More than 30 years ago, as the Internet was emerging, some predicted that real estate agents would become obsolete. While the Internet has indeed diminished the roles of some professionals such as travel agents, taxi drivers, and stock traders, the importance of Realtors® has only grown. In fact, nearly 9 in 10 home sellers choose to hire an agent when selling their home.

Why is this the case? The process of buying or selling a home is typically the most significant financial transaction in people’s lives, and the real estate landscape has become increasingly complex and litigious. Realtors® are not only well-versed in the legal disclosures and forms required to sell a home, but they also assist in preparing and staging homes to ensure sellers receive the best possible price. One study found that homes sold by Realtors® fetched $60,000 to $90,000 more than those sold by owners without an agent (For Sale By Owner, or FSBO).

Another study by Collateral Analytics, which examined 1.35 million U.S. home sales, revealed that FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable homes, often below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate. This suggests that buyers may make low-ball offers to FSBO sellers, deducting the entire commission, not just the seller’s portion.

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The reality is that real estate transactions involve a multitude of tasks beyond paperwork. Realtors® review legal documents, advise sellers on disclosure laws related to material defects in a property, conduct market analyses to determine listing prices, market properties to qualified buyers, manage showing appointments while ensuring property security, and ensure the prompt delivery and deposit of earnest money within stipulated deadlines, among other responsibilities.

Stepping into the shoes of these diligent professionals, even for a short period, reveals the immense dedication and hard work required to prioritize clients’ needs above their own. Simplifying the role of a real estate agent to mere paperwork is shortsighted. “It’s like being forced to pay a travel agent commission when booking a flight directly online,” one critic remarked. Such comparisons are misguided. It’s akin to suggesting that the existence of platforms like LegalZoom.com makes attorneys obsolete, or that medical professionals aren’t needed because individuals can self-diagnose using WebMD.com.

It’s no wonder that homeowners who opt out of using a real estate agent to sell their property are twice as likely to report dissatisfaction with the selling experience, according to Clever Real Estate. This dissatisfaction stems from legal mistakes made due to the absence of an agent, challenges in understanding contracts, and financial losses on home sales.

In an age of apps, algorithms, and tech devices, the staying power of agents baffles critics, who can’t understand why homeowners bother to hire someone to buy or sell a home. What critics don’t factor in is the human element. A Realtor’s® expertise involves communication, knowledge, guidance, and trust. Those qualities can’t be replaced by a website, an app, or a robot. One real estate company drove this message home in a national TV commercial, which proclaimed, “They say robots will replace us, but when it comes to making dreams come true, humans win every time.”