As many have noted, the competition from new real estate business models have caused traditional firms to spend more money on technology. Coldwell Banker Bain has announced a new search powered by Microsoft mapping technology, similar to the one John L. Scott brought out a few weeks ago. However, the CBBA new Interactive HomeSearch does have a few subtle advantages over the JLS mapping system.
The primary difference to the buyer or seller is that the CBBA search is more localized. That is, the user can drill in and find homes at the neighborhood level more quickly.
Other advantages include:
- ability to locate Houseboat properties
- search by levels (i.e. single story v.s. two story)
- ability to search for lots/land with specific features including gas, electric, sewer, water
- search for properties with a garage (1,2,3 or 4 car)
- easier to save searches
MS Virtual Earth Maps will become the standard and consumer adoption of the interface will be high. Currently Windermere does not have this technology, but I’m sure is racing to develop it as I write.
But just because we CAN do something, does that mean we should? This mapping system is neat. It’s cool. It’s crazy addictive. But is it ultimately any better than a list of homes for sale in a specific neighborhood? Or is it just a real estate geek’s wet dream? The people who seem most enamored of this kind of search are young techie geeks, raised on video games with a joy stick in one hand and oh, I dunno, a mouse? A Coke? Well, maybe something else, in the other.
Is this technology going to make my life or job any easier? Or is it just a whiz-bang technological novelty? Personally, I find it exhausting to try to find properties that way. I just pray that the MLS doesn’t do something stupid and reduce our search software to interactive map searches.
So, anyway, what else does the new CBBA search do?
1. See neighborhoods in 3D. With a 360Â° Birdâ€™s Eye View, properties can be viewed from various angles using high resolution aerial photography. This offers clients a 3D perspective that canâ€™t be seen in flat, overhead views.
2. Research lot size
3. View layout of surrounding neighborhoods
4. Zoom in or out to see nearby developing areas
5. See a homeâ€™s specific architectural style or type of roof
6. Targeted search. Additional search criteria helps find the homes that fit unique needs. Whether someone wants a farm, houseboat, waterfront property, or precise details such as levels, utilities, or year built, these search options are available on CBBain.com.
7. Automated search. One can use the new Interactive HomeSearch to narrow searches and then sign up with My Home Planner to receive emails with listings that meet individual needs.
8. Compare prices of active and sold listings. Compare prices of 10 similar sold homes in specific areas that match your criteria.
So, what’s the next step here in this progression of mapping searches? The National Association of Realtors says that approximately $12 billion dollars in the U.S. is spent annually on real estate marketing and advertising. About $2 billion will be going to internet and marketing online, and the other $10 billion on newspaper and classified ads and the like. If so many people are using the internet to find out about real estate, why do these companies continue to pour money into newspaper and magazine ads?
I’m guessing it’s because they still work. Buyers still check the Sunday paper for Open Houses. We put ‘em there, they look for them there. You can’t read your computer while having a latte at Starbucks on Sunday morning, but you can easily pick up the Sunday Times….. This may change, but for now, the Sunday newspaper is still the place to be.