With realtors facing increasing competition not only from fellow agents but also new automated platforms like Zillow's Instant offers, plus sites like OpenDoor.com and OfferPad.com, the National Association of Realtors has provided some tips on how they can stave off this new threat to their livelihoods.
Platforms like Instant Offers, which Zillow is testing in Las Vegas and Orlando ahead of an expected nationwide rollout, allow sellers to cut out the middleman, delivering a quick and hassle-free, cash sale. Using the platform, sellers can receive and compare offers, and also obtain a CMA from a Zillow Premier Agent. Zillow says its new offering won't impact on realtor's livelihoods, stating its belief that it will encourage sellers to connect to agents in order to close their transactions.
But the promise of a quick sale without giving the realtor their cut of the deal has caused many agents to believe otherwise, and so the NAR is helping out by offering them six talking points realtors can use to convince clients why they're still needed:
For now it seems unlikely that the role of the real estate agent will be threatened. According to the NAR's 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 89 percent of people worked with a real estate agent in order to sell their homes. Just 8 percent of home sales didn't involve a real estate agent, the report added.
But direct sales offered by platforms like Instant Offers could challenge the real estate industry in other ways. For example, the NAR says it may contribute to making inventories even tighter than they already are. Instant Offers, for example, connects sellers with a small group of investors who are partnering with Zillow. Sellers who go that route are taking their home out of the inventory for the average buyer. In addition, those who use Zillow's or another company's platform aren't listing their homes on the MLS, which will affect the reliability of its data, which is used by both governments and economists to identify trends in the market, determine values and develop strategies.
But John Mosey, president of NorthstarMLS, told RealtorMag there's no need to worry about the impact on MLSs for now.
“We’ve dealt with things like the ‘coming soon’ phenomenon and off-MLS activity, and we’re seeing that these trends aren’t shifting FSBO numbers,” he said. “Our transaction volume in 2016 was $19 billion, and we’re in the Midwest, where market values don’t come close to the coasts. So you don’t need the off-market activity to get a true picture of what’s going on. I think the potential harm with these off-market listings is that a lot of them have never been market-tested, so it’s hard to get an accurate appraisal.”
Even so, that does nothing for real estate professionals, who seem to be the ones most threatened by direct sales, and who will have to work exponentially harder to get clients on their side as the popularity of these platforms increases.