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Why real estate needs to stop whining about technology disruption


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Real estate agents all around the world sound more like Chicken Little than professionals and business people. So much fear. So much worry. So much playing defense.

Many agents are complaining and whining about new “disruptive” technology and services that are coming to the market — at the height of the market.

In my market, Salt Lake City, it’s such a crazy hot seller’s market that for sale by owner (FSBO) sellers are “having success,” at least in their eyes.

If you can fog a mirror, you can get your home under contract in a few days. It’s just that type of market.

When sellers can list their home FSBO, or with some fancy new “FSBO assistance” startup, and they sell it within a few days for what they think their home is worth, it gives the illusion that these startups are gaining ground.

It gives the illusion to both FSBO sellers and Realtors that it’s just a matter of weeks before all of us agents will be out of business.

Listening to some of you, you’d think we’d be obsolete by Independence Day!

Let’s not forget this important factor

What we’re failing to look at is the effect that current market conditions play on all this disruptive new technology.

Again, we’re at all-time highs in both the housing market and the stock market. In other words, it’s a great time to be in business. Money is flowing.

Technology and services that are successful now won’t necessarily withstand a market downturn.

I understand feeling threatened by these companies and services. However, I’m noticing this fear is causing many people to focus on how they can shut that new company down or put it out of business rather than making it obsolete. It’s pathetic.

Build up or tear down

This is America. We are a capitalist country. The free market is what makes this country great.

Why is it, then, that so many real estate agents are trying to tear down disruptive companies rather than be the best themselves?

If you want the biggest building in town, you have two options: Building the biggest building in town, or tearing down everyone else’s.

If you’re more focused on getting the “fancy” new FSBO assistance company shut down, you’re wasting energy on their building instead of building a bigger, better one. Tonya Harding would be proud! (Millennials, Google that one.)

Communicating value

There’s an important distinction to make between having value and demonstrating value.

As an industry, we must communicate our value effectively. Not only do we need to provide more value than any of these new technology companies entering the real estate world, but we also need to make sure that consumers know our value.

If we can accomplish both, we don’t need to worry about the competition. They will go out of business on their own.

Get onboard the tech train

Embrace technology, don’t fear it; the vast majority of technology can actually help you as a real estate agent.

But you have to be willing to learn how to use it to your advantage.

In Salt Lake City, we have a new for sale by owner startup that shall remain nameless. They’re getting a bit cocky as of late, misinterpreting their “success” with the hot sellers market.

We don’t need to find ways to have the Division of Real Estate shut it down or figure out ways to sue, as some overzealous agents have suggested. If we can offer more value than it does, we will win. Simple as that.

If a company is breaking the rules or the law, however, then it needs to be punished and if warranted, shut down.

But if it’s simply providing more competition than you want to deal with, it is 100 percent on you to be better than them and beat them.

Direct your energy elsewhere

Spend your time instead focusing on how you can provide the most value to your clients, and then spend an equal amount of time learning how to teach the public about that value. It’s called marketing. It’s pretty important.

If they don’t know that you’re better, does it really matter that you are? There is no doubt in my mind that good real estate agents will make their seller more money than the commission they charge. That isn’t being debated here.

Many consumers today don’t know this, or, they just don’t believe it.

It’s on our shoulders as real estate professionals to be better at communicating our value. We need to show it. We need to prove it. We need to make it abundantly clear that paying a full commission is more beneficial to the client than doing things on their own.

I have seen many successful agents do this, but it’s not easy and requires creativity and marketing savvy.

Let’s all do better, together, and then we won’t need to worry about some flashy new app wiping us out.

Dustin Brohm is a Salt Lake City Real Estate Agent, Facebook Ads and Social Media Marketing expert, Co-Founder of the Snappack Live Real Estate Facebook Group, and Founder of

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