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Why real estate agents must better cope with industry disruption

Industry disruption is inevitable in the real estate industry, but our reactions from the field don’t have to be so predictable.

You’ve no doubt already heard that on July 22, Zillow announced that they are in the process of acquiring DotLoop, a contract-to-close online software company. As a result of that announcement, the social media sphere has run amok yet again with that “traditional industry freakout” where everyone and his mother needs to share his or her opinion online.

With respect to the announcement, there have been several interesting articles that have analyzed both the pros and cons of such an acquisition and its impact on the industry including one right here and another written by industry advisor Rob Hahn (from which I have borrowed the phrase “traditional industry freakout”).

The field of real estate is filled with industry disruptions. And, each and every time that there is a disruption, I begin to question whether the word “disruption” actually refers to the disrupter. Is it possible that the term “disruption” instead refers to the extreme reactions and associated distraction of those who feel that they are being disrupted?

Disrupters include products that diminish an agent’s value

While disruption has historically come in all shapes and sizes, there have been many products or services of late, which have created industry disruption by undermining the value of the real estate professional. At a very rudimentary level, the Internet did just that. Specifically, the Internet made is a whole lot easier for sellers and buyers to become instant experts on all things real estate. Long gone is the need to call the agent to identify the price and square footage of a home.

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Of late, there are many products that undermine the value or draw income away from the real estate professional. Online auction companies, syndication sites, for-sale-by-owner sites, and even one site where you can get an immediate offer on your home all draw buyers and sellers away from local agent experts.

Many folks argue (myself among them) that disruptions only serve to improve the industry (as cream rises to the top); others see any industry disruption as a personal blow to the knees.

How to avoid a knee jerk reaction

When you are driving a car and you come across a huge traffic jam, what’s your natural inclination? Most people grown and grumble about the traffic and attempt to find a way to avoid the traffic jam. That being the case, why can’t the industry as a whole apply that same thought process to all of these industry disruptions?

What purpose is served by “traditional industry freakout”? Wouldn’t it be more efficient and logical to consider another way to meet your goal in much the same way that you would avoid the traffic jam?

Instead of wasting time hemming and hawing about how something is going to impact you and the world at large, just get to it, turn the other way, walk around, above, and beyond. Historically, the industry has always found a way to rise above the disruption and remain relevant.

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So, why not just get back to work?


Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.


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