By Ayman Alashkar – Founder & CEO – OVERWRITE.ai
The raison d’etre of PropTech, or property technology, is NOT to make realtors obsolete.
Quite the opposite; with all the nuances – be they financial, legal or sometimes very intensely emotional – that come with a real estate transaction, the role of a human agent can never be entirely replaced.
As the shift toward a more digital real estate market has become real, questions have been raised about the value of the real estate agent, with many asking whether the role will fade into obscurity. In fact it’s a common misconception that disruptive technology is attempting to replace these traditional roles.
Expecting estate agents to become obsolete is the folly of fools.
Of course it’s possible to rent, buy or sell a property without the help of a broker. But as with other walks of life, you’re likely to get more value and a better outcome by working with a professional. Brokers are trained in generating leads, managing relationships, getting the right properties in front of the right people, and negotiating a deal to a conclusion all parties are happy with.
In today’s post-covid market, the idea of working with a real estate agent may seem ‘old fashioned’, unnecessary, or even spark real covid-related fears.
Unsurprisingly then for some individuals, questions might arise like: “What do I need an estate agent for?” or “Why would I pay a commission to an agent, if I could just do it myself for free?”
I’ve transacted property plenty. Often with, and sometimes without the aid of a broker. And while you may think you’re saving yourself 2% (or more) in commissions, I challenge anybody who knows how to truly value their own time, to tell me that’s money well-saved. It simply isn’t worth it going it alone. Leave it to the pro’s. When you partner with a broker who is an expert in your market, you end up actually saving money, while gaining knowledge, relationships, and all-importantly….time.
Here are THREE ways that I believe estate agents provide value in the modern real estate market.
A. Defusing Emotional Decisions 🤯
I believe the single biggest value of a realtor is taking the emotion out of a transaction. That’s not to say that a broker’s indifferent to the outcome of a deal. A broker is able to keep a cool head and stay focused on the end game in a way that is difficult for buyers and sellers when thousands or millions of dollars are in play. Of the real estate trades I’ve seen where no broker’s been involved, no fewer than 50% have failed. Worse, some have ended up in litigation; where’s the money saved when lawyers are billing you by the hour?
It’s invaluable to have a neutral third party to manage the negotiation process and de-escalate emotional tensions.
B. Leveraging Local Knowledge 📚
High-level realtors have deep roots in their local community. Like Phil Dunfy from the hit US comedy Modern Family, they know the area inside and out, and they’ve developed close relationships with a large network of vendors and lenders. Real estate apps may provide user-friendly platforms and instant information, but they simply can’t compete on this front. They can’t offer that level of personal interaction or community knowledge.
Your long-standing professional relationships, where reputation matters even more than money, are what protect your client’s interests. And they aren’t forged overnight.
If a sale depends on getting a home repair done on a tight budget and timeline, a local broker with a strong network can call in a favour with a contractor who will get it done efficiently, because of their deep relationships.
C. Getting You What You Want ✍️
When working with a client, a realtor’s job is to help them define a realistic goal and negotiate terms to support that outcome all the way to closing. This process can be broken down into three key skills:
Step 1. Have a plan, Stan. A great realtor is a great marketer. With technology changing rapidly, realtors have to develop marketing strategies that reach wide audiences. Each agency and realtor has their approach to marketing. What’s yours? Are you only targeting local buyers? Will you be relying entirely on incoming leads? Be ready to answer these and more questions from prospective clients, and your value will be evident.
Step 2. There’s more to life than money. When transacting property, most people only think about price. But a good realtor knows that there are always terms and conditions, some of which can break a deal regardless of price. For instance, getting the buyer to take your home as is, or negotiating a sale and short-term leaseback while vendors manage their move. Very often sellers hesitate, not wanting to list their homes because they haven’t yet found another one to buy. They’re afraid of being forced to move before they have somewhere else to go to. A good estate agent can find a way around this problem, and many others. They are a single source of creative real estate solutions, so clients don’t have to worry. Apps can’t do that. Never will.
Step 3. Defend that goal line. Estate agents bring an ability to stay focused on their clients objectives throughout the transaction, negotiating the best terms upfront and fighting for them until closing. This involves developing specialised knowledge about their market and advising their client about ways to get their desired outcome. As you’ll know, home inspections and financing are the two biggest reasons that a home doesn’t make it to closing. Experienced agents can foresee these issues and navigate their client through trouble-spots to avoid their transaction coming apart at the seams.
Clearly the industry is evolving. PropTechs are here to stay. But for a technology to be successful it has to solve a problem, create efficiency and add value to their end user.
Thankfully, professional estate agents are more equipped than ever with the technological tools that support them, making them better at what they do, and ensuring that their role endures.
An AI Implementation Strategist accredited by the prestigious MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ayman also has a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics from the world-renowned Queen Mary College, University of London, and a Masters in Real Estate Investment and Development from the University of Reading (UK). With 20 years’ experience working in real estate, banking and artificial intelligence, Ayman is the founder and CEO of PropTech platform OVERWRITE.ai.
OVERWRITE.ai is a world first, user-friendly marketing solution that allows estate agents to instantly autowrite unique, search-optimised property listing descriptions, taking the boring out of the daily grind.