I’ve had a car since I was 16. I couldn’t wait to get my license and begin practicing across the gravel in my backyard home in Arizona. Getting a car was something a Generation Xer/Yer couldn’t wait to do back then (I’m right on the cusp, and depending on the source I have been in both categories).
After moving to San Francisco and beginning my real estate career in 2002, I never thought I could live without a car. After all, there wasn’t Lyft, Uber, City Car Share, Bay Area Bike Share or the like, and I was a full-time real estate agent.
I have seen the city change a lot over the last 13 years. I live in a condo building that used to be a dirt lot, surrounded by industrial buildings and even more dirt lots all around. There have been many economic, political and other influences changing the landscape of the city, but it just might be the next generation’s lifestyle that is sprouting innovation and reshaping San Francisco.
Cars, Muni and taxis were the main type of transportation when I first moved here. Now San Francisco is seeing a boom and a change in transportation resulting from the next generation’s creative ideas, sense of shared community and adaptability with mobile technology.
New transportation options such as Leap, Chariot or Loup offer transportation around the city in clean, comfortable, safe and hip environments. Some offer Wi-Fi, charging stations, and even fresh, healthy, local snacks and drinks. Other services such as FlightCar, maximize shared use of cars for travelers.
While you are out of town, you can rent your car to visitors, and if you are visiting, you can rent a car for less than typical rental car agencies charge. If you prefer to bike instead of drive, many cities now have a bike share program and a new mobile bike lock product from Bitlock, which allows you to remote-access your bike or allow others to use it.
So what does all of this have to do with real estate? I often think about how the real estate industry might change and look at trends in society to push creative thoughts about the brokerage of tomorrow. How can you redesign a brokerage business? How do you truly streamline overhead, processes and change the experience? How are these changes in lifestyle changing the way a brokerage and a real estate agent do day-to-day business?
Early in my real estate career I filmed a “day in the life of a paperless real estate agent” for a company whose products I used to work mobily. When I think back to that video, I realize a day in the life of today’s real estate agent has changed just as the city has. How different that video would look today.
Picture you, the savvy agent, grabbing a coffee at Philz and heading to Third Workplace for morning business, including sending updates to clients through Theo, writing a couple contract addendums using zipForm and sending them off in DocuSign.
You hop on Leap, work on the bus in your company’s software system and meet your brokerage colleagues at Blue Bottle Coffee for a morning market update. Then grab a Lyft car to Cole Valley to meet clients for a private showing, while using your iPad to snap pictures, take notes, download the disclosures and email them all the information.
You walk another five blocks for a second showing, adding up your steps and tracking them on your Apple Watch. After lunch at Zazie, you hitch a ride onLoup, catching up and posting on social media while in the car. Then you stop off at a place you rented on Breather downtown.
You take a 20-minute rest, grab some afternoon snacks and drinks downstairs for your upcoming meeting at the rented space with clients. You spend the afternoon catching up on business and reviewing the follow-up listing presentation you prepared. Your clients arrive at the end of their workday, and you review the follow-up marketing plan and CMA from the visit to their home earlier in the week.
They sign the agency, listing agreement and initial paperwork with you on your iPad. You email them copies of everything right then and bid them good evening. Walking a couple blocks, you grab a bike from the Bay Area Bike Share and cruise home.
Right now, this might only work in urban locations, and even then has limitations of service areas in San Francisco. I might still need to drive to a listing with my open house signs for a Sunday afternoon, on Tuesday Tour days and to take buyers out for multiple property tours. But this gives me a lot of options to change my processes, services and lifestyle from A to Z. If most of these companies have sprung up in the past couple years or are still in “beta” mode, imagine what the real estate office, or a day in the life of a real estate agent, could be like next?