Don’t Replace Your Real Estate Agent With The Internet

With the influx of new technology and web based solutions, it’s no surprise that everything, including real estate, is moving fast into the era of the internet. From Amazon to Uber, we generally can pull up our phones or laptops to order what we want when we want with ease. The real estate industry isn’t immune to all of the advances in technology and we’re seeing changes related to it daily.

We can all agree that the simplification of the of the paperwork process and e-signatures is much appreciated by agents and their clients. However, the attempt of replacing real estate agents by sites like Zillow and other third party resources, can lead to a snowball effect decreased quality of service that has a negative impact on both home buyers and sellers alike.

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 and you’ll get exactly what you ordered. When it comes to getting surgery, you 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 and research market data similar to the way you use WebMD to research. You know not to take it too seriously because you need a real professional’s input, but it’s  gives you a general idea of what to expect.

There in lies the issue…the data online is a very generalized version of what goes into the process of buying and selling a home. There’s no way the information on the internet can account for your specific needs and situation or for the idiosyncrasies of your market. It’s the same for medical issues.  The information on the internet generalizes diseases and medical procedures. You’d still expect to get a professional’s diagnosis.  It can’t take into account your personal medical history and background like a doctor can.  A real estate agent is similar to a doctor in that they do take into consideration the specifics of your situation and how that translates into the real estate market you’re working in.  That’s an irreplaceable skill.

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Although a real estate agent isn’t quite like a doctor, the industry in it’s 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 comes after the initial contract is written up and the hard work comes into place to actually make the home your own.

Same for sellers, 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 in the price? But most importantly, how do you know you’re not being taken advantage of in other aspects of the contract? There is a lot more involved with the sale of the home then just agreeing on a number.

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 formula to give you a ballpark estimate of your market…a VERY general idea. The algorithm these sites use doesn’t take into account the more specific items that can add to or take away from a home’s value that aren’t obvious from what’s available through public information.  Most are just using square footage, bathroom and bedroom count and possible garage space to determine that ballpark estimate.  Much more goes into it like bathroom and kitchen finishes, type of flooring, age of mechanicals, general condition of home, lot size and location, etc.

After you’ve found the perfect house and decide to make an offer 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. Most likely, you’re going to be in the middle of a contract when the financing begins to fall apart or negotiations can’t be made on repairs. Emotions will be at an all time high and you are going to wish you had put down your laptop and had an agent fighting for you by your side because the agent will be able to advocate for you effectively without the emotions and stress clouding things.

Use the internet as a tool and have fun with it’s amazing resources. Don’t let it replace your agent, though. The internet can’t account for and understand some of the subtleties and finer points involved in a real estate transaction. We aren’t in an age, just yet, where technology can do everything a professional can.

If you do have any questions or are confused about the information that you’re finding on the internet, just let me know and I’m happy to help you navigate through all the competing information.  Just email me at or leave a comment in the comments section.  I’m here to help.

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