It’s true that the online age has driven a number of professions out of business. Travel agents, for example, were rendered obsolete by Expedia and Orbitz, while a good number of traditional retailers were outpaced by Amazon. It seems almost like an instinct to expect that people who sell homes will go down the same path as these businesses. After all, what these people know can be accessed in the Internet, freely available in sites like Zillow and Trulia.
But with the current real estate boom, licensed brokers are also making a killing, despite stiff competition and an almost saturated market.
We can think of 6 reasons why.
1. Buying Real Estate Is a Complicated Matter
This is something probably all of us know. Buying a house involves more than just having the money to pay for one and an owner willing to part with his property. It is a long, often complicated process, from having the property appraised and negotiating the payment terms to paying taxes and dealing with other government fees. Who else is better equipped and well connected to help homebuyers navigate the entire buying process than a licensed broker.
2. The Market Has Become More Complex
At hindsight the current boom may mean a simpler house-hunting process for buyers, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. More choices mean a more complicated process and more salespeople trying to pitch the same product to a diminishing number of homebuyers. Where do brokers come in then? By dispensing expert advice to their customers on what, where, and when to buy. This is something only licensed brokers (and real people) can do.
3. The Internet Functions to Improve Productivity, Not to Replace Humans
Online listings give potential homebuyers the chance to prequalify the properties available out there. This means inquiries will primarily be coming from serious buyers, and brokers will need to schedule fewer viewings and in the process achieve a more efficient and streamlined selling and buying process.
4. The Internet Enabled Brokers to Scale Back on Expenses
In the advent of blogs, customized websites, email marketing, and other digital marketing strategies, licensed brokers need to spend less on traditional advertising, which cost a lot of money, not to mention unquantifiable results.
5. The Internet Enabled Brokers to Target Their Customers
In the advent of Google AdWords, email newsletter campaigns, and social media advertising, brokers can now focus on qualified leads, those who are seriously and actively looking for properties in the Internet. This virtually eliminated the need to do cold calling, which by the way is counterproductive not to mention frightening.
6. Property Buyers Don’t Trust Cheap Things
Houses and condos are not just ordinary household items that can be bought on a whim. People who buy homes carefully consider (and they should) their purchase and no amount of Internet information will replace a seasoned and licensed broker. This gives buyers a sense of security as they know they’re dealing with a professional.
The Internet has also made it easier to check whether a broker is licensed or not. A simple search in the Professional Regulation Commission’s website (the government agency mandated to grant licenses to professionals such as lawyers, doctors, and accountants) will do the trick. Another way is to check out the websites of professional organizations such as PAREB, REBAP, or NREA.
Getting a property advertised and promoted online is just one side of the equation. The other involves guiding a homebuyer through the entire process, a task only a licensed broker is well equipped to undertake.