Ask a Dealer: Will tech units, equipment and platforms do away with agents? | Trade

Technology is ubiquitous. Real estate brokers everywhere are overwhelmed with it. Daily pitches for more gadgets, platforms, animated virtual this and that come our way with deafening noise. Apps with tricks such as cloned signatures on computer-generated personal notes that feign your own handwriting are available for “free downloads” — and an eventual subscription. The time it takes to decipher the code that’s supposed to be a time saver, helpful, effective and easy to use requires some study and even more time to launch.

When it works, a lot of the current tech is brilliant and serves to magnify the reach and time for the broker. It provides better service to buyers and sellers. Both business and life have adopted email and text as a colloquial language of now, and god forbid if you find yourself without a signal — it seems impossible to communicate with even your nearest and dearest, which makes me wonder, how did we all function before ?

Many brokers, including me, have a love/hate relationship with technology. Our business cannot function without its ability to satisfy a buyer’s programmed desire to see a property in real time. We are all conditioned to seek and grasp information in seconds. With all of us tethered to devices, why wouldn’t the real estate industry tech geniuses just pursue the elimination of human brokers altogether?

Some have, in fact. Zillow and Redfin Now are just two tech giants whose goal is to keep you on their platforms and eliminate brokers altogether. The technology is impressive, unless you care about how a home functions or feels. Home evaluations are more art than science. The numbers are there, but the value may not be. No technology will ever deliver the unique emotion or feeling to every property.

Selling a home and buying a home are emotional events that launch a buyer or seller into deep-rooted feelings about the direction of their lives. Sellers may be downsizing due to an empty nest or financial downturn. If you have raised your family and your home houses those memories, the transition can be gut wrenching. The loss of a spouse may require downsizing. Your enthusiasm to create a homebase for extended family or a new family is thrilling.

It would be an exception to find a home-sale transaction that wasn’t accompanied by an array of human emotion. Real estate brokers who care do their best to facilitate an easy transition. Even then, emotions can get the best of the most seasoned executive or strong supermom. Brokers become sounding boards, counselors and hand holders through a complicated set of checklists, tasks, reports, inspections, negotiations required to close. How will technology ever replace the need for relationships?

I am not convinced that an algorithm will ever be able to listen to the thrill or the heartbreak of a buyer or seller. It seems the more technologically we become, the more we need connected human connection. Call me old school, but I think relationships are still the secret sauce that fuels our business.

Ann Abernethy is a broker associate with Slifer Smith & Frampton. Join Ann at for a look at her podcast: “Beyond BadAss: How fierce women get it done!”

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