OpinionAgent

3 models changing how houses are bought and sold

What to expect from real estate innovation
  • There is no one winning model, but several are getting traction globally.
  • People -- and not simply technology -- are an important part of the process in all models.
  • Disruptive players have yet to prove themselves.

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Generally, people buy and sell houses the same today as they did 100 years ago. Aside from property portals such as Rightmove, Realestate.com.au and Zillow, the industry hasn’t meaningfully shifted online. Real estate agents are front and center in the transaction, and the bulk of the process still occurs offline. When I bought a house a few years ago in New Zealand, we used a real estate agent (we didn’t have a choice in the matter). The only way to negotiate with the sellers on price was to have the agent drive across town to our apartment with a contract, cross out the selling price with our counter-offer, and then have him drive to the sellers. This happened multiple times in a process designed to reinforce the central role of the agent. Did I mention it was 10 p.m.? Sound familiar? The residential real estate industry is huge, and buying or selling a home is likely the biggest transaction people will make in their lifetime. So why does it feel so old? Why do we still ...