The Need for Speed!

UnknownLet’s circle back to rejoin the discussion we started a few weeks ago… We were talking about some of the interesting trends that have occurred in real estate over the last two or three decades. And the remarkably sudden and almost overwhelming “need for speed” that has taken over the real estate process in recent years.

Some of you who bought or sold a home this past year and found yourselves navigating the dubious joys and perils of today’s marketplace – things like – off-MLS listings, pre-emptive offers, one day response times, shorter than short contingency periods, electronic signatures, mobile notaries, wiring funds and ultra-fast, all-cash closings – will recognize what I’m talking about when I say that the pace of doing things in real estate has been ratcheted-up.

My premise is this: The essential, underlying meaning of buying or selling a home is the same now as it was back in the 80s or 90s. Not much has really changed in the basic equation.

Home is still the profound place of comfort, safety and refuge that nurtures us. Most people still only come into contact with the nitty-gritty of the real estate process when they aregoing through big life transitions like marriage, the birth of twins, divorce, health concerns, aging issues or the passing of a loved one. And for most of us, home is still the largest financial asset we’ll ever own.

Real estate has always been about big change and lots of money and all the powerful emotions that come along for the ride. What’s morphed, almost beyond our ability to keep up or comprehend, is the medium that’s now in charge of delivering the message.

Like everything else in the world these days, real estate has been digitized and unceremoniously relocated to a web-centric universe where buyers and sellers are hyper-connected and information is delivered in the blink of “real time,” at hyper-speed.

You may even hear the phrase hyper-local on occasion. It’s one of those new buzz-concepts making the rounds in real estate these days. But it’s really just a term that describes all the aggregated big data that’s being collected about homes and transactions, carved-up into byte-sized pieces so it can be fed back to individual consumers as meaningful morsels that in turn convince them to click on more things designed to monetize the hip young companies doing the collecting.

By 2015 standards, it’s almost impossible to imagine how anyone had the patience to buy or sell a home back in the good old days when bandwidths were so narrow and things moved at such a snail’s pace and the real estate process regularly unfolded in one long, drawn out, slow-motion take. For anyone who had their last close encounter with buying or selling a home back in 1995, the normal progression of a real estate transaction in today’s world is almost unrecognizable.

Buyers and sellers have no choice but to think faster. Act faster. Feel faster. Resolve doubts faster. And move-on faster. There’s no time to sit back and consider next steps unless you count a five day contingency period as adequate time. In a world defined by competition and the laws of supply and demand there’s always someone out there who might be gaining on you. If you snooze, you’re going to lose.

So here’s the question…is faster better? Is it a good thing that buyers and sellers are making such important life decisions with very little time to spare? We’ll talk more next week…

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