Is Technology to be trusted completely? In this super charged digital world, technology has been a driving factor for innovation and information. We are in an age where information is at everyone’s finger tips and its awesome to have that. But in this world where technology companies are innovating, we are also quickly losing the human connection at the same rapid pace.
I am hearing so much flak against the real estate industry with technology companies talking about the extinction of the real estate agent model. Broad sweeping statements on how the entire industry is made up of incompetent individuals who are over compensated and totally undeserving of the income they make. I have also noticed this dialogue is being driven by companies and their individuals who are trying to push the Realtor out, in the name of disruption.
The traditional model of real estate business has changed and evolved over the years. There is more transparency, rules and regulations that mandate our industry and we have to follow the rules. Does everyone follow them? The answer is No. So this article is for consumer who views the real estate agent in a negative light and feel that technology driven automation’s are the waves of the future. learn some truth on behind the scene activities you may not be aware of:
1. The consumer is viewing homes on zillow, trulia and other syndicators. Does the consumer know that the so called zestimates actually started with sellers inputting their home’s information and providing zillow with data? If their information is so proprietary, then appraisers should be out of business too as zillow and trulia can tell every home owner and bank in the US on the value of a home ! These companies are troller’s who have gained information by duping the consumer and realtor.
2. Does the consumer know that these large syndication companies have utilized a marketing ploy to get them to the site and then sell them out to agents? Yes Mr. Consumer- also called a LEAD, your information is being sold to realtors like myself who will pound your door down because you raised your hand in the marketplace that you may be interested in buying or selling ! Not to forget they extort thousands of dollars a month from agents by selling them premium placement in territories. The agent’s face you will see on the property details is NOT the listing agent. It is an agent who pays thousands of dollars to the company for that placement and your email and phone number details! The Realtor is also made to believe that if they are not advertising on their site, then their business will be in the pits of darkness and knowing how we fall for every shiny object to create more business , we buy in !
3. Did you know that agents are allowed to manually add in properties into these syndication sites. The properties that you may think are available for sale are many times fictitious and a ploy to get you to call or email the agent? Then you will be told that this home is pending but you can get more information about other similar homes? it is called a classic bait and switch !
4. The biggest money making business is selling to realtors !! Everyday there is a new “must have” technology being shoved down our throats because: a) The agent must be tech savvy and b) the consumer is using this technology ! I have personally called my tech savvy clients to ask them about their input and they tell me they have never heard of that technology ! At first they sucker us into buying YOU as a LEAD, then they sell us training programs and scripts on how to convert you from a LEAD to a CLIENT.
5. Once they sell us their “shining magic bullet”, they go out to the consumer and create tools to tell you- the consumer- that it is the ultimate tool for you to buy and sell real estate yourself, eliminate the agent because they are unnecessary cost adding middle men to a transaction. These companies although touting the need for transparency are not very transparent about their own agendas.
6. While the consumer is made to believe that technology is providing the tools for the future to avoid the real estate agent, these companies are in reality selling the same space to agents to sell their services to you? There is no free lunch in this world.
7. The reviews the consumer reads on places like yelp, zillow, trulia are 90% fudged. I have personally seen glowing 5 star reviews for some people who are known in the industry circles as the worst around. Should you the consumer be made to believe that these reviews are all true? If I am a paying member of some of these sites, and someone leaves me a bad review- I can have it removed.
8. The advent of technology has induced an atmosphere of competition. But unfortunately this competition is indirectly hurting the consumer. The demand for cheaper services has led to an onslaught of discount brokers and agents. Industry professionals who are full time working in this arena are being by passed for part timers who are working for either large corporations and poaching on their colleagues OR working full time jobs somewhere and functioning as a real estate agent on the weekends. This leads to a drop in the level of service; working with incompetent individuals whose knowledge is extremely limited; consumers being enticed to use substandard agents without understanding the pitfalls of a complex transaction. Healthy competition between service providers of the same caliber is good, but detrimental to the consumer when the choice is between an expert who has spent thousands of hours gaining the knowledge and an agent whose knowledge and exposure is limited.
Real Estate is a relationship based business and will always remain that. Technology cannot replace a human experience, it will always remain a tool to enhance that experience. Our industry is fraught with people who should not be here at all, and these are the people who create a bad rap for the rest. If you are a consumer, then talk to your peers and get references of agents you may be considering. Focus on quality of work, express your expectations to the Realtor you chose to work with, demand a high level of expertise and knowledge from your hired professional, ask for the extra added value brought to the table- over and beyond what technology has already provided you; and once you have chosen the professional to represent you- place your trust in them. This puts the onus on the agent to outperform the expectations of the client and to do the right thing for the client. Trusting technology blindly may not be in anyone’s best interest.