There has been a good deal of media hullabaloo in recent days about web-based real estate information. Talk of Google buying Yelp, and a press release put out by Zillow claiming to have surpassed the traffic of Realtor.com shines a spotlight on consumer access to real estate information. As we enter the second decade of the new millennium who knows what lies ahead in the information age?
Here is what I do know: the likes of Google, Zillow and Realtor.com won’t effectively replace the value of a local Realtor in my child’s lifetime. Speaking as a Realtor, I fully expect the objectivity of my opinions and comments will be scrutinized- and well they should.
The internet has succeeded in making certain businesses obsolete, and/or eliminated many a middle man. Take the DVD and music business for example. Drive to a video store to return a movie? How archaic. In addition to altering the relevancy of certain businesses the internet has spawned an entire do-it-yourself (or at least try-it-yourself) movement. Is there any subject on earth that doesn’t have at least one how-to YouTube video?
The poor economy, coupled with the explosion of on line information drives more and more of us to become do-it-yourselfers. I get that. Last week one of my single girlfriends changed the faucets in her shower down to the stud pipes while following a YouTube instructional video on her IPod. Does this make plumbers obsolete? No it does not. Why? Because, although technical information is abundantly available on how to do just about anything, what is missing from the do-it-yourself-to-save-some-bucks equation is contextual knowledge, education and experience. No website or other source of information substitutes for these irreplaceable elements that a pro brings to the table.