There are two sides to every story and people buying real estate online is no exception. We met a man in Starbucks last week that we got into a conversation with. He told us he was moving from California, found a home he liked online because it had big oak trees, the right number of rooms and a great lot in an up and coming neighborhood, sent the link to his Realtor and moved in the next month, sight unseen and has lived there and loved it ever sense.
This article was originally published on April 20, 2010.
The other side of the story is the people who buy homes from another state to relocate and get to the home only to find a raccoon in the fridge, bars on the neighbors’ windows (but not theirs), the smell of sulfur from the processing plant a mile away and other endless nightmares that can happen when a property is bought sight unseen as a homestead.
That said, people are putting more and more money into purchases made online every year, just look at this infographic to see where we currently stand and which industries are still wildly dominated by brick & mortar purchases (click to enlarge):
So where’s the argument?
The argument was born a few years back that the trend would be for buyers to buy their properties online, but as Benn Rosales (AG Founder) has stated many times, real estate is not a point and click proposition. There is a trend toward virtual brokerages which doesn’t change the fact that 99.9% of people (my estimation) want to touch a house before signing their name on the dotted line. There is another trend toward hiring agents to function more as customer service agents than Realtors as brokerages provide leads, marketing, contract to close services and everything outside of holding the client’s hand. That also doesn’t change whether or not people buy real estate through the internet or in person.
Why are none of these things poised to make real estate a point and click? Why haven’t technologists been able to make it to where buyers can just add a house to a shopping cart, add moving supplies, utility services, furniture and maid services?
It’s simple. Real estate is NOT merchandise, it is an investment, whether it is a homestead or a property an owner will rent and research done WITH technology will continue to rise, but there will be no popular “buy” button. Real estate will not be purchased online as the above items will be and can be, because it is simply not a commodity. It doesn’t matter which brokerage model ascends from the dying traditional model, real estate simply will not be an investment that is added to an online shopping cart.
CC Licensed image courtesy of Permuto via Flickr.com