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Nancy Napier: A drone for house hunting? Rethinking real-estate sales

A colleague was excited to tell me last week about his stay at a very cool hotel called Citizen M, right by the Paris airport. He said, “It’s like they redesigned the whole hotel experience, from the ground up.”

He’s right. The Citizen M hotel group has developed an affordable, convenient luxury experience. You check yourself in and out, beds and bathrooms are very high-end, hot food is available 24 hours a day, and they hire people without hotel experience and then train them the Citizen M way. All this for $79/night at the hotel in Paris. As the owners say, people want efficiency, emotion and a great experience, at an affordable price.

That got me wondering about what the residential real estate experience would be like if Realtors rethought it “from the ground up,” in terms of what I might define as a “great experience” buying a house.

So, with apologies to the experts (I do this a lot), here are two, perhaps wacky, ideas that might appeal to someone like me (or my demographic). And yes, I know these would be hard to implement. But I’m in the brainstorming mode now.

First, I’d like a drone that I could maneuver inside and outside of a house I’m considering as a potential buyer. The drone would be soft-sided, of course, so it wouldn’t damage walls when it bumps into them. But having a sort of “on call” drone would allow me to look at the places in a house I’m especially interested in, at a pace I want, without depending upon someone physically meeting me to let me inside. I could “visit” the house and the neighborhood at different times of day, instead of driving around at 9 o’clock at night to see how noisy it is. It would also save me time and gasoline and make the process a bit more private, more efficient and less emotional.

Next, could there be real estate “packages” tailored to different demographic groups? A “family with small kids” package or an “empty nester” package?

I’d be in the latter category. If I had a wish list (and a lot of money), I’d want an experience that makes my move painless. That would include selling my old house, buying the new place (after using the drone to look at several), and a teleport type of moving experience, where the setup in my current living room (or bedroom, or whatever) is essentially replicated in the new place (with pictures in generally the same positions, silverware in generally the same position in the kitchen, and so on). If the “teleporter movers” could put my house to order, or at least 75 percent of it, that would make the idea of a move so much less stressful.

My point here, obviously, is simply to ask: What would a rethink of an industry look like? We’ve seen it elsewhere – Uber, Airbnb, Citizen M hotel. Why not in real estate?

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