By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator & Tiana Baur, Content Marketing Manager
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s finally Fall. That means we can spend more time focusing on hitting our Q4 goals and less time sitting in our own sweat – hooray! September was chalk-full of events and news stories that impacted the real estate industry, so without further ado, here are the top five stories to know:
1. RISMedia’s 2018 Real Estate CEO Exchange
A couple key quotes from Boomsma via RISMedia:
“There are 350 languages spoken in the U.S., and 22 percent of the country now speaks something other than English at home,” added Boomsma. “We need to be thinking about inclusivity, and be inclusive of all groups,” citing the growing influence of the Asian American, Hispanic and LGBTQ segments.
“The world, in my opinion, is so filled with noise,” said Boomsma. “I think part of our job is to provide a certain amount of peace. Being gracious is something that’s been overlooked, and I think it’s something we have an opportunity as leaders to instill in our organizations. Gracious people are kind and their behavior is characterized by tact. Graciousness may be superficial, but sometimes what’s on the surface is good enough.”
Paul – thank you.
2. “Hurricane Florence: 42 Deaths, Housing Shortages and Increasing Flooding Dangers”
As we all know, Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas and wreaked havoc on the entire region. Over 42 people lost their lives to the hurricane. There has been over $22 billion in damage done. RISMedia said that, “According to realtor.com, the hurricane could create a months-long stall in home sales and construction.” If you would like to donate to The South Carolina REALTORS® Foundation for disaster relief efforts, please do so here.
3. “Zillow breaks into lead referral business”
Inman News says that Zillow is “testing a new referral service in Florida that could shake up how it does business, and for the first time in the company’s history, earn a piece of the real estate commission pie.” No word on how big that piece will be, but the program will fall under their Premier Broker lead-gen umbrella.
4. “Compass rolls out ‘Coming Soon’ pre-marketing blitz nationwide”
“Compass Coming Soon” allows agents to market their properties before they are listed on the MLS. Some are saying this is shady, others are saying that this is by no means in the same category as whisper listings, especially since they don’t appear to anyone and everyone on the brokerage’s site. Makes sense to us.
According to Inman News, “Indeed, early or exclusive listings are extremely common, particularly among high-end clients who expect to know about a property before it hits the market. Some of the properties currently listed in Compass’ off-market category include a $3.95 million mountain villa in Aspen and a $5.3 million home in the Hamptons.” We’ll let you be the judge.
5. “Hamptons agent serenades buyers with original country song about $2M property”
Capping off this month’s #ICYMI is a story that should give you a bit of laugh. Apparently when life gives you lemons – and a great voice – you write a country song about your listing. Why not, right? After watching that video it’s clear this Douglas Elliman agent, Telly Karoussos, is definitely not afraid to break out the guitar and do something quirky to sell a home. While the Hamptons home has gotten its moment in the spotlight, the listing is still on the market with plenty (too many) photos of said guitar with it.
What do you think October has in store for us? I have a feeling some people out there will make headlines for questionable Halloween costume choices. Which reminds me, take a moment to think before you decide to wear costumes to work! If even a teeny tiny part of you is thinking, “hmm don’t know if this is appropriate,” then it’s not appropriate. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t give us more to write about!
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for another #ICYMI!
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
California has long been known as a trendsetter within the realm of green energy, but it recently had a “mic drop” moment that could set the tone for the future of renewable energy integration in homes.
That moment took place during May of 2018, when the Golden State became the first to pass a requirement for newly built homes to have solar panels on their roofs. The new standards are part of a major step towards California’s goal to make renewable energy the producer of a whopping 50% of its overall electricity by 2030, which was set in 2015.
Although the mandate issued by the California Energy Commission won’t go into effect until 2020, it’s likely at the top of minds of many who are considering buying a house in the not-so-distant future.
What does solar power currently look like in California? An article by The New York Times regarding the new requirement states that, as of the end of 2017, solar power makes up “almost 16 percent of the state’s electricity, and the industry employs more than 86,000 workers”. This makes California the undisputed leader in the realm of solar power energy in the US.
How will the requirement affect home prices? The addition of solar panels is expected to add $8,000 to $12,000 to the initial cost of participating homes. Not to worry – the California Energy Commission claims that “based on a 30-year mortgage, (it is estimated that) the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills”. That being said, what may seem like a hefty chunk of change in the minds of your clients at first is really a massive money saver in the long-run.
