The Web: Are you the spider or the fly?




Disintermediation is a word that, if you have not heard it before, you will be hearing often in the future. Disintermediation means “the removal of the in between.” In context of our business, removal of the “in between” means the removal of real estate professionals like you and me from the transaction process. Buyers would deal directly with sellers and vice versa.

In some people's view, the Internet may well portend a state of disintermediation in our industry. There won't be more homes bought or sold because of Internet technology, but the question becomes, who sells these homes?


Disintermediation is a potential peril to every licensed real estate practitioner who does not embrace a program to build customers for life, using new technology to find ways to build even stronger client relationships. The future of real estate sales is in the relationship, not only in the real estate transaction; it is in finding innovative new ways to use technology as your virtual assistant to stay in touch with past and prospective home buyers and sellers.



Our future will not only have us remain in competition with other real estate companies; it will put us in competition with e-based real estate marketers and yes, even our own customers! Disintermediation will become a fact of life as the use of the Internet technology gains wider application, escalates, becomes more sophisticated, is easier to use and finds greater favour with a greater number of consumers.


There are some things we can and should do to preclude the possibility of becoming anachronistic. Specifically, we need to embrace high-tech while concurrently practicing high-touch. To remain successful and to grow our fortunes, relationship building must be our mantra and technology must be a productive tool. In short, if the profession of which we are a part is to survive under terms that are acceptable to all of us, we too need to prepare.


Prepare how? Perhaps some of you will remember the story of the two boys who, while walking in the woods, spotted a bear in the distance charging toward them. Immediately, one of the two children sat down to put on his running shoes. “Why are you putting on your shoes?” asked the – one boy. “You can't outrun a bear.”


“I know,” was the reply. “But all I have to do is outrun you.”


The point? Those who do whatever it takes to adjust to the new technologies will survive; those who don't, won't.


So what can we do to protect our futures and ourselves in this rapidly changing high-tech world? We can use the very technology that is effecting change in our industry and use it as one more opportunity to get closer to our customers, and stay with them longer. We can, and must use it to foster the kind of relationships that help build customers for life. Embrace technology, make it your friend, not your enemy, and profit from the experience. It just makes good sense. As we all have come to understand, it's less expensive, easier and typically more rewarding to keep an existing customer than it is to go out and find a new one.


This is a truism that will become even more evident in the age of the Internet. Remember, it's not who you know, it's who knows you, what you do, and how well you do it.


You must decide, when it comes to the web, whether you are going to be the spider or the fly. Like the fly, you can buzz happily along until you run smack dab into the web, and unprepared, get trapped or destroyed. Or like the spider, you can use the web to get what you need to survive. Like it or not, the web is the way of the future and to avoid disintermediation we must adapt it, use it and, make it work to our advantage like the spider. 


P.S. The bear is in the woods!


Peter Robinson is president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Affiliates of Canada.


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