Smartphone Home Search




With this weeks downpour most home buyers are starting to slow down in the pursuit of buying a home.  With Christmas fast approaching many will just wrap up plans to purchase and wait until January and pursue the dream of home-ownership with gusto. Many would be buyers do a lot of footwork prior to even calling an agent. Depending on whose study you read some estimates put it as high as 98% of first time home-buyers start their home search online before even calling an agent. Conservative estimates put that number in the high 80 percentile.  Regardless, it is a staggering number to think about it.  Where are they starting their search and who are these buyers?  

Society calls them Millennial’s.  They have cell phones but they are more likely to use them to text, surf the Internet or update a social network than they are to actually make a phone call or return one for that matter.  These cell phones take better pictures than cameras made a few years ago.  These cell phones surf the internet 10 times faster than the speed 5 years ago.   The Millennial Generation is 80 million strong and represent the largest generation in the United States since the Baby Boomer Generation. The Millennial’s were raised with technology and are extremely comfortable with it.

And this my friend is where they start their home search.  Right in the palm of there hand.  Getting instant feedback while they drive the neighborhoods they want to live in.  Companies make this possible by phone apps that anyone can download with a smartphone.  What is an App?  Apps is an abbreviation for application. An app is a piece of software. It can run on the Internet, on your computer, or on your phone or other electronic device. The word “app” is a more modern usage, but this is really the same thing as a program.  Companies customize these apps to appeal to home buyers mostly but sellers are privy to this technology as well.  

Companies like Yahoo Real Estate, Trulia, Zillow, to name a few, offer real estate information that homebuyers can use to look for a home.  Why would anyone even bother calling a real estate agent anymore?  That is a question on the minds of many real estate agents and the innovation in the field of home searches has upped the ante for those in the business.  Thats good news and bad news for the real estate industry.  Good news for those agents who are adept at handling consumer calls and effective follow-up, bad news for the real estate agent who is not comfortable with technology.  

There is heavy pressure on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) from real estate agents across the country to protect agents in the face of this shift in consumer behavior.   In my humble opinion everyone wins.  The consumer wins because they now have more information available to them prior to calling an agent or even jumping into the house hunt.  The experienced agent who views themselves as a professional will be able to handle the expectations of the millennial generation of home buyers.   

Like all industries, innovation at first breeds fear, then a reluctant acceptance.  Before long most real estate professionals will wonder why it took so long for professionalism to become the norm.  Those agents who are not adept to change will suffer the most.  The professional agent will stand out even more and the real estate agents along with the consumer will reap the benefits. 

Chris Vigil is a former Real Estate Appraiser and now Broker Associate at Realty Executives  and also owns Guardian Property Management in Whittier.   He can be reached at ,  562-945-4422 or on Twitter @chrisvigilre.

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