Less Frogs, More Princes

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

While it is a fairly obvious statement, technology has radically changed the way we live. Think about it. In the last twenty years or so, we have gone from using a brick to make a cell phone call, to carrying around a mini computer in the form of a smart phone. Making a phone call, while still important, is not necessarily the main function of the device anymore and people can - and do - run their lives using technology that a decade ago would have seemed like science fiction.

An article published in a well-known South African magazine way back when stated that a newfangled device called a cell phone would enable us to speak to whoever we wished, whenever we so desired. The picture illustrating the point showed a woman standing in a queue at a grocery store, merrily chatting away while she unpacked her trolley at the till. The cell phone revolution was about to be unleashed on an relatively unsuspecting public and soon, the somewhat large and cumbersome gadgets would give way to smaller, smarter devices and the rest as they say in the classics is history...or is it?

From smart phones to iPads and Android tablets, the modern day computer no longer takes up boodles of space, no longer takes a degree to operate and can do things we never dreamt it could. From a security aspect, there are apps that can turn on lights and set alarms; as far as convenience goes, there are apps that will turn on your appliances while you are driving home. Need the roast to start cooking at a certain time or have the electric blanket warming up the bed? Yes, you've guessed it - there's an app for that.

So where to from here? Given the technological advances made over the past few years it seems highly unlikely that this is going to be as good as it gets.

At times it seems that the latest technology was built and designed with real estate in mind and even if it wasn't, the free apps available are guaranteed to make the buying and selling process easier for all concerned. The days of scouring the local press for a property are over for most - hardly surprising when a buyer can register with Internet property websites, list their requirements, price range and preferred location - and thereafter automatically receive updates on suitable properties as they come onto the market.

Everything these days is about communicating in the fastest, most convenient way possible. We no longer want to drive around aimlessly looking at show houses on a Sunday afternoon. We may still visit the show house, but will have viewed the property online, engaged in a virtual tour and already have a very good idea what the property offers.

Not only has the entire selection and viewing process been made easier, Internet users can also instantly see what their bond payments are likely to be and how much they will have to pay each month towards rates and taxes.

While there may be those who believe that the strides made in real estate technology will ultimately cut out the need for an estate agent, this is unlikely to be the case. There is simply far more to finding the right property and the human touch cannot be underestimated. The modern estate agent has numerous apps at his disposal and is still going to be the best placed party to give advice on the selling price, negotiate a good deal and ensure that the buying and selling process goes smoothly.

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