On Friday, I posted had a post about Zillow being like WebMD and it got me thinking about how easy it can be with the influx of new technology and web based solutions to think you can buy or sell a home. It isn't a surprise that everything is moving fast into the era of the internet. From sites like Uber to Grubhub, we generally can pull up our phones or laptops to order what we want with ease. With every industry being revolutionized by technology, the same methods are "attempting" to be applied to the real estate industry.
We could all agree that the simplification of the process through paperwork would be much appreciated by agents and buyers/sellers alike; but the attempt of replacing the agent by sites like Zillow, iBuyer and Open Door resources can lead to a snowball effect of disaster. Think about real estate being smack dab in the middle of fast food and a doctor. You can use your mobile device to quickly place your order for a $20 meal, but when it comes to getting surgery, you'll want to put that phone down and visit a professional. Now think of your real estate agent being in the middle of all of that. You can use your devices to look for a home, look at market data the way you look at WebMD, knowing not to take it too seriously because you need a real professional's input, but it's fun and gives you a general idea of what to expect. But there in lies the issue, the data online is an oversimplified version of what goes into the process of buying and selling. The same way it oversimplifies medical diseases and surgeries, you'd still expect to get a professional's diagnosis.
Although a real estate agent isn't quite like a doctor, the industry with its legalities, contracts, and processes is similar in the sense that it needs to be taken seriously. Looking for a house online and wanting to put an immediate offer on one can be exciting and fun, but the issues that require a professional's guidance come after the initial contract is written up and the hard work comes into place to actually make the home your own. The same thing goes for sellers. There are fees that are charged to sell your house through one of the site mentioned above. According to mashivisor.com, the fee is anywhere from 6%-13% which is more than if you listed with a professional licensed agent. I'm sure you want the highest return on your investment.
Sellers if you receive an offer from an ibuyer, you are typically left unrepresented and will have to seek out a real estate attorney to make sure the contract is written correctly and make sure they are not being taken advantage of. If you decide to put your home on the market and want a website that will give you an automatic offer, how do you know you're not being taken advantage of with the price? Most importantly, how do you know you're not being taken advantage of in other aspects of the contract? There is a lot more to the sale of the home than just agreeing on a number and this is where a good agent comes in.
Photo by Sarah Pflug
The next time you're digging through public sites for homes for sale, and getting instant home valuation estimates, keep in mind that this is a simple process to give you an idea of your market. A very general idea. After you've found the perfect house, or after you've decided that the numbers make some sense for you to sell, call your favorite real estate agent and make sure they give you a more detailed look into the market and assist you through the full process, not just the exciting first parts. It is going to be in the middle of a contract when the lending is falling apart, or negotiations can't be made on repairs and emotions are at an all-time high, that you are going to wish you had put down your laptop and had an agent fighting for you by your side. Use the internet, have fun with its amazing resources, but don't let it replace your agent. We aren't in an age yet where technology can do everything a professional can.