Does the REAL ESTATE Industry design software for REALTORS® or Consumers?

I love Margaret Gould Stewart’s statement in her TED Talk, “Know who you are designing for”.  Many companies use statistical data to determine software solutions.  As a technology trainer for the real estate industry I’ve had the opportunity to watch our software programs evolve into cloud based systems over the past 14 years.   Real estate software changes at a rapid pace with new programs added and offered to real estate agents every year.  From cloud based systems to apps where buyers and sellers can view properties on smart phones, tablets, and laptops.   Midwest Real Estate Data, a Northern Illinois Company, offers multiple products to their REALTOR® members.

As an instructor for the real estate industry, I have the ability to experience the different skill levels for all agents.  Many agents come into the business with little or no computer skill.  Where others come into the business with a tech savvy background.   The median age of all REALTORS® IS 56.  With that in mind you might think, based on statistics, the MLS service would offer products to keep in line with REALTOR® Demographics.  This age group is among the Baby Boomers and Boomers are adapting to the rapidly changing technology.  However, the Millennials and Generation Y groups are among the extremely tech savvy software, social media and smart phone users.  And learning these products are simple for the younger generations since they’ve typically grown up with technology.  Whereas, working with the Boomer groups, in many situations not all, it might take longer to adapt to technology changes and new products.

Why is this important?  If the median age of an agent is 56 why aren’t we developing products to service this age group?  That’s easy, many people in the market to buy or sell a home are looking online before they decide to invest in home ownership or choose a REALTOR®.    Therefore, if the buyer or seller chooses an agent to represent them in their transaction, that new client might expect that agent to be tech savvy and have the ability to access real estate information just as quickly as they can.   

Therefore, although it might make sense to focus on the Boomer agents when developing technology, focusing on the consumer would be the better option when designing for the real estate industry. The Millennials are expected to spend $2 Trillion in housing in the next 5 years.  Most buyers are searching online before making a decision to purchase a home.  And Based on how quickly real estate programs are developed and updated it’s certain that developers are focusing on the tech savvy users.  Given that this is true, Millennials and the Generation Y groups should be considered when developing cloud systems, websites, apps and software.  This could be one of the reasons the less tech savvy agents show frustration with real estate software.  It’s just not being developed for the agent.  It’s being developed with the consumer in mind.

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