All Things Real Estate: Technology has helped brokers during the pandemic

Philip A Raices

Being in the business full-time since 1993 and realizing how far the industry has advanced technologically in that period of time is quite remarkable and sometimes overwhelming for many. Back then, we would receive weekly printed books delivered to us on Thursdays and Fridays as to what new listings came onto the market as well as any changes that took place on existing properties. There was intensive labor involved to make changes that were required, with documented paperwork from sellers and the never ending faxing, to complete what today takes a few minutes to do.  What a waste of time, but that’s all that we had. Our current updates are quicker, accurate, and more efficient in real time. Back then the public was not privy to our “proprietary” information.

However, the last 15 years have seen a revolution in opening up that previously hidden and secretive information to the public and technology has allowed everyone to access it and be on the same page. Through this change the public has been better educated and brokers have saved time and labor, which equates into better exposure for properties. Unfortunately, many in the industry had felt and some still do feel that all that newly exposed information opened up a cascade of issues and challenges. It also took away the “proprietary” hold that agents had on that data.

One problem that came about was who represented who in the transaction as before January 1998, there was no real agency law and brokers and agents may have represented both parties as a normal course of action. But as enough complaints came in about fraudulent and devious scams, this led to more strict laws being enacted to protect buyers, investors, sellers and tenants as well as Brokers and salespeople.

Printed forms had to be signed by all those involved in the transactions at first point of contact as to who you were representing. Nowadays, we are able to greatly speed up the process by using technology in a program called docu-sign (or an attachment to an email) to send and receive back paperwork (and it is admissible in a court of law) to all those participants in the sale, investment or rental of residential and commercial properties.

With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, Covid disclosures, Fair Housing and Ethic Laws there is that much more paperwork to be presented to all the parties involved and technology has made it that much easier and accessible to be able to transmit the required paperwork back and forth and get signed in advance of showings. During the pandemic it was a real blessing to have the necessary applications to have buyers, investors and renters sign, date and return back, so this documentation could be forwarded to the listing Brokers and agents in advance of all showings.

As difficult and problematic as the pandemic still is for the world, imagine without programs and technology how impossible it might have been to do any business in the exchange of required and necessary paperwork.  We are so dependent on technology. Real estate is still a one-on-one business and we are as much a necessity today with the help of technology than ever before to assist in the transaction for those trying to navigate the challenging and stressful process from start to finish.

However, a key question is when will our antiquated and aging electric grid fail again (or possibly be sabotaged) for a longer period of time, and what is our backup system to run our technology and our businesses. Right now there is still none! In 1965 and 2003 we had rolling blackouts that put citizens and their businesses into darkness. In February 2021, Texas’s severe weather assisted in the deregulated power grid failure. The United States and individual states obviously do not have a backup system (although some major companies have UPSs (uninterrupted power sources) and humongous generators (most credit card companies do) that keep them online, but that is a band-aid fix and doesn’t solve the problems for everyone else.

When will the federal government wake up to the reality of what is absolutely needed? I am hoping that part of the infrastructure Build Back Better plan to upgrade and enhance our decaying electrical grid will truly bring us into the future to make sure future failures just might be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, our technology cannot work without adequate power. In order for it to function efficiently and our businesses to succeed and thrive, our local and national electrical grid must be vastly improved.

How soon and how fast these improvements and upgrades to our infrastructure will occur is anyone’s guess. But they must be done in order for the United States to compete in the global business world or the end result we’ll be that we continue to fall behind China and other up-and-coming economies.

Philip A. Raices is the owner/Broker of Turn Key Real Estate at 3 Grace Ave Suite 180 in Great Neck. He has 40 years of experience in the Real Estate industry and has earned designations as a Graduate of the Realtor Institute (G.R.I.) and also as a Certified International Property Specialist.

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