Tech has made so many aspects of our lives easier. Name an industry at random, and see if technology has not enabled a much more efficient experience, if not a better one.
I remember when my friend’s father, who was a veterinarian, was reselling dog flea medicine that he’d bought wholesale from the manufacturer. Overnight, Pets.com disappeared his side hustle.
Real Estate Tech has improved the search experience of buying residential real estate across the world. From seeing photos, floorplans, touring virtually, signing documents, communicating with agents, experiencing property from anywhere.
As real estate goes back to more and more showings in person, a big part of me agrees. Surely, the real estate community will never go back to doing business as we did before. Open Houses will be less-attended. Buyers will preview properties online before viewing in the flesh. Brokers will be able to be more efficient. The process will improve.
And yet- there’s a bigger part of me that sees the buying process as much more than finding a home. Have you ever listened to someone tell you the story of the house they bought? It is usually not that they created their search, went in, made an offer, and boom-boom-boom, done. Nope. The story is always the Hero’s Journey. The missed opportunity, the horrible agent, the lost bidding war, the property that came back to market, the surprise when they saw the home of their dreams, and the fight to win it. The satisfaction at the end is there because of the work it took to get there.
Here we are, trying to make the process much easier. Is there a chance that buyers don’t WANT us to do that? It could very well be the case.
Yes, buying that annoying hook for your kid’s bedroom door should absolutely take two clicks on the Amazon app. Even buying the door should be that easy. But buying the home? Not so fast.
I heard it referred to as “the abdication of struggle,” meaning that in many situations, we are very happy to make our lives more comfortable, content with committing less time to menial tasks. In that way, living in New York with technology is so much easier. No fights in the line to the movie theatre. No rush to buy the latest album at the music store.
But what about the time we no longer have to commit to discovery? Is learning about an obscure band nearly as satisfying when almost every album ever recorded appears instantaneously in your Spotify Search?
It seems obvious to me now that try as we might to remove the effortful from finding our homes, there remains a deep desire for the homeowner to have the tale to tell. Even if we don’t have a porch off of our Manhattan apartment, or even room for a rocking chair in which to weave our buying story, the struggle seems necessary. How will tech make the experience better, without forcing buyers to give up their gauntlet? It is too soon to tell, but my instinct says that as realtors, we may improve our customer service through better processes- but there will be a limit to how much a buyer wants to improve his.
What do you think?