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Although the real estate landscape is changing drastically, real estate professionals will always have a major role to play in the industry. Real estate buyers and sellers have had options for many years, but 2019 has proven to be a breakout year for alternatives to the traditional system of buying and selling property.
The difference this year is the heavy marketing and advertising campaigns that accompany the largest new kids on the block. These alternative transaction specialists include:
• Simple Sale - Pioneered by HomeLight, Simple Sale is a free service that promises to "sell your home directly to our network of pre-approved cash buyers, whenever you’re ready to sell." HomeLight's major investors include financial enterprises and venture capital funds. They provide local agents who can offer a professional opinion of a home's market value.
• Purple Bricks - Founded just five years ago, Purple Bricks claims to be the number one real estate brokerage in the U.K. Using an in-house team of employed real estate agents, Purple Bricks charges a flat fee regardless of the value of the property.
• Open Door - Targeting homes under $800,000, Open Door provides a "competitive cash offer within 24 hours." Their touted benefits include avoiding the "hassle of listing, showings, and months of uncertainty." Open Door provides "partner agents" to help sell homes and collects a "service charge" from the sale proceeds.
• UpNest - Provides a list of agents in each area, who then submit commission and refund quotes in order to get a listing. Agents compete with one another for business.
• Online auctions - FRE (FRE.com), for example, offers customers a unique platform for buying and selling all types of property. By promoting property in an online auction format, sellers expand their buyer pool from across the town to across the country. The seamless transaction process is secured through partnerships with local brokerage firms.
These so-called "alternative" methods have two key elements in common. The first is that despite their forays into the technology-based buying and selling process, all of them utilize real estate professionals in some capacity.
The second common element is that they are the future.
Their roles may change, but agents will endure. One reason is that most transactions are so complicated, it takes a knowledgeable person to navigate the sea of paperwork. Another reason is that for many buyers and sellers, these transactions are personal in nature and since it is true that "people buy from people," there is little likelihood of the disappearance of the local real estate agent anytime soon.