Commentary: The real estate agent’s evolving role in the digital era

by Ephraim Vecina09 Jan 2017
Growing investment in real estate technology businesses—which clocked in at $1.5 billion as of 2015—will prompt significant changes in the role that agents will play in the years to come, according to an industry observer.
 
In the January 4 edition of her column for Canadian Business, analyst Sarah Niedoba argued that the industry should begin adapting to the fact that the client base now has access to more information than ever.
 
“Thanks in large part to the rise of big data, technology is both helping consumers find the right agents and helping everyone be better informed about the actual state of the market,” Niedoba wrote. “That, coupled with an expected easing of industry restrictions related to how it can distribute information about previous property sales, is enriching the quality and volume of data available.”
 
For instance, property portal Zoocasa gives users access to a powerful search engine that helps them find their desired homes, down to specific neighbourhoods. Zoocasa also offers an online brokerage staffed by its in-house agents.
 
“The site’s advanced search functions allow a would-be homeowner to do some granular searching (i.e., more than what’s available on the Multiple Listing Service real estate database) before even meeting with a broker. It’s like researching a purchase on Amazon, but for homes,” Niedoba explained. “Such services may soon prove even more appealing to consumers.”
 
Thus, the real estate agent’s emphasis should shift towards complementing these disruptive technologies, as machines will never be able to replace the aesthetic and decision-making aspects of the purchase process.
 
“Instead of being door-openers and hand-holders, Realtors are now going to be experts able to formulate data in an appropriate way for clients,” online listing database TheRedPin co-founder Tarik Gidamy told Niedoba. “That will improve the experience the customer has.”
 

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