How does this affect you, the agent? As renewable energy sources such as solar power slowly become the norm, they will likely become increasingly expected by homeowners. For now, you can utilize the coming changes as an opportunity to highlight existing solar power features in homes as being ahead of the game. If you want to emphasize the cost saving benefits they can provide to clients, visit a site like Project Sunroof to get accurate estimates of their solar power savings potential.
What about the other states? California may be the first to make groundbreaking moves when it comes to solar power, but it is unlikely to be the last. California will serve an experiment for other states to observe and study before they attempt to implement rules and requirements of their own towards the adoption of renewable energy.
Want to see how your state stacks up in the ranks of solar power integration ranks? Find the rankings here.
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator & Tiana Baur, Content Marketing Manager
Summer is coming to an end and I think most of us are excited for it to cool down (but also for the holidays, sweaters, and an excuse to go to bed a little bit earlier). August was another exciting month for all of us at MoxiWorks and for the industry as a whole. So as per usual, we wanted to sort through the weeds and deliver the most notable headline summaries for this month.
Here are the top five real estate news stories to know:
1. “Talk of the inventory drought easing up”
Pop a bottle of bubbly because apparently there’s some easing up on inventory shortages. However, on the unfortunate side of things, it’s mostly in the higher-priced tier of homes. According to RISMedia, “In July, the inventory of listings priced $350,000-plus was up 5.7 percent but inverted in the lower segment—dropping 15.6 percent at $200,000 and under. Inventory in the $200,000-$350,000 range slipped 0.6 percent.” Plus, they said that, “inventory is down 4 percent year-over-year, which is half the average 8 percent observed in the past year, and inventory in 16 of the largest markets has risen year-over-year.” That’s some good news.
2. “KW to launch virtual brokerages for expansion business owners”
Keller Williams is diving into virtual brokerages. When was this decided you ask? Keller Williams had a Mega Camp aka business retreat and announced it there. According to Inman, the “new business model will be available to 166 expansion businesses, representing 509 locations and 3,433 real estate agents.” Alright, alright, alright.
3. “NAHB: Affordability Hits Lowest in 10 Years”
In less thrilling news, things are getting seriously expensive and many of us can’t afford to hop into the housing market just yet. In fact, according to the National Association of Home Builders, affordability has hit its lowest in 10 years. And only “57 percent of homes sold in the second quarter were affordable based on income, down from roughly 62 percent in the first quarter.” #WhyTho
The most affordable major metro in the second quarter, based on income and local median price was Syracuse, New York.
4. “Deadly California Wildfires Claim Lives and Real Estate”
On a serious note, our heart goes out to all those in California who have had to deal with the wrath of the many fires burning, destroying, and devastating communities across the State. Just one fire in California alone burned “160,049 acres across Shasta and Trinity counties (at press time), as well as destroyed over 1,000 homes, 24 commercial buildings and 500 other structures.” To all the insanely brave firefighters out there, we salute you and thank you.
5. “Compass to acquire Pacific Union in blockbuster deal”
P.S. In other random real estate news, there’s a Men of Real Estate shirtless swimsuit calendar featuring Keller Williams agents in Chicago. Did not see that one coming.
Phew – what a month. Any guesses for the biggest headlines in September? Stay tuned for another #ICYMI!
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator & Tiana Baur, Content Marketing Manager
This month has been a bit of a whirlwind. In just several weeks we’ve had Inman Connect, tons of tech news, and some announcements that continue to elevate industry pressures on a very real level. A lot of the news has been “hype” and had enough fluff to fill a million build-a-bears, but what are the main headlines we should all be focusing on? We put a little list together of the important news stories that came out in July and recapped them for you.
Here are the top five bites to know in the July Roundup:
1. “Cryptocurrency, Cyber Fraud Focus of Trump Task Force”
Don’t worry, we’re not getting all political. With a new-found focus on cyber fraud in the U.S., real estate will hopefully see less cyber-crime events, especially with cryptocurrency coming into the industry from all angles. Fraud in general, whether that be banks or cyber-related, has heavily impacted the industry. “According to an RISMedia survey, 27 percent of agents and brokers are ‘not sure’ if their brokerage has a cybersecurity policy, and 19 percent have no policy at all. The most common crime is phishing/wire fraud, in which buyers are duped out of their funds.” Hopefully this new focus will find a way to combat it.
