Burt M. Polson | Napa Valley and Vallejo's Commercial Real Estate Broker

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Real estate disrupters then and now

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The year was 1992, the world-wide-web is one year old, Windows 3.1 is introduced, and the first text message is sent on a mobile phone. AOL is the way many accessed and used the Internet.

I started my real estate career at an office in Napa where we had one desktop computer for 12 agents. The computer was mostly used to access the new MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to search properties. Only a few of us used the MLS as most agents still used listing books that came out every month.

I was on the computer not only using the MLS but also researching information on any website I could find and using desktop publishing for creating marketing material to print. I was always the first agent to adopt technology. My first email address was cyberagent@compuserve.com, and my first website had a similar address. My first mobile phone was the Motorola “brick” phone with phone calls costing ninety cents per minute.

Search engines did not exist yet in the early 1990s, so I created an online directory of all the sites I found and categorized them by type. There were not many real estate websites so I included any I could find.

I placed my directory on a well know Usenet discussion board. A technology magazine found my online directory and published it in a magazine as the first world-wide-web site directory. Yahoo came online in 1995 with the first official world-wide-web site directory and Google in 1998 with the first search engine. If only I realized then the potential of what I created.

Jump forward to 2018 you will quickly realize the technology of 1992 is not even recognizable. Briefly, here are a couple of big-picture technology changes coming to real estate--what has been coined, “disrupters” of the industry.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is good at analyzing many data points, finding trends and extrapolating information to use. The real estate industry is adopting AI for data research, spotting trends, analyzing buying and selling statistics and valuing property.

Blockchain technology changes the way data is stored, distributed and verified. Utilizing a distributed database a digital ledger is hosted on servers of many different networks all part of the blockchain system. A record such as a money transaction or a real estate deed transfer record becomes part of the blockchain system and is distributed across many networks. This is done simultaneously and chronologically.

The data in the record is inherently public and verifiable. Anyone trying to change the data would need to do so in thousands of records simultaneously in thousands of networks. Hacking a record is supposedly impossible.

The real estate industry could use blockchain technology to keep a historical record of all transactions for every property in the world and make it all public.

This is but a glimpse of many disrupters of our industry being adopted and still on the horizon. As a broker I am excited to adopt new technology in my business--if you are a real estate agent still using an AOL email address, it may be time for you to consider something new.

Burt M. Polson, CCIM, is an active commercial real estate broker. Reach him at 707-254-8000, or burt@acresinfo.com. Sign up for his email newsletter at BurtPolson.com.

An ACRES Real Estate Services, Inc. Company