With the influx of new technology and web based solutions, it isn't a surprise that everything is moving fast into the era of the Internet. From sites and apps like Uber to Grubhub, we generally can pull up our phones or laptops and order anything what we want with ease. With every industry being revolutionized by technology, the same methods are "attempting" to be applied to the real estate industry.
We could all agree that technology has improved the real estate industry by virtually eliminating paperwork, improving the ease of home searching, and giving us instant and reliable tools for communication. These improvements are much appreciated by agents and buyers/sellers alike; but the attempt of replacing the agent with sites like Zillow and other third party resources, can lead to a snowball effect of disaster.
Think about the real estate industry as it relates to other things that may be simplified with an app or website. You can use your mobile device to quickly place an order for a $20 meal. It's not a big deal, you're not putting much money on the line, and you likely aren't missing any vital information by having a driver deliver your take-out rather than picking it up yourself. Another thing we turn to the Internet for advice with is our health, and it isn't always the best idea. Sure WebMD can list diseases or disorders you may have based on your symptoms, but if you need actual help, you are going to have to put the phone down and visit a medical professional. Now, think of your real estate agent being in the middle of all of that. You can use your devices to look for a home, look at market data the way you look at WebMD. You know not to take it too seriously, because you need a real professional's input, but it's interesting and can give you a general idea of what to expect. Therein lies the issue, the data online is an oversimplified version of what goes into the process of buying and selling real property. The same way it oversimplifies medical issues;
WebMD may be able to give you an idea of what might be going on, but you still need to get a professional's diagnosis the same way you still need a real estate agent to help you purchase or sell real property.
The real estate industry and it's legalities, contracts, and processes needs to be taken seriously, the same way your health needs to be taken seriously. Neither process or professional can be replaced by a website. Looking for a house online and wanting to put an immediate offer on one can be exciting and fun, but the issues that require a professional's guidance come both before and after the initial contract is written up. The same is true for sellers. If you decide to put your home on the market, and want a website that will give you an automatic offer, how do you know you're not being taken advantage of in the price? How do you know you're not being taken advantage of in other aspects of the contract? There is a lot more to the sale of a home, than just agreeing on a number.
The next time you're digging through public sites for homes for sale, and getting instant home valuation estimates, keep in mind that this is a simplification to give you an idea of your market. A very general idea. But after you've found the perfect house, or after you've decided that the numbers could make sense for you to sell, call your favorite real estate agent and make sure they give you a more detailed look into the market and assist you through the full process. And not just the exciting beginning/search stage. It's going to be in the middle of a contract when the lending is falling apart, or negotiations can't be made on repairs, and emotions are at an all time high, that you are going to wish you had put down your laptop, and had an agent fighting for you by your side. Use the internet, have fun with it's amazing resources, but don't let it replace your agent. We aren't in an age, just yet, where technology can do everything a professional can.