It’s rush hour on the information highway, no doubt about it. This coming from a girl who took high school chemistry with a slide rule (shortly after the wheel had been invented), and who was forbidden from using a calculator in her college math and engineering classes because it was considered cheating. Anyway, who could afford those first “pocket” HP’s, much less carry them? I remember my college friend, Sherman, as the first in my circle to embrace the programmable handheld, which was roughly the size of a small aircraft and about as easy to operate. Of course, Sherman also had the first PC in our group, a flashy Commodore, which took up the spot where the sectional sofa should have been and, I have always suspected, was powered by a pair of gerbils on an exercise wheel. Fortran 101? Ah, that was a fabulous waste of 3 semester hours.
So, we have the world at our finger tips. But, when is too much of a good thing just too much? As a home buyer or seller, do you Google, Yahoo, Zillow? Do you do your research using Realtor.com, SignOnSanDiego, Craig’s List, personal websites, blogs, podcasts? At some point, and I am seeing this more often, the extent of information available can become both empowering and paralizing.
When shopping for a home, there is always the temptation to distrust your Realtor. What if they aren’t showing me everything or, worse yet, what if they miss the new listing that was my dream home? We have all read the claims that the vast majority of buyers start their search on the internet, which I am certain are correct. I have also read the studies that say the internet has resulted in buyers looking at far fewer homes before making their purchase, which I now find suspect. When the internet stops being regarded as a research and education tool for home shopping and becomes a substitute for a trusted agent is when the process quickly stalls. We have clients, for instance, who have chosen the auto-notification route for home shopping (emails generated each morning showing all new listing meeting their criteria), and who prefer this approach because of the control it gives them over the process. After many long months (well over 40 homes visited to date), they are unfortunately no closer to making a decision. Now, it seems uncertainty prevails. Too much information has resulted in wasted time (seeing homes that don’t truly meet ther needs, but “just to make sure”), confusion (“Did we see that one?”), and the apples and oranges dilemma (in their enthusiasm to broadly compare, the “what’s most important to us” matrix has become blurred). Time for a defrag. I encourage clients to use technology and its vast resourses to gain knowledge, but without trusting an agent to help filter the information, you could be spinning your wheels.