By Keith Robinson, Chief Strategy Officer, NextHome
Technology. Disintermediation. Agent-enabled tech. Tech-enabled agent. Portals. And on and on.
There's a battle raging across residential real estate and people are collecting banner men and women faster than the season finale of Game of Thrones. We keep hearing different versions of the same thing: “Who is going to win? Technology or the agent?”
Here is a concept: What if the answer is both?
Automation is the future…to a point. Take driverless vehicles, for example. Engineers have figured out how to get them close to urban areas. But once the car or truck hits the complexities of a dense urban area, it gets much harder to navigate. One of the proposed solutions is to have automated cars drive to staging areas outside large cities, then have humans take the vehicle the rest of the way.
This is what I think will happen in residential real estate. There will be a marriage of technology and human to give the consumer the most robust service experience possible.
Technology is amazing and it’s shaping the way people search, select and see properties. How about a search experience that notices you tend to like homes with stainless steel appliances and white and gray kitchens, then proceeds to look for more kitchens that match your preference and move them up the viewing list? Or an open house sign-in solution that provides real value through detailed reports on the property. How about the ability to call a REALTOR® to let you into a house in the same fashion you might order an Uber? Or being able to order all of your automatically created marketing materials for a new listing with a few clicks. None of these examples are science fiction. Every one of these tools exists today.
You know what else is amazing? Real estate agents. We're pack animals craving human contact and interaction, constantly seeking acceptance and approval from our tribe. This means technology can only take us so far. Buying and selling a house is a stressful process—moving ranks third on the stress-o-meter, only behind divorce and loss of a loved one. Let’s just say people who are going through the process of moving, while talking about possibly the largest financial decision in their life, are not "living their best life" (as the kids say). There's no technology to deal with that yet. There isn’t an app for that yet. Not even close.
In my experience, real estate agents are some of the most emotionally intelligent, service-oriented, hard-working people I have ever met. They border on the co-dependent, they care about their clients so much. This means late night calls to talk people through buyer’s remorse or coaching them through negotiation strategies. Sharing their highs with them and helping them not get too high or experiencing the lows with them and picking them up off the ground. We are—and I say "we" because I am one—part therapist, part best friend, part bartender and part Shark Tank judge for our clients. Being a REALTOR® takes a particular set of skills and they're pretty tough to replace with technology.
Let’s go back to calling the banners in this war. Who will sit upon the Iron Throne?
It will be the agents who fully embrace technology to help them strengthen their relationships with their clients. It will be the agents who understand that technology shouldn’t be feared. Technology is a tool to help you become more efficient and allow you to spend more time doing what you're best at: working with the humans buying and selling homes.
Don’t shy away from the technology pouring into residential real estate. Lean into it. Don’t try to beat the tech companies at the technology game. You’ll lose. Try to beat the tech companies at the human game. You'll have a much higher likelihood of success.
Keith Robinson is the Chief Strategy Officer for NextHome, Inc. He has an extensive background in real estate including experience in national business strategy, operations, sales training, recruitment, motivation and effective marketing. Robinson is responsible for the implementation of key strategic business relationships, further adding to the growth of NextHome’s national expansion.