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?Empowered’ Consumers Need You More than Ever

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By Walt Baczkowski

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2007-If you haven't met this person yet, chances are you will be meeting him or her in the very near future. This individual is someone best described as the "Artificially Empowered Consumer."

Almost every trend report or newsletter that predicts future changes or challenges to the real estate profession discusses the impact that consumers are having on the real estate industry. As each generation begins to review information regarding real estate, they will realize that there is an overwhelming abundance of data from multiple service providers, each indicating that their data is the "best" or most inclusive.

Published surveys of consumers indicate that they are spending upward of six months searching real estate Web sites prior to contacting a Realtor. In that amount of time, they may develop very unrealistic opinions regarding issues such as market conditions, pricing their offer and home inspections. They come to the first meeting feeling "empowered" that they're going to make sure they are in charge and directing this transaction. It is at this point that Realtors need to find out the consumer's views and where they gleaned their information to formulate their view.

Also beware of the consumer who brings in reams of data printed out from many Web sites proclaiming to know the market and exactly what he or she wants. As my good friend Saul Klein says, "Information without the ability to place it in the proper context is worthless data." The consumer may have information on housing sales or school information or traffic patterns, however, if not placed in the proper context, the data is worthless in their decision to buy or sell real estate.

Consumers are driving change in the real estate industry, however, this does not always make them right. The availability of information has actually had the reverse effect that consumers need Realtors more than ever before to interpret information and assist them in making a wise, well-informed decision. RE

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