18 Such data provision lowers the cost of transactions and improves the quality

18 such data provision lowers the cost of

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Such data provision lowers the cost of transactions and improves the quality of decision making. A high degree of competition currently exists among data providers, resulting in consolidation of the industry and survival only of those with the best--most reliable and frequently updated--products, the easiest access to capital for expansion and acquisition of competitors, and a broad infrastructure of relationships within the industry. The data that is relied on by multiple parties is becoming standardized and consolidated into only one--or very few--portals that will dominate within individual information product sectors. This revolution in information provision for the real estate market is not confined to public information that is important across firms, it also relates to private information within a firm, or available only to paid subscribers. Although most information will be passively provided and one-way, two-way channels of active communication via public or private chat rooms, and e-mail exchange, will grow. The second level of product provision to real estate on the Internet is the provision of analysis, including appraisal methodologies, asset and property management support, accounting, tax planning, construction management tools, and specialized software for statistical analysis. Some of these are fee-based, with the actual application of the analysis package being undertaken by the provider. However, an increasing number are relatively “transparent” so that they can be run directly by the user. Some have become essentially free and are often marketed with other services. Of course, such software has been marketed and used outside the Internet framework, but the Internet has the potential to dramatically accelerate their spread and standardization because of it facilitates availability at low (or zero) cost. 19
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The real estate firms that may profit most may not be large multi-faceted players, but rather the up-and-coming technology-oriented "niche" players, who heretofore have not had sufficient infrastructure or resources to support such an extensive analytic function. Thus, the Internet could become a great equalizer across real estate firms of widely different sizes and stages of development. Consolidation will come to Internet- based purveyors of real estate focused analytical tools, although this component of the industry is still in the start-up phase. The survivors ultimately will be those that provide the most value-added to the most users, are adequately capitalized, and have the best infrastructure to support their product, including a capable user-support network. A third level of product provision to real estate by the Internet is the facilitation of real estate transactions online. This does not transform the marketplace, but only the location at which the transaction takes place, that is virtual as opposed to physical. This product ranges from providing information for a loan application, to the facilitation of the transaction in real-time over the Internet. These products render the transaction process in
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