As human beings, one of our most valuable and unique characteristics is the ability to conceptualize reality, and adjust our behavior accordingly. Without going FULL Bill Nye, the size of our brains give human beings an amazing amount of plasticity. Our ability to think creatively in problem-solving has pushed the human race beyond simply surviving; we are constantly improving upon existing conditions by learning from our personal past and the behavior of our peers.
Our capacity for culture also provides a unique landscape in which we are not forced to solve challenges and setbacks alone. Nor are we limited to navigating the world with only our nuclear family to consult. The current technological landscape has opened up an entire globe of information; a wealth of knowledge (and a fair dose of smut) available anytime, anywhere, to virtually anyone. As we all know, with great power comes great responsibility, and even greater vigilance in parenting controls.
Melissa and I used to have frequent, long, and animated discussions about the “permissible amount of screen time” we should/could/would grant our kids. Back in our day, a fully-stacked TV channel line-up was 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13. Nintendo was on the scene, complete with characters that resembled pixelated Lego figurines, stuck underwater. And then the most badass piece of handheld wireless equipment known to man hit the market - the Nokia 3310. It mattered not that composing a text took roughly 25 minutes on the T9 keyboard, or that if you got carried away and surpassed the character limit, your message would be split into TWO, therefore COSTING DOUBLE. We were sending written messages on our phones, man!
Alas, the days of T9 and individual text message rates are long gone. Though the transition to unlimited data was undoubtedly a major factor in our ability to make a down payment on our new house, Melissa and I often talked about how much “easier” parenting would be if only technology hadn’t come quite so far. Now I’m not saying my opinion on there being too much information available to kids has changed. What I am saying, however, is that I have a newfound respect for what technology can accomplish.
In my industry, most interactions and business dealings are typically handled in person. Up until 6 months ago, Open Houses were seen as an indispensable component of the buying/selling process. Meeting with clients face-to-face is how I watched my grandfather, and then my father, build their respective businesses from the ground up. I personally started my own Real Estate career in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, and I credit much of my against-all-odds success to being able to meet with existing and potential clients face-to-face; building rapport over a cup of coffee, a lunch, or one of our kids’ soccer games.
There is a commonly quoted maxim in most sales-based industries: “We aren’t in the business of selling (fill in the blank product); we’re in the business of building relationships!” The question then becomes: how authentically can a relationship be built without that critical component of live, in-person interaction? Can we develop the same trust levels, the same professional camaraderie, the same client/agent loyalty via Zoom, FaceTime, emails, text messages, and phone calls? In other words, what happens when human beings, who for thousands of years have been specifically designed for and adapted to social behaviors, are forced to retreat from the physical presence of other human beings, and communicate solely through a telephone or a computer screen?
The answer is - we adapt. As a society, we have collectively put our powers of creativity and plasticity to maximum use over the last 6 months. Open Houses are being conducted virtually, which has opened up amazing opportunities for safely purchasing from a distance, saving both time and travel costs. Sellers no longer have to prepare for dozens of strangers shlepping through their home; they are able to clean once, stage once, and then show their home countless times, without anything being disturbed. Digital “lenses” are being used to overlay existing rooms in certain houses with life-like computer graphics, showing the potential options for renovations and updates before a single brick is touched. Inspections are taking place virtually as well, with surprisingly positive feedback. I’ve spoken with several clients who say they now actually prefer viewing a property via videocamera - especially for the first look, or for my clients who are moving states, in lieu of having to travel to the property to conduct the final walk-through.
It’s my bet that many of the technology-driven solutions we saw implemented out of Covid-necessity will remain due to convenience, ease-of-use, speed, and fiscal conservation. I also bet these solutions won’t simply remain; they will undoubtedly be improved upon as we continue to do what human beings do best: conceptualize the reality in front of us, create alternate possibilities, adapt to changing environments, and evolve into the solution. If you have any questions about the different virtual possibilities available to you as a home seller or home buyer, please give me a call. Covid may have temporarily slowed us down, but we’ll come out of this stronger, more resilient, and more capable than ever before. That’s simply the nature of human kind, folks. After all, it's SCIENCE.