How Online Listings Are Changing the Real Estate Profession
July 30, 2018
Kristin E. Rosan
Partner, Madison & Rosan, LLP Attorneys at Law
We are all familiar with a simple truth: technology makes our lives easier. The real estate profession is no different. What is different is the degree to which technology has completely transformed the profession. Those who practiced in the ‘90s may remember the coveted published MLS books, necessary for any professional to help locate a home for their clients. For listing agents, publication in the MLS book was critically necessary to bring buyers. Each new weekly edition was eagerly anticipated and met with excitement. The publications were confidential and only to be used by members of the local board. Sharing the book with a non-member could jeopardize a professional’s board membership. In short, agents were the custodians of information sought by both buyers and sellers of real estate.
Fast-forward two decades. Now listings are publicly available to everyone online, without the need for the coveted book and without regard to board membership. Now buyers and sellers have access to a dizzying array of information about listings, bank-owned property, and properties in foreclosure. Buyers and sellers can freely search listings online, and even narrow their search by pre-selected variables like home size, school district, and price. They can view a home’s interior, obtain historical and demographic information, and assess value from recent neighborhood sales. Want to view proximity to a neighbor or backyard foliage? Buyers can even view a home on a street map or via aerial satellite images, all with a few mouse clicks.
Buyers and sellers can now do the things that historically necessitated the hiring of a real estate professional quickly and efficiently on their own. Technology has unquestionably made it easier for buyers to find listings and for sellers to evaluate the market. With these technological advances, licensees necessarily asked, “How do I stay relevant to my clients?” To prevent extinction, the real estate profession adapted.
In June of 2014, the National Association of REALTORS® published the results of its yearlong technology survey. It found that 91 percent of REALTORS® used social media to some extent, and realtor.com, Zillow.com, and Trulia. com were the top places they listed property for sale. Rather than fearing these technological advances, licensees embraced them and found ways to use the tools to their advantage.
At the end of the day, clients still need agents to help them through the home selling and buying process. Platforms like realtor.com and Zillow.com serve to educate clients about the market, neighborhoods, demographics, and even a home’s features and drawbacks. Gone are the days (well, maybe not in all cases) when agents toured 20 homes in order to help buyers narrow down their likes, dislikes, and list of “must haves.” Now buyers typically come to agents having already done their research and with a good idea of a given neighborhood and the type of property they’d like to buy. The agent can then step in and help their client complete the proper forms and follow the inspection and financing process for finalizing the home purchase.
Real estate–related technology now aids both licensees and their clients in making better-informed choices and navigating a transaction more efficiently. Technology like realtor.com, Zillow.com, and Trulia.com has transformed the profession, and in the process has made the lives of licensees and their clients easier.