In years past, the way you shopped for homes was very restrictive. You either looked at ads in the newspaper, checked housing boards, or partnered with a realtor that shopped houses for you. It could take a long time, and people missed plenty of great houses they didn’t even know were available. But that was then – this is now.
As technology has advanced, so has the way people search for their next living space. What used to take days if not weeks of skimming through printed materials now only takes a few minutes on a smartphone.
In particular, the following three tech trends have had a dramatic impact on the real estate landscape. If you’re in the process of looking for a new home, take advantage of the benefits these trends offer.
1. Cloud-Based Data
In the intro, we talked about how processing information for home listings could take a long time. That wasn’t true for only shoppers, but realtors and landlords as well. An agency would have to pay for an ad, write the copy to have it published, and wait for it to be circulated with the next edition of the newspaper or magazine. It could then take readers days or weeks to realize the listing existed.
Cloud-based data completely eliminated that gap in three primary ways:
With cloud-based data, there is no delay between when information becomes current, and when it’s published. It can happen in the exact same instant. This also makes it easier to draft, send, sign, and return documents related to renting or buying a home. So long as you have a good internet connection, you can get everything back to your agent and be a new owner/renter in a matter of hours.
It Allows for More Leads to Be Published at Once
In the days of newspapers and magazines, advertisers were limited by “column space,” or how many words would fit on a sheet of paper. The storage capacity of cloud-based memory is massive. This means that real estate and rental agencies can post more ads at one time, and you can browse more homes in one sitting.
It Isn’t Limited by Geography
With print ads, advertisers were limited by where those publications were circulated. With the cloud, data can be distributed anywhere in the world. This means you can see houses available just down the street or on the other side of the globe.
2. Better Search Engine Results
In the early days of search engines, you had to know exactly what page you were looking for, or you wouldn’t find it. Even when better search engines came along, they searched primarily by the keywords you typed and nothing else. They didn’t try to determine what you really wanted to find.
Google completely changed all that. Unlike their competitors, Google used PageRank as a way to index sites not only by keywords but also by how many other similar pages linked out to them. This resulted in three key developments:
- Search engine results became more intuitive. You could type a general inquiry like, “Cost of gas Miami” and still get great results.
- It actually ranked pages, meaning searchers spent less time sorting through different sites that didn’t have what they were looking for.
- It sped up the search process by making suggested searches to help you find what you were looking for.
How Better Search Results Applies to Home Shopping
When you search for a home, you don’t have to type “4 bedrooms 2 bathrooms full-size kitchen apartment for rent in Omaha.” That was how it was in the early 90s. Today, all you have to type is, “apartments for rent in Omaha.” It seems so simple now, but it’s dramatically changed the home-shopping process.
Since searching is more intuitive, and search engines now give better results, people are finding what they want much more quickly. It makes it easier for you to get great results, whether you know how many bedrooms you want or not. As search engines continue to evolve, you’ll find that it’s easier than ever to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Accessibility Through Mobile Technology
Going back to the print ads from previous years, by far the biggest problem was that only certain people saw them. If you took out a real estate ad in the New York Times, only subscribers would see it. With the emergence of personal mobile phones, especially mobile phones, all of that changed.
It Put the Entire World of Real Estate in Your Pocket
There’s no way easy way to calculate just how much of an impact mobile phones have had on the real estate market. If you want to browse listings in your hometown, you don’t have to go hop on a desktop computer. You just whip out your phone. If you’re driving home from work and notice a “House for Sale” sign, you can look up the realtor’s site right then and there. It’s made everything instant, meaning you can move faster to sign a lease if you find the perfect pad.
Phones Put Everyone on a Level Playing Field
As strange as it is to think about now, there was a time when computers were a very rare sight in most households. It meant that only those wealthy enough to afford them and who had access to the Internet could browse online home listings. By contrast, Venture Beat reports that around 5 billion people, or 67% of the world’s population, owns a cell phone. For the home shopper, it means that the technology real estate agencies are using to upload their listings is the same tech you’ll use to find them.