A couple of weeks ago, we had a big thunderstorm with lightning that took out some electrical wires and managed to knock out a huge segment of Wi-Fi and internet access for a large chunk of time. To say we were ready to pull our hair out is putting it mildly.
We have all become so addicted to utilizing the internet for everything — Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Instagram, to name but a few, or for email, research, shopping, or just corresponding with each other at all points over the world. With that taken away from us, we are at a loss for what to do until the service is restored. I actually think that losing internet access is a bigger loss than losing our electricity.
So much of our lives is intertwined with the internet that we have come to take it for granted — the same as turning on the heat in the winter or the air-conditioning in the summer to maintain the temperatures we like for our comfort.
This dependence on the internet has also transferred itself to the business of real estate. Selling a house to its best advantage necessitates a strong presentation of that house on the internet, with pictures and information that a potential buyer can examine at the click of a button. I spend many hours each week updating photographs and information and adding new listings or removing sold listings from my website in preparation for the many visitors looking to shop for house information. It is not unusual to get at least 200 hits a week from interested parties looking for new houses, updated information on existing houses, or updated photographs that they haven’t seen before, all in preparation for their search for that special house.
Buyers and sellers may also utilize email or texting or WhatsApp to keep in touch with their brokers in a more timely fashion. Many items can be uploaded or downloaded by e-mail in minutes, and pictures, files, and videos can be sent through WhatsApp or Dropbox. In the past it might have taken days to reach the intended recipient, through mail or courier.
Even though many things are still faxed today, faxing does not have the flexibility of scanning and email. Pictures and documents can be scanned and emailed and come out as clear as if they are being seen in person. The same holds true with architectural plans, surveys, permits, etc., which although readable by fax may come out fuzzy and certainly not as clear and precise as they would when scanned.
Now it’s standard for the lawyers to scan and email contracts, since the printouts from these scans are as clear as the originals, and it saves enormous amounts of time and labor. Most banks today do all their mortgage applications online and with email rather than the old system of paper applications redone over and over again. They typically scan and email all mortgage documents prior to a closing rather than the old system of overnighting them.
Buyers may not even realize that the mortgage documents are usually emailed to the closing attorney’s office the same day as they are supposed to close; the closing attorney just prints them out, to be signed by the borrowers later that same day.
The smartphone, with its many applications and capabilities, has changed the way everyone does business. Texting, WhatsApp, and email have become more the norm than actually calling people, and have also become a great advantage in real estate.
A broker can text driving directions, house information, answer all kinds of questions, communicate with buyers, sellers, lawyers, and lenders all at the same time from one location, saving many hours of phone time and even mail time. This makes any real-estate transaction, whether with the buyer, seller, or the lawyers and lenders smoother and more detail-oriented than ever before. With a database of email addresses of their customers and clients, brokers can even regularly text them open-house information, announcements of new listings, price changes, or simply information requests that they can read at their convenience, without having to bother them on the phone.
So here is my real question: How did we ever live without it?
Anessa Cohen (anessa@AVCrealty.com) lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com.