Generation Y’s Perception of Real Estate Agent Value

Lauren Baier Kim of asks the question, Do Young, Tech-Savvy Buyers
Need a Real Estate Agent’s Help?

In real estate, there is a growing dichotomy: buyers are getting younger, while real estate agents are growing older, according to articles in the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Boston Globe.

Using data from the National Association of Realtors, these articles note that while the median age of home buyers was 39 in 2007, the median age among Realtors is 51. And, among first-time home buyers, 49% were between 25 and 34 years old.

This could present a real problem for the real-estate industry, which despite the current overload of real-estate professionals, is actively trying to recruit younger real-estate agents, reports Aubrey Cohen of the Post-Intelligencer. Younger agents will be needed to replace an aging workforce and to create inroads with a uniquely high-tech set of house hunters, the articles say. Youthful home buyers are more independent and rely more on the Internet in the home-buying process than their predecessors did, these articles note.

There is no doubt that Gen Y buyers and sellers are "turned on" by technology.  For example, all of my twenty and thirty something clients and many of Gen Y "minded" beyond their thirties are tech-centric in such a way that as sellers they demand things like video be used in marketing their homes and as buyers they won’t even look at properties except those online that include multiple photographs, floor plans and video tours.   These same sellers and buyers want responses from their agents within minutes of firing off an email so a BlackBerry or like device is essential.

As one reader pointed out in response to a post on photos in real-estate listings, "most agents are not utilizing technology efficiently." The readers explains, "We had a young agent and he did an excellent job with marketing our town home. We ended up getting three dozen offers. He also uses BlackBerry and a few other tech gadgets which many agents simply don’t use or cannot afford or whatever."

This shifting perspective of the real estate agent’s value in a transaction poses some serious problems for those in the industry who resist advances in technology.  There is an independent agent whom I have interacted with in the recent past who has been in the industry for 30 years.  She has no website, she types up property fact sheets with her typewriter, draws floor plans herself, and provides no photographs at all.  For this unparalleled service, she charges sellers a 3% commission and refuses to work with other agents.  The last few properties that she has represented have languished on the market in a building that sees properly marketed homes sell within days or even hours of coming on the market.  For obvious reasons, this woman’s deal flow is decreasing exponentially.

As more consumers embrace technology and all of the ways that it makes the real estate industry more transparent and efficient, real estate agents better get on board too.  And for you resistant dinosaurs out there, beware, a technological "asteroid" has hit Earth and your days are numbered.

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