If there is one industry suited to embrace the online revolution,
it’s real estate. After all, the Internet is all about bringing
together people and information, making it easier for the right people
to find the right information. Substitute the word “houses” for
“information”, and you have real estate.
But real estate
is far more complex than most people imagine. The average person thinks
of real estate in terms of their own experience. They put their house
up for sale, probably by calling a local real estate agent, and then
wait for a buyer. The selling agent (and buyer’s agent, if there is
one), along with the closing company, handle all the paperwork. All the
buyers and sellers have to do is sign a lot of papers.
of the paperwork and activity that goes on in between the first call
and the final closing has to be handled by someone, and that someone is
usually the real estate agent. Decades ago, state governments came up
with the idea of having licensed real estate agents for one purpose
only: to protect the public from being cheated. Not an unreasonable
idea, but it soon led to a mountain of work and a lot inefficiencies.
Nobody but licensed agents were allowed to help sellers sell and buyers
buy, at least for any type of compensation. Highly trained agents had
to spend their time filling out forms, making phone calls, driving
people around, and unlocking doors. Property listings often came in the
form of huge books, constantly updated, which agents spent hours
flipping through. Even though commissions were high, many agents were
poor, barely making minimum wage when calculated on a per hour basis.
It was a rough way of doing business, but there weren’t many options.
computer technology and the Internet, providing the industry with what
it needed most: automation and communication. Today, much of the work
that used to be done by agents has been passed on to machines, as well
as to buyers and sellers. For a modest fee, sellers can list their
properties themselves and buyers can search online for properties in
the comfort of their own living room any time of the day or night.
Agents can easily keep dozens of their clients aware of new properties
automatically by having advanced software keep a continuous eye open
for properties fitting a given buyer’s specifications, and instantly
emailing them whenever one comes on the market, complete with all the
details and photographs. New efficiencies have created a downward
pressure on agent fees, but whether or not an agent is used, the
process has changed dramatically.
transition to electronic real estate is still far from complete, even
though there is no shortage of companies and individuals trying to move
the process along. Beside the fact that virtually every real estate
agency, investor, buyer and seller now uses computers and the Internet
to do part of the work, there are also online companies moving in on
traditional real estate operatives. In addition to Zillow.com,
Realtor.com, and countless smaller RE listing and agency sites, public
companies such Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) and eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) now serve
growing real estate markets.
The problem common to all of
these companies is that none of them stand out as the best place to go
to list your house for sale. They all do pretty much the same thing:
they let you search on their list of houses. Then you have to move on
to the next site to see if their list is any better. Although eBay has
some real estate listings, there really is no home-selling eBay. Even
searching MLS (Multiple Listing Service) listings only shows you
standard agent listings and many properties aren’t listed through
However, there is one publicly traded company on
the horizon that may have just the right approach to become the central
clearing house for everything real estate. UpTurn, Inc. (PINKSHEETS:
UPTR) is still under development, but is benefitting from the expertise
of some of the brightest people in business, technology, and online
marketing. The idea is to put together an innovative combination of
social networking and online technologies to create a marketplace
experience so compelling that it will soon become the go-to place for
anyone wanting to buy, sell, rent, or service any type of real estate.
But it’s planned as far more than just a list and search service. It’s
being designed as an overall real estate solution resource, a place
where anyone can quickly and easily get the answers they need or link
up with the people they need. Maybe this is why it’s being called the
next big step into the world of electronic real estate.
Let us hear your thoughts: The UpTurn, Inc. Message Board