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constant_connectivityPerhaps it’s just me, but I would be willing to bet that many of us within the real estate industry are having a hard time getting over the fact that it’s really 2015. The past seven years have been a very long road traveled for many, but yet, they’ve gone by in a flash. Mobile, largely regarded as the future seven years ago, is now the reality in which we all live. Feature phones are all but a thing of the past, not only because my mother has now adopted an iPhone, but smartphone penetration (over 72 percent as of March 2014) within developed markets is nearing maturity. So now that we all agree we’re living in a mobile world, where do we in the real estate industry go from here?

Now that almost all of us have converted to a smartphone, it’ll probably come as no surprise that all related sectors are booming: apps, mobile advertising, mobile commerce, social and music. Mobile-first media companies have even proven to be more valuable than some traditional media companies. For example, traditional media companies such as The New York Times, Gannett, Viacom and Comcast have a combined market value of only $180 billion compared to that of mobile-first companies such as Millennial Media, Pandora, Twitter and Facebook, which have a combined market value of over $239 billion. The use of mobile solutions is also disrupting many other large industries such as payments, banking and health and fitness—all of which are increasing rapidly and expected to continue to grow over the next three years.

Impacting all of this is the interconnectivity of additional devices that are now available to consumers, including wearables (watches and bands), smart TV’s and cars. With multiple screens, all of which keep us connected constantly, we’re becoming a new breed of consumer unlike anything any business has ever seen. Our expectation of what’s available to us—and when—is increasing dramatically. In addition, we’re coming to rely on this constant connectivity to shape how we make decisions. This can be seen in the daily increase in the use of health and fitness apps (up 62 percent from December 2013 – June 2014), which are helping to shape the eating and exercise decisions we make on a daily basis.

Consequently, the more connected we become—and the more we rely on this connectivity—the more information about us that’s captured and recorded. I certainly recognize why this is a scary proposition for many, but it could also prove advantageous for those who use it for good. Ultimately, constant connectivity combined with the information we can access is shaping the decisions we make, and the same can hold true for real estate purchases. 2015 will see a change in the traditional real estate search, one that combines constant connectivity with the vast amount of data available to help better shape the home-buying decision of today’s consumer. While mobile will certainly be a huge part of it, it will ultimately be driven by the demand of the consumer to have us help them shape their decision.

Seth Kaplan is president of MRE.

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