Technology is ubiquitous. Real estate brokers everywhere are overwhelmed with it. Daily pitches for more gadgets, platforms, animated virtual this and that come our way with deafening noise. Apps with tricks such as cloned signatures on computer-generated personal notes that feign your own handwriting are available for “free downloads” — and an eventual subscription. The time it takes to decipher the code that’s supposed to be a time saver, helpful, effective, and easy to use requires some study and even more time to launch.
When it works, a lot of the current tech is brilliant and serves to magnify the reach and time for the broker. It provides better service to buyers and sellers. Both business and life have adopted email and text as a colloquial language now, and god forbid if you find yourself without a signal — it seems impossible to communicate with even your nearest and dearest, which makes me wonder, how did we all function before?
Many brokers, including me, have a love/hate relationship with technology. Our business cannot function without its ability to satisfy a buyer’s programmed desire to see a property in real-time. We are all conditioned to seek and grasp information in seconds. With all of us tethered to devices, why wouldn’t the real estate industry tech geniuses just pursue the elimination of human brokers altogether?
Some have, in fact. Zillow and Redfin Now are just two tech giants whose goal is to keep you on their platforms and eliminate brokers altogether. The technology is impressive unless you care about how a home functions or feels. Home evaluations are more art than science. The numbers are there, but the value may not be. No technology will ever deliver the emotion or feeling unique to every property.
Selling a home and buying a home are emotional events that launch a buyer or seller into deep-rooted feelings about the direction of their lives. Sellers may be downsizing due to an empty nest or financial downturn. If you have raised your family and your home houses those memories, the transition can be gut-wrenching. The loss of a spouse may require downsizing. Your enthusiasm to create a home base for extended family or a new family is thrilling.
It would be an exception to find a home-sale transaction that wasn’t accompanied by an array of human emotion. Real estate brokers who care do their best to facilitate an easy transition. Even then, emotions can get the best of the most seasoned executive or strong supermom. Brokers become sounding boards, counselors, and hand holders through a complicated set of checklists, tasks, reports, inspections, and negotiations required to close. How will technology ever replace the need for relationships?
I am not convinced that an algorithm will ever be able to listen to the thrill or the heartbreak of a buyer or seller. It seems the more technologically connected we become, the more we need human connection. Call me old school, but I think relationships are still the secret sauce that fuels our business.