Why You Should Stop Whining About Technology Disrupting the Real Estate Industry
Stop. Please. Please stop fearfully whining about technology disrupting the real estate industry. It’s getting out of hand. Real estate agents all around the world sound more like Chicken Little than real estate pros and business people. It’s amazing to me how many real estate agents are complaining and whining about new “disruptive” technology and new services that are coming to the market… at the height of the market. So much fear. So much worry. So much playing defense.
I am a Realtor in Salt Lake City, and here in SLC, it is such a crazy hot seller’s market that FSBO sellers are “having success”, at least in their eyes. I swear, if you can fog a mirror, you can get your home under contract in a few days. It’s just that type of market. When sellers can list their home FSBO, or with some fancy new “FSBO assistance” startup, and they sell it within a few days for what they think their home is worth, it gives the illusion that these startups are gaining ground. It gives the illusion to both FSBO sellers and Realtors that it’s just a matter of weeks that all of us agents will out of business.
Listening to some of you, you’d think we’d all be out of business by Memorial Day! What we’re failing to look at is the effect that current market conditions play on all this disruptive new technology. Again, we’re at all-time highs in both the housing market, and the stock market. In other words, it’s a great time to be business. Money is certainly flowing.
We should embrace technology, not fear it (or futilely try to stop it). The vast majority of technology can actually HELP you as a real estate agent. But you have to be willing to embrace it and learn how to use it to your advantage. One of the fastest growing real estate Facebook Groups out there, the Snappack Live Real Estate Group, is full of like-minded real estate pros who are using technology and innovation to sell more homes. And guess what; it’s working. If you want to learn how to get ahead of disruption and new technology and use it to your advantage, join the Group, keep an open mind, and participate. Snappack group members are increasing the value they offer their clients, so when that “disruptive” new company comes along, they won’t really be your competition.
Here’s what’s important to know. Just because there’s a bunch of new technology being introduced to the market to help people avoid using real estate agents and paying commission doesn’t mean that those services will be successful or that they will withstand the coming market downturn. I understand feeling threatened by these companies and services. However, I’m noticing this fear is causing many people to focus on how they can shut that new company down or put them out of business rather than just being better than them and making THEM obsolete. It’s pathetic.
This is America. We are a capitalist country. The free market is what makes this country great. Why is it, then, that so many real estate agents are trying to tear down the other companies rather than being the best themselves? If you want the biggest building in town you have two options: actually building the biggest building in town, or tearing down everyone else’s building. If you’re more focused on getting the “fancy” new FSBO assistance company shut down or put out of business, you’re basically trying to tear down their building instead of building a bigger, better one. Tonya Harding would be proud! (millennials, Google that one)
Now there’s a very important distinction to make. Just because you’re providing a ton of value as a Realtor doesn’t mean that anyone will know about that. It’s important that as an industry, we communicate our value effectively. Not only do we need to provide more value than any of these new technology companies entering the real estate world, but we also need to make sure that consumers know about our value.
It’s not just enough to be the best. You have to make sure that people know you’re the best. If you are the best and focus on doing your best, providing more value to a client than you charge in commission, and making sure that consumers KNOW about the value you bring, you don’t need to worry about this new competition. They will go out of business on their own if we put them out of business by flat-out being better than they are.
In Salt Lake City we have a new “For Sale By Owner assistance” startup that shall remain nameless. They’re getting a bit cocky as of late, misinterpreting their “success” with the hot sellers market. We are seeing this service grossly under price listings for their “clients”, while leading them to believe that just because they’re not paying real estate commission, that they are making more money than they would have listing with a Realtor. There have been numerous studies and examples shown recently that this service is helping people save $9,000 in commission… but then underpricing their home by up to $50,000. Are you freaking kidding me? That is unacceptable. But if the consumer never knows their home is underpriced, they think they just saved a grip of $ and will tell their friends to use the same company when they sell.
Once more consumers know this, they’ll go out of business. We don’t need to find ways to have the Division of Real Estate shut them down or figure out ways to sue them, as some overzealous agents have suggested. If they suck, and we offer more value than they do, we will win. Simple as that.
Now let me be clear. If one of these new companies is breaking the rules or the law, then they need to be punished and if warranted, shut down. But if they’re simply providing more competition than you want to deal with, it is 100% on you to be better than them and beat them. I’m tired of hearing other agents say that this company or that company needs to be shut down because of this or that. It’s weak! If they provide a crappy service and consumers know they’re a crappy service, they will go out of business on their own, regardless of the market we’re in. That’s how the free market works: meritocracy.
Again, I beg and plead with my fellow real estate peeps all around the world. Please don’t get caught up in worrying so much and being so fearful of these new competitors with a flashy app. Remember, we are in a very hot, all time high sellers market in most places around the country. When the market turns, it will sort the winners from the posers.
Rather, spend your time, every day, focusing on how you can provide the most value to your clients, and then spend an equal amount of time learning how to teach the public about that value. It’s called marketing. It’s pretty important. If they don’t know that you’re better, does it really matter that you’re better? There is no doubt in my mind that a good real estate agent will make their seller more money than the commission they charge. That isn’t being debated here.
Many consumers today don’t know this, or, they just don’t believe it. It’s on our shoulders as real estate professionals to be better at communicating our value. We need to show it. We need to prove it. We need to make it abundantly clear that paying a full commission is more beneficial to the client than doing things on their own. I have seen many successful agents do this, but I am seeing way too many people fall short of communicating their value. It’s not easy. It’s hard, and requires creativity and marketing savvy, but it’s vital that we do it. Let’s all do better, together, and then we won’t need to worry about some flashy new app wiping us out.