The Internet changed...everything. Including the entire way buyers and sellers play the real estate game.
While the whole Mid-Century trend may have us starry-eyed with nostalgia for Floyd-Wright inspired architecture and Eames chairs, we do have to say: no one misses the old-school way of buying and selling homes.
Whereas generations past relied on newspaper ads and “For Sale” signs, today’s homebuyers have access to literally millions of homes via the touch of a smartphone screen. (In fact, studies have shown that over 90% of buyers use the Internet as part of their home search!)
But just how do we have it easier than our grandparents? Here are a few ways the Internet changed the real estate industry forever.
1. Updates in Real Time
Whereas listings could only be updated on a limited basis in the age of print media (once a day, or even once a week for some newspapers), today’s online M LS database supplies nearly instantaneous updates...meaning agents and buyers don’t waste their time chasing after unavailable homes! Third Party SitesOnce upon a time, listings were only available for licensed agents to view! Now, thanks to the advent of third-party real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and Keller Williams, buyers themselves have easy access to a worldwide inventory of homes. (Click here and see for yourself!)
2. Social Media Marketing
Forget handing out “For Sale” flyers! Now, buyers, sellers, and agents can share listings, open house information, and more with just the click of a button. From Twitter to Instagram to Facebook, social media has revolutionized the way we spread the word about the latest homes for sale.
3. Visuals, Visuals, Visuals
We cannot overstate the importance of MLS photos. Essentially the online version of “curb appeal,” these photos of your home for sale can literally make or break the potential for a sale. Even if your property is perfectly manicured, immaculately remodeled, and listed at a fabulous price...a mediocre online aesthetic will drop it to the bottom of the pile. Great photos have become an integral part of the buying and selling process, with some agents even providing drone footage and virtual reality tours!
4. Mobile Devices
Thanks to the ease of mobile devices, the power to buy and sell is quite literally in your hands at all times! Statistics from the National Association of Realtors has shown that 58% of Millennials and 46% Generation X found their home on a mobile device.
5. The Buying Process
Thanks to the way the Internet streamlined the banking and information industries, the entire closing process is easier than ever. From addressing financial concerns to finding the right mortgage to electronic signatures via “The Cloud,” what once took weeks or months can now take just days.
...So why does everyone still use an agent?
Although the Internet has dramatically improved the buying and selling process (and most buyers start with their own searches online), one recent study proved that buyers still work with an agent 88% of the time. In the same study, most buyers listed “finding the right home” as the most difficult step in the process...meaning that, though the web may be flooded with options, narrowing down the options is still best done by a professional.
Though the way the real estate market operates is constantly changing, the ultimate goal is still the same: helping people find the right home.
Thinking about buying or selling? Talk to a lender about your mortgage possibilities (and a KW agent to see what’s out there). Or if you just want to store up your knowledge of the home buying process for the future, download a FREE copy of our exclusive Buyer’s Guide (created specifically for the SA-area buyer)!
Note: This blog was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated to reflect current info.