With technology constantly changing every aspect of our lives, it comes as no surprise that technological advances have become major disruptors in the real estate sector. The issue has polarised the industry with some choosing to shun technology as the enemy at the gates while others have chosen to embrace technology to the extreme extent that agents have been deemed obsolete. Surely there is a happy balance that serves up the best of both, a symbiosis of agent instinct and technological insight aimed at giving the client the best possible service.
Mike Greeff, CEO of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate, shares his perspective on the new wave of technology hitting the mainstream property industry, “2018 has been a year in which the rise of technological models has been seen in the real estate industry. Agents have been challenged to prove to clients why the human touch will ultimately offer the better service while at the same time choosing to embrace certain technological aspects in the course of their work.”
Premium service is a guarantee
While market disruptors like online agencies have increased, there are certainly limitations on the service offers available from these agencies and what they can provide their client with. Real estate agents however, are there with clients every step of the way, including helping the client navigate through the roadblocks that sometimes occur. A good agent listens and understands what is important to the client. The one simple trait of empathy is almost impossible to replicate by technology.
Technology simply cannot mediate
A smooth transaction is never guaranteed and when a prospective deal does start to go pear-shaped, it is imperative to have the knowledge of an experienced and trusted agent on hand. Agents are trained to negotiate on behalf of their clients to ensure all parties are pleased with their final choices and the transaction goes off smoothly. They do the legwork and make the countless phone calls to ensure their clients are happy. Agents are integral in ensuring buyers and sellers are kept at arm’s length from each other as private sales yield poor results due to the parties not at all being familiar with the sales process. Agents are especially trained to mediate transactions in the event of negotiations reaching a deadlock. More often than not a relationship of trust is built with the client which in many cases leads to clients using the same agent for future property sales.
Agents offer market insights to clients before presenting an offer
As the market is constantly changing, market insights are incredibly important to the prospective buyer or seller to ensure they fully understand why there may be a lagging or stagnant market as opposed to a moving market experienced last year and while technology can provide the statistical data to users, it takes an experienced agent to interpret and relay that information to clients who are not real estate experts.
Agents are experts at finding you the best offer
In our current market, there has certainly been a slowing of sales with the average time it takes to sell a property increasing to just over 16 weeks, according to FNB’s Property Barometer. It is quite commonplace to find that when an offer does come along, most sellers will be keen to accept. Agents are trained and have honed their instincts regarding offers and will consult with the client regarding their concerns while also offering them advice on the way forward. Agents usually are able to predict whether the prospective buyer is serious and committed to the transaction and consider all aspects before a transaction is concluded.
While the market may be in the midst of ushering in a digital era, agents will be comforted to note the lagging optimism for digital agencies abroad. According to The Financial Times, online agency Redfin has shed 52% of its value this year, while former dominant UK agency, Purplebricks are down 64% since January of this year – further emphasizing the value agents hold in the eyes of buyers and sellers and illustrating that the core values of traditional real estate marketing will always be needed. In a digital era, it is comforting to know that the human touch still goes a long way towards making a property transaction successful.