See-Through Sales

From the Editor: Transparency is a positive development for practitioners who take the time to figure out how to incorporate new technologies in their business.

June 1, 2007

I have a friend who recently began looking for a job. His experience is impressive. The trouble is he’s been out of the job market for a few years; meanwhile, the use of technology has exploded in his field. At the outset, he felt a bit like a vintage auto trying to compete against models with the latest engine-boosting performance chip.

However, it didn’t take him long to realize two things:

1. Technology has become so user-friendly that it’s possible for anyone, with guidance from the experts, to marshal it for their own benefit and that of their company.

2. Companies still need people with good judgment and people who understand the proverbial need to meld high tech with high touch.

Those observations are just as true in real estate as they are in my friend’s business—maybe more so. That’s the message we heard this month from the technology innovators who participated in the second roundtable of our 2007 Innovators Series.

Executives from Trulia, Yahoo, and Zillow—along with representatives from NAR and and others—joined our panel for a lively talk about what’s next and what you need to do to prepare.

It’s hard not to feel a little besieged by the work these folks are doing. Over the last few years, they’ve made listing data online ubiquitous.

On top of that, the technology has gotten much more sophisticated, enabling consumers to find everything from days on the market to recently sold comparables — even, to some extent, property condition. Technologists call it transparency. That’s the condition that, in theory, leads to disintermediation of market experts like real estate professionals.

Our panelists seemed in agreement, though, that transparency is a positive development for practitioners who take the time to figure out how (or in some cases whether) to use the new technologies in their business. No matter how smart the technology, they say, it’ll never replace the sound judgment of someone who’s in the market every day.

Still, for self-employed real estate practitioners, the stakes are high. In the corporate world, executives invest company dollars on technology solutions. When you spend money on technology, you’re putting your own profits on the line.

To help you be a more wise technology consumer, we’re offering you a chance to talk with the experts. Read this month’s roundtable, “Consumers demand it all,” and then visit our Web site between May 29 and June 8 to comment and ask questions of the panelists. In a business where the rules of the race keep changing, expert insights may be just the performance boost you need to stay ahead.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is executive editor of publications for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor in chief of REALTOR® Magazine.