Why Buyers Remain Reliant on Realty Agents


There’s no doubt about it. Players in the online real estate marketplace like Zillow and Trulia have proliferated exponentially with the growth of online information available on the property sector. This development, however, hasn’t lessened the importance of a realty agent’s role, panelists at the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ (NAREE) conference held in Houston June 2014 agree.

One member of the panel, which was comprised of real estate website executives, ZipRealty CEO Lanny Baker pointed out that licensed professional real estate agents represented nearly 90% of home sellers in 2013. This slice, the executive said, compares with 69% in 2001, speaking well of the realty agents’ ability to maintain their role as trusted advisors even amidst the wealth of online real estate information that has already become available.

Insights of “roving reporters”

Why Buyers Remain Reliant on Realty Agents

With all real estate being local, readily available web-based information on such data as crime rate and walkability scores indeed just can’t completely substitute for the insights of realty agents who have an intimate knowledge of the neighborhoods, communities, and individual properties in their localities. An executive of the real estate website Hubzu likened professional realty agents to “a band of roving reporters” who can expertly convey easily digestible local information that home buyers need.

It is for this reason that property pictures and write-ups by the agent and the owner are tops in what buyers look for in their website, ZipRealty’s Baker said. But still, viewing or reading Internet content and having personal knowledge through the first-hand information of a competent agent can sometimes be poles apart.

Analytical inputs

For instance, reasons why a certain property is priced the way it is can only be unraveled by realty agents with an intimate knowledge of their territories. And there are myriads of information that can’t always be captured by online sources. These could be an unsightly factory or polluting plant en route to the property, crumbling house foundation or obsolete floor plan, among other considerations.

It is an imperative, therefore, for prospective buyers to be cautious in their choice of realty agents. An experienced agent should be able to gauge the motivation of the seller in coming up with a suggested counter-offer. They should be also able to competently analyze days on the market and the ratio of the listed price to the selling price of similar homes.

This is the ability to compare oranges with oranges, said Brad Hunter, chief economist at the real estate research firm Metrostudy who likewise participated in the NAREE convention. With housing being local, market factors have to be viewed on the “granular level,” he added.

Agent qualities to look for

When interviewing possible agents to work with, disregard those who talk more about themselves; choose those who focus on your requirements and ask plenty of questions about what your wants are. Realty agents who have a head start in this regard are those who have at their ready disposal reliable and up to date online data on various properties available locally.

At Sarasota Bay Real Estate, for instance, our agents can promptly work with clients via the company’s own online, hourly updated property listings pigeonholed into distinct lifestyle categories. Among these categories are golf communities, downtown high-rise condos, waterfront real estate, beach-side condos, new neighborhoods and gated communities.