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— by Hana LaRock

Is Technology Helping Realtors Or Taking Over Their Jobs?

Technology, in many ways, has made life a lot easier for realtors. With resourceful apps, websites and gadgets, it takes realtors a lot less time to gain a lot more leads and close on deals with their clients. However, many are concerned that the technology that has helped realtors do wonders may be the same technology that contributes to their downfall. There’s a very fine line between when technology takes a load off and when technology takes over. In the meantime, most of these advancements are definitely helping realtors sell, while others may be a bit too helpful. 

Let’s take a look: 

Virtual Reality 

Earlier this month, SingularityHub announced that the company eXp Realty had crossed the $1 billion threshold after gaining success through its unique VR platform. The company has thousands of brokers working in markets all across the U.S. and Canada, where they can all “meet” on a virtual platform. It’s kind of like the Sims of real estate, and other companies, like Second Life, are doing the same. That being said, these employees still help buy and sell homes in the real world; it’s just the office stuff that happens online. 

And, this isn’t the only thing. Virtual reality has played a role in real estate since its inception. Realtors have used this technology to help demonstrate what a home may look like after a renovation, or do a walk-through of a home for clients in a city or country that they aren’t physically present in. Matterport is just one of the companies helping real estate agents to give their clients — far and wide — a virtual experience. After all, why limit yourself?  

At the moment, virtual reality (or, should we call it “virtual realty”?) allows realtors to do things like work from home or extend their client pool. But, it’s always important to ask yourself if the rise of virtual reality can have the potential to wipe out the need for agents to do showings. 

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Transactions 

Conversations about blockchain and cryptocurrency have taken the world by storm over the last couple of years. The potential for people to be able to pay for a home using only digital currency, or to close a deal via a set of encryptions on the blockchain, has convinced people that the process of buying or selling a home may be easier than ever before. When it comes to real estate, there are many different parties involved, and lots of paperwork that needs to be completed. This can be exhausting, frustrating, and confusing. But, perhaps the blockchain will be able to cut the time it takes to close on a deal in half. This is a great reason for realtors to be interested in blockchain and cryptocurrency, but if it gets too popular, it could also be a reason for them to be worried. 

Robot Agents (Yeah, we’re going there)

Just like you would feel strange about a robot doctor doing an operation on you, you may also feel a bit impartial to a robot agent showing you homes. There’s just something about it that’s not natural, especially because a good real estate agent closes most of their deals by having the right personality. While robots tend to struggle with emotions, it’s not impossible to consider that robots will be taking over many industries that require emotions and the ability to relate to people, and real estate may be one of them.  

Right now, there are only some start-up companies experimenting with actual robots. But, in the meantime, “robots” in the sense of AI, automation, and all other types of digital technology, have pushed the need for many realtors to the sidelines. An example of this could be the fact that people are able to buy or sell homes right online without having to go through an agent at all. If this sounds scary to you, then we don’t blame you. However, it shouldn’t be too hard for a human realtor to prove they are better than a robot one. 

Homesnap  

When searching for information on a home or neighborhood, there’s nothing like being able to get what you need in the click of a button. Whether it’s a realtor looking for a listing or a client looking to buy or sell, the internet has made it extremely easy to explore a new neighborhood or find out how much a home is worth simply by using websites and apps like Homesnap. Most realtors are already familiar with what these websites do, and in a majority of cases, these sites are a realtor’s secret weapon. At the moment, it doesn’t seem like Homesnap has a hidden agenda to take over realtors, however, if ordinary buyers and sellers know how to use it to their advantage, they could be inclined to overstep the realtor altogether.  

Drones 

Who doesn’t like looking at the incredible images captured by a drone? As restrictions on drone use have been lifted in the United States, it feels like everyone is using a drone to make a travel video or spy on neighbors. Whatever you choose to use a drone for, there’s no doubt that this technology can help realtors provide their clients with a better experience when viewing a home. Many agents have utilized companies — like Open Homes Photography in California — who offer unique packages to agents who want to really “sell” their listings. Just think about it. Would you rather see a boring frontal shot of a home, or would you rather see an aerial image of the home, along with an enticing, dramatic video of the property?  

Though drones and expensive camera technology may only be ideal for luxury realtors, drones are not too expensive, and those who have some time and money to buy one and play around with it may find that they are having an easier time attracting potential buyers to a listing. For now, this is a great way for realtors to get creative, but it’d be interesting to see what the limits are before drones become a nuisance. 

Right now, advancements in technology are causing some concern for agents who want to make sure they have their jobs long term. And, while technology certain has the potential to step on some realtor’s toes, many believe it can really only take over to a certain extent — that helping someone to buy and sell a home is a job only a human can do. 

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