Remember when a social network was you local high school’s PTA meeting? Maybe it was running into a neighbor at the grocery store and doing a quick “catch up” about how Millie down the street is pregnant and what do you think of the new couple that just moved into 4912? The book club or meeting some friends at the local watering hole for something other than a tweetup or hook up?
Yeah. Me, neither.
It seems that the social glue that holds us together is becoming more and more digitized. Facebook is where you find people you haven’t thought about in 20 years or become “friends” with people you have never met and will probably never see, in the flesh. Everything from tracking packages to tracking your pizza to getting your MBA can now all be done online. How much longer before we simply order up sperm A to be matched with egg B so we don’t even have to meet each other to propagate the species?
Brave New World meets Soylent Green.
The Digital Real Estate Transaction
The conventional wisdom in the echo chamber known as the RE.net is that the Gen Y and Millennial (Gen Z?) twenty and thirty somethings could care less about “relationship” and just want to get the deal done. If it’s a house, they’ll do all their shopping online, thank you very much, contact some digital real estate agent/company to put the deal together and wire the money to the title company. Of course, they’ll want to track the progress with an up-to-the minute, state-of-the-art online progress graph ala the Dominoes Tracker espoused by AG honcho, Benn Roasales, in his recent AG post.
Fellow AG columnist, Jonathan Benya, writes that videos sent via e-mail or transmitted online should be taking the place of the paper thank you note or phone call to update a client.
The Dangers of Conventional Wisdom
Don’t get me wrong. I’m totally onboard with the use of technology to assist with the successful and happy conclusion of a real estate transaction. If a potential home buyer or home seller doesn’t want to meet me or can’t because of pure physical limitations (e.g., they’re in Egypt and I’m in Maryland) than I am a gung-ho advocate of the use of whatever technolgy I can use.
Yet, I wonder if this groupthink mindset about tracking everything online is really useful.
It brings to mind a recent event where the herd believed one thing and reality was completely different: that mortgage interest rates were due to rise precipitously.
At the end of March (just four months ago), the Federal Reserve stopped purchasing mortgage backed securities in their effort to stabilize the housing market. Everyone knew it was coming. Everyone (with the possible exception of fellow AG columnist, Fred Glick) forecast the rise of mortgage interest rates. Some by at least a percentage point, others by more than that! The housing market was set to tank even more than it had and, if you were a smart consumer, you would buy, buy, buy right now before we saw interest rates soar to 6% or 6.5%.
Fred stood alone (almost) in predicting that private investors would step forward to buy the mortgage backed securities and we would all live to sell real estate another day.
In fact, herd mentality aside, mortgage interest rates have gone down!
The Moral of the Story
I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel and jump on the bandwagon for the pure Internet transaction. Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I like to believe that human interaction is still an essential aspect of buying or selling residential real estate. Purchasing a home or selling a home is more fraught with human emotion than buying a pizza or selling your mutual fund.
Communication with our clients is important. Tracking the progress of the transaction is important. Negotiating the deal is important.
And you need some real human interaction to make these things happen. A pretty online progress bar is no substitute.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
Opinion Editorials4 days ago
3 things to do if you *really* want to be an ally to women in tech
Opinion Editorials1 week ago
Questions you wished recruiters would answer
Business Entrepreneur5 days ago
15 tips to spot a toxic work environment when interviewing
Business Entrepreneur1 week ago
Zen, please: Demand for mental health services surges during pandemic
Opinion Editorials4 days ago
4 simple tips to ease friction with your boss while working remotely
Opinion Editorials3 days ago
Why robots freak us out, and what it means for the future of AI
Opinion Editorials1 week ago
6 skills humans have that AI doesn’t… yet
Business Entrepreneur1 week ago
This startup makes managing remote internships easier for all