Technology realtor vs traditional realtor there is a fine line

2 Replies

With a new technology it is easier to access data. The tools are there to find coop brokers who work with buyers to bring to the listing agent. Those who are computer or device savvy can go view direct or call whoever to open the door since everyone has the same tool to search for properties and find out recorded data. The drawback is in US there are 800 some MLS systems and associations. They often disagree with each other how just about how things should work. This has created opportunities for technology based companies like Trulia, Zillow, Realtors, Homes etc. to merge all systems in one data base to get people to use them while selling advertisements to generate revenue.


The table illustrates different type of real estate business model. Content real estate companies do not carry their listings. They claim they are technology company as Wall Street investors are willing to pay top price and speculate they will change the way we do business. Often it takes sometime to catch on and realize the technology is no better. It was that way during the days. It has not changed much to investors perception that technology is desirable even to this date.

Real estate public Companies Z RdfnRLGY *
Type Internet Tech Discount tech Traditional
Year Revenue($)$1.08 billions$0.37 billions$5.81 billions
Gross Profit($) $0.99 billions$ 0.11 billions$1.32 billions
Net Income($)(-94 millions)(-15 millions)$213 millions
Book Value / share$14.05 $21.42$19.89
Agents- 272,000
Stock Price (Mar 2, 2018)$49.21$21.43$19.89
IPO year 2011 2017 2012
*Better Homes, C21, ERA, Coldwell, Southeby's, Zip etc

One can compare a traditional company like Realogy Holdings(RLGY*) with some technology based public companies.

Redfin offered a better technology for people to search properties on line. To entice often first time home buyers it offers a rebate where legal and home owners can sell it in selective US metropolitan cities at a steep discount for full services. This can potentially disrupt traditional brokerage who insist a certain fixed fee.  

Both Zillow Group and Redfin have been around for almost 10 years. While there is a place for every type of business model, the threat that technology will be disruptive like America chain stores and shopping centers. More and more, the real estate technology will take over the traditional brokers in America does not seem to be the case. Redfin has a smaller presence with ~0.7% of the market according to it CEO and in our area it is preferred by more device savvy techies and had ~2% of MLS role based on MLS. As such, Redfin is a discount brokerage and give rebates to home buyers. Many prefer traditional brokerage which is more service oriented in my opinion. The income statement shown below seems to suggest these traditional realtors who have the technology base are profitable with 272,000 agents. Consumers still prefer to work with a skilled professional because of people touch, and local knowledge which can not be replaced by technology or automation alone.

Sam Shueh Realtor

Not sure how you can have a positive gross profit but a negative net income.

This table though illustrates to me what many in the business already know....the discount brokerages that operate at a loss are simply not running a sustainable business model.  Each recession an incredibly high percentage of them go bankrupt.  Redfin loses on average $3,000 for every house they sell.  Influx of angel investors capital can sustain them for only so long til you actually have to make money.

Russell Brazil, Real Estate Agent in Maryland (#648402), Virginia (#0225219736), District of Columbia (#SP98375353), and Massachusetts (#9​0​5​2​3​4​6)
(301) 893-4635

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