Listen, I am going to take you through the most difficult and treacherous and biggest transaction of your life. I cannot guarantee it will be painless or easy. But it is my job to protect you during the process and make you as comfortable as I can. My experience will prevent errors. And when something unexpected comes up we’re going to benefit from my experience. –Jed Carlson
In his recent lecture at the Inman Connect: New York conference Jed Carlson discussed the changing face of technology in the real estate industry. In the past, Realtors held the keys to the kingdom. In order to find out what homes were for sale you would have to call your local agent and have him shuffle through his paperwork, list off the current listings, and then schedule a showing. Based off what? A street address and basic info about the bedrooms, bathrooms, and backyard? Then in 2006 we were exposed to the game changer, zillow.com. Now you can draw a specific area on a map, set your price range, and see the list of all the homes available with pictures and home history. Why the heck do you need a real estate agent?
The introduction of the internet as the primary home hunting tool has caused concern in the real estate industry. No longer does the average home buyer need to rely on their agent to find a list of homes and ultimately, find the right home. Agents had a clear idea of what service they provided and now everything has turned upside-down. But Carlson takes these fears and poses a new challenge to Realtors; Where does your true value lie? If agents are not needed to find the home, what is it that agents provide? Carlson’s answer is to reevaluate the agent’s role from that of a salesperson, to that of a Sherpa.
Yes, a sherpa. The group of service professionals living in eastern Nepal. They make their living guiding mountain climbers up the dangerous faces of Mt. Everest and K2. Now you may not see the parallels between a real estate agent and someone who faces the elements of a treacherous mountain but let’s break down the role of the Sherpa and see if we can find some similarities.
- Help to reduce risk: During the climb a Sherpa uses their expertise and experience on the mountain to assess the risk of the next stage. They will find the safest path available to climb and they will be actively on the lookout for danger ahead. Their job is to help protect their client through the difficult ascent.
- Help to carry the load: The Sherpa is hard-working and dedicated to taking on the grunt work of the trip. They carry the heavier portion of the gear and supplies. They also handle the scouting to determine the best route ahead.
- Comfort the client along the way: Mountain climbing can be a dangerous and exhausting endeavor. There are points where fear and worry can set in, causing the climber to question their decision or capabilities. This is where the Sherpa steps in and calms those fears by reminding the climber of his personal experience and expertise. The Sherpa has trekked these dangers before and safely returned. With the extra assurance of the Sherpa’s experience the climber can find comfort in the face of what’s ahead.
So you went onto Zillow and found a home you love. It is the perfect house for you and your family and you are ready to buy it. That’s wonderful! You have now arrived at the base camp. It is a long climb to the closing and getting the keys to your new home. That journey could be full of financing complications, expensive inspection results, and low appraisals. You need a trained and experienced professional to navigate through the difficult terrain. You need someone who will take on the burden of the phone calls and details. You need someone to provide comfort in times where you are questioning your decision and the whole thing seems overwhelming. You need a real estate Sherpa.
It is not the Realtor’s job to sell you a home. No one should ever need to convince you about the single biggest purchase you are likely to make in your life. So when you remove the salesperson hat from the Realtor you begin to see where their true value lies. They are your guide, protector, and advocate. They are in your corner and want to see you satisfied with the final outcome: your new home. The introduction of new technology like Zillow and Trulia does not trivialize your need for a Realtor anymore than buying a satellite phone diminishes your need for a Sherpa.
So before you think that finding the right home online is the end of the trip, call a local agent. There is a difficult journey ahead with unknown dangers and you will benefit from a skilled guide. Find yourself a real estate Sherpa.