Real Estate News & Commentary

Will Real Estate Agents Be Made Obsolete by 2025?

Expertise: Commercial Real Estate, Personal Finance, Real Estate Marketing, Business Management, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Development, Real Estate News & Commentary, Mortgages & Creative Financing
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Real estate agents are on their way out. How can they save themselves? Why is this so important for property investors to watch?

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Once upon a time, there was no internet. Real estate brokers had exclusive access to real estate listing data. There was hardly any transparency, scale, or speed in viewing listings, checking comps, and making offers. Everything was offline—and very controlled. Things are completely different now.

In a couple of seconds, buyers can see everything on the MLS, as well as online for sale by owners. They can check comps and market trends. Sellers can even get instant offers for their homes.

Essentially, many of the reasons that real estate agents were needed or had value have vaporized. It’s not unlike many other jobs. Still, this technology shift in the real estate industry is likely to be one of the biggest and most impactful yet.

housing-market

Related: Is Becoming a Real Estate Agent a Good Path to Investing — Or a Pricey Distraction?

Disrupted by Technology

If real estate agents fail to separate themselves and find ways to deliver value, they will be disrupted and rendered useless by technology.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like and respect agents. I even work with a lot of them. Some are very valuable; others not so much. I wish more could save themselves and their careers by seeing how urgent this is and making the change while they still can.

There are several ways the real estate industry can do this. One is the old tradition of lobbying, creating new regulations, and using legal battles to protect their turf. There is no question this is happening, and if it is not, it is a tool that should be used. Real estate groups are one of the most powerful, well-funded, and impactful in this area—though chances are, this may not last forever. Look at how Uber and Airbnb are acing those legal battles while disrupting service industries that never innovated.

tenant-management

Related: The 3 Biggest Drawbacks of Being a Real Estate Agent in This Day and Age

Offer Unique Value

The other way to beat this is to strive to offer more value and service. What can you do or offer to add value to buyers, sellers, renters, and agents? Maybe it is a better experience. Or it could be mastering new knowledge or providing more efficiency and profitability than can be achieved alone.

Right now, two of the areas where agents still add value is managing all of the old school paperwork and processes and acting as a buffer from liability. Of course, these factors are likely to be streamlined by technology as well.

This is all important to watch for real estate investors too. To sustain success, you have to be using the best and newest technology. You have to anticipate change and strive to offer incredible value beyond just being able to make offers and advertise properties. You also have to operate incredible efficiently in order to continue to compete.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]

How are you keeping ahead of these trends?

Let me know your thoughts with a comment!

With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling currently manages over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $26MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments and single-family homes. Through the company he co-founded, Holdfolio, he owns just under 400 units. Sterling was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single-family investing and apartment investing to wholesaling and scaling a business.

