The real estate industry is changing fast. Just two years ago, Benchmark CEO Phillip Cantrell predicted the next five years would have more change than we’d seen in the last twenty, but it doesn’t stop there. Now, the next two years may hold more change than the last seventy-five, and many unprepared agents are reeling.
We’ll be sharing a two-part series looking at the two largest shifts in the industry and how savvy, professional agents can respond to them and use them to their benefit: the changing role of the agent and the impact of technology.
Last year was a major turning point for our industry. Though traditionally relationships and referrals have played a significant role in building a client base, for the first time in history more consumers found agents online than via person-to-person referrals in 2017 (28 percent versus 23 percent compared to 2016’s 26 percent versus 33 percent).
This—combined with a client’s ability to find relevant, accurate information on the homes in their market—signals a change in how home buyers and sellers view the role an agent plays in their transactions. Agents are no longer gatekeepers of information. Instead, to remain relevant in a quickly changing world, they must offer their own unique value to clients to show that a human element remains a vital part of successful real estate transactions.
The evolving role agents must now play is three parts: consultant, project manager, and therapist.
Real Estate Agent as Consultant
While many websites now offer neighborhood-specific information like school rankings, crime maps, and walkability scores, agents carry a deeper knowledge of their communities. By living and breathing their local neighborhoods, they know where things are growing or declining and can provide insight into larger trends. This, in turn, gives them the opportunity to help explain how current markets may impact an individual’s real estate transaction on a much more personal level than online data can provide.
Real Estate Agent as Project Manager
Successful real estate transactions are made up of dozens of moving parts and tons of red tape. From financing and inspections to contract negotiation and buyer-requested repairs, clients need someone who can walk them through how to coordinate each step, in order to buy or sell their home in a timely manner. Professional agents have the experience to step in and meet this need.
Real Estate Agent as Counselor
No matter how much a client may try to distance themselves from it, buying or selling a home is an emotional process. An agent can help serve as an unbiased mediator, seeing through the tensions and stresses that can come up as a result of making a major financial decision. The professional agent has been through this process before, giving them the confidence and experience to help clients remain calm and make smart choices. This type of counselor role is simply something technology can’t replace.
How to Prepare Yourself for Industry Changes
In the next part of this series, we’ll examine the impact of technology on the agent’s changing role, and how you can leverage it for your own success. But true growth and control of your future as a real estate agent goes beyond harnessing technology to aligning yourself with people who are also focused on moving forward.
This look at the state of the industry came from a recent monthly mastermind meeting with Benchmark CEO Phillip Cantrell. These meetings are just one part of how Benchmark is working with its agents to stay on top of industry trends to both face and shape them for their own (and their clients’) benefit.