a book carried by real estate agents to show prospective buyers.
Real Estate Moves Online and into Virtual Reality
As technology continues to change the way consumers do business in many aspects, the real estate industry has had to continue redefining the way it does business. Before, it was more difficult for owners to sell their homes. Social media was one of the first ways in this digital era that changed that, allowing homeowners to attempt to sell their homes through word of mouth on these platforms. While it’s unclear if how successful that method has been, other online avenues have opened up for homeowners to sell themselves.
With multiple websites to post listings on, buyers are seeing more homes more quickly, and sellers have the benefit of listing their property in multiple places. Higher quality cameras provide better images of properties, and now 360 degree views, videos, and even virtual reality are coming into play in real estate.
The Pros and Cons
While most of these changes have actually been beneficial to the industry, buyers/sellers, and real estate agents and brokers, there are some that have made it more difficult for agents and brokers. It’s easier than ever for sellers to now post their homes in multiple places on their own. With real estate documents readily available online, many owners are choosing to bypass agents and place properties “for sale by owner”.
These changes are cost-savers for the buyers and sellers typically, but are putting real estate brokers and agents out of business. Yet another example of “do-it-yourself” and automation that are eliminating the need for humans.
The growth of needed agents and brokers in this industry from 2014 to 2024 is only 3%, lower than the expected growth of all occupations. And with websites like homie.com, it wouldn’t be surprising if the actual rate of growth is lower than that.
There’s certainly more safety in having an agent when buying or selling a home. They’re typically more familiar with the market in your area, fair market values, and paperwork. It’s also nice to have someone pushing the papers for you.
And so continues the ever-lasting battle of convenience vs. money. Agents and brokers are used more out of convenience nowadays than a lack of capability on the consumers part. However, agents are more flexible with commission rates than they’ve ever been, creating another interesting dynamic in the desire to further convenience consumers.
Technology will continue to advance in the coming years, and will likely continue to make significant changes in every market. It’s up to us humans to make sure we stay as competitive as the machines and convenience the world of online provides.
Check out this article to see why the next 10 years of technology are going to beat out the last 10 years.