Lost To The Internet: A 1999-2022 Retrospective

By
Real Estate Agent with Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 CA BRE# 01261476

The biggest changes (what was "lost") the internet has brought to my business—both in the way I do business and the way my clients do business with me in my opinion are shared below.

In the beginning my first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80, but I first got online in 1988/89 with an Apple II and finally I went PC, mostly HP Pavilions and Toshiba laptops mixed with a couple custom builds from Belmont Computers.

The first thing lost to the internet was the MLS book, by the time I was licensed in 1999. it was computerized. That also scared a lot of agents.

The next thing that slowly got lost was paper; in late 1999 I became a licensed Winforms instructor and taught agents how to go paperless with their transactions. WinForms eventually became Zip Forms and by 2010 was synced with Docusign and 11 years from the day I became a Winforms trainer, I was a paperless agent - rarely printing contracts.

Some of our industry's integrity and value was lost to the internet when Zillow and discount brokers came on the scene. Like a Trojan Horse, Z lied to REALTORS and we ushered them with open wallets and then realized them to be our biggest headache. NOT our biggest competition, just a migraine headache that would become what our clients relied on just enough to drown in info and starve for wisdom. Zillow also made agents lazy and slaves to the Z platform, much like they did through Expedia to most hotel chains. Instead of putting in the work to call, mail and pop-by their own clients and leads, they bought used leads from Z and hoped drip marketing and texting would somehow stand out and lure new clients in. They also became beholden to Z - that now owned the agents' pipelines.

Two things lost to the internet I was happy to see go were client meeting limitations and buyer tour of homes delays; because Skype (early 2000's), then Facetime (mid-2000's) and finally (in 2016)  ZOOM became part of my business model and opened up a world of virtual meetings that still allowed face to face and virtual touring of homes for sale for my out of state buyers - we now didn't have to wait to meet in person or to see homes until they drove/flew into town. 70% of my business is military and they are out of town more than in town and 50% of my business is out of towners - this was golden-opportunity-tech for my business strategy and services offered.

My value as a REALTOR* feels devalued occasionally, but not taken by the internet - I was commoditized even more in the public eye - due to clients with Google and Zillow "click-knowledge" vs. the years of "in the trenches" experience I offer them. I say occasionally because it's not all clients, just an occasional few that behave like we're all the same. Although it forces me to rise to the challenge and consequently grow from it, so did I really lose?

Professional-Social Interaction is at risk of being lost to the internet. I think a whole generation is losing if not already lost the ability to talk on the phone and develop the art of conversation, debate & negotiation. They think they will build a book a business strictly through "hand off" texting, social media and drip campaigns. Luckily, (ironically) the pandemic reminded us that isolation is the cruelest form of punishment and human contact and interaction, although risky, is rewarding and necessary to live a full life.

It got harder!!! Because the absolute biggest change the internet has brought to my business—both in the way I do business and the way my clients do business with me is people's patience eroded. They got urgent (impatient) about everything and expected us to be 24/7 which many of my colleagues perpetuated this myth by catering to it. But, it also got harder to do poor work! Why? Online reviews!!! Now, if you suck or you rock, the public can find out about it. So, in my opinion, it's harder to be a bad agent. That's good!

Well, it feels that way anyhow, the truth is it just made client selection more important, I still find most of my clients are patient and trust my experience over the internet, but I certainly had to step up my knowledge and awareness of what they are reading online to be ready for it in conversation and context.

It got easier! Lost to the internet were many of the complications of paperwork delivery & signatures, marketing services got cheaper and more available to us, as mentioned above, video streaming has allowed touring homes from far away to be possible, 3D Virtual Tours and Google Earth let you walk a neighborhood and experience a home digitally from the comfort of your home, blogging and podcasts became additional revenue streams of lead generation and most amazingly, our office literally can fit in our pockets and go anywhere with us. (Which may be a comment on our boundaries and time off were lost to the internet). 

While we can mourn some of the good times or "easier times" we lost to the internet in our industry, I believe over all, this business got more convenient to work in, if not easier to operate within. Basically there are no excuses not to succeed because while the internet taketh away, it also giveth a plethora of information, training and opportunities.

