What Bill Gates said

In his book entitled The Road Ahead, published in 1995, Bill Gates said about finding homes for sale on the Internet:

“If you put your home on the market, you will be able to describe it fully and include photographs, video, floor plans, tax records, utility and repair bills, even a little mood music. The chances that a potential buyer for your house will see your ad are improved because the information highway will make it easy for anyone to look it up. The whole system of real estate agencies and commissions may be changed by the principals having direct access to so much information.

At first on-line classified ads won’t be very attractive, because not many people will be using them. But then word of mouth by a few satisfied customers will entice more and more users to the service.

There will be a positive feedback loop created as more sellers attract more buyers and vice versa. When a critical mass is achieved, which might be only a year or two after the service is first offered, the information highway’s classified advertising service will be transformed from a curiosity to the primary way private sellers and buyers get together.” (pg 173)

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  1. David Losh

    Well, you have changed the post here quite a bit.

    As you know my favorite blog has been diluted by that principle taking a job at redfin. He’s on a mission from God now. So your post is very much on target for today’s internet Real Estate world.

    Rain City Guide has become irrelevant, mostly mortgage talk. BloodHound blog is more about politics, Active Rain wants to be membership driven, and Zillow is kind of a waste of time, now.

    The only major player in the internet Real Estate sales arena was John L Scott. Lennox must have dumped millions of dollars into the internet marketing of his Brokerage. He teamed up with Microsoft to do some innovated searches.

    Last week end a Kendra Todd sign caught my eye in North Seattle. Thanks to 360 Digest I knew who Kendra Todd was. At the Open House I recognized a long time John L Scott agent. She told me the new North Seattle Shoreline office was closed, and the Designated Broker went to Keller Williams.

    I knew the Holman Road office had closed, but Shoreline was a major investment.

    My question would be if internet Real Estate can survive.

  2. Carmen Brodeur

    How right he was. The internet has definitely become the primary way sellers and buyers get together. The realtors who are not embracing the internet are being left behind in the dust. There is such a huge dichotomy between young and old Realtors.

  3. David Losh

    I know another Real Estate company that owns 3000 Real Estate related domain names. The question is how to get those internet presence names to pay for themselves.

    Internet “sales” of a quarter, to half million dollars of debt, account for about 3% of the buying public. Let’s even say it is 10%. Most people want service when making these kinds of purchases.

    To buy a book on line? OK, but even the auto industry recognizes that a $30K purchase needs hands on attention.

    Click the Carmen name to see what it’s all about.

  4. Chris

    Oh Bill. You are so wise. Clearly he was right when describing the present state of real estate. It does seem that what really closes the sale of a home is the human touch element. I don’t think that part will ever go away.

  5. Ace

    I fully agree. As with all things sold on the internet, housing does look better. You can give a better sales pitch on the internet. The funny thing is I always thought that the same thing gates said which is the demand for online classifieds might be small now but just wait a while and you will see the demand increase.

  6. Amy S - Realtor

    Bill you are so right and so on target with this and look at when this book was published, 1995.. 15 years later and here we are, the way in which real estate agents, mortgage brokers and so on do business nowadays is SO different than back then.

    Bill was right when he said at first the online ads will not be that attractive, but just look at Craigslist today! The simple yet effective method of posting someone’s house for sale in just that one venue is extremely powerful. However, the same key factors still hold a major role in actually attracting the buyer to the home, at that is and always will be, the presentation.

    For people looking to go it alone and not use a realtor they had better be paying attention to what buyers are looking for in a home and follow suit accordingly.

    Buying homes is not something that is to be taken lightly by the buyer as well as the seller. Being a real estate professional myself I see it a lot, the buyer being ill prepared with what they need to gather for their mortgage broker, sellers not taking the time to make small repairs to their home BEFORE the house is put on the market but still expecting top dollar according to what the homes in their area are selling for and so many waste precious time on what is to most buyers and sellers out there the largest purchase or sale of any material thing they will ever possess!

    I do not agree with Ace, housing does NOT look better, as a matter of fact hang on to your hats because we are in for another decline due to all the houses in foreclosure right now, once their become actually repossessed and in control of the banks, watch the home sales prices plummet again.

    Another huge reason for not only buyers and sellers to get educated, but realtors and their brokers and brokerage firms need to get educated and educated FAST on how to get that listing and aid in facilitating that deal between buyer and seller in a timely manner so they get repeat business over and over.

    Back to Bill and his book, the internet is going to play a MAJOR factor in a realtors success due to the majority of buyers are turning to the internet to do their own research first before even thinking of reaching out to a realtor. So realtors best be there mingling with others on the world wide web sharing ideas and information so when that client is ready to pick up the phone they pick you!

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