There's an excellent post over on The Wall Street Journal Developments Blog regarding the growing age gap between buyers and real estate agents. The median age of buyers in America is 39 while the median age of real estate agents is 51. In addition, 49 percent of first-time home buyers are between 25 and 34 years old. This, in itself doesn't mean that much. But when you look at the comments on the post and what buyers are saying in general, the age gap and changing relationship between buyers and agents becomes very evident.
One reader said,
“Most agents are not utilizing technology efficiently.We had a young agent and he did an excellent job with marketing our town home. We ended up getting three dozen offers. He also uses BlackBerry and a few other tech gadgets which many agents simply don’t use or cannot afford or whatever.”
Another reader commented,
"I have to admit that old school agents make me nuts. Half the time they come at me with a couple NAR talking points, not realizing that us younger buyers are running the numbers and doing the research online. It makes them sound archaic and I always wonder if they really think we’re that dumb?"
The one comment that really hit home for me and that I definitely agree with was,
"The future of real estate will be this: Agents will offer their ’services’ in a tiered format - a menu of services for a price. The bulk of their ‘business’ will be in the negotiating, paperwork, etc. at the end of the sale.
The education process, visiting properties, etc. will be done ONLINE by buyers. They will do all the agents’ work, and will use the agent only in the end, for the one part of the transaction that still makes even experienced buyers/ sellers uncomfortable - the negotiations, and the mounds of paperwork. THAT will never be able to be done online,and even experienced buyers don’t feel comfortable doing it.
Is that bad? No. It will just change the way real estate is bought and sold. Just like travel agents. One can still buy a ticket on a plane, or book a vacation or use a travel agent. BUT, their business model has seriously changed in the past 10 years. Real estate will be exactly the same way."
The real estate industry needs to pay attention to posts and comments such as these because they reflect the consumers' growing perception of an agents' value (or lack thereof); what they expect from the real estate transaction (regardless of how long an agent has been doing it a certain way for); and where real estate is headed in the very near future.