Tech is real estate’s ‘frenemy’, warns former Microsoft exec

Technology is set to outpace real estate agents unless they find a way to differentiate themselves, according to one of Australia’s leading internet entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the Australasian Real Estate Conference (AREC) on the Gold Coast earlier this month, venture capitalist and former Microsoft vice-president Daniel Petre commented that while a plethora of tools and platforms are available to assist agents, it is important to remember that they do present a potential threat to the industry.

“Today there are a lot of tools and platforms that do things to help you … [but] when you look at the platform providers, remember that they’re frenemies,” he urged.

“They’re trying to capture more layers of the vertical stack for themselves, because they can make more money,” he said.

The ‘vertical stack’, Mr Petre explained, is a term that refers to the layers of activity that exist between a product and its customers.

“More and more of [the stack] is being taken from agents, and what you need to do is make sure that you stay differentiated,” he said.

Mr Petre pointed out that the rapid development of technology means that consumers now have a better access to information than they have ever had before.

“I’d argue that within the next year or two, price estimation will always be done better by software than any human being,” Mr Petre predicted.

“We know that local data about an area is provided far better by software than by an individual,” he said.

Mr Petre emphasised that the key to agents differentiating themselves is understanding the impact of technology and how to do better in the core areas that really matter.

He said agents should hone three main abilities to maintain success and relevance well into the future.

“One of the abilities is high-order problem solving. The second is creativity, and the third is how you work with people,” he said.

“Grow these skills to give yourself a better chance of success in the long term.”

[Related: What do all successful agents have in common?]

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