    Huiping Sheng
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Like this post. In max 5 years the realtor will like yellow cab or yesterday and stay in library. All other fields are facing huge challenge to have transparency, to have profit by provide the unique value, have creation, what about realtors!
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you for your comment, Huiping.
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I just read Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford and it’s starting to make me think that just about every profession will be obsolete by 2025
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I am going to give that book a read, Andrew. Thank you for the recommendation..Amazon Go is another example of technology replacing humans..No need for cashiers when you can self check out..
    David Greene
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Let’s hope that’s not the case for blog contributors, Andrew.
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Agreed David! The competitive edge we’ll have(human investors) is real life case studies and personal experiences through our writings. Robots are likely to write on the more generic topics..
    Joshua Martin Real Estate Broker from Milwaukee, WI
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Hey Sterling. Interesting article. You’re right about the necessity to improve and offer something that really stands out, but I also don’t totally agree with your analysis. While even today the average person can go FSBO and do it successfully (and they may discover without a ton of difficulty), I don’t think everyone will want to, and realtors will still be viewed as something with a unique value proposition just by being so plugged into local markets and knowing those markets on a very basic level much better than zillow has the ability to do. Additionally, I believe many people will see the work involved as something better left to a professional. Months ago when I started working as an agent I thought what the hell really is our function?! Several months later I see quite clearly that most people, homeowners, etc., don’t know a thing about real estate even though they are so involved with it. And what about investors? Who do they first turn to in order to learn an area or the qualities and tenant bases, etc., of particular areas? (No doubt down the road they learn to cut realtors out, as they should). Lastly, I can see commissions being driven even further down. 6% on high end listings I think will quickly be a thing of the past, despite all the agents that think they’re ‘worth it.’ I’ll always try for it, but I’ll also work for less. With all marketing happening online anyways, it’s hard to justify the costs of selling and marketing a home when there really aren’t that many costs… Good stuff. Best, JTM
    Bob Carlson from Burlingame, California
    Replied over 2 years ago
    The real value an agent can bring these days has to be providing that hands on asssistance to buyers and sellers that they need to guide them through the transaction. Listing, marketing, searching, closing, etc have all become ultra simple these days. I value an agent for taking the worries off my mind as I’m dealing with dozens of other things – work, family, loan acquisition, moving, etc. The agent should be there to deal with the stager, appraiser, inspector. I think the commission scale should be flattened out to reflect this changing role.
    Darius Hollis from Atlanta, Georgia
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I agree that hands on assistance is a major value proposition for agents, but listing and marketing are not as simple a task as they appear. From an uninformed perspective it would appear that owners looking to sell can just throw their home up on Zillow and wait for the offers to roll in, but 90% of FSBO listings fail and, after months of wasting time and losing value, the owners lists with an agent and “magically” sells; alternatively the owner can end up selling for 80% of the amount of money they could have gotten listing with an agent that can accurately price the property and negotiate well. It is true that anyone can “list” a home, but that doesn’t mean they can maximize their return.
    Darius Hollis from Atlanta, Georgia
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great content Sterling! You present a very interesting analysis, but I think often times people forget that agents bring much more value than access to an MLS. After an investor finds a deal, or a homebuyer sees their dream house, they have to actually put together a strong offer that will protect their interests and prevent them from being exploited. Many times people put together flimsy contracts that end up disastrous if the transaction doesn’t go perfectly. There is also the transaction coordination process that takes place after an offer is accepted. Without clearly defined processes to guide the transaction to closing; buyers, sellers and investors can run into headaches when they realize they do not have the time, resources or desire to manage the transaction. A good agent also has local market expertise, experience and knowledge beyond the average investor because they have their finger on the pulse of the market 24/7. Overall, an agent brings more value to the table than access to an MLS and if agent’s understand how to portray that to buyers, investors and sellers that may not see their underlying value, then they will never become obsolete because no technology can deliver all of the multidisciplinary expertise that a great agent can in one package. Good agents are well versed in economics, marketing, management, accounting and law. I doubt that anyone can create one platform that can affordably deliver all of these skills and tailor the application of those skills to the immediate and long term needs of their client. The reason more and more agents are failing and creating the false impression of obsolescence is because they do not understand their own value or how to communicate it effectively. Just like in any industry, the agents that can not sell themselves will fail and the agents that are aware of their value to the marketplace, and can convey that well, will succeed. It isn’t so much as creating unique value or using fancy tech that will lead a Realtor to success, that helps sure, but rather the true necessity for a great agent is an understanding of their purpose, the consumer’s psychology and how to bypass consumer biases that prevent them from seeing the value that has always existed. A lot of subpar sales training and misinformation leads many agents to fail as the mainstream is overrun with bad advice, but that’s a discussion for another day. Many Thanks, Darius Hollis
