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REAL ESTATE WARP TO THE YEAR 2008 (From 1993 -- How'd we do?)



I would like to share a paragraph from an article that I wrote a while back. This was published in REAL ESTATE TODAY and was called THE COMPUTER: A POWERFUL AID IN SELLING INCOME PROPERTY. In it I said: "As cities are being dramatically changed by modern building techniques and man has the prospect of far greater longevity due to amazing medical advances, so is the Realtor faced with dramatic changes in merchandising techniques. Realtors specializing in the brokerage of commercial investment property are faced with an amazing challenge: the age of computers is upon us. Consumers in all fields want more in the way of service. Real estate investors are demanding and receiving increased professionalism. The computer may now assist you in providing investors with the information they need to arrive at a sound decision. You must understand application of this space age product. The purpose of this article is to acquaint you with the basic application with these powerful marketing tools."

In that article I continued on to show the ability of the computer to analyze real estate investments on a year by year by year by year basis, doing a five, ten or twenty year analysis. I also described an investor walking in to an office in St. Louis saying, "I would like to buy 42 apartments in Boston." The commercial Realtor in that office lit up a little screen and said, "Let me see what's available. Well in Boston here are five properties that meet your criteria." And then having the screen light up and show the lobby of the property, the neighborhood, the demographics, print it out to a printer and even print the airline tickets if someone wanted to fly to Boston. People snickered a little bit when I wrote that article. I did point out that all of those tools (when that article was written) had already been developed and were available. That article was published in REAL ESTATE TODAY in October, 1968! Those tools were available to us in 1968, 25 years ago. Technology was ready for us -- but we were not ready for technology.

Last year I had a chance to visit South Africa and address 2,500 members of the real estate

industry in 5 cities -- Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durbin, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. I shared a vision of our industry in the year 2008. I also told them that I would love to be a 23 year old kid coming into this industry today. The tools that are available to us today and that will evolve over the next few years will make the real estate industry a challenging and exciting place to be -- and this world an exciting place in which to live.

The vision that follows is based not only on 36 years of "fighting in the real estate investment

trenches", but also on my service to the industry in the Strategic Planning and Technology arenas. Much of these insights are based on the research support which the National Association of Realtors® provided me when and after I served as Chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee of that 700,000 member organization.

Let's look at the year 2008--

By the year 2008 (and well before for much of this technology):

CYBERDATA - There will be a database of all buildings and land for sale. All -- period. A corner lot in Peoria will be in the database. The rarity will be sales that are not in this database -- that would be like selling a house in today's market that isn't in the MLS.

CYBERNOTICE - There will be automatic notification to brokers and principals registered by brokers of the availability of space or property. This technology exists now. The broker will be notified that there is a property for his buyer. The selling broker will be notified that there is a buyer for the property. And this will be operational across all geographical and language boundaries.

AUTOTRANSLATE - There will be notification by fax or the equivalent (because fax will most likely not be fax in 2020) in the language of the recipient and in his or her currency. For example: as the global barriers to investment continue to break down, an investor in Germany, the German Investment Corporation Inc., is buying apartments and they want to buy in Chicago. have placed a property into the system. A fax will automatically go out to German Investment Corporation Inc. with all the information on the property, with your name, your address, (subject of course to the normal restrictions of confidentiality). It will automatically be in the language of the recipient. A fax may go out to Japan. A fax may go out to South America. There will be notification by fax or the equivalent in the language of the recipient and with all the calculations done in his or her currency. Of course, we may have a world currency by that point so this issue may be moot!

MEGACOPY - There will be follow-up copy that will be sent electronically, with a postage stamp-sized disk in the upper right hand corner which will hold up to 100 megabytes of graphics, motion photos and other information on the property, including information on you and your firm.

INSTANTVISCOM - There will be instant, portable, audiovisual communication worldwide.

REVIS SITES - There will be real estate visit sites called REVIS with regional and local feeders. Each of these sites will be equipped with enhanced virtual reality. At these sites the buyer will walk through the property, the neighborhood and the city. There will be no need to print out those plane tickets I wrote about in 1968. Virtual reality gives us the ability to experience all of the sensory aspects of a property. You will walk through the building and open doors, look in closets, look in offices, and experience the feel and the sense of the property. Of course, this doesn't mean that we won't go and look at the real estate in time. But if you want to buy a plant in St. Louis, or maybe you are looking in Minneapolis or maybe in Chicago, what you will do first is go to the local REVIS site. You will not have to go more than 10 miles from your office.

CYBERVOICE - There will be voice activated computer transaction analysis for any information required. One of the biggest drawbacks over the past 20 years, has been our reluctance to use technology. There is something about people who are entrepreneurially bent, as most of us are, that keeps us from typing. It is a mental thing. It's detail. We don't like that. I have worked with thousands of salespeople and I know the resistance to it. Voice technology is going to break down that barrier. The mouse helped, but the ability (as I do now with my computer) to say to it, "file," "copy," "open," "close," and have that computer react, will give us the ability with the new database information, to walk into a room, to pick up a phone and to say, "apartments, Chicago, 100 units," To say, "Okay," and immediately obtain a printout plus a screen for viewing those properties without having to know anything about computers. This technology is available today. As the price of voice technology comes down, it is going to open up big, big, vistas for us. This will not only be used for financial information, but it will also be used for a legal hotline, engineering hotline, a financial hotline for loans, an environmental hotline and a property analysis hotline -- plus many other new and emerging categories.

INSTANTPROP - There will be highly sophisticated real estate networking applications using groupware. We will see the merging of technology with the merging of personal mastery and personal understanding. Groupware (an example of Groupware is the now popular Lotus Notes program) gives you the availability of geographically diversified collective analysis of any situation. Groupware allows you to hold a meeting anytime, day or night with people thousands of miles or the next office away. These people can input at different times and Groupware will give you an instantaneous display of the most current information, providing a highly efficient tool for the real estate industry.

INSTANTVEST - Most properties will be pre-qualified for available financing. There will be a much higher degree of confidence in appraisals, which will be completed in hours rather than weeks. Most significant investors will be pre-qualified for available financing.

CYBERVEST - Negotiating will only take a few minutes as opposed to months. Satellite broadcast TV, real estate buying conferences will bring together the 8 or so most logical buyers for each property. All will be pre-qualified, with their financing in place. It will only be a matter of what will the price be. The terms will be predetermined.

WARPCLOSE - Transaction time will be cut from 90-120 days down to 20 - 30 days from start to finish.

LITECOST - Transaction costs will be down dramatically including commissions and fees. But because there will be fewer of us, there will be a lot more business for each of us and we will be very well compensated.

MINISTAFF - Those of us equipped mentally and psychologically to deliver these services will be far fewer than today - perhaps 50% or less - maybe 1/3 of today's practitioners --- and we will be paid handsomely for our services!

MAXICYBE - There will be other developments we can't even imagine today. Just as we couldn't imagine the impact of the fax on the way we do business today worldwide and here in the U.S. So also there will be exciting developments that we just can't imagine today.

And the punch line ---

All of the technology to accomplish the above and more is available today!

And finally, unlike in 1968, we are ready for technology.

In October, 1968 I concluded my Real Estate Today article with the following two sentences:

"The benefits to Realtors and their clients derived from the use of computers and technology in selecting and analyzing investments are so startling, that when we look back from the vantage point of a few years, our present day methods of merchandising investment property will look like a dark ages operation. We will be looking back sooner than most people realize."

Please check back with me in 2008 and allow me to review the progress and the excitement we have experienced in this wonderful real estate industry. I expect to be in the thick of things then and look forward to seeing how much of this vision (and more) will have materialized!