The year is 2015 and John Smith wanted to buy a home for his family.
He returns to his smart apartment. The front door, sensing its presence by the chip in its cell-wallet, unlocks itself automatically. John walks into his kitchen and starts a dialogue with his home computer management system, asking to be connected to one of the many Internet search engines for real estate. An "AI" (Artificial Intelligence) assistant requests Mr. Smith a series of probing questions about his specific housing needs and compiles other known data about Mr. Smith and his family into a personalized search file. The "AI" assistant interfaces with its networking grid and an instantaneous speed, selects a list of available homes and immediately downloads the streaming data for immediate review while Mr. Smith dons his Virtual Glasses and takes a guided visual tour of the homes and neighborhood, without even leaving the kitchen.
While this tour concludes, the computerized home management system simultaneously transfers maps and routing data to Mr. Smith's car computer. The transferred program then uploads a tour of selected homes onto the onboard GPS navigational system, ploting the best routes on the best days, and schedules access and showing appointments with the potential home sellers agents. If the buyer did not discuss a realtor representative, a list of licensed realtors is suggested for consideration. This recommended agent list is based on the DISC personality traits of the buyer and linked to the matching practices and expertise of licensed Realtors servicing the specific geographic area. The Simulation Realtor Representative or SIM for short, is introduced during the virtual home tour, downloaded like an avatar of today's popular instant-messaging personalization.
At the conclusion of a GPS-guided home tour, the buyer is offered terms and disclosures along with incentives and mortgage programs from a variety of lending institutions based on prescreened and accessible credit information. With the simple affirmation of the voice command "Buy", electronic contracts and closing papers are drafted in cyberspace and inspectors and appraisers are scheduled, with binary data flowing seamlessly to title companies and attorney offices for electronic document preparation and review.
By the time John Smith and his family have rolled back into the driveway in their hybrid fuel-celled car, an electronic sales contract has been prepared and accepted, the mortgage loan is in place, movers are scheduled, the dry cleaners has been notified, and the local post office has scheduled the forwarding of the mail.
Tomorrow's technologies when applied to purchasing real estate will set forces in motion that allows the buyer and agent to direct the complexities of today's real estate purchase transaction with the dexterity of flipping a light switch.
How will the realtor and mortgage lender stay an integral part of the real estate transaction when many of the services and reasons for their representation offered today will be eliminated by future technologies? How will realtors keep a competitive edge and protect the ever-shrinking sales commission? These are popular areas of concern for the veteran agent as well as the rookie who just graduated from Champions training.
The introduction of the Internet in the 1990's and the growing success of real estate companies such as eRealty and ZipRealty, coupled with discount realty brokers have given potential buyers and sellers more options to the previously traditional listing / selling agreements. The astute seller today knows the commission "can be negotiated" just as interest rates and points. In just ten more years, 2016, the next wave of real estate buyer will be of a generation that did not know of a time without the Internet, home computers, or electronic banking. They will not understand the concept of perusing a newspaper or magazine to search for homes. This would be as archaic and foreign as today's college student going to the local library to sift through piles of newspapers in the basement to complete research for a class assignment. They will be born of the new technology and quick accessible information will be what they are conditioned to expect and receive.
So how will real estate professionals stay in the game with the technologies? Regardless of the advances in science, consumers are still basic creatures of habit. They are predictable in their wants and tastes. As a society and individuals, consumers usually take action that serve them best and reward them the soonest. They will typically take the shortest path with the least resistance. And the "microwave mentality" buyer of the future will not hesitate to click "next" if they do not receive immediate information and answers.
However, consumers still enjoy the experience of making their purchase. Even though the number of online Internet stores exceed one million, the majority of consumers still seek the actual shopping experience of going to the brick and mortar store to select their clothing or gifts. Although they want to shop, they want to eliminate wasted time and want to know they are getting the best value for their purchasing dollar. This will be no different in buying real estate now and in the future. Buyers want and enjoy the experience of shopping for their home and will most likely distrust making a major purchase such as home or vehicle without the onsite test drive. Most buyers also seek the endorsement of a third party specialist when making this major purchase. Regardless of advances in technology, people will trust the advice and opinions from real estate professionals. In this scenario, the Realtor who promotes themselves as niche 'experts and leverages the new technologies to promote the listed home through multiple outputs and virtual access will be interpreted as proactive and an aggressive ally to employ.
Email, iPods and the Internet only make up about 32% of the current use of information-exchange of today's real estate buyer but "times are a changing." Future buyers will want to eliminate the pains and aggravation of touring homes that would have no interest in and want to eliminate the drudgery of waiting for their mortgage approval. And if technology enables them to sign once at closing instead of 40, they will overlap electronic simulation closings from their workstations. Real estate companies and agents in 2015 will use new and improved marketing and advertising methods to reach potential clients including video-LCD styled business cards, complete virtual-reality home tours, "AI" home consultants, satellite-beamed open houses, robotic home security personnel, holographic sales assistants, and other technologically advanced tools which serves to expedite the home selection and buying transaction. These technologies as well as many others are not science fiction, but science fact, already in existence or in development for product deploy.
Realtors who accept the innate nature of buyers desiring ease and convenience must be familiar and utilize these new technologies to separate themselves from "Old-School" methods to just maintain status quo or be competitive. It is well known that for a business professional such as a doctor or attorney to specialize in a certain area or field gives them a distinct marketable edge over the jack-of-all-trades in the same profession. In the Real Estate techno-future, having a reputation for offering fast and thorough transactions by embracing the latest marketing mediums offers a formidable benefit over the colleague who relates solely on distributing stagnant two-dimensional business cards and promotions by handing out paper flyers. By example, today the MLS listing can be converted and downloaded to a buyer's iPod or MP3 player. If the idea of sending streaming video or sending home lists via email to a buyers cell phone or computer seems too high tech to you then you should research and retrain to familiarize yourself with the technologies today's new consumers are already utilizing. With the growing proliferation of cell phones with multiple function capabilities, buyers will soon expect to see home choices sent directly to their cell phones for their immediate consideration. These same buyers will use the cell phone photo and video features to share homes under consideration with friends and family, and to relay information back to their realtor representative. Wired magazine states that "the latest installation of camera phone coupled with the new cashless purchase features, RFID tagged identifiers and GPS tracking will make the next wave of cell phones replace the wallet and car keys." This electronic marvel will be the one item no consumer leaves home without.
Real Estate marketing and purchase transactions will adapt with the times. Some will embrace the new technologies and some will not. But like the Internet, the new technologies are here to stay. They are not a fad. Consumers will grow accustomed to communicating and transacting business faster and more efficiently with these new mechanisms. Narrowcast advertising will be commonplace with specific products and services surgically delivered to the targeted consumer. It is the ultimate direct marketing campaign and like the scenes from the movie Minority Report, consumers will start to receive sales pitches and incentives sent directly to their car computer consoles, iPods, or cell phones. Tomorrow's successful realtors and lenders will lead the charge with these techno-tools, showingcasing their expertise, homes, and sales personality, enabling them to capture more buyers and sellers than with today's current marketing channels.
Their future's so bright they gotta wear techno-shades.