I just finished reading a white paper by the founder of Dotloop (part of Zillow Group) with the catchy title, “The End of the Traditional Real Estate Brokerage.”
The premise of the document is that unless a brokerage adopts that company’s “end-to-end collaborative platform,” it is destined to fail. Hmm…. Is my successful brokerage, Golden Real Estate, destined to fail?
Basically, the argument is that mobile and digital technology is disrupting every industry and is also disrupting real estate.
“Disrupting,” however, implies winners and losers. I prefer to say that technology is revolutionizing real estate (as indeed every industry), but I see no end to Golden Real Estate as a small, some say “boutique,” brokerage.
In my two decades as a Realtor (i.e., a member of the National Association of Realtors, not merely a licensed real estate professional), I have seen major transformation of the technologies, tools and software made available to brokers.
When I first got my license and joined the West Office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Lakewood, we wrote our contracts on 3-ply NCR forms created for each of the many documents required in a real estate transaction. We used typewriters to complete them, or pressed firm with ballpoint pens.
Nowadays, virtually every agent uses on-line contracts. In our market, CTM eContracts is dominant in providing these contracts, and the integration of documents by agents on both sides of every transaction is impressive and… revolutionary. We love it!
Occasionally I will received a contract from an out-of-area agent, as I did just last week on one of my listings, that is not on CTM and uses a third-party e-signature program, DocuSign, for signing each document. (CTM has e-signature capability built into it, and it works great.)
Showing service technology has also evolved beautifully. The near-universal vendor in our market is ShowingTime, and it’s great how they have simplified the process of setting multiple showings, with well-timed route planning and management of feedback requests.
REcolorado, the Denver MLS, is introducing a replacement showing service called BrokerBay, which will have some further enhancements (and be included in our MLS fees), but it will have to be spectacular to be better than ShowingTime.
The MLS itself has been radically improved in the quarter century since it became web-based, and, as with their showing service proposal, continues to do the heavy lifting for us brokerages so that we have only the task of learning new ways of operating.
Despite these changes, I don’t think the in-person model of working with buyers and sellers is up for displacement, merely rapid and ongoing improvement.