2. “Gary Keller Slams Real Estate Startups, Refuses to Sit Down”
Gary Keller made moves at this year’s Inman Connect and made his agents across the nation extremely proud to be with his brokerage. He argued that many real estate tech companies, such as Redfin, Opendoor, etc. would get rid of agents if they could. Agree with his stance or not, he made it very clear and now everyone knows about it. Well played, sir.
3. “The ‘For Sale’ sign gets a modern update”
Well, it’s pretty obvious how we feel about Compass, but putting all that aside for a few moments, they had a major-ish announcement at Inman Connect and it deserves a spot as a top headline. Not only did they turn a rectangle into a circle, but they also illuminated the sign and added a connection to the internet so smart phones can connect. Sort of feels unnecessary for our industry, sort of feels like teenagers are going to go around vandalizing them, but who knows. To each their own.
4. “Overstock is making a push into real estate”
So, this is one we might have all overlooked. While July mostly focused on Inman, Compass, and other industry related news, this should’ve been a main discussion topic. The big boys are getting into real estate. Overstock announced they they’re relaunching Houserie, a property management website focusing on background checks, that basically helps landlords out. The juicy plot twist? It’s going to become a giant real estate platform in September for buying, renting, and managing properties. Alright, alright, alright Overstock.
5. Redfin announces $240M stock offering for potential acquisitions
Looks like Redfin has hopped into the dating pool. In their press release, the company stated that “it may choose to use a portion of the proceeds to invest in or acquire third-party businesses, products, services, technologies or other assets.” With this news, they’ll be looking for potential acquisitions, swiping right on dime piece businesses that catch their eye.
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
Technology is advancing at a rate that can be overwhelming, confusing, and downright scary. As an agent, you need to be able to keep up with the technology changes happening around you in order to be competitive and grow your business. There are massive shifts happening in real estate, some of which seem to be looming, ready to take over any moment.
For those of you who are worried about what the future holds, here are a few things you should be aware of and what you can do to prepare.
AI technology is getting personal. Almost too personal. AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology now enables users in the real estate market to evaluate communities based on a broad range of data and draw insights that allow them to pin-point potential buyers. The data itself, which is often related to things like purchasing behavior, home buying history, and internet activity, digs deep into who buyers are and what stage in life they are in. Once AI is used to identify these prospects, the systems then take it a step further and actually market to those individuals directly. This process can be performed on a massive scale and in record time, giving users a major advantage. According to NAR, 51% of last year’s homebuyers found the home they chose to purchase online- an unsurprising statistic based on the direction this technology is headed.
Hold on tight. As you know, today’s seller-powered real estate market is fast paced and the need for quick response and follow-up times is higher than ever. Brace yourself – AI technology is taking it to a whole new level with the creation of chatbots. These bots are preprogrammed with answers to questions frequently asked by homebuyers and can provide them with in-depth information that likely surpasses what agents themselves may have knowledge of. The way in which agents are actually incorporating bots into their businesses varies. From engaging with clients online to physically bringing chatbots to open houses to greet and service the buyers directly – this technology is clearly changing the way agents interact with their clients in a massive way.
Changing the game. You’re likely somewhat familiar, but Instant Offers is a program developed by Zillow that uses technology to re-shape the home selling process while embracing ultimate levels of usability and efficiency.
How it works – Homeowners who are interested in selling their home provide Zillow with basic information and snap shots of the home, which has not yet been listed. If Zillow is interested they will quickly make a cash offer (it only takes a few days) which the seller can then choose to accept or decline, after receiving a CMA estimate provided by a Zillow Agent. Instant Offers claims that if the seller accepts an offer, they have control over the timeline of the sale and the ability to choose the closing date, a major selling point of the program. Once Zillow buys a home they may make renovations to increase its value before assigning it to a Zillow Agent and listing it.
Intriguing, but completely frightening, am I right? Not to worry.
