The increasing prevalence of the internet over the last twenty-five years has transformed just about every commercial industry, and real estate is no exception.
In the 1980s, if you wanted to buy or sell a property, there was only one place to go; your local real estate agent. Today, your options are much more diverse. These are just some of the ways that the internet has changed the real estate industry.
- Online real estate agents
Whilst there is, of course, still a role for local real estate agents to play, homeowners now also have the option of engaging the services of online real estate agents. Able to keep costs low because of a reduced number of overheads, in comparison with your local real estate office, online real estate agents can offer an attractive alternative for someone who would rather an online, remote service.
There are now a wide range of levels of service to choose from when using an online agent. Some very much take a low-cost do-it-yourself approach, where the homeowner will be responsible for property photography, floorplans and even conducting their own property viewings. Others offer a slicker approach. The difference in level of service is reflected in the different package costs.
Whilst online real estate agents offer a great alternative to your regular local real estate agent for those who want it, the area-specific property knowledge held by a local real estate agent is not to be underestimated, especially if you’re keen to sell your house quickly, and many feel they still have a vital role to play in keeping the real estate market moving.
- Online property portals
Online property portals have been a very positive development in the real estate market. Convenience is at the centre of online property portals, which allow would-be buyers to view the vast majority of properties currently available on one website. With more than ninety percent of prospective buyers turning to a property portal as their first stop in their search for a new home, property portals have also simplified real estate agents’ property marketing strategies. Of course, this means that the most popular portals, which attract the most would-be buyers, have something of a monopoly, and can position their placement costs accordingly. Several smaller portals have tried to challenge the ‘big players’, but it seems prospective buyers like to stick with what they know, and as a result the most prominent sites face very little real competition.
- Virtual home styling
Most would-be buyers struggle to visual how a vacant property might look fully furnished, and as a result they are notoriously challenging to sell. Traditionally, this is where a real estate agent would commission a home stylist to dress a property, but it is an added cost that they would really rather avoid. Thanks to the internet, there is now a much most cost-effective alternative; virtual home styling. The property itself remains empty, but real estate agents are able to provide virtual images of the property fully dressed, helping prospective buyers to see the property’s real potential.
- Widely accessible property data
Property data, including former sold prices, current asking prices of similar properties locally and other information about local amenities and services is now readily available to the general public, thanks to the growth of the internet. This means would-be buyers only go to visit properties that they think are a real viable option. It also means they go into negotiations full equipped and any offer they make is likely to be a well-educated and researched one. Real estate agents are now required to be more realistic with a property asking price from the start, knowing that if they over-price a property, prospective buyers will do their research and call them out on it, or simply write the property off without viewing it.
- Property crowdfunding
One other way that the internet has truly revolutionised the property market is by allowing would-be property owners and investors from around the world to club together to purchase property using property crowdfunding. With many crowdfunding services offering a share in a property from as little as $1,000, property crowdfunding makes property ownership a realistic possibility for many who would otherwise struggle to get a foot on the property ladder.