I recently read an article that shocked and disappointed me.
The gist of the article was this: a real estate agent had recently contacted a major, credible news source with the idea that the end is near for real estate agents.
After many years of success in the real estate business, the agent’s outlook on the real estate industry is not optimistic. At heart, she feels the internet provides sellers all the information they need to list, market, stage, negotiate, and sell a home themselves.
Well, one thing that agent is right about – the internet is full of information. About everything under the sun. My thought process on that is a bit different. Here’s what I think:
Just because something is online doesn’t mean it’s valuable, or accurate. It doesn’t mean, for example, that I would watch a YouTube video on abdominal surgery … and then slice open my abdomen and treat myself. I also would never in a million years use an online resource to create a will, living will, trust, or health directive. These are critical issues that need to be handled by professionals. When they’re not, the repercussions are substantial.
In the original article, the agent in question said that real estate agents are no longer critical to the transaction. And she goes on to reference statistics from the National Association of REALTORS®, and the drop the NAR has seen in membership. She attributes much of the membership drop to improved technology (more on what I think about this later…so keep reading).
So what surprised me when I read the article?
First, real estate agents are not dinosaurs. Yes, the business of selling real estate has changed, just as the business of selling anything has changed.
If the internet is the answer to everything, there would be no brick and mortar stores. And last time I checked, every community in the country still has shops with doors open to the public. Yes, many things are purchased online – books, electronics, clothing, and more. But many of these items are also sold offline, with interactions involving living, breathing, humans.
Are there some real estate agent dinosaurs out there? You bet! I meet agents every day who want to continue to business in the same way they always have. News flash – it can’t be done. With each year that passes, we do rely more on technology, and so do consumers.
That’s not a bad thing.
Instead of fighting technology, harness it. Use the internet to build your business, build your expertise, and build your reputation. Because the world has changed, you must change too. You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think you don’t need to continually reinvent the tools you use in your business.
Second, real estate agents offer a valuable and valid service. If you don’t believe that, you really are in the wrong business … and you should go the way of the dinosaur. Of course consumers are more cost-conscious right now, and they see commission as an area where they can “save” money. But the clients I work with learn how to articulate their value, and showcase their talents. They bring skills, experience, and expertise to the table for consumers – and they make sure they have data to back up their claims so it’s not all puffery.
Third, the assertion that NAR membership is down because of technology. Wrong. NAR membership is down for several reasons:
- In order to save money, many agents have moved to real estate offices which don’t offer NAR membership. They’re still in the business; they’re just not Realtors®.
- Agents did not have resources saved, and have left the business after several years of slow and /or turbulent business.
- Many agents have given up. They haven’t invested in learning new skills, and in growing their businesses. Rather than work at improving or inventing, they walked away.
- Agents who got into the business because it was an “easy” way to earn a lot of money have realized that’s absolutely not the case.
Whether you believe dinosaurs no longer walk the earth because of the asteroid impact, climate change, disease, volcanic eruptions, or something else entirely, the fact is that something happened in the environment … and dinosaurs couldn’t adapt.
But you can. If you love real estate and want to stay in this business, don’t go the way of the dinosaur. Figure out where you want your business to go, and make the investment (whether that’s emotional, financial, or intellectual) to get there. You can do it!
So … are you willing to go the way of the dinosaur, and become extinct? Or can you make the changes you need to sustain a successful business?