The real estate industry today is Internet dependent. Agent and company websites, company intranets, MLS access, and back office systems all require agents and brokers to go online to manage these resources. So must the American homebuyer too, as more than 90% of all real estate home searches begin online.
Perhaps the most important software tool that enables the Internet is the one that’s also taken for granted: your Internet browser. For years, real estate agents’ favorite browser has been Internet Explorer from Microsoft. Unless you were a Mac user, when you bought your PC, Internet Explorer was automatically your browser and the vast majority of agents simply never switched. Additionally, many MLSs were only compatible with Internet Explorer, adding to many agents’ reliance on IE.
Even with the sun setting of support for Internet Explorer’s older versions and IE 11 being replaced by Edge as the Windows 10 default browser, agents have been tentative to switch to a different browser. According to the NAR REALTOR Technology Survey, while the use of Internet Explorer dropped from 50 percent to 38 in the most recent survey, it was still the number one browser for agents, with Google’s Chrome coming in at 32 percent, Firefox at 16 and Apple’s Safari at 9 percent. However, among the American public, Chrome is the most popular browser, according to a 2015 Federal Government report.
But the Internet is changing so fast that if you are still using Internet Explorer, especially an older version, you should ask yourself, “is it time to switch?”
What might be wrong with an outdated browser?
An old browser makes your computer more vulnerable. Internet Explorer versions 10 and older no longer receive security updates and that puts you at increased risk. An outdated browser can allow malicious websites to read your files and even damage them. Your passwords are more likely to be stolen with an old browser, and your computer is more likely to be infected by a virus. For example, if you are using Internet Explorer 6, you are exposed to more than 450 known vulnerabilities, according to Microsoft. IE 11, however, includes improved security features and will continue to receive security updates until 2023.
It’s less stable
Did you know that a computer using an older browser is more likely to crash? Old browsers can be in conflict with new software programs you install, and they also may not be able to read and display a website properly. The result is you will have pages render improperly as an old browser can’t display everything on certain webpages.
It’s slowing you down
Old browsers simply are not as fast as modern browsers. One immediate benefit agents see when they update to a modern browser is faster loading web pages. Older browsers get bogged down trying to do too many things at once, as they were not designed to handle the new websites you need to access. Although IE 11 has received many improvements over its underperforming predecessors, IE11 still doesn’t compare to the speed of Chrome or Firefox.
It’s no longer supported
As I mentioned earlier, Microsoft is no longer supporting Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10. Microsoft is investing more of its time on their new browser, Edge. They even promote Edge on their “End of Support for Internet Explorer” page on their website. If you are using Internet Explorer 10 or an earlier version, no one will force you to upgrade, but you should because these browsers won’t receive the newest security fixes.
New security requirements may lock you out
Beginning July 1, if you are not using a modern browser, then your browser is not secure enough to access certain websites. Essentially, your old browser may lock you out from accessing parts of the Internet.
A hacker could take control
Believe it or not, having an old browser could allow a hacker to gain access to your computer and take control, just by accidentally visiting the wrong website! An outdated browser also could allow a hacker to gain access to your personal information and make it public. Worse-case scenario: they can gain access to even your credit card information.
It’s frustrating you
You may not even realize it, because you have become so accustomed to your old browser, but it is giving you a pretty lousy Internet experience. Software developers try to make their software work on as many browsers and as many versions of these browsers as possible. But it is nearly impossible for any software developer to create a program that works on all versions of every browser. It’s also a Catch-22 for developers: They want to give you the best real estate technology experience, but if you are using an old browser, they can’t. Without a modern browser, you have a frustrating experience, as the new features these developers want you to use just don’t work with an old browser.
How do you upgrade to a modern browser?
The good news is that changing to a modern browser has never been easier. The best options for agents – the ones that are supported by the majority of software developers – are the latest versions of Chrome, Edge, Firefox, IE 11 and Safari. The installation process is fast and easy, and the problems that plagued upgrading in the past are no longer issues; the installation process is more intuitive than ever, looking to mirror what you like best about your old browser.
A word of caution
One word of caution: even though there are many concerns about older browsers, I also must warn you about using one the newest browsers. Edge does not fully support extensions, but Microsoft is working on this. If you are an Edge user, and this affects you, watch for updates from Microsoft that will address this problem.
Do not fear the upgrade
Some agents have been avoiding updating their browsers because they have their old browser “bookmarked” with shortcuts to their favorite websites. Years ago, when one upgraded to a new browser, moving their bookmarks could be a painstaking task – and for many users, the process was too complicated. That’s no longer the case; with modern browsers like the leading ones – Chrome and Edge and for Mac users, Safari from Apple – when you install your modern browser, it will often prompt you to automatically import your bookmarks and all other key settings into your new browser from your old one.
Discover a safer, faster, smarter and an overall more fulfilling web experience. With a modern browser, you’ll wonder why you’ve been waiting so long. You’ll be happy, your company will be happy, and real estate software developers everywhere will be very happy as well!