Will technology replace the real estate agent?
When you look at some other sectors, such as the travel industry, technology has had a significant impact on their viability. Many travellers haven’t used a travel agent for many years.
Does that mean that real estate agents will perhaps be replaced by technology in the near future?
If you think about it, buyers now have access to most property listings through the various property portals – much in the same way a traveller can access flight and accommodation prices online.
Would it be possible for a buyer to purchase a property online and cut the agent out altogether? Technically it is possible, but is this good for the seller?
The short answer is ‘no’ – technology won`t replace the skilled estate agent. But what it will do is that estate agents need to demonstrate their value to the seller in order to survive.
When an airline sells their seats, they do so on price. That`s the price and you either pay it or choose another flight offering you better value. There is no negotiation.
In real estate, there is a very real negotiation between the seller and various buyers that show interest – and the way this negotiation is handled will make a significant difference to the price the seller will get. Every seller wants to sell his or her property. To do this, marketing strategies need to be employed to attract maximum buyer interest.
This is where technology does play a large role. Skilled knowledgeable agents should use their technologies to ensure a listing is exposed to appeal to a wide buyer pool.
The agent needs to work that interest to the point where buyers make written offers to purchase a property. There are many components to an offer that can be negotiated until both the buyer and seller agree: price, terms, and timing. A lower offer with better terms and timing could be much more attractive to a seller than a slightly higher offer with onerous conditions.
Additionally, a seller would need to know from their agent what other interest there may be before accepting an offer.
It`s not common for a skilled agent to sell a property at more than the listed price. Technology would not be able to achieve the same result. That does not mean all agents are indispensable.
Only those who demonstrate their ability to use technology and their marketing strategies to create buyer competition, and who have strong negotiation skills, will add real value for the seller.
Author Jannie Fourie, Principal