Ask a Realtor: Is the internet pushing Realtors out? (column) |

Ask a Realtor: Is the internet pushing Realtors out? (column)

Joan Harned Ask a Realtor

Dear Joan: At this holiday season, where it is becoming obvious that many of us are shopping online, I was feeling bad for so many retail stores that may be struggling. Internet shopping is also big in your real estate business, and I got curious to hear your opinion about how internet shopping is impacting the Realtors in this valley. What are your thoughts on the internet craze, and are Realtors’ careers at risk?

— Craze Questioner

Dear Craze Questioner: I think we all know the internet is not a craze. It is a huge part of our lives now and is not going anywhere. That being said, I don’t think retail or Realtors are going away, either.

In response to your retail shopping concern, Stephen Moore recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal about an interview he did with Kemper Freeman. Freeman owns a huge shopping mall just east of Seattle and said he is planning a big expansion because his foot traffic is up 21 percent so far this year. Freeman cited several reasons retail is not going away, and I believe at least two apply to real estate and Realtors, as well.

First, this retailer believes that clients enjoy and want “emotional fulfillment,” and they get that from seeing, touching, sniffing and testing the products before purchase. This is hugely important with a real estate purchase. Kemper Freeman goes on to say, “We are social animals. We aren’t robots who are going to make all our purchases from robots.”

His second point, and I think the most important advice made in the whole article, absolutely applies to Realtors as much, or maybe even more than, retail salespeople. Freeman says, “We tell our retailers that one of the primary value added of retail shopping is the expertise that the sales clerks can offer customers. They better be knowledgeable about what they are selling or people will go online or to a discount store.”

Realtors need to know the answers, or where to get the answers, about the area, the property and the market in general and financing options. The internet provides a lot of information, but it is not necessarily about the questions and concerns clients have, and it is not able to filter through what a client says and come up with options the client might never have thought of.

Actually looking at properties and using a professional Realtor is time and/or money well spent. (My semi-biased but knowledgeable opinion.) Happy shopping.

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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