Realtors Continually Challenged by Growing Digital Age
The real estate industry is at a crossroads. The Internet has revolutionized the way people buy and sell their homes, and in the race to stay relevant, some real estate professionals say it's time to re-evaluate how they do business.
It used to be that realtors had exclusive access to home sales information through what's called the MLS - the multiple listing service. The Internet has changed that, with more information in more places.
But realtors say their futures are secure - as long as the industry can evolve.
Nest Realty's Jim Duncan says it's time for the real estate industry to redefine.
"It's important to recognize that things are shifting constantly, and how can we be best positioned to really be ahead of that curve?" said Duncan.
Just as the Internet changed the game for big-box retailers and travel agencies, he says the challenge for realtors is to stay relevant in the digital age.
"In this world, a lot of the questions can be answered on Google, but frankly they're not going to be tailored," said Duncan.
That's where Duncan and his colleagues say the true value of a realtor lies.
"I think there's always going to be a component of the population that wants to do it themselves. And there's also a significant component that wants to frankly hire somebody," said Duncan.
"The problem is, there's a lot of conflicting data out there," said Denise Ramey, Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors president.
Even with the access to national websites and some of the other markets, 80 percent of people are still using realtors because it's a very complicated process - a process where information is king. That's what realtors - members of national and local realtor's associations - say sets them apart from other real estate agents: required ongoing education, and exclusive access to the multiple listing service.
"The information that you find on many of these websites is not as current and not as accurate as what you're going to find on our local MLS," said Ramey.
Duncan says the next big conversation in the real estate industry should center around how to keep realtor's associations relevant in light of new competition. Some of the things realtors point to are continued access to information, networking and support.