Last week a friend of mine invited me to a launch event for #TwistxPinch. I walked through the doors on fifth avenue where the doorman checked my name before directing me upstairs. I passed two beautiful art installations (see photo below) into a massive ballroom full of glamorous fashionistas, artists, socialites enjoying each other's conversation, their crafted cocktails in hand with a smooth DJ beat that brought the club lit space to life. It seriously felt like I walked through my TV into an episode of Sex in the City. I loved every second.
As the night went on the liquor flowed freely, therefore conversation did too. I met a pretty cute guy - I can't remember his name or his eye color, but what he said in his slightly drunken state is still with me days later. He told me he worked in tech, and when I let him know I work in real estate, his immediate response was that the my job should be replaced by software. He wasn't being malicious or catty, he was just speaking his mind. I can respect that.
I thought about travel agents and how they have somewhat vanished to sites like Kayak and Orbitz. I tried to take myself out of the picture and think "do I agree with him or not?" I found myself very confused - in fact, I both agree and disagree with him. I think parts of my job should be taken by software. In fact, last week, I wrote that technology should be embraced and information should flow freely; this doesn't mean we should remove humans from the equation entirely, though. It's more complicated than that.
See, with a flight, you're booking a few hours of your life away. At worst, you mess it up, you figure out how to fix it, and your life is back to normal within a day - a week at most. No agent necessary. Now think about your investment account - do you have enough knowledge of the markets and the companies you're invested in to know when to best leverage your earnings? Do you know when to take the risks and how to minimize your loss on a day by day with your mutual funds? Do you worry about your retirement disappearing overnight? Of course not - there are too many aspects for you to be on top of if you want to maintain any other sort of job. Broker necessary.
Do I think that every rental transaction needs an agent? Honestly, no. Do I think that every sale does? Absolutely. The average home price in Manhattan is $2,051,321 - it's either your largest asset- or at least one of your largest. I can't speak for everyone, but I imagine most people would want a professional to make sure things go smoothly.
There's also a human element to buying a home - you can't put on an app what energy you're going to feel when you walk through the building door. You can't call an app at 1 AM when you wake up in sweats worried about your offer letter. You can't tell an app "I don't know it just feels kind of -- ya know?" and expect results. We may be talking about a big numbers asset, but we're also talking about a home - and homes are emotional.
Do I think there's more room for technology in the industry - absolutely, and I'd be willing to wager that we're about to see a lot more of it. Do I think technology should replace agents - not at all.