There is no denying that the Internet has greatly changed the way people shop for and purchase homes.
With so much information available, people often begin their home searches online, either with or without the help of a real estate agent.
What folks often don’t realize is many of these websites are media companies making money from advertising and are not beholden to publish only accurate real estate information.
Sites like Zillow and Trulia do publish accurate information through online syndication with reliable sources; however, there have been countless instances in which homes published on these pages were not on the market.
I cannot tell you how many times people have contacted me about properties they found on these websites which turned out to be either falsely advertised or that had sold months earlier and their status was not properly updated.
Local, experienced real estate advisors have knowledge of local inventory markets and pick up on trends. They are forward looking and anticipate changes in the real estate market.
Most agents will agree that there is nothing wrong with beginning and conducting a property search online, but there is a major difference between using a media site like Zillow vs. Realtor.com, an area firm’s website, or an MLS portal set up by an agent.
Here Come the Disruptors
Charlotte is one of the top real estate markets in the United States and we are often in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of cities chosen for iBuyer companies like Knock, OpenDoor, and – coming soon to the Queen City – Zillow.
I recently heard an ad touting a new company’s guaranteed home purchase offer, eliminating showings and negotiations and not exposing your greatest investment on the open market.
This may be fine for those who are in a position to leave large sums of money on the table, but other than for the sake of convenience, since when has keeping a property off the market ever been good for the seller?
IBuying companies tout consumer convenience and simplicity by offering to purchase the home directly from the seller – often for a fee and at a rate quite a bit below market value – before they turn around and sell the home on the open market.
Don’t be fooled by slick advertising. Do the math for yourself. Consult your financial adviser and a Realtor® to make sure you are acting in your best interest before making such an important decision.
It’s a DIY World, Baby!
As real estate tech improves, it wants to empower home buyers and sellers to go through the process alone. Think of it like tech-supported For Sale By Owner, only this is for sale and for purchase by owner.
The problem with going at it alone is that there is always another party on the other side of the transaction who may or may not know what they are doing, thereby potentially reducing the likelihood of a successful transaction.
With so much information available online, the vast majority of buyers and sellers need an experienced real estate professional to sift through and interpret the data.
For Realtors®, the hardest work often begins after the home is under contract.
Strong negotiation skills, being able to interpret an inspection report to know which items are serious and which are minor, negotiating potential repairs or allowances after the initial contract, coordinating inspections, repairs, and appraisals, and staying in communication with lenders, attorneys and the other party’s agent are invaluable.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
While there will always be a small percentage of people who prefer to buy and sell real estate on their own, the majority of people understand that they don’t know all there is to know about buying and selling real property and realize they can benefit from a real estate professional to guide them through the process.
Surprisingly, the generations who have come up relying on information technology more than any other and have never known a world without the Internet, are the ones most likely to seek the expert guidance of a professional in all areas of their lives, including consulting with a Realtor® when they buy and sell real estate.
At the end of the day, technology in real estate is here to stay.
Traditional brokerages with local agents who are engaged in their communities and keep their finger on the pulse of local market intricacies will continue to be the best resource for home buyers and sellers; though the ones who not only survive, but thrive, in this brave new world are those who choose to adapt and use emerging technologies to benefit their clients by simplifying the real estate experience and maximizing the value of their investment.