I can’t do that alone, but I can contribute to the cause.
Zillow, Redfin, Open Door and other tech companies are raising billions of dollars to position themselves to be the go-to platform for people trading real estate. If they have their way, the REALTOR® will be eliminated from the process. I’ve always believed that these companies will include REALTORS in the process for a period of time and then eliminate them. They get cheap labour while they develop their system, they get access to the buyers’ and the sellers’ data that the agents hold and they get less confrontation during the process. Redfin announced this week that buyers would be able to buy their listings without using a buyer’s agent. This resulted in the immediate dissolution of Remax and Redfins partnership. No surprise here, and I believe that this trend will continue.
I also believe that when a highly knowledgeable and skilled agent serves a consumer in real estate, the outcome for that consumer is significantly better. In fact, great REALTORS® help people make sound decisions about housing and good housing is intrinsic to our happiness, well-being and financial security. So yes, what we do matters.
How real estate is bought and sold is going to change significantly in the near future. The changes in the US are already having a significant impact on the market. In Canada, we have a little bit more time and this is an amazing opportunity to prepare for the future. These changes are consumer driven and it is the consumer that we need to hear and serve. The consumer wants more access to information, they want more control of the process and they want to have the option to pay less for real estate services. All of these are reasonable. Heck, we want the same thing when we purchase services from the professionals we hire.
What some consumers will also want is someone to help them through this process. Real estate can be complicated and making a good decision can be difficult. Even managing the tech that the new real estate companies offer will be tricky.
Our work will be to help them with the parts of the transaction that are challenging, confusing, unclear, or that they are lacking the skills to pull off alone. To do this, we need to have the skills to be valuable. Market knowledge, both macro and micro will be essential. Not just what’s on the tech platforms but the information that only someone in the trenches of Real Estate can know and understand. A solid knowledge of the tech platform offerings and the choices the consumer has to buy or sell real estate. Human psychology and the decision-making process. Hyperlocal community information. Strategic planning not just for this one transaction but for a lifetime of real estate success. This list goes on. What we do matters, but only if we do it well.
I want to save the real estate industry, not just for the REALTORS®, but for the consumers, because I believe that when people make great decisions about real estate, they have better lives.
These tech companies want the billions of dollars paid in real estate commissions, but they also want something much bigger. They want to control the market so that they can make much of the appreciation on property. As the iBuyer programs become a larger percentage of the market, these companies will be in a position to influence the market by timing the release of their properties. Heck, what if they decided not to sell them at all but to rent them.