Nearly 40 years ago, I read an article about the emerging field of information science and services. The author (whose name escapes at the moment) pointed out that while data is valuable, it becomes more valuable when it’s organized in a way to provide useful benchmarking or trends to the user. The most valuable use of data is when it’s in the hands of someone who knows the implications of its use, at which point it becomes knowledge.
The writer was positing that in the coming era, the world would become swamped with data – even organized data would be widely available. To truly take advantage of that, it had to be in the hands of a user who understood its importance to whatever task lay in front of them.
How that relates to real estate
In so many facets of our industry, these prophecies are truer today than ever before. Agents have always had access to customer relationship managers (CRMs) containing client and customer data. Now, there are a growing number of tools that have taken that data and combined it with other data to create information about which of those clients are more likely to sell or buy in the future.
It’s only when that information is in the hands of someone who knows how to make the best use of the data that the highest value is extracted. The same is true for data about agent relocation activities, from one brokerage to another, where large amounts of data has been organized into useful information so as to know with greater certainty which agents may see one brokerage company as the ideal new firm with which to associate. The information that points to which agents are more likely to relocate their practice is now available, but it takes an interested, knowledgeable user to know how to put that information to good use.
It is also true for offerings like zavvie, which helps agents deliver real market comparables to owners and sellers to help them sort their options between iBuyers and alternatives. It does little good to have such a tool when the user doesn’t truly understand the knowledge that its features bring to a seller.
Why consumers still use agents
And at its core, this continuum explains why, when housing consumers are inundated with information about the housing market, they still use agents to buy and sell their homes. They can get access to all the data and information they desire, but without someone who understands how to best apply this to the decision making on the purchase or sale of a home, the raw numbers are not that valuable. Combine all that information with an experienced agent, and now the consumer gains access to knowledge, the highest form of value in a data-driven world.
Steve Murray is a senior advisor to RealTrends and a partner in Colorado-based RTC Consulting.