I remember in 1999, when I was serving as President of the Old KY Home Board of REALTORS, we had just established an MLS service, many of us didn’t do our work on computers, and the internet was only a big scary place where information lived. We didn’t know really how it got there and were even less sure about how to get it out! Times have changed! Back then, there were a small number of clients who searched the internet looking for a home.
Realtor.com, started in partnership with NAR (National Association of REALTORS®), became the first reliable source of “home-shopping” for consumers. There was some real concern with agents back then because we all know how the internet impacted the travel agent profession- allowing people to do their own homework and helping them cut out the “middleman”.
Many in our profession feared that we would suffer the same fate.
We knew that people were looking at this site as a shopping aid for buyers, but we weren’t sure how far it would take them. We still advertised our listings the traditional way- in the newspaper and home magazines- hoping that most people would get their basic info there, and call us for the rest. And they did, and still do- to a certain degree. But, let’s face it; today’s homebuyer is much savvier than those of the last century!
Next- after Realtor.com became so successful, other search sites such as Zillow, Trulia and Homes.com started popping up and the real estate industry started asking- “What is happening to our industry?” “How do we remain relevant- and central to the real estate transaction?” Again, as it was after the launch of Realtor.com, many started predicting the demise of the profession. Yet- even though approximately ninety percent of consumers go to the Web to begin their real estate searches (NAR), and even though forty two percent find their homes through online searches, 89% of them end up using a real estate agent or broker to make the actual purchase.
How in the world, you might ask, do REALTORS® continue to survive when they have been electronically replaced in the home buying process? That’s the question that has launched many professionals into a panic and challenged many consumers to consider going it alone. The answer is really quite simple- the shopping process is only a small part of the home buying process. It’s the fun part! It’s the rainy, cold afternoon when families sit at their computers and look at pictures, videos, virtual tours and dream, prioritize and educate themselves about the reality of the market, prices, and how prices may vary in different locations. It’s where consumers can give themselves a pat on the back for being more educated before they set out on their home buying journey.
Part two of the answer here is that gathering information is only step one of the journey. Then there is the rest of the story! It takes experience and skill to be able to write a good and complete and enforceable offer to purchase. It takes skill and experience to negotiate that offer into an accepted contract which addresses all the issues and explains them in a way that results into satisfied clients and good results. It takes experience and skill to understand that your partners in the rest of the process (lenders, inspectors, etc.) need to be reliable, tested and held to the same degree of professionalism as your REALTOR®.
Finally, there is nothing like having an established relationship with a person that can answer your questions when you start to second guess your decisions, or when you want to know your options with this or that issue. It’s peace of mind. There is one thing that has always driven me to be the best REALTOR® I could be- and that is, “Did I bring my clients the feeling that they
were in good hands? Did I leave them with peace of mind, knowing that their dreams and my skills were the best way to take on the most complicated transaction that they may ever confront?”
Meanwhile- the internet will always challenge the real estate agent in terms of providing information- but nothing will cancel the impact that the personal representation of a REALTOR® has in pulling together all the pieces of the deal to result in the ultimate goal~ your new home!!
The Old Kentucky Home Board of REALTORS® is a local professional association representing REALTORS® from the Nelson, Washington, Marion, Larue and Hart Counties in Kentucky. http://www.okhrealtors.com