Slowly I descended, spiraling down into yet another discussion about the impending demise of the real estate agent. Having been down that road countless times, I know I might be preaching to the void, but I’ll try once more.

Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent the past six years working for Zillow Group. He retired in August 2018 but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His weekly Inman column publishes every Wednesday.

Slowly I descended, spiraling down into yet another discussion about the impending demise of the real estate agent. Having been down that road countless times, why I expected the view around the next corner to be any different is beyond me. 

Of course, there was no difference. Same conversation, same road, same ending. It’s all but over, the robot lords of the internet are coming, and it’s just a matter of time until technology has removed the real estate agent from the transaction. 

It’s exhausting. There’s only so many ways to say, “Don’t fear technology — leverage it for you and your client’s benefit.”

Or “The industry is changing. Tech provides the consumer data; you provide them guidance and counsel. You help them interpret the data.”

Nope, technology is coming, someone is going to “Uberize” real estate, and agents are doomed!

Preaching to the void in the past, I’m going to try one last time. This time, it’s a list of things an app can’t do, but you can.

55 things an app can’t do

  • Empathize
  • Sympathize
  • Negotiate
  • Hold a hand
  • Hug
  • Possess wisdom
  • Smack an appraiser
  • Call out …
    • a lender
    • a title company
  • Question an attorney
  • Explain an inspection
  • Haggle with a home warranty company
  • Wrangle a …
    • roofer
    • HVAC tech
    • landscaper
    • repair person
    • plumber
    • electrician
    • structural engineer
    • pool service
    • homeowner’s association
    • city hall clerk
  • Pour a pound of shock in a listing’s pool
  • Sweep a porch
  • Trim a hedge
  • Hide the trash cans
  • Walk the dog
  • Help the …
  • Look a client in the eye and …
    • tell them their house is dirty and smells
    • tell them their deceased parents’ home will sell, and they don’t have to worry
    • tell them their house needs paint
    • explain repairs
    • make specific landscaping recommendations
    • suggest updates specific to the home
    • break down the housing market
    • explain and answer questions about escrow
    • talk about their home valuation
    • describe specific contractual obligations
    • tell them now is not the time they should be buying or selling
  • Help them understand …
    • contracts
    • deeds
    • encumbrances
    • surveys
    • clouded titles
    • lot lines
    • percolation tests
    • septic systems
    • shared wells
    • deed restrictions
    • local zoning laws
  • Create a marketing plan
  • Execute a marketing plan

There are more, many more. These are just the first 55 that rolled out of my head. 

Ultimately, what an app can’t do — now or ever — is empathize with and help human beings who find themselves in an unusual situation that is expensive, infrequent, complicated, inefficient and unfamiliar to them.

You can do all that and more. 

So stop. Stop with the “woe-is-me” and the fear that you’ll be replaced. Go forth and deliver. Do what you do best. Take those clients and guide them through the process of buying or selling a home.

An app can’t do that. You can. 

Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and retiree in Seattle, as well as the mastermind behind Now Pondering. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty.

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