The Broker’s Role in the Age of Real Estate Tech

Real estate brokers must provide value in the form of knowledge and personal relationships.

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There’s a rule of thumb with consumer technology: with great power comes great responsibility.

Modern commercial real estate technology has made life infinitely easier for the average person looking for an office to rent. With 3D digital tours, online contracts, and a plethora of space listings, it’s easier than ever to find and secure a property without a middle man’s help.

Brokers who try to fight this trend are likely to get the short end of the stick. Office seekers know that we all have access to the same online listing platforms, and it’s not impressive to hand a client a printout of information they could have easily found themselves.

That doesn’t mean that real estate brokers are obsolete. Rather, the modern broker must focus on the biggest advantages they have over clients: knowledge and connections.

Personal relationships are a big deal in real estate. From the landlord’s perspective, signing a tenant is a huge commitment. While a good tenant will bring in a steady stream of revenue with relatively little hassle, a bad tenant causes nothing but personal and legal trouble. No one wants to deal with late rent, evictions, or damaged property. Whether commercial or residential, landlords depend greatly on brokers to bring them quality tenants.

If you’re fighting over a competitive lease, working with a broker who has worked with the landlord before might be the extra push you need to secure the space. Other factors notwithstanding, landlords will choose to work with someone they trust over a new face. Brokers must understand the value of their connections and leverage it when pitching to potential clients.

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At the same time, real estate is not all about who you know. There’s a good bit of concrete research involved.

Knowledge of the real estate market is as much past as present. You can only learn so much by scouring listing platforms for a month. Brokers have the advantage of years of experience, meaning that they’ve witnessed trends in pricing first hand. A good broker would also have their finger on the pulse of other statistics like vacancy rates, rate of new construction, and even neighborhood crime rates. Awareness of supply gives you deeper insight into the relative value of a rental listing compared to simply judging the price against the square footage.

Brokers who pretend they’re the client’s only hope of renting an office space are only hurting themselves. With today’s technology, people know that they can browse listings and tour a space without anyone’s help. What brokers should do is help clients cut through the noise of inaccurate online listings and share insight that’s difficult to obtain without experience.

Brokers are far from obsolete, but they need a change in perspective in order to survive.