While the internet has undeniably become a vital resource for real estate buyers, consumers have still increasingly relied on real estate professionals over the last 20 years.
Fears of technology one day phasing out the real estate professional appear to have been overexaggerated. Instead, the consumers are turning to real estate professionals for help more now than ever before.
Statistics show that buyers do tend to find homes on their own with the help of the internet (8 percent in 2001 compared to 51 percent in 2016). But they still seek the assistance of a real estate professional to guide them through the process. In 2016, 94 percent of transactions involved a real estate professional, up from 84 percent in 2001, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.
The job of a real estate professional was largely feared of coming under the threat of technology, like other industries such as travel agencies from the rise of sites like Expedia or taxi drivers from the competition of Uber.
Instead, “we should be looking at the medical industry if we really want to look at our future, understand why our relationships are so important and be aware of the challenges ahead,” writes Greg Fox, owner and broker at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Alliance, in a recent article.
Fox makes the medical field analogy to real estate, noting consumers may be leveraging the internet to read online reviews and resources but that doesn’t mean they are turning a back to the professional.
“I think it’s very similar to medicine: Recommendations, checking ratings on websites, and trying in-person visits are all normal,” Fox says. “I believe finding a home and searching for my personal medical treatment are very parallel. I want my agent and my doctor to care about my family. I want them to be knowledgeable, familiar with the specialists I need, punctual, personable and so on. … My real estate agent is part of my family life for a month or longer during each transaction. I like personalized service with continuity and connection. I want my doctor and my agent to understand my financial position, my family situation and my needs. I want one person to know these things so I don’t have to explain everything several times to new people. This is all very personal; the relationship is about my needs.”
As such, Fox says real estate professionals need to stop fearing the threat of technology advances on replacing their services. Instead, any lack of relationships would be the true biggest threat and damage to the real estate industry, Fox notes.
Source: “Does the Public Still Want Real Estate Agents?” Inman (June 8, 2017) [Log-in required.]