Will Real Estate Agents Become Obsolete in the Digital Age?

Technology has drastically transformed various industries, including travel, finance, and grocery shopping. However, one industry that has remained relatively unchanged is the process of buying a home. While online platforms like Redfin and Zillow have connected buyers and brokers digitally, the role of real estate agents in finalizing purchases has persisted.

Recently, the National Association of Realtors reached a groundbreaking settlement with home sellers, potentially changing the dynamics of the industry. Instead of sellers paying a commission split between both sides, buyers and sellers may now be required to pay their agents separately. This shift opens up the possibility for technology to reshape the role of real estate agents, similar to the changes seen in finance and travel industries.

According to Tomasz Piskorski, a professor of real estate at Columbia Business School, the work of buyers’ agents could be simplified through technological innovations that empower consumers to handle certain tasks themselves. The question arises: Do homeowners really need a real estate agent? With nearly half of home buyers starting their search online and conducting home research independently, the need for transparency regarding agent fees has become apparent.

Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com, believes that technology can enhance transparency for buyers in an industry that has traditionally been opaque. If the changes initiated by the NAR settlement lead to greater consumer transparency, it will be a positive outcome.

However, despite the potential disruptive impact of technology, there is a strong sentiment that real estate agents will still have a role to play. The financial decision of purchasing a home is often considered a lifetime commitment, and buyers may still be reluctant to navigate this process without professional expertise and support.

The NAR settlement fundamentally changes the relationship between buyers’ and sellers’ agents. While sellers previously paid a commission split between agents, buyers may now be responsible for paying their agent upfront. This shift may force home buyers to reconsider the value and role of an agent in their home-buying journey. Agents will need to position themselves as long-term consultants, offering specialized expertise in an evolving industry.

Lessons can be learned from the travel industry’s transformation with the rise of online booking platforms. Similarly, real estate agents may become more like travel agents, providing local expertise and guidance while buyers access public information on their own.

As the industry adapts to this seismic settlement, the digitization of real estate transactions is likely to accelerate. Technological advancements in organizing home inspections, arranging mortgage financing, and automating paperwork can streamline the buying process. The NAR settlement may serve as a catalyst for implementing these advancements.

In conclusion, while technology has the potential to reshape the role of real estate agents, the unique expertise and support they provide are likely to remain essential for home buyers. The industry is on the cusp of an innovative transformation, and real estate agents will need to adapt and demonstrate their ongoing value to thrive in the digital age.


最近、全米不動産協会(National Association of Realtors)は、家の売り手と画期的な和解に達し、産業のダイナミクスを変える可能性があります。売り手が双方に支払う手数料の分割ではなく、買い手と売り手がそれぞれエージェントに支払うことが求められるかもしれません。この変化により、金融や旅行産業で見られるような技術による不動産エージェントの役割の再構築の可能性が広がります。