In a time when you can order a coffee for pickup with your mobile device and pay using your fingerprint or face, it makes sense that consumers are beginning to expect a certain level of sophistication in transactions. Real estate—one of the biggest transactions that many people will conduct in their lives—hasn’t yet reached the point where buyers can click a few buttons and offer a biometric scan to complete a purchase.
Still, as consumer expectations shift, some real estate agents will become the go-to source for information and advice that buyers and sellers need to make a smart decision…and some will be unable to offer any interesting, actionable data to clients, and will, therefore, find it difficult to compete in the changing environment.
An Educated Consumer
Real estate agents who will secure the greatest success in the future will have one significant similarity to every real estate agent who has ever been successful: These are all agents who understand how to answer their clients’ most pressing questions.
The problem is that every generation of homebuyers (and sellers) has a different set of pressing questions, and as consumers gain access to more information, those questions become more difficult to answer. For instance, in 1998, a homebuyer needed to talk to a real estate agent to access homes for sale, while 20 years later, they’re able to find homes themselves using modern platforms. A buyer today is much more likely to reach out to an agent with questions about neighborhood crime rates, the property’s projected future value, or even data on potential rental return on the home, while 20 years from now, buyers are going to have even more specific questions about the properties they’re viewing and neighborhoods they’re considering.
If agents aren’t brushing up on their ability to answer these new sets of questions, they’re putting themselves at a disadvantage. There’s a whole world of information at a buyer’s or seller’s fingertips every time he or she hops online, and although a portion of that information is inaccurate or misplaced, salespeople in every industry have to understand that consumers are self-educating before they commit to making a purchase.
Where Is the Agent of the Future?
While consumers have access to a plethora of information, that doesn’t mean that agents will be eliminated from the real estate sales process. An educated consumer understands that a real estate transaction is complex and requires a specific skillset; therefore, the role of the trusted advisor will remain as important as it’s ever been. Buyers and sellers will continue to require advocacy, negotiation support, guidance and general advice as they embark on a home-purchase or -sale journey.
But real estate agents will need to change some aspects of how they operate. They will need to be able to answer the next-level questions that buyers and sellers can’t Google, explaining exactly why one home is valued at one amount while another home across the street has an entirely different valuation, and what the client should do as a result to get the best deal in the current market.
The agents who can secure the skills or tools to answer these questions efficiently are going to give themselves a boost as consumers increasingly seek out housing market experts to help them make decisions.
Jeremy Sicklick is co-founder and CEO of HouseCanary. For more information, please visit www.housecanary.com.
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