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Perspective by Walt Baczkowski

RISMEDIA, Oct. 16, 2008-What if a major online portal provided a service for homeowners to list their property directly without going through a real estate broker? What if that listing information was married with an entire property history database? What if homeowners were able to access an easy, accurate home-price estimator that also utilizes recent comparable sales data? What if offers could be submitted electronically, along with mortgage applications, and all related reports tracked electronically?

What if the answer to each of these questions is that the process is either being developed, being tested or available right now? How are we preparing to deal with these possibilities/eventualities?

Tough statements and maybe not-so-pleasant thoughts, however, this is the reality the real estate profession needs to address. There are currently property-centric databases available that provide the properties’ history and related information. (As an aside, I searched my own home and the satellite photo showed me in the backyard!) Mortgage information and transaction networks are also readily available.

The availability of all this information and the increasing rate at which consumers are viewing real estate websites presents a significant opportunity for Realtors to enhance their value to consumers in real estate transactions.

Information without the ability to put it into context is worthless data. Accurate interpretation of the data is more valuable than the data itself.

Realtors, to maintain their role at the beginning of the transaction, need to understand how to access the same information that is available to consumers, and how to interpret that data and provide information in a useable context for the consumer in the decision-making process.

This includes regularly searching the same websites consumers are using; making sure your information is syndicated to as many real estate portals as possible, and knowing where to go for information your customer needs. It means being able to communicate with the customer in a manner they desire, be it, or one of the many other social networking services available.

Changes and innovations will continue. It is up to us to capitalize on the opportunities they present.

Walt Baczkowski is president of the Metropolitan Consolidated Association of REALTORS®. To contact him, please e-mail