    Leanne Rivard Residential Real Estate Broker from Littleton, Colorado
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great commentary, Darius.
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you for your comment and insight Darius..
    Brian Dombrowski Investor from Sarasota, Florida
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Darius said: “Without clearly defined processes to guide the transaction to closing; buyers, sellers and investors can run into headaches when they realize they do not have the time, resources or desire to manage the transaction.” Actually, it’s a “clearly defined process” that most easily lends itself to being automated by tech. Upcoming AI (artificial intelligence) will handle much more complex situations, and blockchain can be used to create and enforce contracts flawlessly w/o lawyers and banksters. Some big tech giants are going to make this happen as there is such big money to be had at volume even if they take 1% commissions or flat fees vs the 6% human agents collectively get now. I expect NAR to lobby for regulation in an attempt to hold a moat to slow the progress of technology, but like the author said, look at the success of AirBnB, Uber, Amazon in the face of resistance from old school incumbents. Realtors may lose, but buyers and sellers will win.
    Scott R. Investor from Beverly Hills, California
    Replied 11 months ago
    Brian is spot on. And yes, I do expect the NAR to dig their heels in the sand here. A change to the current system is against their interests aka less commissions for their member agents. We’ve seen this happen time and time again. I welcome the process and tech disruption that we are currently seeing ramping up in RE. In the end, consumers will always win out.
    Steve
    Replied over 2 years ago
    As a broker/agent, I can tell you that IF agents do exist in their current form in 2025, it will be largely due to the practices and leverage of certain national organizations. Brokers have largely failed to adapt their practices to meet the new reality. Commissions of 6% could perhaps be justified when listings were protected and actually were in printed monthly publications (remember that?). That has changed dramatically over the past 20 years or so due to technology, yet 6% is still the norm. Good Brokers do bring value and many have significant market knowledge, but they (we) are not lawyers or doctors either. Consumers are figuring this out and many are looking at alternative ways to buy and sell. Several potential scenarios I have thought through could seriously disrupt the current NAR/MLS model, and I expect they will. How the industry adapts will be interesting to see, but regardless of exactly how it plays out, I see the role of the agent being diminished and consumers gaining more control and keeping more of their money.
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Agreed! You hit the nail on the head..Thank you for your comment, Steve!
    Robert J Carlson Acquisition Specialist / Investor / Rehab Specialist from Hammond, Indiana (IN)
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Bob Carlson is a genius
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I sense you both are related in some way!
    Jennifer Plowman Investor from Greensburg, Pennsylvania
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Hey Sterling! I enjoyed your article, and as an agent, I have to say I have been considering a lot of the points you made. I also got into the business in ’09 right out of college, I am also a full-time teacher and my husband and I have a small investment business. I enjoy talking to older agents in my office about just how much this profession has changed over the years. I do think there is a lot of value in a GOOD agent and that it is going to become increasingly importnant for Realtors to find ways to add value to their services and not become obsolete. I often wonder about the role of the large brokerages moving into the future as well. I see a future for agents, as the self contractors that we are, in a more direct role with customers that would have the customer cost lowered. Agents are becoming increasingly burdened with the brokerage fees that seem to just keep on getting piled on. Thanks for sharing your perspective!
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied over 2 years ago
    You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed the content, Jennifer!
    Douglas Larson Rental Property Investor from Salt Lake City, UT
    Replied over 2 years ago
    The more information i have at my fingertips, the more I seem to rely on agents! They look for deals, find buyers and sellers for my wholesales and retail flips. They negotiate as an unemotional 3rd party with agents, banks and principles. They even play “bad cop” at times with uncooperative tenants, buyers and sellers when needed. Agents have watered my lawn when I’m out of town and negotiated with contractors to take care of final repairs before a sale. I think agents who solve problems and have great customer service will ALWAYS be in demand!
    Account Closed from Peoria, Arizona
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Real estate agents will always be around as the real estate industry is based on service. Technology will always improve the way agents can communicate and work with clients. Agents are always the best negotiators and that will not go away with technology. Using agents to sift through the massive amounts of data in the real estate industry will always give agents an advantage.
    Katie
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Agents are terrible negotiators. Half of the time they are terrible at finding out what the other side of the transaction really wants or explaining the benefit of terms in exchange for reduction in price. and if the home inspection finds a serious problem, they are terrible at negotiating a new price. Mostof the time, I find they made very little effort to negotiate.
    Au
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    So true. Agents in my experience, by and large are terrible negotiators.
    Au
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    So true. Agents in my experience, by and large are terrible negotiators.
    mark
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I understand Zillow and such websites exist for finding listings but from your sentence “In a couple of seconds, buyers can see everything on the MLS, as well as online for sale by owners.” it seems like you are saying the average person can get on the MLS. If so, will you elaborate how a investor could do this themselves?
    Katie
    Replied over 2 years ago
