Technology has come a long way since Alan T. Aoyama entered the real estate industry 19 years ago.
He also recalls the Multiple Listings Service was printed out on large-format, thermo-printed sheets. The bulky listing of homes for sale was awkward to handle and was called “The Book.”
Fast-forward to today and the once revolutionary cell phone takes a back seat to smart phones and connectivity with the Internet. According to a recent survey by the California Association of Realtors, 71 percent of real estate transactions in the past 12 months originated with an Internet contact.
“It’s all about the readily available information on the Internet,” said Aoyama, who uses an Apple iPhone and iPad. “Prior to this, getting that information was up to the agent.”
Today, not only the real estate agent, but also homebuyers, can easily access information about a home for sale — such as state rank of the school district and median prices of nearby homes —from their smart phones or computers.
Joseph Calderon, a Century 21 M&M Realtor in Turlock, said many homebuyers have done their own search for a home via technology, before contacting a Realtor. It’s easy. Just click on the comprehensive Century 21 M&M website, c21mm.com, and answers to home-buying questions are available.
“The first place they go is online,” said Calderon about homebuyers. “They don’t look at the newspaper classifieds anymore.”
For realty agents, technology makes their jobs much more efficient and much more productive. Century 21 M&M, which has invested nearly $2 million in technology in the past four years, gives its agents such tools as:
- Internet agent aids, such as special hand-held apps for clients
- Comprehensive company website and individual agent websites
- MLS automatic marketing system
- In-house information technology support
- Escrow coordination
“It is going to sell more homes,” said Aoyama about the high-tech tools. “It’s going to give agents more time to sell homes.”
“Century 21 M&M came from Oakdale into the Silicon Valley ahead of the curve in technology,” said Aoyama. “Century 21 M&M embraced this technology and put out a great IT support and training system for it.”
Calderon said the new technology has him using his cell phone less and less.
“I’ve sold homes texting and emailing, never directly speaking with anyone on the phone,” he said. “It’s transitioning more to that. You can just get more done if you don’t spend time on the phone.”
Calderon is quick to note, some clients prefer meeting in person, communicating by phone, and signing paper documents. He is more than happy to accommodate them.
She has 648 “friends” on Facebook and the figure grows by the week.
“It gets my name out there,” she said. “There’s a lot of potential. I get lots of people that need help. I look at that as potential clients.”
Facebook, among the more than 300 websites and social networks Century 21 M&M utilizes, has more than 500 million active users — about one out of every 14 people in the world.
Luna believes the day will come when Facebook leads account for up to 30 percent of her real estate transactions.
Her future Facebook plans include publishing regular real estate tips and posting her listings on her Facebook page.
“I don’t want to be boring,” said Luna. “I like to mix personal and business, so people know you’re real.”
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