 

photo 1 by istock  from Pexels

photo 2 TJN

Photo 3 by Laker from Pexels

photo 4  by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Photo 5 by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

 

Comments (35)

Jon Quist
REALTY EXECUTIVES ARIZONA TERRITORY - Tucson, AZ
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

Terrific post. Really enjoyed reading it. I started in April 1996, so I relate to what you wrote on a fisrt hand personal level.😁

Jan 15, 2022 10:33 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Excellent post about the positives and the few challenges of changes in the real estate business. I appreciate the time you took to put this together!

Jan 16, 2022 05:06 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center 262-567-2455 - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Congrats on the feature by Kathy this week.  Great job!

Jan 16, 2022 06:28 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets ,

I'm so glad that Kathy Streib featured your post in her "Ah-ha" moments for the week as somehow I missed it! You are right there are no excuses not to succeed because while the internet taketh away, it also giveth a plethora of information, training and opportunities.

Jan 16, 2022 06:57 AM
Aura Alex
Co-Founder, CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Transaction Management Services

The BEST one I have read about this subject - Loss and Gain by the Internet. Thank you.

Jan 16, 2022 08:08 AM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

The Internet has certainly made interaction with clients, especially those that are distant easier.  I do a lot of short sales and paper contracts with wet signatures are the norm especially as most require a fax transmission to even start the process.

Jan 16, 2022 08:24 AM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

I couldn't agree more.  There's no excuse not to be a good agent and to stay on top of clients thanks to great technology.  I love the fact that I can set up zoom meetings with clients in the comfort of their living rooms, even in town!  They love it and don't have to get dressed, drive to meet me, and can both be on one screen. 

Jan 16, 2022 08:36 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thomas:

I really enjoyed your post. There are certainly both pros and cons from the Internet but I think overall it wins out. We just have to be careful to step away and use that phone or meet in person. 

It's been interesting to watch our grandkids growing up in the Internet world - it's so very different for them, but something they are very comfortable with. They know nothing else! I'm glad our kids are very careful about how much time the little ones can spend with their ipads or other technology.

Jeff

Jan 16, 2022 11:42 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Kathy Streib thank you for the feature! 

Jan 16, 2022 02:15 PM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate Brokered by Real - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Congrats on a well written post for January's challenge, Thomas and also for being featured in Kathy's weekly line-up!

Jan 16, 2022 06:24 PM
Sham Reddy CRS
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH
CRS

Thanks for sharing your insights on changes to our industry due to internet. Most of those are positive however

Jan 17, 2022 04:13 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Praful Thakkar great to see you back in The Rain! Happy New Year my friend.

Jan 17, 2022 06:30 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets - Well said!  I like your perspective on the topic.  This is one of those topics that you can look at this from a lot of different angles. 

Jan 17, 2022 09:06 AM
Erik Hiss
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Worthington, OH
You can trust me for all your real estate needs!

All good and true info! My favorite line about Z:

NOT our biggest competition, just a migraine headache that would become what our clients relied on just enough to drown in info and starve for wisdom

 

Boy isn't that the truth!

Jan 19, 2022 05:29 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Thank you Erik Hiss good to hear from you too.

Jan 19, 2022 08:47 AM
Matthew O'Hare
Osterville, MA

The evolution of the business has been an interesting ride. How realtor are utilized has certainly changed however at the end of the day what hasn't changed is that the realtor is seen as an advocate no matter how the client finds you, they still need you to look out for them.

Jan 21, 2022 04:31 AM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Brilliant! You nailed it. So much so, that I feel inadequate to address the topic myself. I agree with every word.

Jan 21, 2022 09:58 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Wow Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty that is high-praise - thank you!!! Happy Friday😊

Jan 21, 2022 02:32 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Thomas and thanks for sharing this great information with us here in the Rain.  Make it a great Monday!

Jan 24, 2022 07:37 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Happy Monday Will Hamm - design a great week!

Jan 24, 2022 10:35 AM