I got into real estate in the mid 90s (not 1890s.) We still had the real estate multilist book which was the size of a phone book. For those of you too young to remember the large phone books, they were about three inches thick and weighed about the same as a newborn. We did have computers as well – black and white. It took me all day to look up simple information because I was “computer challenged” at that time.
As the computer became more common we began to email properties to our clients. With the “book” all the information was still under the control of the brokers and agents. Even with computers the brokers had all the real estate information. Some real estate agents were afraid that if they gave up control of the information their jobs would become obsolete. That has turned out not to be true.
Brokers finally conceded that the internet world mandated that they work together and share listing information. This system is called IDX or Internet Data eXchange. Brokers that agree to the format share their listings. Today you will see pretty much all listings on any major broker’s website. Deals have been struck between major brokers and companies like Yahoo to highlight that particular brand but if you look in the small print, at the bottom there will be an acknowledgment of the actual listing company. My personal website has an IDX system that I believe is very good system for looking up actual “active listings” in Laguna Niguel and Dana Point. My personal website is set to show only active listings but many sites show active, pending and even sold properties.
I can remember just a few years ago when it was big news that 60% of real estate buyers were starting their search on the computer. Today it is over 90%. Now it is the “smart phone” which has taken a prominent role in arsenal of the home buyer. Realtor.com has a great mobile app, so does Zillow and many others. My broker, Keller Williams Realty, also has a new phone app that is fun to use. The home buyer out cruising a neighborhood can click on their phone and through gps technology it brings up all active listings around the shopper’s current position. You can even see open houses nearby.
I do have clients that still do not have email and are not interested in email or technology, but not many. My three-year-old granddaughter knows how to buy new games for my iPad so I really have to keep a close eye on her. It is a new world and for the most part it is consumer friendly. My one pet peeve is the real estate sites that keep my sold listings on their site, long after closing, just to bolster traffic.