NAR Reports Brokers Most Fear Zillow and AI

There is no question that 2019 is off to a brisk and exciting start for the residential real estate industry. Lots of change that points to lots of opportunity in the future.

And then there’s this. Fear of change. And as a result, the loss of opportunity.

It is shocking to me that most everything that has been hyped in terms of change in this industry has involved nothing more than a "reshuffling the cards in a game we have been playing since the beginning of time.” That's right, what we are now calling feared disruption is nothing more than a series of new companies making new offers to dislodge and move agents "from here to them.”

Nothing is new there, just bigger, different and better offers are being made now. What used to be a move for a higher split is now a move for equity, profit sharing, free tech, free marketing or the provision of some other shiny object.

I have long stated that this “shuffle" is nothing more that if on the Titanic someone suggested that "rearranging the deck chairs would in some way altered the outcome.”

The consider this. Things that really matter in terms of change in this industry have little or nothing to do with agent shift. They have to do with embracing those things we fear as an industry that actually represent massive business opportunities.

Here's what I am talking about.

According to the NAR, in this article, the broker's greatest fear is now the fear Zillow and AI. Really? The broker’s greatest fear should be their lack of “touch" with the consumer. The lack of the broker to be able to substantially demonstrate an improvement in the consumer real estate experience. Others that have this ability now, possess the potential to shape and offer the consumer a plethora of things. But today, that is not the case with the brokers. That is because today, the agents control that touch and they are doing whatever they want or do not want to do with your brand. That my friends, should be your second greatest fear.

Where other industries see opportunity, all we talk about is fear. So why is that?

In the case of Zillow I believe the fear the brokers have is based in the constant effort - and the ability for - Zillow to be consumer-centric v. the broker’s inability to do the same because they are agent-centric. For brokers it is a hands off state with consumers because that is the “job” of the agents. Zillow does what they believe is right for the consumer and in turn attracts consumers to what they do while brokers do what they think they need to do to shift agents who each insulate the control "their consumers” from the broker. Stunning fact, yet still a fact.

See the difference here?

And going one more level deep, as is relates to AI, brokers have a fear of the unknown and AI as it is known now to the brokers looks more like “Hal than it does a pal.” While this is a common misconception, the core of this fear is once again based in a loss of control of the consumer, that ironically, the brokers do not have today. The truth of the matter is that AI, in the hands of the broker, has the potential to be the single most effective tool the brokerage could have in the future to attract consumers, generate business and increase the effectiveness of the brokerage company on all levels.

Realogy gets it big time with regard to AI. They have wholeheartedly embraced AI provider, OJO Labs and they have even invested in the company. And it seems that KW gets it too as they are building an AI solution to function on many levels of their business.. But my question is where is everyone else? Where are you with AI? Are you going to be one of those that sits by and “loves to hate” something new or that you simply do not even understand?

If you do and if you let all the traditional forces in this industry convince you that AI and it ability to align you with the consumer is not possible, I suggest that you get over it. And do it soon. There is nothing more important to this business than the change that AI has the potential to make for the brokers and their agents. Not because it is something proprietary, but because it is the future and it represents a revolutionary means to impact and improve the consumer real estate experience.

Change is inevitable. And it always a good thing if you are not only the advocate for it - but the example of it. Shut out the fear, and be that example in your market.