In an industry focused on creating a more streamlined transaction, the power of the agent needs to be realized after the transaction, too, leaders say.
The real estate industry is currently undergoing massive change, which Thad Wong, the CEO and founder of that Chicago-based brokerage @properties, and Brian Boero, the CEO of 1000Watt, believe will someday result in fewer real estate agents.
But those remaining agents will be ones that give people service beyond just guiding them through a transaction.
“I think we’re headed to a bigger, more vibrant housing market,” Boero said. “If we make it easier to buy and sell houses, people will do it more often.”
At the same time, there will be losers as that change unfolds, Boero said.
Wong echoed Boero’s sentiments, saying he agrees that in the future there will be fewer brokers and agents. But those remaining agents need to provide value beyond the transaction.
“The minute the transaction becomes easier, or more valuable, or hassle-free, that relationship is only going to be valuable if the agent starts to bring more value to the table,” Wong said. “So yes it’s a friendship, yes there’s trust, it might even be love but, at the end of the day, if that person is not improving the value of the home, assisting in improving the sales price of the home, helping them reduce their cost, ushering them through the staging process, if they’re not doing something more, they’re going to get lost.”
@properties trains agents to help consumers after they’ve bought or sold a house. The company offers a built-in property tax appeal tool to help consumers lower their property taxes. The company also teaches agents to be experts on lowering home insurance costs.
“We’re doing things that are really valuable,” Wong said. “Our first focus is on lowering homeowners’ costs of homeownership.”
“Whoever figures out loyalty in the real estate business wins,” Boero added. “Agents and brokers get a client, they get through the contract and then they sort of cast them aside and maybe they come back, or maybe they don’t, maybe they send a few postcards in between.”
Natalia Karayaneva, CEO and founder of Propy, believes agents actually need to do more before the transaction to attract business. Some lenders, for example, offer consumers the opportunity to buy a house without a downpayment.
“If an agent knows about these new business models, they can offer more opportunities to the customers,” Karayaneva said.
Merritt Hummer, a senior principal at Bain Capital, believes relationships will continue to be integral to real estate transactions in the future, but at the same time, agents should learn to use software to empower themselves.
“We’re seeing a proliferation of startups in the ecosystem that are really designed to help agents rather than compete with them or undermine them, help them in ways to use their data better, cultivate leads, qualify leads, keep in touch with prospects and other functions,” Hummer said. “We really believe the long-run strategy that will win is one where agents work with software to outsource or automate tasks that they can’t do as individuals at scale effectively, [so they can] use their time to really maximize the human touch points they have with their customers.”