This column comes out on my Birthday, which serves as a checkpoint to see where things are compared to where they were a year ago. It also gives a sense of where things are headed for the coming year, and this year perhaps more than any other it appears the future is upon us in a big way:
Amazon is delivering packages with Drones. More people have smartphones than not, and software has irreversibly disrupted old paradigms of business on a broad scale. Uber doesn’t own any cars, yet they are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Air B&B is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don't own any properties. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil fuel power. The best-selling luxury sedan—for all categories, fuel-powered or electric—was the Tesla, and with self-driving cars from Google and Apple expected to enter the car market in force within the next few years, the majority of our kids may never get a driver’s license.
In the real estate industry, Zillow and other portals are increasingly placing real estate data and marketing in the hands of the consumer, transforming the identity of the real estate agent from the historic role of property hunter and salesperson into more of the advocate and analyst. And with consumers becoming more sophisticated, agents have had to raise the bar to keep pace with a clientele who want to feel truly understood, and who want to be helped on their terms, on their time.
In the midst of all these changes, out of necessity a new and more adept type of agent has emerged: One who truly “gets it” and who has the tools and the agility to make “it” happen for their clients while balancing their needs against the backdrop of the flurry of technology that is all around us. With artificial intelligence supposedly poised to overtake human intelligence by as early as 2030, what will keep our services relevant?
The answer lies in the fact that there will never be a substitute for an experienced ally who can empathize and properly handle the personal nuances involved in a real estate transaction, because in the end real estate is about much more than buying or selling a property. It is a process that impacts the lives and environment of the people involved, in what is quite often a transformative event in their personal story.
After 49 years on the planet, I am excited to embrace the changes that lie ahead in a way that will continue to work for the good of my clients by remaining focused on the human element that lies at the heart of even the most complex transactions and technological advancements. For that is the only way to bring true progress in the midst of a world of change.