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"Stefan Swanepoel Interview 1997"

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Stefan Swanepoel Photo
12/5/97 Interview with Stefan Swanepoel

RealtyU Group
8 Argonaut, Suite 100
Also Viejo, CA 92656

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Focus of New Book

  1. Co-authored with Tom Dooley, Swanepoel's new book Real Estate Confronts Reality is a "wake up call" to Realtors that the industry is at the vortex of significant change; it aims to draw RE pros into active participation.
  2. The single biggest RE trend is the application of technology — specifically use of the Internet and the World Wide Web.
Role of the Realtor into the Future

  1. The focal point of transactions could shift away from Realtors if the industry and individual practitioners don't keep pace with the world of Cyberspace.
  2. Other service providers- such as mortgage companies, title companies, etc. - are envious to have that central position; Realtors and the NAR must put industry politics aside to cooperate more fully.
  3. Real Estate is a huge, vertical market that has natural appeal to the many corporations that specialize in vertical markets; at least two or three are likely to approach it seriously; among contenders could be Microsoft, GE, GTE, AT&T, and Worldcom.
  4. Confusion and fragmentation in the Real Estate industry makes it more vulnerable to a big player moving in to change the rules and the paradigm and to grab a lion's share of the market.
  5. As the young generation grows up, virtual reality will be automatically accepted by the consumer; the Realtor will have an important place in facilitating transactions, but will work via the Internet instead of physically traveling.
Key RE Trends

  1. Statistics show an on-going downward slide in commissions; over several years the decline has been 0.1% or so every year or two.
  2. In the last five to ten years, importance has shifted from the listing agent to the buying agent; the listing side is the easiest for a corporation to attack by offering property listing opportunities.
  3. Many RE-related functions could become casualties of technology development, specifically those that involve tasks that can be automated or partially automated.
  4. The appraisal industry, for example, has already decreased as the research and statistics components have been automated; technology allows the search of more databases in less time with greater accuracy.
Profile of the Realtor of Tomorrow

  1. The average Realtor will probably be younger than today and be knowledgeable on a broader base of Real Estate rather than a specialist in a single class or function.
  2. He or she will be more involved in the total transaction, in line with the one-stop shopping concept; the focus will be more on buyers than sellers.
  3. Some Realtors will be salaried, with a base salary and a smaller commission over that; they will be working for larger, national companies.
  4. The main function of the agent will shift from selling to representing clients and facilitating transactions.
Potential of the Internet

  1. "One-stop shopping," or the integration of the Real Estate transaction, is overdue - as many as 12-18 different parties may now touch the transaction, many of which require the same data to be entered into different systems and formats.
  2. The Internet makes standardization of platforms practical; RE professionals should cooperate and integrate the flow of information so that the data is entered only once.
  3. Value of the Realtor does not lie in exclusively controlling the data; it lies in providing good quality, professional service; the concept of open, public data is popular with consumers, with many of the service providers and with forward-thinking Realtors.
  4. Certain vested parties that now control data are trying to protect it; however, within 24 months, traditional multiple listing systems may undergo a major restructuring; some will probably make the change, but many are likely to expire.
  5. Willingness to break the old paradigms and find creative solutions can bring new entities into leadership positions; e.g., a small, Western Massachusettes Board of Realtors is avoiding absorption by larger, surrounding boards by seeking new, virtual members via the Internet.
  6. Former position in the marketplace does not guarantee your status in the future; the rules have changed and will continue to change.
Direction for U.S. Digital

  1. As new President and CEO of U.S. Digital, Swanapoel is supervising a total restructuring of the company to meet the need for someone to assist with the coordination and standardization that will be required for Real Estate's new track.
  2. Rather than competing with service providers in particular areas, the company's focus is to pull the various participants together; U.S. Digital aims to become the AT&T of the Real Estate industry.
  3. As a transparent facilitator or distribution hub, the company will offer the agent and consumer unencumbered choices of where their Real Estate information can be sent - mortgage companies, title companies, multiple listing systems, newspapers, etc.
The Extent of Internet Business

  1. The Internet as a resource for conducting business is bigger than most people imagine; 1.3-1.4 million houses are listed on the Web; about 65,000 agents have Web pages and 25,000 companies have unique urls.
  2. The Internet still is not impacting the industry as a whole - besides those who do not use the Internet at all, many users are not harnessing the full potential of the technology; however, the Internet will explode as a RE communications and marketing vehicle.
  3. Real Estate Cyberspace Society members are a cut above the average Realtor in understanding the value of the Internet and how to use it; they can help fulfill the need for leaders to take the RE industry into the future.
Favorite Web Sites

  1. For a review of listings (catalog of property): NAR's
  2. For home buying information: U.S. Digital's
  3. For RE industry news:
  4. For a catalog of RE sites:
Contact Information for Stefan Swanepoel:

(v) (949) 349-9394
(f) (949) 349-9392

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Inman News
International Real Estate Directory (IRED)