Unless you still live with your parents, you’ve likely experienced the frustration of property hunting on the internet. My wife and I are going through this right now and quite frankly the experience is far from satisfactory. Based on my experience so far, here are a few suggestions how the property search and discovery process can be improved for all parties involved.
First some context…
I currently live in Cobble Hill, an area of Brooklyn awash with families, parks and little fluffy animals. Couple this with a low supply of modern building structures (i.e. elevators) and you’ll find yourself in the same pickle we’re in. With a limited ‘local’ inventory you’re left expanding beyond previously acceptable boundaries - Williamsburg, Park Slope, perhaps even [ear muffs]… New Jersey!
After spending hours hunting for 2-bedroom Brooklyn apartments on Trulia, RentHop.com, brokerage websites, etc. we decided to visit a few listings in person. We contact a listing agent and arrange to meet at 12pm out front of the apartment. No one shows up until 12:40pm. While we would have loved to explore the area, we instead stood by the door (essentially tethered) waiting for the agent. Best I could tell there was a tailor close by and a restaurant around the corner.
Lesson 1: HUGE opportunity here. Consumers look for local resources and information about neighborhoods and towns they may want to live. For example, my wife asked me if there was a grocery store close by to the listing. What did I do? I googled ‘Bedford and Brooklyn and grocery store’. There are real estate professionals out there right now who understand the neighborhood better than anyone else. If that’s you, get out there and shoot a video of the communities you represent. Hire a Filmmaker or do it yourself. Talk about the local grocery stores, restaurants and fun activities to do while you’re in town. Put your videos online and we will find you. Just ask this guy.
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So the agent finally arrives to show us the listing. As we entered the elevator, I began to reflect on these photographs envisioning the long walls and open space. We stop at the sixth floor, exit, and walk towards the door. Door opens… [record scratches]. The property is about half the size one would have assumed from the photos. However, we were already there so we toured the property with another group, both parties looking at least mildly interested – we of course weren’t. Afterwards, we politely excused ourselves and hurried outside. Two plus hours of everyone’s life wasted. Why?
Lesson 2: Transparency. Real estate marketing is a lot like online dating. Agents… please don’t tell us your listing is some hot french model when I’m only going to find out it’s this dude. Show us the truth. This is again where video can be quite useful. Why not show what it’s like to walk inside and tour the space?
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Bottom line, transparency saves everyone time (our most valuable currency). The means to create quality transparent content is now at everyone’s disposal. If the real estate industry is supposed to be serving our best interests as customers and consumers, it should be adopting the best tools available to achieve such goals.
Video can no longer be ignored.
If you are out looking for real estate, ask your agent or broker if they are using video. If they answer no, ask them, “Why not?”, because you deserve better.