The rise in technology over the past few decades has caused significant disruptions to many industries. With concepts such as AI (artificial intelligence) and Machine Learning expected to change and progress even more, many people are worried about what might happen to their jobs.
Real estate is one of many industries that has benefited greatly from technology in recent years. Not all too long ago, if you wanted to see a new listing, you had to physically go a real estate agency’s office and look at the hardcopies on the window.
These days, we have listings more accessible than ever before. Developments such as including a plethora of images, as well as increased virtual tours thanks to the forced innovation that COVID-19 brought with it. Newer technology is also not limited to listings, but a host of other tools that make it easier to market properties, obtain finance, settle, manage properties, or even drum up new leads through CRMs.
Despite the introduction of new technology, real estate remains human in its essence, and will never be replaced by technology. While technology certainly has a big role to play in assisting agents as well as buyers and sellers, the human element of real estate remains irreplaceable.
Real estate is a relationships industry, it’s all about the connection between clients, agents, and vendors. It’s the job of a real estate agent to build and maintain relationships, as it’s a major key in generating new business.
Every time a prospective buyer enters a home open, they are also a potential vendor. Vendor’s use real estate agents they trust and have a relationship with.
Builders and developers sell properties through people in their network. Many agents have huge referral networks that are built on relationships, not just with potential clientele but the community as well.
For many vendors, selling a property is significant, and while they want the best price they can, price may not the ultimate deciding factor. Other factors can include additional benefits or incentives, as well as a personal connection with the agent or agency. So, while technology might be able to assist, it is unable to create and nurture relationships in the same way that a person can.
Given recent innovations, there is a myriad of technology out there that helps value a property. While some of these tools can come up with good estimates of what a property might be worth, it’s never quite as good as what a local agent could estimate.
There’s a reason the industry puts so much weight on valuations that are performed in person, by people who physically go through a property. In real estate, there are so many nuances, and no two properties are ever the same.
There are also many factors that need to be considered. One of these factors is the sentiment and what is happening on the ground at any given moment. Valuers and agents can look at the property first hand, taking into account not only the property itself, but it’s condition and surroundings.
Even the data the technology platforms use can be months behind and cannot replace the real-life conversations that are taking place between buyers and agents during open homes.
Real estate agents know what is happening in a property market before it’s ever reflected in the numbers. This also helps agents set a price and use the most effective marketing strategy, as there is not a one size fits all approach to selling. The local knowledge that agents have cannot be replaced with technology. Instead, their knowledge and lived experiences should be combined with hard data and predictions leads in order to reach the best outcome.
For most people, buying a property is the single biggest investment they will ever make. For those buying a property to live in, this can be hugely emotional.
A real estate agent is the middleman trying to manage both sides of the equation. An agent does their best to help the fears and concerns of a first-time buyer, whist also working with the vendor’s needs given their personal situation. This bespoke element of real estate cannot be replaced with technology, no matter how advanced.
In recent years, we have seen new platforms come along to assist with selling properties. While these tools are good in some situations, we still see huge numbers of properties selling through a traditional offer and acceptance process.
This type of negotiation is very personal, and a highly skilled agent has the ability to generate a good result for a vendor.
Technology can’t understand a buyer’s motivation. It can’t interpret what that buyer might be prepared to pay. Real estate agents are expert negotiators and it’s their people skills that make them so good at their jobs, people skills that cannot be replicated by technology.
Technology as a Tool
Clearly, real estate is an industry that is not going to see technology replacing agents any time soon. However, there are many technological tools that agents have at their disposal that can help them improve by being more efficient at doing their job.
That’s the big advantage of technology. It’s a tool at an agent’s disposal, not a threat.