We’re Not Going Anywhere
Disintermediation: was there even such a word two decades ago?! Seven syllables which have changed the lives of travel agents, stockbrokers, grocers, taxicab drivers, and real estate agents. For those of my readers not familiar with the term, disintermediation occurs when a new technology usurps the function which formerly required human interaction. Your Lyft or Via car comes right to your door, no taxi hailing required. Your travel booking apps enable you to plan and reserve your own trip. Your e-mail to Fresh Direct enables you to skip that visit to the local grocery store. And, if what I read in the technology press is true, real estate technology will soon enable you to view, bid for, go to contract on, and close your dream home, all without arising from your armchair.
But wait…not so fast! In fact, recent years have reintroduced the human connection into many of these businesses. Travel agents are back, especially at the higher end of the price spectrum. Wealth managers continue to add clients and provide advisory services. Millions of people walk into Whole Food to shop. And real estate agents, in our New York marketplace, remain in demand. However, the DEFINITION of the services we provide has changed. The Internet has created access to all sorts of information. Travel information, stock purchasing information, real estate purchase and sale information – all these now require just a few keystrokes to find. So the new question is, what do you DO with that information?
Real estate agents have relinquished their role as gatekeepers of information; anyone anywhere can surf Zillow and realtor.com to get up to date information about listings. So how do we, as agents, add value? Our new role is that of trusted advisor. We offer expertise to our clients; we offer them the bridge between information and knowledge. Ours is a very subtle field of endeavor, requiring a plethora of skills to bring transactions to fruition in a way which satisfies all parties. Sophisticated people appreciate that in order to arrive at the optimal outcome, you hire an expert. Since real estate is such a significant purchase, it pays to have someone with deep market knowledge, experience, and negotiating skills specific to your area on your side.
For some transactions, working without a broker can make sense. Lower end rentals, for example, can often be arranged directly by the tenant and the landlord or landlord’s representative; an agent can be superfluous. Similarly, sales transactions in the $100,000 to $300,000 range can benefit from new technologies in listing and negotiation which enable buyers and sellers, both of whom are likely to be extremely cost conscious, to proceed on their own. But transactional complexities increase as prices rise. Even the least expensive properties in New York City require expertise; more often than not they are co-op or condo purchases which require management at every step if they are to proceed smoothly. That is precisely where a good agent adds value.
I feel confident that, as technology continues to shape our future, real estate brokers like those at Warburg Realty will not fall victim to disintermediation. As guides, experts, and friends, we provide a depth and level of service no app can duplicate.