It’s a given that home buyers increasingly start the search for their home on the Internet.
The National Association of Realtors reports that 89 percent of house hunters start their search on the Internet – a trend that will only increase with the exponential growth of smart phones and other devices that offer instant access to the web.
And there is no shortage of information. A quick Google search on “Denver real estate” returned 125,000,000 hits; “Denver housing,” 35,260,000; “Denver homes,” 1,010,000.
With that kind of information-overload, those seeking a home increasingly will want – no, demand – Realtors who can separate the wheat from the chaff, according to Lane Hornung, president, CEO and co-founder of 8z Real Estate and COhomefinder.com.
Following is a monthly interview with Hornung and John Rebchook.
John: Lane, what does all of this housing information being available at the finger-tips of consumers mean for Realtors now and in the future?
Lane: Consumers are not going to work with real estate professionals who do not take their jobs seriously. They’re going to have zero-tolerance for those agents who cannot or do not provide pertinent information in a timely manner, using the latest technology. Nor should they be.
John: Let’s say I live out-of-state and I’m planning to move to Boulder or Denver. Of course, I begin searching information about housing on the Internet. It’s not like the old days when the Realtor was the gatekeeper of all information that is real-estate related.
Lane: Absolutely that is true. The Internet provides a lot of education.
John: With so much information available on the web, do I need a Realtor?
Lane: That’s your call, but since the listings were placed online for the first time over a decade ago, the percentage of home buyers and sellers who use a Realtor has increased, not decreased. Consumers are seeking context and interpretation of all that data at their fingertips.
John: So, Lane, what will the information of the future look like that will provide real value to the consumer?
Lane: There will be a huge explosion in online resources and hyper-local content. To blow our own horn, at 8z Real Estate, neighborhood information drives our Pulse web sites. Our Pulse sites have hyper-local information tailored for a neighborhood, like NewlandsPulse.com or WashParkPulse.com.
John: Why is that important?
Lane: You have to get a feel for the “gestalt” of the neighborhood – what people are talking about, rather than just the information about the median income and median age of a homeowner.
John: Lane, how do you see this type of information evolving?
Lane: We’re going to be seeing more online forums for someone living in or moving to a neighborhood, where they can ask very specific questions of the people who live there. In other words, it’s not going to be one-way flow of information. It’s going to be a two-way street.
John: Again, with so many sources of information, does that make a Realtor obsolete?
Lane: If anything, with so much information available and flowing, the Realtor will be more important than ever. All of this information doesn’t eliminate the need for the Realtor. The Realtor needs to be there so the consumer can make an informed decision. A Realtor who specializes in, who lives and breathes a given neighborhood, who knows the history, the trends, the individual houses and their story, can provide invaluable knowledge to a home buyer or seller. They are a community asset, a market maker, and a repository of knowledge.
John: Thanks, Lane.
A monthly question and answer with Lane Hornung is a feature of InsideRealEstateNews.com. COhomefinder,com is a sponsor of InsideRealEstateNews.com.