There are legions of brilliant and well-funded engineers working hard at this very moment to invent robots that will take over your job – and mine.
An interesting 2013 study from Oxford University ranked 700 professions in order of the likelihood they would be replaced by technology. I was relieved to see physicians and surgeons very low on the list, but surprised to see real estate agents ranked so high. The study found there is a 97 percent chance that real estate agents would be replaced by technology.
Reporters stand an 11 percent chance of being replaced by computers, according to the study.
I suppose that with a long enough perspective, we’ll all be replaced by computers, robots and algorithms. It’s simply a matter of time.
Not only that, real estate agents are also under siege from big companies like Zillow and Amazon who are leveraging their enormous consumer platforms to get between agents and buyers and charging agents a fee to connect the two.
There’s even an app being developed and tested in California that seeks to eliminate the traditional real estate agent. No doubt there are others.
Real estate agents had it easy back in the day when they had a monopoly on information. Anyone who wanted to see homes for sale in a particular area had no choice but to go through an agent. Today, that’s no longer the case.
Buyers can search listings from their phones and scrub an agent’s background without getting out of bed. They can do the same thing with loan originators and attorneys, too.
Real estate agents and loan originators all tell me the same thing: they’ll never be replaced. They are convinced they’re a vital part of the real estate process. Taxi company owners might have said the same thing in 2009, the year Uber was founded.
Uber drivers ought not to get complacent, either. Waymo (formerly the Google Self-Driving Car Project) seeks to put them and the nation’s 3.5 million commercial truck drivers out of business. And many experts have predicted it will happen within the next decade or so.
Technology is making a lot of professions obsolete. When was the last time you booked a trip through a travel agent?
And if technology doesn’t completely replace real estate agents, it is almost certainly going to make real estate transactions faster, easier and cheaper. Typical agent commissions in England, for example, are half of what they are in the U.S.
Everyone is replaceable. Real estate agents and loan originators are being targeted for extinction and are going to have to find ways to continually add value to their services to prolong their survival.