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Technology & the Difference Between a “Facilitator” and “Counselor” REALTOR®
Semi-trucks don’t look complex, but they are. You don’t operate semis the same way you would your minivan. They are large, they are dangerous, and they can seriously hurt other people. Driving one from St. Louis to Phoenix without someone getting hurt is one of those modern miracles we take for granted.
Despite the complexity, despite the skill required to drive, despite the risks associated with being on the road, trucking is one of the industries primed for automation. Every week you can read about another automated semi making a delivery.
Unlike trucking, everyone understands surgery is complex and dangerous. One wrong move by a surgeon can be lethal. Yet, the MIT Technology Review predicts surgeons are one of the jobs most threatened by automation. Experts predict robotic technology may do something public policy has failed to do: make healthcare safer and cheaper.
Truckers and surgeons: two of many professions whose numbers are shrinking or will soon shrink due to automation and technology.
Yet Realtors will tell you there is simply no way their profession will be impacted in any meaningful way by technology. Buyers and sellers, these Realtors argue, want to deal with a human being during a complex and impactful transaction.
Why we think they are (mostly) wrong
To begin with, this assumes buyers and sellers believe the Realtor has their best interests in mind. The sad reality of our industry is the trust level of Realtors in our society is average at best. Meh.
In other words, if people think of you as "meh", you have some serious image problems. And if people have so little faith in a Realtor’s trustworthiness, then why would that person think it was essential for the Realtor to be by their side during a transaction?
In fact, based on public perception, an argument could be made that buyers and sellers would prefer to do business with a computer. Other Realtors argue the process is simply too complex with too many variables to be massively disrupted by technology.
Driving a several-ton truck with 18 wheels through blizzards, sandstorms, and all manner of weather without killing someone is complex. Brain surgery is complex.
But I’ve worked in real estate for pretty much all of my adult life, and I can tell you that while the paperwork is voluminous, it’s not too complex to be automated. And real estate is not immune to the massive changes occurring in several industries.
Fortunately, one of those changes will be an increased premium on real estate professionals who truly add value to a transaction. Or, in the words of real estate thought leader and blogger Rob Hahn, the 80% of realtors who serve as “facilitators” may be drastically reduced by technology, while the 20% of realtors who serve as “counselors” will be even more valuable.
What’s the difference between a facilitator and a counselor?
A facilitator helps ensure a giant stack of paperwork is signed before the purchase is finalized.
A counselor gets to understand you, your family, and your goals, and keeps your best interests at the forefront of your relationship—and to a counselor, it is a relationship.
A facilitator takes overpriced photos.
A counselor serves as your chief marketing officer, developing a unique selling strategy for your property.
Technology will reduce the number of facilitators—and it should. Realtors who take a facilitation approach to the profession are a big reason why much of the public distrusts us.
At Worth Clark, we know technology is going to continue to change this industry. We look forward to change, because our entire staff believes our role is to serve as counselors – counselors that assist with buying, selling, and leasing real estate. It’s why we’ve become one of the fastest growing brokerages (and companies) in America for three straight years.
Times are changing, and change can be good. And if technology can help make us Realtors more lovable, we should all welcome it with open arms.
Steven Barks is the President & COO of Worth Clark Realty. He began his real estate career in 2009 as an agent for a small startup property management company in Minneapolis, MN. A natural self-starte....
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