OpinionTechnology

Is residential real estate inching toward on-demand model?

As service filters into multiple industries, companies like Avenue are aiming to bring it to real estate

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Takeaways:

  • Mobile technology is making every business one-to-one.
  • Several real estate software applications leverage the on-demand model.
  • Real estate may be closer to an open-contract model than the industry realizes.

On demand.

What’s it really mean?

Practical thought suggests it means “right now.”

Still largely relegated to commodities like dry cleaning and grocery delivery, on-demand is nevertheless a business buzzword that has industries scrambling to adjust the speed at which they offer products.

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While the speed of mobile-powered communication is certainly making everything faster, I believe “on-demand” is best described as a service for which you don’t necessarily need an account. It’s as noncommittal as a Tinder date.

A number of software companies have found ways to make real estate expertise an “on demand” service.

AgentPair lets interested buyers put out a call for nearby agents when they want to see a house. No agreement needed. As does Curb Call.

Constant Contact, the email marketing company, has released SmallBusinessAPI, a tool that will allow anyone interested enough to build an on-demand business app.

App developers can choose the specific local company or let them compete.

Of course, there’s also the obscenely viral Magic.┬áThis text service allows anyone to request anything and have it delivered. Ice cream. Wool socks. A new mountain bike.

Why not real estate agents?

Justin Shum, CEO of Avenue, thinks it can work.

His company, a member of Startup Alley at Inman Connect, is aiming to be a text-based “real estate concierge.”

Avenue routes prospective buyer questions based on location to agents who sign up for the service. San Francisco buyers aren’t getting advice from Dallas agents, for example. It covers mortgages and renting, too.

Users need not sign an agency agreement or in any way commit to business with the agent offering insight.

Agents need only to provide a license number and some basic background information to become linked to the service.

Shum’s company has garnered some real press. It’s not the novelty many of you are thinking it is as you read this.

AgentPair recently added a concierge feature to its on-demand showing model.

There are holes in the on-demand model.

For example, Magic isn’t delivering on all of its tricks.

The volume of new accounts and lack of partner companies able to route products to their destinations have caused some hangups for the Silicon Valley sweetheart.

Its team insists the model is viable. People are willing to pay extra for convenience, I concur. Amazon Prime, anyone?

After all, convenience is just a euphemism for our time. And I know of no more valuable currency.

The growth of on-demand services is a stark example of how one-to-one the Internet has made business.

Isn’t real estate all about being one-to-one? High touch? Best interests?

There’s little doubt we’re one generation away from today’s real estate business model being antiquated, given how fast one innovation can flip an industry.

Unless an orchestrated act of industry defies this kind of progress, I see it as inevitable.

I see several ways real estate can be pushed into an on-demand model. Why can’t someone order a home valuation by text? Or a staging consultant? I’m sure a mortgage broker would be willing to stop by before dinner.

It’s sure fun to think about.

So, is this a hyperbolic rant from an easily enamored technology writer? Or is there real substance here?

What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know!

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