Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Why I Get Up Every Morning and Do What I Do - or - How the Real Estate Industry Will be Changed by Technology

My father-in-law was looking over my shoulder this morning as I was writing an email to one of our main investors and advisors. He was asking me about our real estate IDX Solution business, XoomPad.com and wondering how excited I am about the launch and the future of the company. Frankly, I’m super excited, but that may be just because I’m in the real estate web business. Honestly, I would rather focus on Global Warming issues, or ending world poverty, or saving children from abuse, etc. If you read the past few posts on this blog, you know what Evan and I mean. But everything comes in due course and, for now, this ship is sailing on the waters of the information revolution.

I think most people would agree that the future is looking bright. Especially for Internet-based business, and particularly for those in the real estate technology industry. Look at the splashes made by the likes of Zillow, RedFin, Trulio, HouseValues; even GE (yes, General Electronics) is getting in on the action with their new real estate department, Rappatoni. These major players in the Title market are buying up MLS data outfits fast. Just look at the big acquisitions Fidelity and First American have made recently.

Real estate agents, brokers, major market players are all going to be affected in one way or another. What we’re trying to do at XoomPad.com is latch onto the upswing of these new trends. But who else is going to be able to take advantage of this shift? Before we answer that huge future-telling question, let’s ask our faithful audience some of the important background questions. I invite one and all to weigh in on these hot topics with advice, experience, and opinions.

So, let the interview begin. Questionmaster Evan, lead the way:

eth: How was the real estate business conducted before the Internet came along?

VS: Very, very slowly. The industry was controlled by the few; information was slow-coming and hard to act upon. Real estate agents and brokers were forced to collaborate (for better or worse) and they came up with these joint real estate marketing systems called Multiple Listing Services.

eth: How has the Internet made life easier for the average consumer?

VS: It’s oh-so-much faster to find a home. Not to mention sell. So much information is available online, which can help support more educated decisions. But there is a downside, too. You have to be a master at boiling down that wealth of information to find out what is truly important. Yes, in some cases people have made vast amounts of money. In order cases, they’ve lost a lot due to bad research, lack of expert advice, too much inconsequential knowledge. What you don’t know won’t kill you, but it can sure cost you a pretty penny.

eth: How has the Internet real estate market changed the landscape for agents and brokers? Who are the real winners and losers?

VS: I don’t know everyone, but I know a lot of people that made good on their investments and others that didn’t do so hot. I did pretty well myself by gathering Internet buyers and sellers leads. I took advantage for this niche market early by setting up a real estate marketing website with IDX called UrbanTango.com. It’s truly become a brand name in the Seattle area.
So who else wins, beside sharp-minded opportunists? Well, real estate agents win, that is if they embrace the new technology and build it into their websites. Open-minded entrepreneurs do quite well by gaining a competitive edge over those old timers who won’t change. Those are the same oldies that poo-poo technology, saying that the real estate industry is based on relationships. Well, yes, it is. But if people are visiting my website via Google, then I am creating the relationships while you just keep shaking empty hands. I’m not being mean, I’m just making a point. Slow moving dinosaurs don’t roam the Earth anymore for a reason, folks.
The Winners are simply people. People who took advantage of a change in the wind via selling real estate using IDX Solution technology, creating better client relationships, and harnessing the power of the World Wide Web. The Losers? Well, I think history has taught us that the losers don’t make it into the history books.

Coming soon to a real estate blog near you!

How are the main needs of buyers and sellers being satisfied via the Internet today? What are the shortcomings?

What are the major trends in real estate for consumers?

What is the biggest weakness in real estate marketing for agents?

Why are brokers and local franchise owners of big companies stuck unless they can adapt quickly?

What will the NAR and MLS of the future look like? What challenges must they meet?

What is a true-blue real estate website? An IDX Solutions company? What are their market potentials? Does Art have anything to worry about? Does Bob, my father-in-law see the value in XoomPad.com?

What comes on page one of the Vipin Real Estate Bible? A donkey, a satellite map, and radical honesty from the heavens? Here’s one we can all answer – Is making money in real estate development or real estate investments a good or bad idea?

Until then.



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