    He means you can see all the MLS listings. He does not mean you can see every detail of those listings. There is still a good deal of secret information that the agents share with each other. Very often the buyer’s agent does not tell the buyer everything they know. Transparency is still a problem. I, for one, hope that agents can be rendered obsolete. Buyer’s agents represent themselves and trheir broker, not the buyer. And honestly most of the time, they expect a big commission (median house is $800,000 in my community) for doing little more than opening the door.
    Rapy Narruhn from Vancouver, Washington
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you Sterling for sharing 🙂
    David Hendrix Rental Property Investor from Mansfield, OH
    Replied over 2 years ago
    It is all about adding value. If you are a middle man and you provide little to no value, then you will one day be eliminated. I don’t care what industry we are talking about – real estate agent, insurance agent, financial advisor, travel agent (remember that profession?).
    Robert Horton Professional from Camden, South Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Sterling, I got into real estate in 2003 and realized this was the most antiquated business model I had ever come across that was still in use. Residential real estate sales are controlled by the big brokers. There have always been too many agents to service a given market, and they continue to hire more agents when the supply and demand is not there. In my market, we have about 3,000 agents when we could actually get by with 500. If we only had 500 agents, I can assure you that commissions would come down. (you can only split a pie so many ways if every wants to eat) Becoming a Realtor and actively engaging in the business in a professional manner should require more than a 2 week course….too many part-time agents and wanna be agents. I, too, thought the business would change because of the Internet and the way properties could be marketed without the use of an agent. I was wrong. The brokers are a greedy little bunch and will not easily let go of the golden goose. Change is going to have to come from within the real estate community…..ie, the agents need to police themselves and hold rogue agents and brokers accountable and truly make it a profession. Sterling, I bet you a nice steak dinner at your favorite steak house that real estate agents won’t be obsolete by 2025. You in?
    Steven Freed Flipper from Clovis, California
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great blog STERLING WHITE! I truly like the content of your blog.
    Dave Cribbs
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Sterling, I would love to have a conversation with you on my Facebook LIVE show “Under Contract”. Leaving my email here for you. thanks, dave cribbs
    Shawn Channell Investor from Saint Charles, Missouri
    Replied about 2 years ago
    With advances in technology, and being able to buy properties online through sites like auction.com, it’s just a matter of time before these types of services will make realtors almost obsolete. I say almost because there are still going to be the typical buyers and sellers who want to work with an agent. I’m a licensed broker, and I got my license mainly to buy and sell my own properties to cut out the middleman and save money on commission. And I’m happy to pay a buyer’s agent to procure a ready willing and able buyer. But as profits on my flips are shrinking, it gets harder to justify paying close to 3% to an agent do things that could be easily automated – filling out a contract, getting in touch with a lender, scheduling an inspection, etc. I’m sure a buyer could even hire an attorney to review a sales contract for about what they pay for a buyers’ agency fee, which some realtors are charging the buyers because of shrinking commission rates from the sellers. Realtors need to spend less money on glamour shots and more money on their web presence and using technology to streamline their business so they can be more competitive, otherwise they’ll get left in the dust.
    Victor Kaminski Residential Real Estate Broker from Edison, NJ
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    This article is kind of ridiculous comparing unskilled industry being taken over by uber to real estate agents. I know for one in my state NJ in which the real estate industry is highly regulated it will be in no time in my lifetime agents will be obsolete. First agents bring their skills and knowledge to the table, they also add the element of removing the emotional attachments home owners usually cannot, we act as intermediaries with lenders and courts for short sales, help owners who acted to late stop foreclosure and sell their properties, assist courts in disposing of assets for various reasons like divorce or partition proceedings, many laws require professional licenses to help others in real estate in exchange for any valuable consideration. Real Estate agents also carry E&O insurance which property owners do not, we also know the laws that could save them from lawsuits and other liability issues. Also we have a lot more knowledge about the product, the real estate being sold than the average person who may buy and sell 1 to 3 properties in their lives, we deal with hundreds of transactions so are more familiar with the nuances of all aspects of transactions. We have the knowledge for inspections and their issues, we know how to help property owners avoid or limit their liability, negotiations skills, knowledge about financing, valuation of all kinds of properties from homes to income properties, we have the tools (not just MLS) for everything from picture and video taking and editing to floor plan layouts, various marketing and media advertising for both sellers and buyer resources, renters and landlords. If real estate agent industry is dying then why do so many FSBO’s fail in trying to sell on their own? The majority of them eventually list for sale with an agent to get it sold. It is estimated that some 90% of for sale by owners FSBO’s fail selling on their own. I can go on with this but it’s late and I have to get some sleep.
    Katie
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Yeah, and it would be great if buyer’s agents actually used their expertise for the benefits of buyers. Never forget that a buyer’s agent works for a broker, not the buyer, regardless of the acknowledgement that you have to sign that you understand that your buyer’s agent is your fiduciary. what exactly is the purpose of the acknowledgement anyway? Is it some sly legal maneuver to allow the agent to escape accountability when they are caught not acting in the buyer’s fiduciary interest. Also galling is the buyer’s agent’s very narrow definition of the buyer’s interest. Many agents say that they acted in their buyer’s interest because the buyer, by definition was interested in buying a house, so if the buyer closed on a house, case closed. Never mind that the agent used their expertise and position of trust to persuade the buyer to pay too much in order to increase their own commission.
