Ain’t Technology Grand?

While I am NOT a technology wizard, I do appreciate the convenience of having helpful information at my fingertips. It seems everyone has a cell phone these days, so it makes sense that companies have poured huge resources into creating mobile applications (apps). In the real estate business, we now have apps that allow you to find properties for sale near you (or near a specific location of your choosing). In addition, you can use quick response (QR) codes on “For Sale” signs to download an electronic flyer about the property you’re parked in front of.

To download the app so you can search for properties on the market from all the real estate companies in a given area, text the word “Selzer” to 87778 from your cell phone and a link will be texted to you. Follow the instructions and you’ll have a snazzy new app in about a minute. You can narrow your property search by the features that matter most to you: price, location, square footage, number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms, and other features. And if you find something you really like, it’s easy to share the information with friends and family via text.

If you’re not the type to download an app, but still want to know what properties are for sale in your price range, ask your Realtor to put you on an automatic e-mail notification list. As soon as a property that meets your criteria is listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), you will receive an e-mail about it. Many of us are so used to e-mail, we don’t think of it as technology, but trust me, the speed with which we can communicate via email makes the 1970s and ‘80s seem like centuries ago. In fact, the MLS has changed dramatically, too. When I was first in real estate, the MLS consisted of a loose-leaf binder of mimeographed listing-information sheets restricted to the basic data about a property with one black and white photograph. Now, the computerized MLS allows vast amounts of information about each property along with dozens of color photos and sometimes even video footage!

Once information is entered into the MLS, the technology of the Internet allows us to broadcast that information to literally millions of people with the click of a few buttons. Virtually every day, I receive information about new investment properties all over California. I get far more information than anyone could possibly squeeze into a $1500 ad in the Wall Street Journal, and the cost to the listing agent borders on zero. Locally, any given listing in my office ends up published on more than 700 websites that prospective buyers can see when browsing around online.

For all the hype and hoopla over Internet marketing, the truth is, real estate has always been and continues to be a relationship-driven business. Marketing is important and technology is great, but choosing a good Realtor is still the most important step in buying or selling a property. As I’ve said before, the most convincing argument that hiring a Realtor is a worthwhile expense is that people in the industry hire them when they’re ready to buy or sell property. These industry experts (lenders, title officers, etc.) are the people who see the value of a good Realtor—the way Realtors can avoid lengthy delays and save money by getting the right inspections at the right time, the way they negotiate on your behalf and let you know which upgrades will pay for themselves and which ones won’t, the way they make sure the contract says everything it should and nothing it shouldn’t. I know I’m biased, but I’m also well informed.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.