Slevin: Even with new tech, the real estate business still requires ‘touch’ (column)
Finding a balance between technology and human touch continues to be a challenge for any business, real estate included. Technology has been an incredible asset in terms of information access, which started with the introduction of “virtual tours” a decade ago and has now evolved into today’s immersive virtual reality property tours, instant listing alerts and data-driven buyer and seller models. Brokers now also have access to the most sophisticated technology to promote listings, attract buyers and seamlessly connect with clients.
But with these kind of technological advances there comes the peril of information overload and what some buyers and sellers may think is the complete picture of the market. Buyers can be lured by “free” real estate web sites, such as Zillow.com or Realtor.com, all of which now have MLS listing access. But these only paint part of the global real estate picture.
While all the sites feature available listings and comparable sales, including ways to “tour” a home, they are only as good as the algorithms that drive them. They don’t factor in the individual needs of a buyer and their motivations. It also can’t take the place of physically touring a home where the sense of place and feelings are experienced. It can’t explain why a home sold at a certain price due to circumstances known to only the brokers involved. Technology also can’t put a price on a view or the sound of a river, the importance of access to the mountain, a trail or the walkability of a community.
Human Touch Assets
While technology is a vital component for our industry, it’s missing the all-important human connection, one that involves really understanding the dynamics of a local market and trends within that market and how these relate to each buyer or seller. There is no one size fits all — in any market. Real estate brokers in the Vail Valley (and for the most part any community) are unique in that they work well together for the benefit of the market and their clients. They talk. They listen. They learn. And through this process they identify opportunities, address challenges and ensure that they present a more complete picture of pros and cons for their clients.
While technology has served the public and professionals well through greater access to listings, information and resources, it’s important for buyers and sellers to do the all-important balancing act and work with a broker who they trust and will factor in their individual needs and budget. Both are necessary and have great value — and should for years to come.
Michael Slevin is president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties.