You can almost say that the advent of computers has completely changed the face of real estate. The first big change was when the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) went from printed books of listings that were published weekly or monthly to websites where new listings can be published as soon as they are entered and changes to data updated immediately.
Then came Trulia, Zilllow and Realtor.com and many other sites who saw the ability to consolidate all the MLS data into what is effectively a nationwide searchable data base. So now, a buyer can sit in front of a computer screen anywhere in the county (or even the world) and see what is available in a particular market and a seller can see what their competition is.
That is the front end that the consumer sees, but what about the back end, the trenches the REALTORS are working in? One significant technology change has been to the paperwork needed for a listing or a purchase. A listing or an offer to purchase typically requires multiple forms. Once these were simple NCR forms filled out by hand. Now, in addition to the listing agreement or offer to purchase there are various addenda, disclosures, and other forms all dictated by each state’s real estate laws. Having these forms available online, so that the agent and client can just fill in the blanks and save them in a transaction folder, both simplifies the process and keeps the records straight. The advent of electronic signature systems further facilitates collaboration as the parties do not need to meet face-to-face to execute documents, or suffer delays with the postal or courier services.
But all this paperwork, by law, must be retained for several years. Typically this has meant lots of file cabinets and annual shredding parties once the retention period has passed. The advent of cloud storage has resulted in software that can securely retain documents and facilitate and manage the transaction process. Other documents, such as deed records, covenants, survey plats and tax cards are increasingly becoming available on line from county records offices.
What does this mean for real estate companies and their agents? For the agents, they can work anywhere there is high speed computer access, whether wi-fi or hotspot. Don’t need an office, can work from home, local coffee shop or even from the car. Companies can re-imagine their space. No need for file storage space, agents can potentially “hot desk”, sharing space rather than having individual offices, and conference rooms become more important as meeting spaces.
It seems ironic that the companies that exist to facilitate real estate transactions between sellers and buyers are themselves becoming less dependent on bricks and mortar! The day of the virtual office is fast approaching for the real estate industry.
Looking for a buyer’s agent who can work virtually anywhere in Pamlico, Craven and adjoining counties in North Carolina? Fill out the contact form, and Brian Dodds will get back to you.