Computers are a wonderful tool that we use every day. Whether it be your old-school desktop or your tablet, they are a huge part of our lives and no one can deny that. In many industries, computers have already taken a human’s position. The automobile industry is the first one that comes to mind, and we all know how that has affected an industry.
What if a computer replaced you?
The bigger question is, “Do you think this could happen in our industry?” TheREsource.tv is what got me thinking about this, and I started asking around to some fellow brokers and loan officers and got their opinion. They are talking more along the lines of loan officers, but if they can be affected, why couldn’t real estate brokers?
I spoke to Lynn Jabs with American Pacific Mortgage and she had some very valid points as to why she feels that a computer could not do her job 100 percent. “Getting a loan for someone is not just about getting the loan, it’s about a service that’s provided to your customer.” Lynn feels very passionate about the relationships that she creates for her clients. She also helps to educate her clients on the importance of having a good credit score. “Not everyone who comes to me can get a loan today,” Lynn said. She helps them to repair their credit scores so that she can later help them down the road. There is something to be said for providing a service to someone. She’s a little tired of the “drive-thru society.”
Computers can’t replace customer care, kindness and experience
Of course, there are ways that technology can help in our positions, but do we really want to automate everything just to save a buck? The study that was done by the University of Oxford stated that there is a company already using an algorithm to do loans without loan officers. Daric Inc. is a peer-to-peer lending startup that is already using this technology. They say that by using this type of technology they are able to pass the savings onto their customers. Now this makes more sense on the lending side, but there is still an element of customer service and care. Buying a home is one of the largest purchases most people make in their lifetime. Are you willing to give up the customer care to save a few bucks on your interest rate?
I thought about what this would look like on the real estate broker side. I know that in today’s world you can buy a home without stepping foot inside, but do most people want to? There are video tours and 3-D floor plans that make it literally feel like you are inside the home. But most homes have a feeling and a vibe that video can’t capture. I understand if certain circumstances dictate that or if you are an investor looking to flip a home, but for the rest of us, purchasing a home this way would be crazy. The paperwork could be automated, I guess, but what if something does go wrong? Are you going to call the computer that wrote out the HUD statement that contained several mistakes? There’s something to be said for talking to a real person.
Who’s going to let them in the home? I guess they could create a remote-type lockbox to allow for them to get inside without someone there, but who wants random strangers unattended going through their home? For a buyer’s agent, this is when you are able to sell the home to the buyer. You are able to point out the positive things that you know your buyer is looking for. There is something to be said for the human connection, and I feel that will be hard to break.
Have you noticed that credit card companies are now moving to using real people again? Some have gone as far as hiring people who work within the United States. The Internet revolution is still evolving and we’re learning that technology isn’t always the best way. I have noticed over the last year that more and more companies are still using technology as a TOOL, but not as their end all be all. They are getting back to the human connection. After all, that’s who we are — humans.
Stacia Whatley is managing broker at Hawkins-Poe Inc. in Gig Harbor, Wash., and has a passion for marketing and new technologies.