The technological advancement of modern civilisation has arguably been a double-edged sword for human kind.
On the one hand, it’s moved our capitalist based society forward at breakneck speed, with the potential to do things we once only dreamed of.
Space exploration is all a bit ho-hum just 50 odd years since man first walked on the moon for instance, and machines can do virtually anything a man or woman can manage.
But with the convenience of it all has come the systematic mechanisation of middle class labour. To quote South Park – ‘They took our jobs!’
While all sorts of industries (and the end consumer) have benefited economically due to this high tech transition, many people have been rendered obsolete. Think the automation of car manufacturing for instance.
Now we’re seeing an emerging number of online platforms intended to give more power to the consumer in real estate transactions…an area that’s traditionally lacked transparency and as such, ended up with a less than desirable reputation.
Is it possible that this could change the way property is bought and sold? Might property, at some point in the foreseeable future, be entirely transacted in the digital space?
A game changer?
I mentioned in another article, a conversation I recently had with a couple of real estate agents. I asked them how they felt about the barrage of referral sites we’re now seeing enter the real estate arena, such as openagent.com.
Interestingly, their responses were poles apart, even though both work in high-end property markets and enjoy relatively impressive levels of success in their professional lives.
One was on the side of many high profile agents who, according to anecdotal reports from the industry, are choosing to boycott these websites, where participation requires payment of a 20 per cent referral fee.
While the other had embraced this emerging technology, attributing eight of the sales he made toward the end of last year to his willing uptake of it.
Are agents set to become obsolete?
There’s no denying that a lot of tech geeks are currently trying hard to cash in on the lucrative residential real estate transaction space, in an increasingly digitised age.
And it’s not just marketing and agent referral platforms making a lot more noise about their services, but DIY home sale sites as well.
So will we see a future where real life real estate agents are unnecessary to the housing sales process?
For my money, the answer is a resounding no.
While I do believe the industry will need to respond and adapt to the new digital challenges it’s facing in the future, ultimately you can’t replicate the value or relevance of a living, breathing human in what is a highly emotional process.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the fact is a good agent can mean the difference to a vendor of hundreds of thousands of dollars in some instances.
A machine can never truly replicate the unique skill set a professional agent brings to the table. No matter how hard technology tries it will struggle to match the agent’s ability to…
- Prospect effectively
- Arrange and present a home to achieve the best possible sale price in an 8 week timeframe
- Match make buyers and sellers
- Negotiate a deal that everyone walks away from happy.
Real estate transactions are about more than bricks and mortar. They’re about life, death, love, family, relocation, marriage and divorce. It takes a certain person to navigate this process with the necessary aplomb to ensure everyone comes out better for it.
One positive I do think might come of this little industry shake up is a greater degree of transparency and information accessibility for the consumer. And that would be a good thing for everyone.