The internet has changed the world in so many ways. Some of them good, and some of them not so good.
You know what I mean. It’s nice that we no longer need rows of dictionaries and encyclopedias to do our research and we can shop for an entire wardrobe in our underwear at the kitchen table. Even better that we can communicate with people all over the world in seconds. Having all of that information at our fingertips has opened the entire world to new possibilities and broken down barriers. But there is another side to the internet that is usually discussed in hushed tones.
Data mining is huge on the internet and growing larger every day. Whole companies are built on collecting as much data about your online activity as possible. They then identify patterns about your online history and searches. All of that information is gathered so they can identify ways to sell you things, or your data is packaged up and sold to other companies. We all think it’s just how the world works and we live with it. But do we really need to just accept that anytime we search online our information is dissected, processed and then sold to any number of companies?
Not sure what I mean? Try this exercise. Go to any of the Real Estate search sites so popular these days. You know them; Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com etc. Search for any property in the Dripping Springs or Austin area. It doesn’t matter where really. When you find any property at all click on the “Schedule a Showing” or “Request More Info” link. Enter your information and within minutes your phone will start ringing and your email inbox will be filled with agents offering to assist you (Maybe one of them is Jonathon whose picture is above!). Each one claiming to be the best agent in the area. This may go on for days or even months. Even if you are working with an agent, and you buy a house, the calls will not stop. Those websites have your information and package it into multiple different ways to sell again and again.
If Google is your main search engine try searching for “Caliterra” or “Belterra” or “Houses for Sale in Austin” and see what happens to all of your ads in your browser for the next week. You will be inundated with ads for subdivisions, agents, Real Estate websites and lenders. Is this acceptable to you? Not me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. Social Media is fun and productive for our business. Companies like Evernote, Dropbox, Mail Chimp and Dotloop are changing the Real Estate world in very positive ways. The systems we use to run our team now are light years ahead of how we did things when I entered the business in 2003. In 2003 faxes were still sent daily, our MLS was just starting to work well,pictures online were limited to 8 and the resolution was terrible. In 13 years Real Estate technology has gone from the Model T to the latest Tesla electric vehicle.
But really is ALL technology good? Is the trade off of having all of your information sold all over the world worth it when you start to look for a house to buy or an agent to list your home? Is being bombarded with unwanted calls and SPAM emails worth being able to see one house online? There is a way to prevent some of this and that way that has been used and proven effective for years. Ask some friends who they trust to help you buy or sell and then pick up the phone and call that agent. It’s not fancy or complicated but it works just like “lefty loosy-righty tighty” works. Simple is usually the best. Why submit yourself to the madness of being caught up in the “Internet Lead” shuffle of nauseating calls and self promoting emails from agents that have no idea what your needs are.
That agent can streamline the whole process for you and insulate you from all of the unwanted calls and SPAM. We set up searches for our clients so they see the latest listings as soon as they hit the market and no one else you are looking. We schedule showings without putting all of our clients info online. Everything you tell us is confidential. Do you think that same standard is being met when you tell some agent, that contacted you online, what size home, price range, school district, neighborhood you want to live in? God knows where all of your information shows up? Maybe that guy in Nigeria that wants to send you $1.2M gets it!
Buying and selling a property or home should be simple. Not easy, but simple. It can be complicated to get a contract to closing but it’s even more complicated by the internet fog caused by companies and people collecting your information and selling it.
Save yourself some hassle. Just pick up the phone and ask your good friends who they would use to buy or sell with. Easy. The internet search companies would have you believe that agents are old school, and you don’t need them, but in this litigious, crazy world we live in agents are needed now more than ever. Do you really think selling your house yourself online is smart? Even cars are not bought and sold that way? Buy a car without a test drive? I don’t think so!
The business model for all of those companies are flawed in that they only work when people are duped into thinking what they are offering is better. People are starting to wise up and realize that the model of working with a local TRUSTED agent is the best way to buy and sell real estate. The cat is not only out of the bag it’s tearing down the curtains and scratching the leather sofa!
Are you feeling bold? I dare you to post on Facebook that you are looking for an agent on a neighborhood or community website. 218 posts later you will have 150 different Realtor names as well as horror stories and testimonials. The other posts will be from agents saying they are the best agent in the area and more experienced than anyone else. Save yourself the headache…Pick up the phone and ask some friends who they like. You’ll be amazed at how much time and headache you will save yourself.
Steve Mallett is a Texas Real Estate Broker with Keller Williams Realty and the MALLETT INTEGRITY TEAM since 2003. Located in South West Austin and Dripping Springs.