This article first appeared in NAR REALTOR Magazine.
I started my career in commercial real estate in 2004. When I attended my first national sales meeting as a broker soon after, “disintermediation” was a popular topic of discussion. Many people seemed to be saying that at some point in the near future technology would obviate the need for brokers altogether.
Fast forward a few years, and I’m out of brokerage and on the tech side of commercial real estate. The first industry panel I sat on as a company founder raised the specter of disintermediation. And last year, it was covered yet again at several other conferences I attended.
The thing is, it’s just not going to happen.
Technology has changed the role of the broker in some ways, it’s true. But after the first wave of innovation—CoStar and LoopNet, in particular—progress stalled out for about a decade. And now that it’s picking up again, we’re not seeing anything like disintermediation. Instead, brokers are finally enjoying the benefits of workflow efficiency that other industries saw many years ago. Technology isn’t replacing brokers, but empowering them to be more productive and enabling them to focus on the human side of the commercial real estate business.