Nothing will ever replace a personal relationship with a helpful, knowledgeable real estate professional. However, there are two technical trends that can assist and will shape the real estate world over the next few years. The first (not a new concept, but still in its infancy) is social networking. The second is the widespread use of smart phones.
Social networking is the Internet equivalent of the corner pizza parlor or group hangout. People share information and keep up with their friends via Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter—no matter where they are physically. If you are Sally’s friend, and want to see what she’s up to, go to her Facebook page. There you can see what’s on her mind, and what your other friends think as well.
Widespread use of smart phones is a much newer trend, and also still in its infancy. If I am away from my computer, and want to find a gas station with the cheapest gas in the neighborhood, I turn to my smart phone. I ask it to find the cheapest gas, and then ask it to give me turn-by-turn directions from where I am to the station—avoiding real-time traffic or detours along the way. If I find something that interests me at the store, I can use the camera on my phone to take a picture of the barcode, and ask my phone to tell me about the product, and who is selling it for the least. I can check out my friends and their social networking pages, and, if they allow it, even find out where they are at the moment.
Both of these have real estate implications. While email used to be the primary way to exchange information on the Internet, now Facebook, Twitter, and text messages play a big role.
If I have something I want my friends to know about, I can put it on my Facebook, post a “Tweet” on Twitter, or send them a text message. Voila—instant communication and none of us had to be physically connected to make the communication work. Say I see property I like. If I am a social networker, I need to be able to include my thoughts about the property using the social networking tools I use for everything else. That’s why we have a Facebook page and Facebook links on all our properties, in addition to our email links. That’s also why we added “text to a friend” to our longstanding “email to a friend” function of sharing listing information with others. This allows you to send property information directly to your friend’s cell phone.
We also have other new, exciting ways to use smart phones. If I am driving through the country, and see a property listed with Wintergreen Real Estate that I like, I can “text” (send) the property MLS number to our answer line (540-242-1908) and immediately get a full description the property and the agent’s phone number sent to my phone. If I choose, I can click on the phone number in the response to talk to the agent. What if I see a banner advertising the Fourth of July weekend event at our Discovery Center? If I text the message “July 4th” to the answer line, I’ll get back the time and place and a set of GPS coordinates I can copy to my navigator for turn-by-turn directions from wherever I am to the event. I can also text “news” to the answer line for a look at the Wintergreen Real Estate Blog, or “open” to the answer line for a list of scheduled open houses.
These capabilities (many unique to Wintergreen Real Estate) showcase the long-standing emphasis that Wintergreen Real Estate places on service to its clients—buyers and sellers alike. Our objective is to do everything we can to unobtrusively bring sellers and buyers together, and these new technologies are some of the most recent ways of fulfilling that objective. Stay tuned. You will see us roll out even more exciting service technologies in the near future. Let us hear from you about services that you would find useful.