While many of us laugh at the results of the online quizzes that calculate the likelihood of a profession being taken over by a robot, the reality is that many career paths are being overhauled – if not overturned completely – by technological advances. And the real estate industry is no exception to this reality.  

“Last year saw many online-focused, low-commission operators enter the real estate market. Placing more of the bargaining power into the hands of both buyers and sellers, these disruptors shone a spotlight on the role of the modern-day real estate professional who has to compete for business within this environment,” explains Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett.      

While the allure of saving money on commission is understandable, consumers need to remember the age-old maxim: you get what you pay for. The reason these online portals are able to charge lower rates is because they put in less effort to make sure a property sells. “In order to remain competitive, real estate professionals operating today will need to prove that they are able to sell a property in the fastest amount of time and at full value, unlike online operators who are often low-staffed, slow to respond, and do not have enough industry experts in each suburb to provide accurate valuations,” Goslett explains.

However, rather than trying to demonise technology to set themselves apart from online low-commission competitors, real estate professionals will need to embrace technology in order to reach younger buyers who are entering the market. “There is a need to blend both traditional and modern forms of marketing to prove effective in our current market. Most Millennials are now either in the rental or first-time buyers’ market, and both Generation X and younger Baby Boomers are active players in the market. Both digital marketing strategies, such as email and social media campaigns, as well as traditional face-to-face interactions and flyers drop-offs will need to be employed to ensure that marketing strategies are appropriate to all relevant age groups,” says Goslett.     

“At the end of the day, the battle between online versus real-life operators should not be fought around price, but around value for money. Consumers will always be willing to pay more if they know that the cost-to-benefit scale tips in their favour. So, while I do not foresee a possibility for the traditional real estate profession to be rendered redundant, I do foresee that as technology continues to progress, the pool of poor performing traditional real estate professionals will shrink, and only the most productive in the industry will survive.”

“What’s more, Real estate brands that do not offer top-producing agents the opportunity to grow their own business and maximise their own success will therefore also struggle to survive in this changing environment. Soon, it won’t be a question of what an agent can do for a brand, but what a brand can do for its agents – a question RE/MAX has been asking since its inception back in Colorado in 1973,” Goslett concludes.   

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