Along with most other professionals these days, every realtor wonders if a machine could take over their job...
The technological improvements of the past few years in real estate have been so influential that the liaison between buyer, seller and bank could soon be a thing of the past ... or so we think.
3D models are a great example of an invention that could gobble up what a realtor is most known for - showings. Along with drones flying over, under and through houses, there are now 3D models of houses that even give you a view of the floor plan from above the house. Out-of-town buyers are putting in offers solely based on these 'virtual showings' which makes everyone wonder if a buyer's agent is already obsolete...
Another example is an app like Redfin... A brilliant endeavour, if I may say so myself. A website/app that has a direct feed from the MLS showing viewers the houses that are currently on the market. The agent who listed the property gains free advertisement for Open Houses through an easy and popular app.
Obviously, every buyer comes to the conclusion that a realtor is totally unnecessary after discovering both of these new features in real estate! But we're still around. This is only the grim, shallow perspective of Redfin though. What I love so much about Redfin is it's inclusion of realtors in it's process. It can be said that Zillow, Redfin's competitor, also includes realtors but only as a customers because Zillow simply sells advertisement to realtors.
Redfin, on the other hand, acts as a 'principle broker,' which is kind of like the 'manager' of other brokers. So, as the 'principle broker,' Redfin can provide a salary for its realtors (which was unheard of till now). The salary starts really low and rises with time and sales performance. The realtor makes a fraction of commission off of each sale on top of the salary but doesn't have to generate any business because Redfin is feeding him/her every client they get. Within this model you get the best of both worlds- the awesome, user-friendly app as well as the sage advice and personal touch of an actual human being navigating you through the largest financial transaction of your life.
Unlike google and Uber, I don't think that Redfin's intent is to remove the human being from the equation at any point in time. On the contrary, keeping the human being there is what has kept them so successful and allowed them to grow and basically smash Zillow and the likes.
Case in point:
Just the other day, I had buyers come in from Chicago, IL. We saw a number of units and one thing they immediately pointed out in a few of the units was squeaky floors. As was I comping out the unit we chose to make an offer on, I realized how little we actually knew about all of the comparable properties I was seeing. Without stepping inside a unit or providing a few bullet points in writing (which would probably scare buyers away in masses), no one can tell how squeaky the floors are, how a room smelled, what the true size and potential of a room is and the list goes on...
May the personal touch live on!