by Todd Lewys
Realtor Ken Clark remembers the days when technology wasn’t as prevalent as it is today in real estate.
“We used to get a printed book with photos of each house that was on the market at a given time,” he recalls. “We’d look through about 3,000 listings, then go show clients the ones that we thought suited them best.”
Fast forward 30 years or so, and the process has changed dramatically.
Prospective buyers and sellers can now access photos, videos, 360-degree home tours – and aerial shots of properties taken by high-flying drones – with just the click of a mouse.
There’s literally no waiting. Everything is available in real time.
“People can now access information on homes instantaneously,” says Clark. “And as technology keeps progressing, that information is going to get even more detailed.”
While all that minute detail helps consumers gain more insight into homes, they need to take a step back and assess it for what it really is, says WinnipegREALTORS® 2017 president, Blair Sonnichsen.
“Without question, the opportunity for people to find data on homes has increased,” he says. “However, they must keep one thing in mind: that data is not information until it’s interpreted properly.”
That’s where the Realtor comes in, adds Clark.
“I always tell my clients it’s my knowledge that they’re paying for. And that knowledge is very important because it’s critical to interpret all that information properly. Realtors also provide guidance, are counselors and keep consumers’ emotions in check.”
Sonnichsen says a reputable Realtor’s expertise is invaluable.
“Just because you’ve gathered data, it doesn’t mean it’s information. With their knowledge and experience, a Realtor can interpret that information and then present it to a client so they can gain a clear understanding of it,” he says. “That then enables them to make a solid buying decision after all the facts have been laid out in front of them in a logical, detailed manner.”
A Realtor’s understanding of a client’s tastes and preferences can also pay big dividends, he adds.
“At the end of the day, it’s important to have a Realtor assisting you. They can do research on a property and drill deeper into it to satisfy your concerns,” he says. “Not only that, but because they’ve taken the time to get to know you, they will have a good understanding of your needs and desires.”
That understanding then allows realtors to provide their clients with some very important food for thought.
“For example, a Realtor can help a client identify things they hadn’t thought about, such as whether there are community clubs or other influences in an area that are important,” Sonnichsen says. “As wonderful as all the data on homes is, you still need to rely on someone who has a reputation for being knowledgeable, trustworthy and reliable. That person is a Realtor.”
There’s another good reason to have a Realtor working for you, says Clark.
“One of the most important things I do is slow people down. They often come to me, charging along with all the data they’ve gathered. I just tell them we’re going to take the time required to check things out properly, that we won’t move forward until we’ve done the necessary due diligence.”
Why is that so important?
“Simple,” says Clark. “I’ve had young clients who’ve fallen in love with a property in their internet search. We go through the home, and they say, ‘Look at how gorgeous the hardwood floors are.’ I then take a closer look and say, ‘See the water stains on them? Let’s move on. We’ll find the right home for you.’”
While technology has helped consumers gather more data on homes, realtors remain an indispensable part of successful real estate transactions – some 96 per cent of them, in fact, says Clark.
“There’s been one common thread in the buying and selling process since 1903 – Realtors in the middle of transactions helping people interpret data properly. As someone once told me, information is free, it’s the knowledge you have to pay for. Realtors possess the expertise – and provide the guidance – that allows consumers to make sound, informed choices.”