Christy Edgar Murdock is a regular Inman contributor who writes about news, tech and marketing. She has two recurring columns, “Lessons Learned” and “Dear Marketing Mastermind” that publish weekly and monthly on Mondays and Tuesdays respectively.
The announcements over the past week that both Realogy and Keller Williams have launched fast-cash homebuyer platforms in select markets have predictably created angst and hand-wringing among real estate agents.
With all of these types of technical advancements — and with any type of shift that seems to replace agents with automations — rumors of an agent apocalypse are sure to follow. So how do you know whether these developments will impact you and your business?
Market segmentation is key
One reason to relax when it comes to iBuyer tech is to focus on the sellers being served in this case. As agents, we tend to have the misconception that our potential market encompasses every homeseller and every homebuyer.
In reality, there are many different types of each, and many of them will never work with a traditional agent. Sellers who will take a quick cash offer on their home are probably not the sellers you normally work with anyway. They tend to be those who are:
- Under financial pressure to sell and trying to avoid paying commissions
- Trying to unload an “ugly house” who would normally work with an investor buyer anyway
- Looking for an accelerated process normally not offered in a traditional home sale scenario
Thus the iBuyer services being rolled out are not necessarily peeling off potential clients from traditional seller agents. Rather, they are taking a bite out of the existing house flipper/investor market.
In addition, as brokerage companies move into this space, they are finding ways to make their agents central to a process that normally bypasses agent representation.
Coldwell Banker’s CataLIST cash offer uses agents as part of its value proposition. Keller Williams has indicated that its agents will also be front and center in its service, facilitating transactions through their platform.
This means that far from cutting out agents, these technologies may create a way into a market segment that normally circumvents agent representation.
Enhance your marketing message
For agents in the markets where these programs are offered, there is a great opportunity to differentiate your services from those of agents at other brokerages.
When you can ensure a guaranteed offer on their home, you create a compelling unique value proposition (UVP) that may make potential seller clients sit up and take notice.
In addition, many agents will find that the ability to serve clients with hard-to-sell homes can help improve their market share and sales statistics.
When you can show that a higher percentage of your listings close — and show a faster closing time for those sales — you can use those stats to differentiate yourself from other listing agents in your market.
Work with private investors? Fire up that network
If much of your client base is made up of private investors for whom you find great deals, you could see some impact on your bottom line from these technologies. But if you are already established in your target market — circle prospecting effectively and networking consistently — you probably won’t see much fall off from the new players in town.
Remember, these technologies will have to establish themselves. If you’ve already created a name for yourself in this space as someone who can get the deals done, your reputation will keep you top of mind with pre-market and off-market sellers looking for a quick, up-front offer.
The bottom line? If your brokerage is rolling out one of these platforms, find out how to plug into it. If not, keep doing what you know is effective, and stop worrying.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach, and consultant with Writing Real Estate and a Brand Ambassador and content marketer forApartmentPostcards.com. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.