“The role of the Realtor is definitely changing,” says Carl Langschmidt, the founder of MrLoft.ca, Condos.ca and Property.ca. “It’s not about finding a home and educating [clients] on the prices. When it comes to selling, you’re selling your marketing skills and your expertise in negotiating. They know the price of their property, they saw what the house down the street sold for.”
In 2001, Langschmidt says, eight per cent of buyers found their own home. That number jumped to 42 per cent last year.
“My clients have a ton of information coming to the table,” says Ricky Chadha, an agent in Toronto. “They’ve done all their research, they have access to all the information, so they’re very well-prepared. It makes it more important for agents to be equipped with that knowledge as well.”
“Ten or 20 years ago, the role of the agent was to educate your clients,” Langschmidt. “We were more the gatekeepers of the information, but now buyers are educating themselves.”
That shift in the value proposition of an agent means sales reps need to work even harder to develop a personal relationship with clients. Older agents, though, who have built a business based on referrals have seemingly slipped through the digital world, and escaped unscathed on the other side.
“I think seasoned older agents typically have a very large network and I’m surprised at those agents who have very little online presence but who have large numbers,” Chadha says. “If you’re a younger agent, though, it’s imperative that you’re online.”
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The widespread use of technology is effectively pushing agents out of the equation, say industry players arguing clients are increasingly finding their own dream home.