If these walls could talk: The "Internet of Things" and real estate

What if you no longer “put your listings on the Internet” and instead put the Internet on your listings?

How might your MLS rules account for embedding recent solds on a postcard?

Are you ready for the day when yard signs present video, docs, sales histories and viewer comments upon approach?

We’re going to have to find answers to these questions. Soon. Objects of desire


We’ve talked about the “The Internet of things” here before – the connection of physical objects to the Internet. This can be done by QR codes, sensors, or RFID tags.

Back in March, I wrote about a then-new application called Stickybits that enables one to attached read/write QR codes to objects. That means you can scan a code on a car, for example, and get video, data, photos and other information about it and also attach media to that vehicle. Objects develop their own history, if you will.

Since then, applications that connect physical objects to the digital world have proliferated.

Tales of Things allows you to create a “video memory” for an object – say a pocketwatch or a church – by affixing a QR code tag to it. The codes can be printed from the site for free.

Itizen offers stick or sew-on tags that allow you to embed a “story” into objects others can add to. You can then track the story online. You could, for example, create a doll, sell it, then watch that doll’s story unfold over time.

CellarKey helps wine shoppers make smarter wine decisions by allowing them to scan a code on the bottle that delivers pairing suggestions, vintner notes and reviews.

And companies offering real estate-targeted offerings are starting to pop up.

If you want a visual illustration check out this video (h/t to Greg Sterling)

Whether there’s a business here is yet to be seen. And most implementations of QR codes by brokerage companies to date have been pretty clunky.

But I think this is going to impact real estate in a significant way very soon.

Down to the core


Consider this scenario:

A yard sign sits in front of a home for sale. It’s a FSBO.

When a prospective buyer approaches the sign, their smart phone lights up with the following menu:

  • Take video tour
  • View disclosures
  • Request a showing
  • See sales and maintenance history
  • Meet the owners
  • View stories about this home
  • Leave feedback for the seller or other buyers
  • Comment on price

They take the video tour, check out the disclosures and leave a few comments for the sellers and move on. Their location at this address has been noted on facebook.

At the end of the day, the sign emails a summary of activity (number of visits, comments, opinions on listing price, number of disclosure packet downloads, etc.) to the sellers.

Does this seem fuzzy? Problematic?

Did you think you’d have home value estimates appear on your phone via GPS four years ago?

The technology is here. It’s just a matter of working out the kinks. And when those kinks are gone, the historical conception of what was once the Realtor value proposition will be stripped down to the core. For a sign will do many of the things unexceptional agents hang their hat on today.

Scary? Not if you’re good. Because that core – the indissoluble nugget of realtor value – will be all that’s left. Intimate knowledge of the market. Negotiating prowess. Real marketing skills. If you have these things, this technology should thrill you.

If you don’t, well “.