Will real estate agents follow travel agents into oblivion?

uptown waterloo

The internet impacted the role of many jobs in many industries. Arguably every job in every industry has been impacted. The internet has changed the way we work and in some cases, like with travel agents, has almost eliminated the job altogether.

Lots of people would like to see real estate agents jobs go the way of travel agents jobs. But that’s not going to happen. Here’s why:


Travel agents sell utility not lifestyle

A seat on an airplane or a hotel room is a means to an end. They are short term necessities for your vacation in Cuba or business trip to Boston. One seat or hotel room can pretty much be substituted for another and the result will be the same – you’ll get where you’re going and get a good night’s sleep. What travel agents traditionally sold was a short term solution to a short term problem.

With the internet, consumers can research the seats, fares, rooms and rates from the comfort of their own home or office. Information in the form of maps, reviews and other webpages give consumers all the information they need to make informed choices.

That’s not the case with real estate. There is too much at stake. A home is often our most valuable asset. Most people will only buy two or three homes in their lifetimes so they haven’t the experience needed to make good decisions.

Furthermore, most every home is unique and factors like schools, transportation, parks, shopping…complicate matters further.

There is also an emotional element connected with buying a home that is not present when booking a hotel room. A home is an expression of ourselves. It is where we live and raise a family, and relax and entertain friends.


uptown waterlooAlthough the real estate industry has changed a lot in the past 15 years, what’s interesting is what hasn’t changed.

1. Most people still select their agent through a personal connection. A study by the National Association of Realtors found that when choosing an agent to work with:

50% were referred

12% used an agent that they had used before

6% met their agent at an open house

3% were personally contacted by the agent

= 71% of buyers selecting an agent because of a personal connection


2. Buyers still need the same skills from us. Although 90% of homebuyers begin their search on the internet:

53% want help finding the right home

23% want help negotiating

8% want help determining fair price

7% want help with paperwork.

Honesty, reputation and skill are important factors when selecting an agent. Could the same ever be said for choosing a travel agent?



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