Industry News

Real estate outsiders push for foothold

Some newcomers have come and gone; others are still standing

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The whispers and rumors surrounding Zillow, a new real estate service created by Expedia founder Richard Barton, echo the fears, jeers and cheers associated with the entry of other real estate business models launched by newcomers in years past. Some of the outsiders' forays into the real estate industry have met resistance or misgauged consumer demand and ultimately failed. Others, though, have succeeded by providing industry professionals with desired tools and services or by tapping into consumer demand for new services and business models. New technologies haven't yet found a way to replace the very human interaction that is almost always part of a real estate transaction, said Larry Knapp, president of Alain Pinel Realtors. And some new companies that have sought to change the industry with technology have learned that the industry doesn't turn on a dime, he added. "I think that they overestimated the ability of technology to replace the human interaction. I have come to the conc...