Over the past 25 years, we've seen technology grow from typewriters and pagers to tablets and smartphones. It is far less often that we pick up the phone or meet friends for coffee, now we text, tweet or message through Facebook. Technology has connected the world, not just socially but for everything from business to travel to real estate. The availability of information has changed the way society functions. Over the past 25 years we’ve seen that there truly is no limit to technology. The question is, where will it lead us in the next 25 years?
In a recent interview with Lorne Wallace, CEO and Des O'Kelly, President of Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies, celebrating its 25th year in business, they took a look back at technology in the real estate industry and gave some insight into where they see it headed.
"Technology was very much in its infancy in 1989," said Lorne Wallace. "An IBM Selectric typewriter was the state of the art technology at that point. Very few people had PCs or anything like that."
Des O'Kelly continued, "Agents had just started dabbling in computers. Maybe two percent of them had PCs. Now, you can't find a real estate agent without at least a laptop, let alone a smartphone and a tablet too."
At the time, Des O'Kelly was running his own brokerage and was one of Lone Wolf's first clients. "The software developed for my office was way ahead of its time. Every agent had a computer on their desk, every agent had access to look up listings from their computer and they could print offers. Back then this was unheard of."
Fast forward to 2014 and the real estate industry has completely changed again. Agents once had to go into the office just to see which listings were new to the market and which were sold. Now they can go weeks without stepping foot inside their office doors.
Though agents spend less time in the office, tools such as virtual office programs are reinforcing the value of the broker by keeping the brokerage connected and information flowing 24/7.
The internet and technology has played a huge role in the availability of information to home buyers and sellers as well. A study by the National Association of REALTORS® found that 90% of consumers search for their dream home online. Twenty five years ago, listing information was only available if you called an agent and asked how much the property down the street was selling for.
Another study by Abacus Data, one of North America's leading public opinion and marketing research firms, found that in the last year only 28% of Canadians actually attended open houses. This proves that consumers now spend more time searching online before making any commitment to viewing a property or working with an agent.
Consumers have a need for more information at the tip of their fingers. They now have access to listing information on the spot through mobile websites and applications like mobile keywords. Not only are consumers more equipped but these tools are also enabling real estate agents to be more connected and provide immediate service to clients not available online, further increasing the value of the agent in a very competitive marketplace.
There is no doubt that technology will continue to grow and transform the way the real estate industry works. The question now is where is it headed over the next 25 years?
"Voice technology is going to change everyone's world entirely," said Wallace. "Smart technology and smart systems in place will enable us to be more in control of our lives."
To ensure control in the home buying and selling process, consumers will continue to use new technology to educate and inform themselves. It is the role of the real estate agent to stay one step ahead. Be aware of what is to come in the industry, continue to learn, and implement tools and technology to provide clients with even more information to help in their decision-making process. This will truly differentiate the good from the great in a highly competitive industry, leading to further success in the next 25 years.