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2007-01-30 09:28:00

Is Disintermediation Really a Threat?

Million dollar words, or are they billion dollar words?  Disintermediation is the latest discussion topic in real estate.  Why can't we just come right out and say what it means?  Disintermediation means to eliminate the middle man in an economic supply chain.  The reason t
his term has become a buzz word in the industry is because of the other latest rage: transparency.  Now if you have followed me to this point, you're doing better than I sometimes do when I read these heavy posts on disintermediation.  It does help to have several belts of coffee doing jumping jacks in your veins! 

So, let's go back to when the Internet was invented.  The Internet was supposed to be this fancy defense system for our government to prevent information from being acquired by enemy governments.  It was supposed to keep the secret!   Shhhhh.  Don't tell them, but it didn't work.  Instead the private sector saw the potential of the internet and information is now being disseminated throughout the world.  The proliferation of the Internet and its use to broadcast information has created transparency, the ability of the consumer to become knowledgeable in a field.  The opaque walls which formerly separated the consumer from information have now become transparent!

Because of this transparency and proliferation of information, real estate professionals are currently questioning whether they are going to become "has beens".  Will they be disintermediated?  The answer is still to be revealed.

My personal opinion is that information is important to a real estate transaction but cannot in any way replace the experience, knowledge, and creativity that an agent can bring to the transaction.  One can learn information about a lot of topics online, but that information does not create an experienced professional.  Raw data is just the base of the pyramid of value an agent brings to the consumer.  Interpreting that data is key.  Emotional distance from the transaction is key.  Creativity is key.  All three qualities and many others are contributed by the real estate agent.  No, I don't think we're going to be disintermediated, changed maybe, but not disintermediated!

(Bonnie Erickson is a seasoned REALTOR in the Minneapolis St. Paul area of Minnesota with experience in residential sales of properties up to 12 units in size.)

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