    Jason Bergan Real Estate Agent from Des Moines, IA
    Replied over 1 year ago
    If that’s your view of agents, you need a better agent. A big part of the process is making sure the buyer is thinking rationally and not emotionally. It’s a good agents job to give facts, and let the client decide, not tell them what to do, so I don’t necessarily agree with your comment.
    John Bierly Rental Property Investor from Bainbridge Island, WA
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    I was going to write a long rebuttal about millennial nonsense on “the uberization of yet another industry” but you have saved me the trouble. Thanks for hitting the nail on the head. Some of the comments make me wonder how many people on these boards actually are active in real estate transactions vs. being posers and looky lous.
    Jonathan Bonck Investor from Houston, Texas
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    I live in Houston. Lots of million dollar listings. This demographic of sellers and buyers will always defer to an agent. There TIME is so valuable. They need to rely on someone who is dependable and service them the way they need. I can see homes under 1$MM being disrupted by technology. But not above.
    Pra Che Investor from Palo Alto, CA
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Being in tech and RE investor for past 2 decades I think I can share some experiences and thoughts about the topic. Current trend: – For experienced investors, brokers only show little value bringing to the table and the commissions are enormous. For e.g. in bay area the prices of homes have gone up so much, every time there is a flip, brokers tend to make quite a bit of money for services offered. Remember there is a bidding situation happening making the properties fly off the market without too much work by either sides. – Even in the rental industry, a lot of PMs charge hefty fee to rent a place even in the locations where homes can rent by themselves easily. It could be that landlords are first timers and uneasy about process, paper work and legal stuff. Forward Trend: – Good brokers and PM who add value and charge reasonable fees will survive just like any other industry. For e.g. autonomous won’t survive very well in chaotic environments like Delhi, Calcutta, Shangai..so skilled drivers still have jobs there. – Like lots of industry, I believe parts or full RE transactions could be automated if not already automated. Giving more transparency, effectiveness to the costs to landlords and investors. I don’t need a PM to rent my place and have to pay 1 month rent as a fee which I can do it myself (which I have been doing) and can turn this into a cookie cutter process and automate. In summary, value added agents, PM can survive but machines will take over a lot of workload going forward.
    Nathan
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I see lots of comments here discussing the difficulty with complicated transactions and technical expertise Real Estate agents have, which will ultimately keep them around. They must not have been paying attention to the extreme automation in the financial/banking sector over the past 10 years. Many of the types of deals that would have been considered “extremely complicated” 15 years ago can now be done in seconds without the touch of a human. Anything that deals in set rules/law is easy for a program/computer to deal with, and a human only needs to intervene when some part of a transaction falls outside the normal parameters of a deal. An industry doesn’t deserve to be kept around just because of strong lobbying efforts or restrictive legislation that stops progress. Agents need to learn to utilize technology and be willing to change the fundamentals of how they operate.
    Nathan
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I see lots of comments here discussing the difficulty with complicated transactions and technical expertise Real Estate agents have, which will ultimately keep them around. They must not have been paying attention to the extreme automation in the financial/banking sector over the past 10 years. Many of the types of deals that would have been considered “extremely complicated” 15 years ago can now be done in seconds without the touch of a human. Anything that deals in set rules/law is easy for a program/computer to deal with, and a human only needs to intervene when some part of a transaction falls outside the normal parameters of a deal. An industry doesn’t deserve to be kept around just because of strong lobbying efforts or restrictive legislation that stops progress. Agents need to learn to utilize technology and be willing to change the fundamentals of how they operate.
    Daniel DeBono Residential Real Estate Broker from Lake Placid, Florida
    Replied 9 months ago
    See my various posts, then reply to ME! Travel, etc are WAY different – they were data driven, sitting in front of a computer jobs,. Real estate is NOT. THAT IS THE HUGE DIFFERENCE!!! See my posits on data, Zillow etc – I use facts…
    Judy Graff from Studio City, California
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Nathan, no AI or automation can deal with the dangerous waters of buyer/seller emotion, which can make or break a deal. And which is involved in every transaction I’ve ever been in, and I’ve been doing this successfully for over 22 years now. Also, there is just too much specialized detail to know/learn/keep up on for the average person. Sure, you can buy or sell your house online, but if you want a boots-on-the-ground real-time perspective, you need a professional. Just to quantify how much time/knowledge is involved in a transaction, my average number of emails per transaction is about 400. And that’s after the contract is signed. By the way, I’ve personally bought or sold property in four separate states.
    max
    Replied over 1 year ago
    can we say something new about this subject. it’s getting a little tired. i find it hard to believe that an agent who looks at property and serves clients 6 days a week is going to be disintermediated by machines, when it comes to buying or selling a persons largest investment. zillow et all know this which is why they sell advertising…not homes. We’ve been saying it’s the ‘end of agents’ for well over a decade and nothing has changed in the business. the biggest threats are regulatory not technological.
