One: Ebay and AirBnB. Models that are built on trust. They work because of stamps or stars of trust conveyed by stories of other people.
Two: Google took inventory of all real property and Zillow Make Me Move is a system that is begging for trust. Ebay and AirBnB proved their models. I hear grown Realtors calling Zillow and Trulia the porn sites of real estate. What? Give me a break – what that tells me is that they are gaining traction and weak agents are becoming fearful. Do not even come back with poor data integrity, etc. (Granted…buyers miss some deals because Zillow updates run slower than MLS) The services still provide value.
Three: Real estate brokerages can charge much less money if everything they did was compensated. 40-50% of all listings, energy , advertising is wasted on properties where the seller does not have sufficient motivation or ability to sell for the market demand. Sellers would sell “if” they get their price (to buy the next place or simply pay off the lender) Home shoppers not buyers: real estate agents may spend lots of time and gas showing houses to someone that does not “have to” buy a home. There is room for creative agreements with sellers and buyers and their brokerage firms if motivation and non-payment risks are reduced.
Four: Social Media will push Brokerages to adapt “systems” because buyers and sellers will “connect” more frequently. (Pushing on the door of reducing the costs of finding the “Willing” party) Which will demand a service of transaction liability coordinator. Some title companies may niche and grow what some will see as a growing FSBO (For Sale By Owners) market. On the brokerage side, I can see a DIY brick and mortar model where the seller and buyer pay for a menu of services complementing Zillow. (Similar to local Ebay stores that handle the sale of an item for you for a fee). Agency law, fiduciary responsibility, and liability insurance will need to cover the scope of services rendered.
[** Learning moment for agent compensation: The local Chattanooga MLS reports that there has been 5,144 homes sold year to date with total volume of $872,600,261. Multiply that number by 5% or 6% and you get roughly $34-$53 Million dollars of commissions. Divide that by 1,500 real estate agents and they average $35,000 each. Multiply $35,000 by 70% split that is nearly $25,000 a piece gross before gas, taxes, advertising , healthcare, etc. Agents are paid 1099 not W-2. You can see the model is pretty efficient, especially when a high percentage of activity is NEVER compensated. Imagine your boss walking in on payroll day and saying let’s roll the dice to see if you are worthy of being paid today!]
The bottom line is that technology is changing how we serve people in real estate. I used my smart phone to check the level of a door jam, shine a light into a crawl space, check a HUD for closing, and text a message to another customer (All during one home showing). My buyers are calling me with information from Zillow, and Trulia on their phones. They are demanding a response. Please understand, that I am NOT predicting that smart phones will replace real estate agents. Nor, I am predicting a sharp reduction in the “cost” of sale of your home. Ebay does not seem to be making large dents in retail malls, and AirBnb has not toppled Marriott.
Home buyers and sellers will pay for great service and trust. People will demand it. They may actually pay more than a “typical” commission to sort out all the “noise”. Tech is changing real estate; therefore, the real estate brokerage model will change to accommodate trust and service.