Mobile Real Estate Apps: Will Geo-Fencing create a Geo-FSBO Future?

Geo-Fencing Concept Bubbles

The real estate industry is buzzing this week about two blog posts, “Geo-fencing and mobile marketing” published by Inman News and Chris Thorman’s original blog post, “Searching for Real Estate Made Easy: Geo-Fences Plus Mobile Phones.”  (Chris writes for Software Advice, which is a website that profiles property management software.)

If traditional listing agents take off their broker-centric goggles and look “upside down and backwards” at the implications — intended and unintended — of this technology, geo-fencing may appear to be more disruptive than inviting.  That’s good news for do-it-yourself / DIY home buyers and sellers; and, like rear view mirrors that warn drivers that “objects are closer than they appear,” a Geo-FSBO future could just around the corner, literally!

To envision that future, just rewrite the intro paragraph of Joseph Ferrara’s article from a homeowner’s point of view, perhaps someone who intends to seller their home in the next two months to two years, like millions of empty-nester households across the country waiting for housing prices to recover:

Imagine a text-message alert sent to a homeowner’s mobile phone informing the future seller that there is a preapproved buyer looking for home buying opportunities in the immediate vicinity and their home fits the buyer’s search criteria. The homeowner taps the reply icon on their SmartPhone and sents a text directly to the potential buyer inviting them to make an appointment to see the property “as is.”  Both parties are delighted, in part because there are no brokers are involved. Easy, efficient, and money-saving.

Now try rewriting the same sentence substituting a lender with a portfolio of pre-foreclosures, and the ability of this tool to shed light on the “shadow inventory,” estimated to be millions of properties, becomes more clear.

Will smartphones and location-based mobile applications like Geo-Fencing create a “post MLS” world where the real estate industry is centered around buyers rather than listings, and everything is for sale all the time at the right price?  IMHO, Geo-Fencing will enable a number of steps in that direction.  If nothing else, the technology is based on buyer search profiles so it will add momentum to C2C (consumer-to-consumer) trends and tools that will enable DIY sellers (FSBOs) to find potential buyers as easily as buyers currently find listings.

The multi-billion dollar question for me is whether those apps, like the two blog posts above, will be broker-centric or consumer-centric?

If any real estate innovators or tech-savvy consumers — particularly FSBOs — want to brainstorm, should we host a brainstorming session in The Real Estate Cafe’s Idea Bar to explore the Geo-Fencing / Geo-FSBO future? If you’re in the Boston area and want to meet offline, we can meet at the TweetUp Garage in Arlington!

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Posted in DIY Homebuyers, FSBO: Best Practices, Idea Bar, Listing buyers, Mapping, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends, Timing the market

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