What you can do:
Step up your technology game. It’s clear that technology is the way of the future, so it’s time to stop fighting it and discover how it can help you gain a competitive edge. If you aren’t already using one, it’s time to consider switching to an open platform for your real estate tech. This will allow you to seamlessly translate data from one part of your business to the next while maximizing efficiency and increasing your likelihood of keeping up. Dig deep into your methodology for areas that could benefit from incorporating new technology – getting your data and business set up to eventually get a chatbot of your own, for instance, would likely be a worthy investment. Not only would it take care of initial lead nurturing, freeing you up to focus on more pressing needs, but you can also employ it to gather more information about what your clients are looking for before you actually interact with them. An estimated 80% of businesses have already implemented, or plan to implement chatbots into their businesses, so the move should definitely be on the table.
Look beyond the numbers. I know, I know – staring at numbers may not always be thrilling, but the stories behind them will make or break your business. There are tools available to you today that allow you to skip the math and let computers do the work – so no excuses. Essential, you need to actually utilize the data you have to differentiate and target your marketing efforts. Take time to examine what marketing channels are generating leads and creating an ROI and which ones could use some improvements. AI is already steps ahead of you, so using your resources wisely is a must in order to remain competitive and stand a chance in winning over the leads you have your eye on.
Make it personal. The appeal created by the efficient and user-friendly experience offered by AI technology makes it all the more important for Agents to nurture their sphere – before, during, and after a sale. Similarly, chatbots may be flashy and helpful for the beginning stages of a relationship – but they aren’t humans. Emphasizing the personal and comfortable buying experience that you offer is important – it’s really one of the only aspects of real estate that AI can’t compete with. Instant Offers is all about simplifying and creating a predictable experience for sellers. This means that Agents need to be transparent and make sure that sellers are well prepared for what going through the process with you will look like. Keeping your CRM updated will help you remember the details and celebrate the little things like house-iversaries, which lets clients know you are invested and will likely keep them coming back.
Keep it fresh. Fantastic, you’re ready to have a chatbot do the dirty work and your marketing efforts are on-point. Although these currently might be vital to your success, technology is constantly evolving so you must evolve too. Make sure not to get too stuck in your ways and stay in-touch with the happenings and advances in the real estate market. Pay attention to the information that your tech providers give you, and make sure that you are optimizing your use of the newest tools and features they provide you with.
Become their go-to consultant. The process for buying and selling homes that Instant Offers has created eliminates several of the steps that have traditionally been left up to the agent. This means it is vital that you articulate to the client what role you play in the process and the advantages that you specifically bring to the table. For most clients, especially those who are not well-versed in home selling, the decision of whether or not to accept an offer is likely something that they will want to get an expert’s two-sense on. As the agent you must emphasize the value that your experience and knowledge of the industry has in evaluating whether it is in the seller’s best interest to actually accept the offers that they receive. 89% of successful home buyers say that they would use their agent again. You are irreplaceable – don’t forget it.
By Tiana Baur, Content Marketing Manager
Blockchain, Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies…what’s the difference? Why does it matter? What does it mean for our future? It feels like the topic of the year regardless of the industry you’re in. Earlier in the year we wrote an article on cryptocurrencies in the real estate world; buying homes and paying rent with digital currency. While some are splitting up a transaction to use some cryptocurrencies, others are doing the entire transaction via cryptocurrency. There’s even a “Blockchain real estate platform” called ShelterZoom that just announced their application is live in over 10 states.
It’s all happening very quickly, but it’s important to make sure we’re all caught up on the basics. Let’s start here:
Cryptocurrency: Digital currency, exchanged and traded over the internet. They’re designed to create a more secure route for trading, and more secure documentation of who traded what, when.
Bitcoin: A decentralized cryptocurrency, that works without a central bank, allowing for less restrictions. It’s the most well-known cryptocurrency.
Blockchain: The network and ecosystem in which bitcoin sends and transfers money on. It’s the foundation that powers Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies.
The gist, is that this network is public and can be used to transact anywhere in the world without a bank or “middleman.” It’s also cheaper to do the transaction on Blockchain compared to the traditional way. Our favorite way description of how it all works:
“Imagine that you and your best friend Bob are standing on a stage in an auditorium, and there are 1,000 people in the audience. In front of these 1,000 people, you hand your car keys to Bob, and Bob hands you his Rolex. You declare, “Bob, you now own my car.”
