Are Zillow and Redfin Agent Killers?

It’s March 2019, and what an exciting time to be transacting in real estate, either as a consumer in the buying or selling of property, or for those who represent and help consumers on the sales side.

A great real estate professional will add value to both buyer and seller clients alike, assisting them with the myriad of intangibles that take place during a typical sales process.

The advancement of technology in real estate is like that of technology in many other areas of our lives, helping make the transacting of real estate easier and for the betterment of all.

From time saving apps and programs, to more transparent access to vital information such as past sold prices, the advancement in technology should be seen as beneficial for all!

We all are consumers. And what do most consumers want? Easy access to vital information for one. Great, tech can check that need. What else? How about options on varying levels of service? Tech can check that off as well. How about saving time and money?!

Saving money you say? Now this is a biggie! And it’s big because in my opinion, this is where the breakdown in belief stems from. Confusion around how saving money for consumers might lead to the elimination of your average Realtor.

I’ll start by saying personally I think the days of the “average” Realtor are numbered. Sorry Realtor friends, but it’s all a part of evolution. As we streamline to more tech enabled services, casualties will happen. Agents who haven’t invested in continuing education or streamlined their businesses to allow for tech to be part of their offering, and other business must do’s, your days are numbered. I won’t go into detail on the factors that will contribute to the demise of this type of agent, yet instead let’s look at what the thriving and surviving Realtor will look like.

The thriving and surviving Realtor is one who is consumer first focused. Everything they do, and in turn offer from a professional standpoint, has their client’s best interests in mind. Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Mike, I’m sure this is a basic fundamental for being a Realtor, this isn’t earth shattering news, but don’t all Realtors operate this way?”

The short answer, is ah No, they do not. And here’s the kicker. Most agents who fall into this category don’t either think, or know that the way they are currently operating, isn’t aligned with the mindset needed for survival.

Sure, in some areas I’m certain most Realtors are under the belief that they are operating just fine. And, I know for a fact of some Realtors who believe that they know best, not only for themselves but of those in whom they represent. But in the ever changing real estate industry, the reality is, they don’t.

Companies like Zillow or Redfin, are filling a void and meeting a need that is being demanded by consumers. And as a Realtor, you need to ask yourself; “Are my service offerings in alignment with what my consumer wants?”

Nothing tech based can replace the complexities of a competent human being. And this is where most agents end the conversation. But this should be the beginning of the conversation. If you were to ask the majority of experienced and active agents on how easy it is for a buyer or seller to transact without an agent, 99% would reply, not very easy at all. Those in the know, actually know how difficult of a process it is from start to finish, and doing so without being sued.

Yet too many agents (and Brokerage companies) just stop at that. Why change when we know they need us? Because that’s not being consumer first focussed.

Opening up one’s mind to a future where what’s successfully worked for you in the past, may not be the right mode of operation in the now, is a step in the right direction.

There are so many things the average Realtor does today that is not in the clients best interest, yet they continue to do so because that’s the way it has always been.

The syndication of listing data is one such thing. Ease of access to information is in everyone’s best interest, especially those who are not trained or as knowledgeable (the consumer) about transacting in real estate.

Traditional organized real estate could build a better, or equally advanced system, but sadly they are not consumer first focussed. They are Realtor first focussed, and more specifically, they are Brokerage business first focussed.

And what is such a simple and now frustrating dilema for many real estate agents like myself, is a potential outcome of throwing the baby out with the bath water scenario.

The good news in all of this is that being a Realtor, or being involved in the real estate business is one of the truest forms of entrepreneurialism.

The industry attracts hard working, creative thinkers who are programmed and have accepted the notion that each and every day, they wake up virtually unemployed. They invest their time, money and energy in advance, with the expectation of earning a living, and with the reality of that not always being the case.

And as the numbers have reflected for a very long time, 10% of us are successful at it, and the other 90% are still trying to figure it out.

Personally, I think the future is bright for those willing to adapt to the change at hand, change that will continue to present itself as we continue to evolve in this tech happy era.

Be consumer first focussed and your future will be fine. And one day, when we finally reach a point where a weary buyer or panicked seller can turn to their trusted robotic ally, and get the valued support and hand holding needed to see the sale through completion, we can retire happily. Until then, go at it.

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