    Christopher Wyatt Investor from Cedar Hill, TX
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I have bought property with and without an agent. The deals without agents, in my own experience, have had better numbers for the buyer and the seller for the simple fact that there were less hands in the pot. No big fees and none of the work was hard. That stated, agents feed me properties. I work with many agents. When I buy from an agent, I pay for their time and network for which I open my wallet for their fee. I also work with non licensed wholesalers and pay their fees. As many have stated, where service and value are provided there will always be a market. Technology will hopefully drive the cost of selling down as it did in the Uber/Airbnb world through pricing transparency.
    Daniel DeBono Residential Real Estate Broker from Lake Placid, Florida
    Replied 9 months ago
    Well said.
    Khaled Helmi Flipper/Rehabber from Clarksville, MD
    Replied over 1 year ago
    As a licensed agent, I can see technology definitely eliminating a lot of the value that agents have in finding retail sales deal – all the information is out there and other than some specific client searches (i.e. granular searches for absentee owners with specific characteristics, etc), most tech savvy people can do it themselves. Having said that, its hard for me to see how agents can be replaced on the BUYERS side. One of the big NEEDED regulatory issues in real estate is being able to control who sees your occupied home. Would you really want ANYBODY to schedule a tour of your home unaccompanied by a licensed agent? I certainly wouldnt – thats a recipe for disaster. And yes you can be present for the scheduled visit, but in my experience whenever home-sellers are present, buyers dont feel comfortable and quickly go through the house and usually aren’t interested. Having a third-party person of trust there with potential buyers is a necessity in my opinion – and that can’t be done without a realtor. Would love to hear from others concerning technology replacing buyers agents, because I just dont see that happening…
    Daniel DeBono Residential Real Estate Broker from Lake Placid, Florida
    Replied 9 months ago
    You MUST be new or a bad agent. Where is the info “out there”? Zillow? – see my various posts …
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied 9 months ago
    No need for the hostility, especially this sort of offensive hostility, (Or perhaps offense is the best defense). I have looked at dozens and dozens of houses. Zillow is a valuable resource, but you have to know how to use it. You have to understand it strengths and its limitations.
    John Leavelle Investor from La Vernia, Texas
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Sterling, Timely post. I was talking to an agent a few weeks ago about the same thing. This same issue occurred back in the 90’s in the Travel Industry. Airlines started cutting commissions paid to Travel agencies, then, added more fees. Many agencies closed down due to the big cut in revenue. Others adjusted to selling more vacation packages and cruises. They managed to survive and some prospered. Then the internet started rapidly growing and consumers were able to book directly all their travel needs without a travel agent. Many more agencies started closing or were taken over by larger more innovative agencies. Developing innovative and personal service is key to continuing success.
    Daniel DeBono Residential Real Estate Broker from Lake Placid, Florida
    Replied 9 months ago
    Travel agencies are FAR different – that was person sitting at a desk. With real estate, it is “boots on the ground” Constant driving, taking photos, going to inspections and a lot more I do not have time to type PLUS all the computer work. So much of the data comes from the MLS – populated by agents bound by rules laws (and other agents police!). I can imagine the lies and exaggerations with no checks and balances of owner simply input everything. Lawyers would be thrilled a the ballooning lawsuits (people want to pay for THAT?)…
    Patsy Clark
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Luv Your Article. I totally saw the market going this way when I started providing Flat Fee Full Service Listings in 1996 to Builders and Private Sellers. And Aligning myself with Google and Technology as the years progressed. Your article is so accurate in so many ways. However, you have missed a few things. Flat Fee Listings aka Limited Service Listings have over a 54% Fail Rate. And these Stats are much higher when sold on Zillow. Zillow is getting good but they still think that they can hire somebody making $15 a hour to do what I do and I have afThese Stats are from the National Assoc of Realtors for 2017. There are so many variables to a real estate transaction. Such as the home inspection. Sellers get upset when a Buyer wants repairs. So it is best to negotiate (set aside) an amount when the offer is accepted for repairs, Sellers don’t know to do this. They think their offer price is theirs to keep. Then, the house may not appraise. Which is about 18% of the time in a vastly changing market. Then you have Buyer Loan issues. A student loan, a tax lien, you just never know. I even had a military person with a child support lien that the his new wife didn’t even know he had a child or had ever been married. Therefore, it is best to retain the services of a REALTOR™? that is technologically savvy and offers a great value for their fees. And of course the fee should be graduated based on the sellers profit. That simple rule was spelled out in The Best Selling Book, Freakonomics. The days of 6% commission are absolutely ridiculous. A Real Estate Broker today should, (1)Gives you a detailed list on how to stage your home that includes maintenance and often, getting a POD to remove the junk. (2) Create a Matterport 360º Virtual Tour and For Goodness Sakes, A FULLY DIAGRAMED FLOORPLAN. And a GPS ?Embedded, 360º photos to use in email market, text message and website marketing in addition to using a Google Map Key API so the Buyer’s know exactly where the property is located on Google Maps. So they also could search for other place. I provide aGoogle Street View Short URL for each location that may be popular to the buyer dWhen Buyers see your home and eight other on the same day or the same weekend, they all run together. The REALTOR™? with the most informative Floorplan Diagram, Lot Diagram and Detailed information wins. Because inevitably, the person or people purchasing do not do so when they walk into the house, it happens over their morning coffee when they are all alone perusing the brochures. Primary from 1995 until 2016, I represented Seller’s. So when we got to the settlement table, that always includes half sandwiches, pasta salad and fruit from a local restaurant and cold water bottles, I would ask the Seller’s “What made you decide to buy this house?”