Why Real Estate Agents Should be More Like Travel Agents

11/05/2014 01:15 PM (CST)

realtorThis is definitely not something real estate professionals are used to hearing. Most of you probably thought that this title was some kind of mistake… maybe the author meant “Why Real Estate Agents shouldn’t be More Like Travel Agents?” After all, this is a very common comparison when someone is trying to make a point that real estate agents are on their way to extinction just like travel agents who got replaced by Priceline, Expedia and other web-based booking services.

Apparently, the truism is no longer valid. Says Max Galka, an “Inman New” contributor: “Looking back over the last few years, the answer to this question, surprisingly, is yes. Travel agents are experiencing a rebound, and the reason why offers some insight into why real estate agents are here to stay.”

Travel agents are back, at least according to recent stories in The New York Times, USA Today and Time magazine, among others.

Why? Because travel agents know more about travel than you and I do.

In the world of apps, quick fixes and instant gratification, an honest face-to-face communication, a value-based service, a true expert advice are turning into desirable goods.

It doesn’t mean that online travel websites are going away (or that a new Zillow-Trulia merger isn’t going to threaten your status quo). What it does mean, that the there’s a growing number of customers (travelers, home buyers and home sellers) who see value in working with a knowledgeable expert rather than computer algorithms.

Buying or selling a home is one of the most expensive, stressful and time-consuming decisions that a person can make. It also involves many intermediate steps, each of which has the potential to go wrong and send you back to square one.

Yes, some homebuyers are large institutional investors and they have lots of experience when it comes to selling and buying real estate. However, they are too busy to handle transactions by themselves; they also understand the value of a knowledgeable real estate professional, so they always use an agent anyway.

Investors aside, the rest of home buyers and home sellers are mostly inexperienced, stressed out and need all the help and guidance you can give them. They will use online tools to do their initial research, but just like travel agents, if you can prove that you can find a better deal, avoid costly mistakes and, yes, send a nice long-lasting closing gift, they will choose you over a computer all day long.

Never, ever assume that your buyers or sellers know everything because of the Internet. Usually, it’s just the opposite. Most people are not only busy with other things in their life and they don’t have enough time to do all the research. Those that do often get more confused the more information they digest.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Max Galka again: “The Internet now has a two-decade track record. And when it comes to functions that help people make difficult and important decisions, more information only increases the need for expert help. If that’s true for travel agents, you better believe it’s true for real estate agents.”