Previously real estate agents would specialise in a suburb, maybe the surrounding area as well. They would know this part of the world like the back of their hand, have local marketing and introduce themselves to the community. They would carve a niche and be the local go-to-person for selling or renting your property in that neighbourhood.
So real estate agencies were localised, like their employees, with large agency brands having suburban shop fronts dotted about, to cover the areas in which their employees specialised. For decades houses were marketed through the newspaper and flyers, and signboards were put up to catch buyers driving around on their weekends to view properties they were interested in.
Then the internet came along.
E-real estate has brought with it a flurry of activity with new sites, portals and agency web pages popping up to enable the consumer. The internet has provided buyers with endless information on properties, histories, school zones, suburbs, trends and opinions. It gives sellers the capacity to view past sales, information about bestselling times and property comparisons. For agents and property managers the internet has opened up their business to new markets, new clients and new expectations. All at a touch of a button.
The internet has change the way we buy and sell and has had a huge impact on buyers which in turn has had a knock on effect of changing the real estate industry. This shift of knowledge from the local agent to the consumer is a structural change.
Buyers’ and sellers’ expectations of what an agent will do for them has metamorphosed. People don’t need their agent to be localised, they don’t need them for information. So what is todays meaningful role for real estate agents in this current day and age where individuals can access the information they require and sell what they want when they want?
Given his decades of experience, John Percudani, Managing Director of Realmark, has great insight into the industry. He has been a part of the industry for over 30 years and has watched this wave of change, observed as consumers have moved from buying into a postcode to the current practice of buying into a lifestyle or budget.
This has pushed real estate agents away from being a neighbourhood business and into having to have subregional comprehension. An agent needs to have a network of knowledge and resources at their fingertips to be able to empower their clients and present on the spot solutions, advice and good practice.
Mr Percudani says that while watching this evolution he is seeing a lot of agents retire and agencies contract in size due to a lack of being able to evolve with the new consumer expectations.
“The key is to become more active and bring a new mindset to the game. You need to be more than an agency or agent, you need to be a smart-agency”.
This means having greater, more integrated networks which can link up clients’ needs and likes. There can be no time lag for the consumer anymore, if you can’t answer their questions and find their solutions quickly, then as an agent you’re obsolete.
So why use an agent at all? The internet can provide you with price ranges and lifestyle factors when it comes to buying your next property.
“It’s the human factor”, explains Mr Percudani. “That’s the difference between a portal and a person. Real estate is not an everyday transaction for consumers so they need help and guidance. Consumers still want to talk to people, they still want the inside word before they make one of the biggest purchases of their life. That has to be the difference”.
Under Mr Percudani’s guidance, Realmark have just won two REIWA awards for Innovation and Communication off the back of theirs innovative and integrated business system.
“You can either be with an agency or you can be with a smart-agency. Realmark is the new generation of smart agency”.