. “How many other homes did you buy?” Now of course, I had normal answer such as the porch reminded me of my grandma’s house or the barn is perfect for our horses. But guess what, the majority said, “All the houses ran together, we picked the one that had the best floorplan to fit our lifestyle and current furniture.” There you have it people. So the following is important, So imagine trying to do the list below all while you are selling your house and signing documents you are not familiar with.. 1) . Virtual Tour and a 360º Google Street View of Front Street and Backyard and Community Pool and Maybe even Bus Stop. 2.) . Detailed Floorplan Diagram (Matterport Camera is Good) 3. Get Rid of the Junk. Show the House and Not Your Junk 4. Clean the Air Vents with a Vaccum, Replace Filters 5.) . Clean out the garbage disposal . A big job but it needs to be bleached and cleaned. Your use to the stinky smell, your Buyers are not. 6. Explain to the kids the importance of what is happening and they can keep it nice for 30 days and it will sell or live like a model home for four months. Enlist their assistance. If you don’t have a REALTOR™? to speak with them, have a Coach explain it to them. Better yet, do it over Spring Break and send them to Grandma . LOL And If you have an animal, send the animals to Grandma’s also. 7. The front door is the longest period they will spent in your home. Paint it, replace the knob, and kick plate 8. Clean the Windows and Place the Screen under the steps. A Home is Brighter without Screens 9. Remove those disgusting Glade plugins. Make sure your bathroom caulk looks good and remove the mounds of hair in the sinks. It smells bad. Seriously. People smell it. Bleach your washer. Front Load and Top Load smell. Front load is worse. Pour the bleach in the tub of the washer and leave it there a day then use hot water and white towels to 10. Light Bulbs must be in the same in all the areas. Just replace them all. And while your at it, clean the fixtures. Sorry for rambling. But if a seller is going to do it alone, then take these steps. Hope you like the raw, unedited truth of a buyer and seller transaction. Keep writing, Your Very Good and Good Looking. Patsy Clark Snap Realty Over >200 Sold in Raleigh, NC
    Darrell D. Rental Property Investor from Springfield, OH
    Replied 11 months ago
    The only thing holding us up from getting rid of zillows is a new database. If we all started using a different “MLS” then realtors would be worthless. My realtor showed me some statistics when I sold my house. More people viewed my property from Zillow, than from Realtor .com. This is important because Zillow offers the ability to sell FSBO!! If I want to sell a home, I have a good chance of it being seeing on Zillow, without the use of realtors. The end is near for realtors.
    Daniel DeBono Residential Real Estate Broker from Lake Placid, Florida
    Replied 9 months ago
    Okay, time for some learnin’: See my other posts, but here goes: I spend over a couple thousand per month on Zillow. Zillow derives 90%+ of its revenue from agents ( baby, do some research and see!). Without agents, there is NO Zillow The Internet is not magic. Someone has to pay for everything. Zillow failed at getting rid of agents – they are now using MLS feeds. MLS is populated by agents – who are legally bound and have rules – buyers and sellers don’t. Good agents also police bad agents by reporting them to MLS, etc. – it is a system. You think sellers would be honest populating an MLS system? GET REAL!! Some would be but many would not! Yes, us lazy agents are paying for it all, and inputting all the data into the MLS that Zillow gets for free and us lazy agents are getting sick of subsidizing by owners and THAT is what will change! You get to list for free and we pay for it. You are temporarily gaming the system. Who would pay the astronomical costs for Zillow? YOU! I give them 30k per year! Zillow is actually the middleman and no longer needed! Look up Matrix – THAT is the real tech agents can then lower fees get rid of ad based crap sites and the data is all there. If I am wrong, please educate me (with facts of course)…
    Albert Brown
    Replied 11 months ago
    Less obsolete, more tech-driven. But I understand the anxiety
    Dan Brunk
    Replied 10 months ago
    Very well done fact based unbiased article. Realtors panic when this is discussed because the end to this silly profession came with the Internet but hasn’t yet been realized. The tragedy here is the ridiculous commissions plague people for years after the agent has took the check and ran, as the 2 people actually involved in the transaction suffer to pay back these huge percentages tacked onto multi decade mortgages. Paying a percent of an entire house is crazy, it should be a flat fee or an hourly fee for a LA carte services like the very nice list mentioned by another prior. (By the way, I’ve never known an agent to actually do any of those things because they have zero incentive to do a good job, the house always sells eventually, but that was a good list) I found my own house but paid 7k to get the door open, for that price I could’ve had a new kitchen. Others pay 20-30k for the same thing, maybe more idk. At 6-7 percent it’s pretty bad, but then they take that money and advertise that homes listed by Realtors sell for 10 percent mode than ones that weren’t… why is that- are they including all the sheriff’s sales??? The house is worth what the seller is willing to let it go for and the buyer is willing to pay. Adding a middleman increases that gap and decreases efficiency for a very little benefit if any at all. I’ve never hired an agent to sell a car but have always sold them just fine by paying a little for advertising when needed. And before people start talking about this big bad complicated top secret thing concerning contracts and closings, keep in mind that title agencies do this anyways, not Realtors, and title agencies are very happy to do all this for a reasonable quoted price in my experience because they have reason to compete. This is how real estate should be the current system hurts buyers and sellers by not offering them the most efficient and competitive system available.
    Daniel DeBono Residential Real Estate Broker from Lake Placid, Florida
    Replied 9 months ago
    How would these services you mention be billed – reads MY post and debate point by pint -0 the internet is NOT magic – it must be paid for. You are ignorant of so much of what is done…
