Posted by T Jent on March 22, 2000 at 23:36:57:
Technology is indeed changing the way real estate brokers do business. Because of the internet, buyers have more access to information and tend to be more sophisticated. It is not yet clear, however, whether these changes are really threatening the RE brokerage industry by turning ordinary people into do-it-yourselfers. Some say yes, others say no.
The reason, according to some, people are using brokers as much as ever is that real estate transactions, rather complicated to begin with, are only becoming more so due to increasing legal regulations. There is a lot of paperwork. Even the standard contract itself is about eight pages long and drafted by lawyers, for lawyers. The average person simply does not know their way around this stuff.
Commercial real estate, especially with our booming economy, deals largely with leases for vast amounts of office space. It is a tough field; very competitive. Almost no one engages in these deals without a broker. Their professional knowledege and experience play vital roles.
Still, when it comes to plain old buying and selling houses, I get a feeling the brokerages are concerned about the encroachments of the technologically savvy consumer. I have noticed a raft of TV and radio commercials lately that emphasise the services an agent provides beyond merely giving you listings and comarable sales data, e.g. negotiation, helping getting financing.
Lastly, real estate is a very concrete thing. To really appraise a property, you need to have looked at countless properties in countless neighborhoods. There is a real estate axiom that every property is unique. Thus, no amount of internet acquired data is a substitue for depth of experience. Only persons involved in the real esate business (investors and brokers/agents) have that experience.
My personal prediction: brokers are here to stay. I’ve sold my own properties and it’s a big pain. For the 99% of people out there who do not see real estate as a business enterprise, it’s usually worth the commission paid a broker to avoid the ordeal.