By Holly Henbest, Realtor
We’ve all grown up with romantic visions of the American Dream! When you close your eyes and picture the American Dream, what do you picture? Most people picture owning a home. As a Realtor, there is nothing better than putting those keys into a home buyer’s hand and realizing that their dream of home ownership has come true.
A home is where life’s most treasured memories are made and it’s also typically someone’s greatest asset and investment. It’s also been demonstrated over time that a common denominator amongst wealthy individuals is that they own real estate.
Real estate holdings have always proven to be a solid investment because if you hold on to a real estate investment long enough, you’ll realize an increase in value. Much like a stock, even if it does go down in value, it doesn’t matter unless you decide to sell it when the value is lower. The key is to hold on to it and not sell it during the dips and allow it to grow in value.
This all sounds great, so what’s the problem? The problem is technology. Technology, in my opinion, is the greatest threat to the American Dream and it’s up to all of us to protect our assets and protect future generations.
The old saying, “Information Is Power,” has never been truer. Every time you install a real estate related app on your phone, you are giving away information and hence, the information is allowing others to gain power. Here are a few tidbits of powerful information individuals are giving away each time a real estate app is viewed:
• What zip codes are getting the most/least attention?
• What price ranges are getting the most/least attention?
• What size of home is getting searched on the most/least?
• What types of homes are searched on the most/least?
• What types of loan structures are being requested?
• How much down payment do you have?
Think about the last time you used a real estate related app and how much information you provided. Does it know where you live? Did you enter your home to get information and then also search on neighborhood information? What about areas where you might like to live?
Imagine now that this app has all that information and can tell what people want to buy, where they want to buy it, and how they’ll pay for it. What do you suppose a company with that type of information would do?
Remember a few years ago when one of these app companies started buying and flipping homes? Now they are in the mortgage business. Where do you suppose they are getting their data to plan their marketing strategy?
Institutional investors purchased about 22% of the homes sold in 2022. During 2023 their buying has slowed, thankfully, but with each tap on a phone app you could be providing them with information that will help them to make future real estate decisions.
Imagine if you knew how much everyone could afford and where everyone wanted to live. Wouldn’t you want to own properties in those areas? You’d buy them, rent them, and let the equity rack up. The troubling thing is that they could target specific zip codes and neighborhoods and start to control the values.
While the potential of this sounds terrible, there is an easy solution. Stop giving away your information. It’s just that simple. Take those apps off your phone and don’t use them. Call a Realtor to provide you with any data you need. As a bonus, you’ll know that the information you’re receiving is accurate, as so many apps have inaccurate information.
While I am a Realtor and will admit I’m completely biased about relying on a Realtor for data, rather than an app, I’m also a homeowner and investor and mother. I not only want to protect my assets, but I also want to protect my son and his future family to ensure they can realize the American Dream, just like I did.
In summary, I beg of you to think about the data you are willingly handing over to those apps and protect your asset from institutional investors. You may not feel like anything is really happening and this is too big of a situation to turn but trust me that it is already turning and while we aren’t seeing a significant impact yet, we need to be cognizant of the issue and prevent a bigger issue. Protect the American Dream.
Holly has been a Desert Ridge resident since 2000 and has been a Realtor since 2006. She is the leader of The Henbest Team with Realty One Group. Holly is ranked in the top ½ of 1 percent of Realtors in Arizona and is a certified luxury marketing expert. She has been ranked #24 in the Top 50 Realtors by the “Phoenix Business Journal” for the past several years and recognized by “So Scottsdale!” magazine as a Real Estate Superstar for 2019, 2020 and 2021. She’s also been the #1 ranked realtor at Realty One Group/North Scottsdale for the past several years. Learn more at henbest.com.