The real estate business is getting more competitive with each passing day. iBuying has taken over the industry with house flippers and real estate companies doing their buying and selling without even visiting the property. Zillow is now making it even easier for home buyers and sellers as it moves into new cities. This rollout can spell disaster for unprepared and underprepared real estate professionals.
Luckily, it’s not the end of the road as a real estate agent can successfully set themselves apart from iBuying competitors. Here, 11 experts from Forbes Real Estate Council explain exactly how real estate agents should approach clients to successfully compete against iBuying.
Forbes Real Estate Council members share tips on how brokerages can set themselves apart from iBuyers.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. Provide A Personal Touch
Real estate is always about the personal touch. There will always be folks who will go the iBuyer way, but a vast majority of sellers and buyers need hand-holding. It’s all about the value you bring to your network and referrals. Also, help “peel the onion” on the cost. When the total cost of ownership is considered, iBuyers often come out with more expenses, so make sure you create that view for your clientele. – Abhi Indap, Keller Williams Benchmark Properties (Brokerage)
2. Offer Valuable Guidance
While iBuying platforms and similar competitors provide some value for “desktop” valuations and market research, I have a hard time seeing a service like that providing the benefits of a qualified broker. This includes assessing work needed, providing “intangible” knowledge about the market, as well as providing personal advice and guidance. – Andreas Johansson, Berkovitz Development Group LLC
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3. Leverage Similar Data Sources
Traditional brokerages’ local market knowledge will be the primary differentiator, but they will first need to get on the same playing field as iBuyers. As Zillow and other iBuyers leverage data to make smarter and faster purchases, traditional brokerages will need to do the same. Leveraging similar public data sources will be key in first matching and then hopefully exceeding Zillow’s success at a local market level. – Maxwell Wu, Fulcrum Labs
4. Be A Specialist At Something Local
While iBuyer programs promise lower costs, most people are willing to pay for expertise and the emotional comfort they gain by working with an experienced subject matter expert. Become a specialist at something local and define your client persona narrowly to stand out over time. There is no algorithm or technology that can replace personal experience. – Megan Micco, Megan Micco, Incorporated
5. Provide Exceptional Client Service
The most important way to separate yourself is to provide exceptional service to the client. At our group, we act as concierge for our clients, handling every detail of the transaction for them. We find movers and contractors, but also supervise the work and give recommendations for people who also provide exceptional service. The cheaper services are worth less for a reason. – Joseph Himali, Best Address Group, LLC
6. Offer Knowledge Outside The Computer
Having and sharing knowledge outside the computer is key. Good brokers maintain market knowledge from conversations and interactions with people. This cannot be replaced by algorithms. Brokers should embrace new technology, but also realize they need to work that much harder to become experts for their clients in the knowledge that is missing in technology. – Lee Kiser, Kiser Group
7. Listen Closely To People
With iBuyers being so focused on scalable and aggregated data, simply listening well to people, in addition to the data, is a remarkable differentiator. Never underestimate the effectiveness of eye contact and strong listening—that’s something iBuyers will struggle with for years to come. – Clark Twiddy, Twiddy & Company
8. Be A Full-Service Brokerage
Be a truly full-service brokerage by helping sellers coordinate everything from cleaning, organizing, staging, repairs and more, as needed. Most people consider iBuying for the convenience factor and to save time. If you can help them achieve a better net without requiring any (or much) more time or effort on their part, going with a traditional brokerage would still make more sense. – Catherine Kuo, Elite Homes | Christie’s International Real Estate
9. Develop A Similar Program
If a brokerage wants to compete with iBuyers, they should develop a similar program themselves. Every area has local investors who will purchase homes quickly and traditionally with cash. A broker should simply partner with some of them and develop quality marketing material to give sellers as an objection handler that they have an “iBuying” option for them too. – Kris Lippi, ISoldMyHouse.com
10. Offer Concierge-Type Services
One way a brokerage can set itself apart from an assembly line home buying process is through professional concierge-type service. The iBuy premise is great when nothing goes wrong. However, these programs fall short of meeting the custom needs of the majority of people who are focused on the largest investment of their life, not a discount. – Alexander Chandler, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Alexander Chandler Realty
11. Stay Updated On Community Developments
Standardized services are unlikely to replace personalized service, especially with the purchase of real estate. As communities are quickly evolving, real estate professionals have the advantage of keeping up-to-date with all the ins and outs of the local community and are likely to offer expertise much faster than an algorithm would from an online platform. – Marco Del Zotto, LIV | Sotheby’s International Realty – Breckenridge, CO