There’s one important change that’s taken place in real estate in the last 15 years that impacts agents and buyers.
How has real estate changed in the past 15 years?
When I started as an agent in 2004, our sales agreement was only four pages, and things were fairly manual. I remember doing things like faxing checks around and spending a lot of time on the phone to find out about properties.
Fast forward 15 years later, things have changed for better and for worse. First of all, our sales agreement is now 13 pages, and more inspections take place within each transaction. The biggest change, though, is our use of technology and our access to information. Before my time, the industry had evolved to the point that the agent was the gatekeeper of all information. Before the MLS, all listing information was kept in a binder, and that binder was the database of all properties for sale.
Now, all information is available online, including sales history, pictures, etc. The agent is no longer the gatekeeper of information. Our position has changed to more of an advisory role. If you’re a buyer, you’re the one who will likely find your next home. You’re able to look at the same online database that we can, and your preferences will be influenced by the pictures of the homes you view. If one of them meets your criteria, you’ll likely decide within three to five seconds after looking at a couple of photos whether you want to see that home in person.
Throw in tools like Google Maps (or Portland Maps) and Walksquare.com and you can learn all about a home’s surrounding area—where the amenities are, what the tax records look like, etc.
So what does an agent do? About 1% of a real estate transaction is finding the home—the other 99% is managing the process to a successful close. This means negotiating the sale, coming up with a price, presenting the offer, and all the steps that come after the offer has been accepted.
Beyond managing the process, there are two more valuable skills I can offer to you. The first is being able to find off-market properties. There are a plethora of off-market properties we have access to that you won’t find online, and we’re happy to share that information with you.
The second is my resourcefulness on the back end. In other words, understanding the story within the story. If a house was recently relisted and has an issue with its inspection, I can snag the report, research the history of the home, and talk to the seller’s agent. With our back-end tools and agent relationships, we can give you the full picture of what’s happening with any home.
Real estate is still a very exciting business. I think the internet, and the access to information it provides, has empowered people to manage their home search. It’s still a complicated process, though, and you need guides such as myself to be your trusted advisor to make your home purchase smooth and stress-free.
If you’d like to talk more about home buying strategies or you have any other real estate questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you.