When you buy a movie for yourself or your loved one this 2015 holiday season — if it’s something from the Disney/Pixar/Marvel/Star Wars canon — you’ll get a little slip of paper in the Blu-Ray case that gives you a code for Disney Movies Anywhere.
The slip puts your movie at the tips of your fingers at all times — which, strangely, seems normal in 2015 — but it does more than that, too. Not only can you get those movies on your Apple or Android devices, but Disney Movies Anywhere also syncs with other apps and services, including VUDU, Amazon and Microsoft stores.
In practice, that means that after he’s finished watching “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on Amazon Prime, my husband can then open up his copy of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” without switching platforms — even though I didn’t buy that movie for him via Amazon, but instead picked it up at Costco.
This seems like such a little thing, but I found it surprising when I stopped to think about it. It means that the movie, the work, transcends the entity delivering it to the consumer. The relationship between the consumer and the work is paramount. It’s almost treated as sacred. Nothing is allowed to interfere with the consumer’s ability to conveniently access the product they’ve paid to view — not even the fact that it’s in the seller’s best interest to sell both a physical and digital copy of the work.
Of course, as a consumer who’s shopping, the fact that this doesn’t seem to be the case in real estate is frustrating. In an era when an entire movie — a virtual shelf full of them — can be easily pulled up and accessed from multiple devices and using a different app each time, then why isn’t it easier for me to create a list of favorite homes that’s easy to share with my spouse and that helps me keep track of properties across platforms?
Meet consumers where they are
Even though I know it’s a pipe dream, I can’t help wanting it. Because here is what it’s like to be shopping for a house in 2015.
I have three alerts coming in to my personal inbox — an MLS alert that a broker friend set up for me, plus a Zillow alert and a realtor.com alert. The MLS alert is instantaneous, sending me homes within my set parameters as soon as they’re added. The Zillow and realtor.com alerts are set for digest form, so I don’t get quite as many of those, but I’m set up for daily and weekly alerts with each portal.
I’m shopping with my spouse, who has identical alerts set up. We communicate throughout the day about homes we’re seeing. Inevitably, we end up using the home’s address to make sure we’re talking about the same listing. And there’s certainly no in-app communication where we’re able to note that the house he liked today that he saw on Zillow is the same one I favorited on the MLS yesterday.
In an era where we can share grocery lists and calendars — and now shelves full of movies and whole music festivals’ worth of playlists — with one another, easily, without having to do anything except delineate a few settings and then add items as we choose them…why is it still this onerous to keep track of which home I saw where and whether he’s seen it yet, too?
‘The Uber of real estate’ won’t be an agent-replacer
I’ve heard the phrase “the Uber of real estate” more times than I care to remember. It’s clear that the industry is poised for disruption. Uber’s disruption of the taxi industry involved connecting rider to driver.
The thing is, I don’t think that most consumers want that kind of disruption in real estate. A few do, sure. But why would I, an inexperienced buyer, want to negotiate one-on-one with a seller?
From a buyer’s perspective, at least, the only disruption I’d really like to see is an easy, intuitive way to keep track of the listings I like across platforms. I understand why the rest of the process might require complexity, but it seems like a reliable, sharable search-and-save should be standard by now. Not just a Chrome plugin or a favorite on an app, but a true cross-platform web of information that helps me keep track of everything that crosses my radar.
I wrote that Disney Movies Anywhere shows that the relationship between the consumer and the work is paramount. If we’re applying this analogy to real estate, the work becomes the listing.
Why not give consumers a way to share it with others, immediately recognize it when they see it (no matter where that is), remember it, note it and value it?
I expect the vetting and buying process to be difficult. I expect to need guidance and advice, or direction toward resources to help me make decisions, from an expert.
I don’t need an expert to show me how to search for a home, though. That’s the part of the equation that’s always been primed for disruption — yes, even now, with Zillow in existence.
And it’s a shame, because until everyone is getting along a little bit better, home search is still going to be a pain point for consumers.