Bob declares back to you, “You now own my Rolex.” There are 1,000 witnesses who can each declare, without doubt, that your car now belongs to Bob, and the Rolex belongs to you. If anyone in the audience later tells a conflicting account of who owns the car or the Rolex, the other 999 people will refute it. And, if you take a spare set of your keys and try to give that same car to someone else, the 1,000 audience members will confirm that Bob owns the car, as each of them witnessed the “transaction.”’ (Forbes, 2018)
While some may say they don’t feel comfortable using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, or don’t trust the network Blockchain itself, others will swear by its innovation in security. The thing is, if you buy a house with bitcoin, you’re technically still buying it in cash, it’s just being converted into a cryptocurrency first. So, how will Blockchain affect the industry as we know it?
Before you write it off, real estate transactions could get a whole lot easier. Not only that, but they could get a lot more secure as well. With accurate data and efficiency as its strengths, Blockchain will eliminate the need for a third party; no more waiting for bank wires and checks to clear. On Blockchain, every user has a unique identity via cryptocurrency, meaning financial info can be shared securely to other parties, making the Escrow process a walk in the park.
As we all know, the MLSs across the nation are tremendously scattered and fragmented. Each one has different restrictions, making it hard to compare data and find trends. While others in the industry, such as Upstream, are trying to solve this issue, Blockchain technology could be the single point of truth that fixes the MLS problem. Secure, nationwide data, with real-time access to property information, what’s not to love?
Titles can be hard to access. Blockchain is starting to change this, with its ability to be a record-keeper for any kind of transaction out there. Smart contracts, personal records and credit history, trademarks, elections, titles – you name it. That means it could also provide a central database for all property titles, saying goodbye to paper titles for good.
In the future where Blockchain rules the land, real estate professionals will actually thrive in it. This technology will only improve the industry and lives of those in it; it’s not a technology you need to be afraid of. We say, learn as much as you can on the topic, stay up-to-date, and get involved hands-on as early as you can. For every one person who is against a decentralized currency, there are two more who are about to hop on the bandwagon.
By York Baur, CEO of MoxiWorks
Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z) (NASDAQ: ZG) announced they’re expanding Zillow Instant Offers to compete directly with OpenDoor and other Instant Offers companies – and that for the first time, Zillow itself will be buying homes from consumers and reselling them.
So, what does this mean for brokers? Two ways to look at it:
- So much for “we sell ads, not houses” as Spencer Rascoff has repeated ad nauseum over the years. That’s right up there with “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Zillow of course has every right to direct their business as they choose, but this is proof that they couldn’t care less about their relationship with brokerages. Look at the revolving door nature of the staff working with brokers as further evidence (remember Chris Crocker and Nick Bailey as the most recent examples?).
- Wake up call. I attended the Swanepoel T3 Summit in Miami this week and the theme was resoundingly that if you don’t make change happen, then change happens to you. I’d rather be the one making it happen, and I think that the brokers that continue to thrive will be the ones that disrupt themselves, not wait around to get disrupted
The Power Stays with Spheres
After you’re done absorbing this news though, remember that you have one of the most valuable assets any business can possess: relationships. Those with your agents, and critically their relationships with the consumers in their spheres of influence – their “databases” as many call them. Those relationships are the most difficult things to come by, and while we are all trying to make a home sale transaction happen, we don’t operate a transactional business – we’re in the people, the relationship business.
Channeling Michael Scarafile from a panel session at T3: when you cut your finger, you go to the urgent care clinic and you don’t really care who the doctor is. But if you have a heart problem, you go see you trusted family doctor. Selling or buying a house isn’t buying the latest gadget off Amazon, it’s one of the most emotionally and financially important things that most consumers do.
Here’s the best part: each of your agents already know hundreds of people, and one out of ten will either buy or sell a home this year. For example, the 100,000+ agents on the Moxi Cloud have an average of 470 consumers in their spheres of influence. That means each have more than 40 that will transact this year, not including the impact of referrals. All they have to do is stay in touch with those people and serve as a trusted advisor, and none of the Zillow, Opendoor, Redfin, Purplebricks blah blah blah will matter, because your agents are the ones they’ll trust to guide them through their transaction.
