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Why real estate will always be a human-to-human business

12 March 2023

Author: Scott Dunn, Sales Manager & Licensed Salesperson, City Sales

Advances in technology have continued to enhance our work day-to-day. We can conduct online viewings, utilise virtual assistants, and manipulate artificial intelligence (AI) to help with content marketing — but where does it stop? Will this omit the need for a human salesperson? Scott Dunn explains why we don’t need to worry — yet.

Real estate has changed. Big time. And there’s more to come.

I love the stories my dad tells me about real estate in the old days. Buyers didn’t know what was available, what comparable sale prices were, or how long your listing had been on the market. You just drove them around until they found something they liked. Sounds easy, right?

Fast forward to today, and buyers don’t just know what’s available, they know how long the property has been listed for, how many hits your online advertising has had, what the sales prices are relative to registered valuation in a given street and, often frustratingly — what an algorithm deems a fair sale price to be.

This information can often overcomplicate or skew the real price.

Competing with the overabundance of information

One of the biggest changes to happen in our industry is the access buyers have to information. We meet buyers at open homes who quote the recent sales back to us. They have read up on potential development sites and have seen every auction in the area live online so they are up-to-speed on recent sales just as you are.

With this new access to both information and technology — what is stopping vendors from doing it themselves? Or using a computer programme to take out a lot of the leg work? We might not be quite there yet, but technology moves at an incredible pace.

Selling real estate — a new DIY debut?

When you sell a used car, do you take it to a car yard? Or do you photograph it, research the value, list it on TradeMe, field enquiries and negotiate a sale yourself? Most of us, including me, take the latter approach. Why? Because we can and because it’s cheaper.

In real estate, we now have software which can design beautiful marketing without the use of a graphic artist, portals which produce sales statistics to the extent of suggesting sales values and even AI modules that can write your marketing copy for you.

In this new era of technology and information, how feasible is it that real estate becomes a DIY industry? Will there be a point in time when we’ll say to our kids, “You know, back in my day, people hired someone to market and sell their properties for them!”

Some consider that there are aspects of real estate that are simply too ‘human’ for a machine to do. Tell that to the artificial intelligence programmes which now write advertisements for us with no human input.

My thoughts are that there is a mix of trepidation around technology and a general acceptance that real estate is not as easy as we professionals make it look to be. This does not, however, future proof the industry.

We find ourselves in a unique position that other industries haven’t had. GoPros and digital cameras didn’t foresee iPhones boasting incredible cameras — and so were eclipsed by Apple without notice. We see the development of technology, AI and where it’s going, so we have a privileged vantage point which we can use make changes to ensure relevance, longevity and professional value.

We should be mindful. Not fearful. If we’re forward-thinking, we can surely use this to our advantage.

Real estate — more than just selling property

It’s a curated catalogue of skills and abilities where a true professional can incite a relationship with a complete stranger, draw on relationships already made for the benefit of their client, communicate, charm, be assertive, be delicate, be creative, be fearless, advise with conviction, manage multiple stakeholders, have knowledge of legal, accounting, business and tax, maintain objectivity and of course, negotiate beautifully — a skill which most people don’t possess and many shy away from.

It's these unique aspects that we must sell in order to thrive. Then we need to learn how to use these new technologies to strengthen our offering, rather than hide from them.

If we do it right, the future of real estate capitalises on game-changing technologies, but it is all run and managed by a professional sales agent and we maintain the position as the heart and soul of the campaign.

Whether you sell apartments like us, or rural, commercial, villas, or business — be worth your fee and we’ll keep real estate a human-to-human business. Algorithms can’t do what we do.