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A potential future in which blockchain technology is front-and-center in real estate transactions would require agents to once again up the value they provide, experts said Thursday at an Inman Connect panel.
Allan Dalton of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices told conference attendees in New York that bypassing third-party intermediaries isn’t just one possible outcome of this process — it’s one of the explicit goals of many blockchain enthusiasts.
“One of the intended byproducts of blockchain will be to either eliminate or diminish the cost of intermediaries,” Dalton said. “Realtors are considered as intermediaries in terms of a transaction. So therefore, we’re going to have to elevate [the agent’s] value.”
Dalton’s comments came during a panel discussion with Teresa Grobecker of Real Estate Consortia and Sam DeBord of the Real Estate Standards Organization.
Grobecker said she believes agents shouldn’t let wariness of the technology get in the way of wrapping their heads around this subject, because their clients will still seek help that a licensed agent can provide.
“We don’t serve each other. We serve the client,” Grobecker said. “We have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that they get into homes.”
If blockchain-fueled home transactions begin to take off, brokerages will face the critical task of educating agents on the technical skills and knowledge of legal pitfalls required to deal in this space, Grobecker said.
Once that education takes place, brokers can begin to roll out the technology, she said.
Brokerages should explore a variety of high-tech avenues to increase the value of the agent in a hypothetical blockchain-revolutionized real estate industry, Dalton said.
This might include investments in artificial intelligence, which holds promise for increasing the agent’s value and their reputation using “beyond human” insights, he said.
One of the more promising avenues for blockchain innovation in real estate lies in the nature of the listing itself, Grobecker said. With distributed blockchain ledgers, information on home listings can be stored and updated in a more transparent way — fueling new databases for consumers and professionals to benefit from.
Rather than being reliant on giant listing portals like Zillow or Realtor.com, they would be reliant instead on distributed blockchain ledgers, controlled by no one, Dalton said.
One of the driving forces behind blockchain enthusiasm has been the idea that internet governance has not been democratized, Dalton said. Big technology companies largely control the products, and set the rules.
With more blockchain usage, the hope is that will change.
“I’m in favor of anything that’s in the best interest of the public and the consumer,” Dalton said.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Teresa Grobecker’s name.