Has Real Estate Become a Technology Profession?
Sometimes, on days when technology creates more problems than solutions – which is often, I wistfully wonder how sweet it must have been to be a Realtor in the 1970’s. No pagers, cell phones, computers, printers, pda’s, faxes, internet, gps mapping – not even voicemail. It’s 2006 already, and as I try to piece together and maintain all the technology and office tools needed for our small team to operate in the fast paced business world in which we live, I wonder with frustration – why doesn’t any of this crap work properly?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’ll bet a good 1970’s Realtor, with a Big Chief pad, a Number 2 pencil, the MLS book and a 4-door Chevy Nova, achieved as much inflation-adjusted NET productivity as today’s Realtor who is armed with all sorts of expensive and unreliable technology and bloatware. I don’t have the data to support my theory, but I’ll bet it’s true. Maybe I’ll hunt down some old-timers and check it out with them.
An unbelievably large chunk of my time each week is spent fiddling with computers, printers, software, my MLS key, lockboxes, web tools, email, voicemail, cell phone, etc. – and much of this is not productivity related but is instead troubleshooting, maintaining and fixing things that worked right yesterday, but not today.
For example, our new Treo 650 phones, which are supposed to help us be more productive, cause our office landline phones to often buzz with a loud annoying sound while we are talking. This now has to be added to my list of things to deal with and try to fix. It could potentially take hours and result in returning the phones, buying newer landline phones, or who knows what. I’m not even sure where I’ll start, but we can’t have our phones buzzing in caller’s ears like they do now that we’ve “upgraded to the latest technology”. And it’s going to take time and/or money to solve this. Can’t they make a cell phone that doesn’t do this?
Could I be an effective Realtor without using email, voicemail, cell phones, computers, the internet, etc.? Probably not – no way. We’re past the point of no return. But why can’t technology tools be made more reliable and useful? These tools and devices seem to sap a large portion, if not all, of the time, energy and money they are suppose to save. Someone wanting to operate as a Realtor today has to have at least a base level of understanding with regard to the technology tools used or they will no doubt experience great frustration.
Sure, the internet is great and a lot of clients find us on the web. It’s also nice to be able to check messages and return calls from anywhere with cell phones. I appreciate that. But at it’s core, real estate is still about talking with people, discovering their needs, matching the right buyer with the right home, and then competently executing those tasks required to bring a deal to successful completion. That’s never going to change, regardless of technology.