    Daniel DeBono Residential Real Estate Broker from Lake Placid, Florida
    Replied 9 months ago
    Sorry for the typos – but you ARE ignorant. I do not mean that you are stupid (we’ll see the responses). You are that easy deal person but MANY are not. You are also like the agent I speak about in my post – he “found” his rental homes as well. Now he can’t cut it working with the majority of buyers. Funny! Want to bet me their will be agents in 2025? Let’s do it…
    Daniel DeBono Residential Real Estate Broker from Lake Placid, Florida
    Replied 9 months ago
    Sorry for the typos – but you ARE ignorant. I do not mean that you are stupid (we’ll see the responses). You are that easy deal person but MANY are not. You are also like the agent I speak about in my post – he “found” his rental homes as well. Now he can’t cut it working with the majority of buyers. Funny! Want to bet me their will be agents in 2025? Let’s do it…
    Daniel DeBono Residential Real Estate Broker from Lake Placid, Florida
    Replied 9 months ago
    There are sellers who can handle the process and many who can’t. THERE ARE MANY OUTLETS FOR BY OWNERS – NOT ALL PEOPLE WANT TO DO IT. Many try by owner then list. Just like there are people who can change the brakes on their car, and people who can’t. Just because you want to sell your car, that does not mean there should not be car dealers. You talk like a fool. YOU PROBABLY THINK ZILLOW IS GREAT, RIGHT? BUT THEY GET 90+% OF THEIR REVENUE SELLING EXPENSIVE ADS TO AGENTS AND TAKE THE DATA FROM MLS – OWNED BY BROKERS AND POPULATED BY BROKERS. FOOLS THINK “THE INTERNET” IS MAGIC – BUT IT’S CRAP IN CRAP OUT. ZILLOW HAD TO GO TO MLS FEEDS after trying and failing to have users input accurate and timely data. Zillow wanted to replace agents and figured put it was impossible – too many boots on the ground needed. Zillow is actually now a middleman – and that may come out far quicker than the demise of the agent. Look up Matrix – it is Zillow without incessant ads using the same data – agent MLS data. Also, the agent is a 3rd party bound by laws – buyers and sellers lie, cheat and steal just as much as any bad agents do – they are people as well! There are checks and balances and agents can be sued, fined, etc. Narrow-minded people can’t understand fees are based on the entire system. MANY people look at DOZENS of homes. There are HUNDREDS of things done that are not paid for (actually they are – again, it is a system the fees are based on). LEARN BEFORE you speak. If it’s so easy and lucrative, why aren’t YOU doing it? Hmmm …
    Daniel DeBono Residential Real Estate Broker from Lake Placid, Florida
    Replied 9 months ago
    2025 is coming quickly – let’s make a public bet – $50,000, I am serious, but someone writing this most likely could not afford that bet! This article is beyond absurd. No specifics, simply more “future talk.” The encyclopedias (name brand good ones from the 1960s) we had as kids literally said “by 1980 we’ll be making 2 trips to the moon per day” … yeah, right! Okay, now to get serious: While I think brokers should change (and have thought that a LONG time) and 4-5% is the commission of the future, this article is way off. Where is this tech? Zillow is always the one I hear about. Zillow gets 90+% of its revenue from real estate agents advertising – no agents (with their “high fees” advertising – NO ZILLOW. Zillow started down the path of trying to replace agents, then saw the futility in that and now is getting closer and closer to them (they even bought dot loop). Zillow now gets the bulk of its data through MLS – owned and created and updated by brokers. Again, they tried to “take over” real estate but even this behemoth was slapped down – the data was HORRIBLE – it was old, outdated and people were getting more and more upset so they went to MLS feeds. Brokers could start saying they will not give Zillow that data – and create their own national site (the tech is there). This tech is NOT magic! In fact, brokers DO have a tech – look up Matrix – IT BLOWS ZILLOW AWAY. Zillow (and the rest) are annoying – constant sales and pushing. Zillow pushes agents to push clients! In fact, they are moving toward “call now” leads – one step from cold calling! They are moving backwards – their tech simply is not all that. There is just too much “boots on the ground” with real estate – and good agents wear MANY hats. Yes, there are a lot of bad agents (who simply mess things up and dilute the field), but there is a LOT good ones do. People ignorantly think agents get these huge checks for doing not so much – but what they don’t talk about are the hundreds of things THEY DON’T GET PAID FOR!! Constantly providing data, driving people around all day to find out they simply enjoy looking at homes, paying Zillow and others thousands per month for “leads” (many of which are dead ends). Working with people on inspections and closing companies , seeing the deal through, and many, many things even after the home closes (people asking who to call what for, etc). OKAY PEOPLE – IT IS A SYSTEM!! Some deals are easy, some take literally weeks to months and many clients never pan out. There is a LOT that is paid for. I had a guy take classes in real estate – he was an investor who thought it was so easy and commissions are so high. He incessantly complains about having to spend money (but does not advertising!) He is ready to quit saying how hard it is and how much there is to do – MUCH easier collecting those rents as an investor! He is like this author – ignorant to so much about real estate and THE SYSTEM – which has and will evolve. If I am wrong, give me SPECIFICS, not goofy future talk …
    Debra Benfield
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Daniel, I appreciate your comments. I recently got my Realtor’s license in TN and Zillow drives me crazy. First, it’s NOT accurate! People call ME wanting more information on properties they saw on Zillow, and often the property listed on Zillow doesn’t exist at all, the Realtor listed as the Listing Agent was bogus (a retired Realtor in another city who knew absolutely nothing about it!) I know the Realtor who’s husband is a Builder and the photos she takes of those new homes they build and sell, are often “stolen” by Zillow and used wherever they want on these other bogus listings. Also homes that were sold months ago, still appear as active. They’re doing the very thing that MLS and Realtors are FORBIDDEN to do. We have to be so precise with what’s active, pending, sold, backup offers, etc. But Zillow is just free willy, getting people to call in and then selling REALTORS those leads. I think Zillow is just a lawsuit, or suits, waiting to happen, and then it’ll all be over.