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Travel Agents and Stockbrokers Have Been Eliminated--Are Agents Next?

September 26 2014

fsboOver the past few years, technology has eliminated the middleman across a multitude of industries. Airlines, hotels, and stock markets were some of the first industries to be radically disrupted by the Internet. For the first time ever, the Internet enabled consumers to easily book reservations and buy securities online without a travel agent or stockbroker.

This has opened the door and set a blueprint for other companies to try and eliminate the middleman across almost every industry imaginable. Real estate is no different. Companies have tried time and time again to make buying and selling real estate easy as ordering an Über.

Taking a deeper look at why companies continue to fail at eliminating real estate agents stems from the fact that real estate is not a commodity. Technology companies are very good at eliminating middlemen where the product is a commodity. An airplane seat, a hotel room, and a share of stock are all commodities. They can be bought and sold easily without any emotion involved, but you can never have the experience of walking inside a home online. People become emotionally attached to real estate. It is hard to say the same thing about an airplane seat.

Real estate is often the largest investment people make in their lives, and therefore invokes a very emotional experience. People want to make sure they are making the right decision to make sure they are getting the best deal. A real estate agent helps guide consumers through the transaction process, but more importantly, an agent needs to communicate their value through building relationships and communicating a deep understanding of the local area to their clients.

For real estate agents to stay relevant and effectively communicate their value proposition, here are three tips:

1. Become a homeownership expert

The modern real estate consumer knows what is on the market and what house they want to buy. Quite frankly, they are better at searching for homes than most real estate agents. This leads me to believe agents need to focus on building expertise around owning a home in your local market. It is necessary to become an expert in finding ways to save homeowners money and what can be done to increase the value of their property.

2. Understand the needs of the Millennial homeowner

Recent trends reveal that consumers are entering the housing market earlier and hiring an agent later. Millennials will know the home they want to buy and they simply want an agent to help guide them through the process. Make the transaction process painless and continue to add value after handing over the keys to ensure future success.

3. Leverage smartphone technology

If you are not tech savvy, your days as a real estate agent are in jeopardy. Modern consumers run their entire lives from their smartphone and it is a now a requirement for agents to incorporate a mobile strategy. A good rule of thumb is to ensure you can easily communicate, send documents, and keep clients informed on market activity all from your phone.