Presence is powerful. Windermere, Long and Foster, and Howard Hanna (all of whom subscribe to the philosophy that agents’ spheres are the best source of business) collectively did more transactions last year than all the closings generated by leads from Zillow. Think about that. How did these A-list brokerages pull this off? Many reasons. But one key factor is that they have systems that allow their agents to organize, store, market to, and advise the consumers in their spheres of influence.
You can too. You can put up a mote around your relationships that will prove to be impenetrable by the disruptors. But you have to get on with it, because it’s too late to build a mote once the invaders are inside your castle. It starts with getting your brokerage, agent, and consumer data in one place. Pick an open platform, get the data in there, and choose from the many quality technology tools that provide sphere management and marketing automation. Then be relentless about getting your agents to use them and hone their ability to serve as a trusted advisor. Sound too simple? It isn’t. It works. We have the data from our 60 brokerage clients and 100,000+ agents to prove it.
Unlike the government, we’re Moxi, and we actually are here to help. Let us know if we can help you and your brokerage.
By Nick Van Valkenberg, Director of Business Development, MoxiWorks
When lost, a compass is used to help you find your way, but what is a compass used for when you are already on the path to success? Could a compass force you to look in the wrong direction? Is there a need for a compass when you already know the terrain and have the map? While in the field I have been having a number of conversations about the “lion coming over the hill” that is Compass. Massively funded, technology forward, and making waves. It is hard not to look in their direction and wonder if the moat you have built around your brokerage will last.
Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Influence
To summarize Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, habit one says to be proactive. A great way to becoming self-aware is to separate your Circle of Concern and your Circle of Influence.
You do not have control over your Circle of Concern – it’s filled with topics like: what Compass is doing in regard to raising capital, building technology, or whether they move to your market or not. You can worry about these until your face turns blue, but you cannot control the outcomes.
Your Circle of Influence you can control, and this is where you should be spending your time and energy. Topics include: educating your agents on not only the negatives, but also the positives of Compass (you would be naive to portray all as negative), finding technology to compete with what they are building, recruiting new agents, and actively recruiting your current team members to raise retention within your brokerage.
Now that we have cleared the air, know where to focus and what can be controlled, let me tell you our (MoxiWorks) take on the situation. Technology is a big topic and a key point to Compass’ recruiting efforts. To compete with the technology that Compass is building you may need an upgrade. Now I’m not suggesting that you go and build your own, I’m suggesting that you look at a platform that is already being used by some of the nation’s top brokerages.
Compass says that their technology will: have a CRM that combines listing information, client information, and transaction information. Compass’ technology is said to be in “one place,” combining all tools, giving power of integration, offering insights, and easy to launch digital social marketing. At MoxiWorks we would recommend researching our open platform that encompasses (pun intended) these aspects and more.
Recruiting is another part of your Circle of Influence that you can control. The discussion of recruiting generally invokes the thought of trying to increase your agent count or better yet, maintain your agent count as attrition is part of the business. In the fourth quarter of 2017, MoxiWorks built an agent recruiting tool called Moxi Talent. Moxi Talent uses a two-pronged approach: recruiting new agents to your brokerage and recruiting your current agents. Trust me when I say if you are not congratulating your current agents, someone else is and that style of interaction will win them over.
In summary, the only thing that stays the same is change and those that do not adapt to the times will be left behind. The best option is to partner with a technology company known for innovating to future-proof brokerages. If any of this has resonated with you I suggest that you reach out to our team and at least do yourself the service to learn how we are paving the way. I, or one of my colleagues, would be more than happy to look at your current technology stack to show you how we can connect your current systems and upgrade others. Do yourself a favor and be proactive; now is not the time to take a reactive approach.
By Tiana Baur
“Bitcoin accepted.” A not-so-strange note to see anymore. Digital currency, or cryptocurrency, is hot and some of those in real estate are now using it to appeal to young renters. That means saying goodbye to mailing checks and hello to using an API that converts a digital currency payment into U.S. dollars. Yes, there are existing apps out there doing this. For instance, the app Coinbase, uses “the platform to manage relationships with their tenants,” by converting the cryptocurrencies and handling the middle man work.
Not only that, but sellers are intrigued by cryptocurrencies as well, giving an option to pay a piece of the pie with Bitcoin or other digital currencies. Some will even go so far as to only accept Bitcoin. That’s right – cash offers might even take a backseat in some unique situations. Fortune.com recently came out with a list of what the tangible value is for Bitcoin versus value amount in dollars. For instance, in Seattle (where MoxiWorks is based), 51.6 Bitcoin is the equivalent of $725,000. This varies by city and my state. We should add that, yes, there have already been closings involving digital currencies across the States.
