One of things I thoroughly enjoy in my role as a Realtor is the quality of people I get to assist; whether they are interested in buying, selling, or investing in real estate, I’m happy to help with all of their real estate needs.
I often get asked to share my thoughts on the foreseeable future of the real estate industry in this ever-changing, Uber-like world that we live in. Here’s what I think: in the next five-or-so years, the way we have known real estate to be bought and sold will evolve in a way that will meet consumers’ demands and be more favourable to their individual needs. No more ‘one size fits all’ motto.
The role of the Realtor will be affected, but not eliminated, and those who can clearly define their value proposition and position themselves positively in the marketplace will not only survive, but thrive in this environment where highly competent, professional, tech-friendly agents will be sought out.
I strongly believe that a high number of today’s Realtors whom I encounter in my real estate dealings do not fit this mold. These minions will be relegated to a fragmented role which will be suitable to consumers looking for a ‘piecemeal’ level of service, and chances are that consumers will approach these agents via an online aggregator, which will command a high portion of the real estate fee earned.
Personally, I think that the biggest threat to our industry are the incompetent agents who fill the ranks of almost every brokerage in the city, and our industry has not taken any steps to discourage this; rather, they have encouraged it at almost all levels!
The Canadian Real Estate Association, Ontario Real Estate Association, Toronto Real Estate Board, and Brokerage firms, have all encouraged mass agent enrollment by any means necessary, and to a large degree, they have all benefited from it. However, for the most part, once you obtain a real estate license, it’s the wild West! Accountability is low for the new and inexperienced, and often, it is other agents in the brokerage who end up being the trainers and support systems for the newbies. This is not always a good thing.
The bigger problem lies with most part-time agents, or those who are just ‘trying out real estate’ between stints in their ‘real’ careers. I remember reading an article about one-and-a-half years ago where the CREA president actually endorsed the part-time agent and stated that real estate sales is a viable part-time option! Yeah….
Every brokerage I have worked at over the past 19 years have part-time agents working in it, or hire part time agents. Few brokers will actually admit to this, but trust me, it’s there. All it takes is about $2,000 invested in a third party statistical company to find out how many actual sales individual agents partake in.
Personally, I am fed up! This year, I’ve had three clients affected in a hugely negative way because of the incompetence of other agents. Sadly, this low level of professionalism reflects badly on us all!
Don’t for a minute think that consumers aren’t paying attention, because they are. In the past, the percentage of incompetent agents may have been small, but I am certain that the percentage is much higher today. In my experience, roughly half of the agents I converse with daily have limited experience and understanding of the current real estate market.
You know what else sucks? As a competent, professional, full-time agent who invests heavily in myself on a yearly basis by staying up-to-date with relevant facts, data, rules, and countless training sessions on ‘keeping my skills pencil sharp’, there is only so much I can do to protect my clients’ interests.
A day of reckoning is coming, and I will welcome it with open arms. I’m not certain that many of today’s agents will survive this new age, and as a result, many brokerages will falter as well. CREA, OREA and TREB, will also be affected. Big, wealthy tech companies have had their eyes on the real estate industry, and it’s starting to look ripe for the picking! The consumers of the future will demand it as well.
I issue this warning to the real estate industry: welcome to the world of Uber! I hope you’re ready.