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real estate past and future

In the 1994 movie, "Blank Check" a 12 year old boy's bicycle is destroyed by a car. The driver involved in a money laundering scheme gives him a blank check to purchase a new bicycle.  The kid instead uses his computer to create a $1 million collar check that he uses to buy anythhing and everything he can including a castle sized house.

When the movie was made it was not possible to look up properties on the internet with photos and conduct a paperless transaction.  It was not possible to "talk" to someone over the internet.  The idea that a consumer would be able to find a house and purchase it online was mind boggling.  I was grabbing my 12 year old son's arm and saying "oh gads... THAT is the future of real estate!  THAT is MY future!"

In the movie the kid, Preston, read all the information about the house on the computer.  Then he called the real estate salesperson and using some kind of computer technology to disguise his childlike voice, he purchased the house.  He did this using the name "Mr MacIntosh" which was like the rest of the movie... a plug for a product.  The movie was one big commercial.

Wouldn't it be great if we could just go online, find a house we like and click on a link and we'd have access?  Not only that.. but we could have the contract to read and all the ownership and financial information.  The home would already be inspected.

If you go online today to search for ahouse in a specific neighborhood, you might just quit after a few hours (depending on your attention span!)  I searched for houses just for fun available in my own hometown of Kirkland, WA.  I was an active real estate agent for over 15 years in Kirkland and currently am a top real estate instructor in Washington State.  So, it "should" be easy for me to negotiate my way through all those websites to find the houses that I might be interested in.  Every site I went to had different houses listed.  Some had the addresses and some had photos.  I wasn't sure who "owned" many of the sites I was on.  Oh, it was irritating.  I went online to specific local real estate companies including John L. Scott and Windermere but they were not in the top searches on Google.  How would I know these companies had I not lived here already?

I kept thinking how great it would be if the information was all available to me on one site.  Since I have been an agent for decades, it seemed so obvious that the Multiple Listing Service would to be the best resource.  Our NWMLS is owned by the brokers who are holding onto the information as tight as possible... which is archaic. 

Let's say I want to know how much my house is worth today on the market.  It might help to find out what the neighbor sold his house for.  But, that information is also not available from the NWMLS.  So I went to Zillow.  In a matter of seconds... let me repeat.. SECONDS.. there was my house with an aerial view and the value posted right over the roof.  Not only that, but, the value of all my neighbors houses also.  I know the house a few doors away sold in the last 6 months and that value was accurate... so.. as a consumer it seems that the value Zillow gave me HAS to be accurate.  I know my house well enough to know that it was pretty inflated from the actual market value.. but would a consumer know that?  Why let Zillow tell our prospective listings how much their house is worth... Let them get the BEST information from the NWMLS! 

Ok.. the fear is that they won't NEED a real estate agent.  So is our job to tell them how much it is worth.. and argue the Zillow value?  What is our job as a real estate agent?

That needs to be evaluated.  How are we going to react to the market in the next decade.  Will be slow like our Northwest slugs?  Will be react or be reactive? 

NOW... TODAY.., read the book "What Would Google Do?" by Jeff Jarvis.  Though I don't agree with what he says about the future of real estate, I think the first half of the book is a preview as to what we need to be doing to provide the information to the consumers and define our "job." 

Read daily, Seth Godin's blog at  There is ghardly an entry that doesn't make me think about consumers, marketing and the future. 

How are your positioning yourself in this market?  Now that you have the chance to take a breath and re-evaluate your "job" ... go for it and think about the future of real estate!


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