Digital currencies like Bitcoin are getting major backlash because they’re A.) hard to regulate and B.) get hacked more often than not. Recently, tech giants Facebook and Google banned any ads related to cryptocurrencies. And although Twitter, Snap, and Microsoft still allow them, they might be jumping on the bandwagon soon as well. These announcements were extremely damaging to cryptocurrencies, causing prices to plummet, but some experts are saying that it might help them in the long run since these policies are a step towards legitimacy. The jury is still out on it.
The problem is, unless you’re an investor or are independently wealthy and open to taking on great financial risk, or are extremely mesmerized by the crypto movement, few sellers are going to accept it in replacement of cash and putting money in the bank. As with anything, there are early adopters, but there’s no way to tell if Bitcoin will succeed or bust and since home buying and selling are some of the largest transactions in someone’s lifetime, the risk is often not worth the reward.
For real estate, you might be able to use it in a few circumstances, but there’s a long road ahead before the industry accepts cryptocurrencies as the “norm,” with open arms and little suspicion. With skeptical daily chatter and constant negativity in the headlines, one thing’s for certain: cryptocurrencies need more time to mature to be taken seriously in our market and beyond.
By Tiana Baur
The next time you purchase a car, it very well might be a self-driving one. It’s a headline our eyes now only glance at because we’ve seen it so many times and it’s only a matter of time before it comes to fruition. We’re not only okay with that technology, we’re jazzed about it. We’ll all be able to work, read, and relax during our commutes and trust that we’ll get to our destination timely and in one piece. There’s foreshadowing of another technology too. One that would not only upset our industry, but would tear it to pieces, and that’s the tease of robots as real estate agents. It’s a viable conjecture, especially given how technology is now paving the way for the future of our industry. The problem is, the home buying journey has a very different barrier to trust and breaking down that wall will be close to impossible.
People got their heads out of the sand (some didn’t) and we’ve seen rapid change in the past couple of years. VR (virtual reality) tours are a “thing” homebuyers now expect when they’re house hunting. You can even pay your rent with bitcoin (crazy, right?). The one constant that our industry has always had, though, is that homebuyers choose an agent. That agent happens to be in the form of a human. And that will never change. The CEO of Compass even agrees with that.
Sure, some will be interested in a robot agent. We imagine Elon Musk himself would be eager to try out a robot instead of a human agent for his next transaction. The problem is, most of us are not Elon Musk. We have a comfort zone and although we step out of it more often than before, we stick to it when it comes to the biggest financial transaction we do in our entire lifetime. Robots may charge two percent commission instead of the typical five or six, but guess what? Consumers don’t care. Or, they don’t care enough to risk it. If they cared enough about that five or six percent, they’d be listing their homes by themselves or using Instant Offers (which, I’ve never heard of an actual situation where someone did).
Here’s why people choose people:
Extremely. Real estate agents serve as a sounding board and a therapist just as much as they do a trusted advisor. People want someone who will answer phone calls at midnight when the home seller is crying and stressed because something unforeseen went wrong last minute during the transaction. They want someone to send a bottle of champagne to congratulate them on their great home sale with a heartfelt note because they got through it together as a team. Robots don’t promise to hold their hand from the very beginning, all the way until they’ve moved and settled into their new home.
Buyers and sellers want to sit across from someone in a coffee shop and talk face-to-face. They want something tangible. They want to shake someone’s hand and know that person actually cares about them and their family and that they have feelings and blood running in their veins like they do theirs. Because that is how emotional a home transaction is.
First time buyers all the way through home buying veterans use agents. Why? Because there is always a new situation, a new question, a new issue that pops up that they haven’t seen or dealt with before. Maybe it’s an issue with the mortgage company or maybe there was an issue with escrow. Maybe you just want some advice on what color to paint your living room before the house is listed. Whatever it is, the agent is prepared to handle it.
Let’s back up. AI probably has a place in real estate when it comes to scheduling, answering simple questions, etc. But it will never, ever replace the human connection that is found between a trusted advisor and their beloved clients.