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Why Tech Isn't Replacing Your Real Estate Broker Any Time Soon

Business Services & Best Practices Technology & Innovation

Republished with permission from

For years, the commercial real estate industry had the unique benefit of holding the keys to exclusive data. To gain relevant information on availabilities, comparables, and related trends, consumers had to work directly with brokers.

Today’s digital world has transformed the access to these same resources and in the process, it has forever altered the way we interact, the method in which we deliver services and corresponding expectations.

Consider the spectrum of influences that ultimately impact the look of day-to-day workflow, financing, software, data, and the list goes on. To quote fellow SIOR member and industry leader Geoffrey Kasselman, SIOR, “Change is now the only constant. Flexibility and a much larger tool belt is essential. If you aren’t partnering, retraining, and pivoting to tech with an enhanced budget, you risk extinction at an overwhelming rate.”

As a result of our shifting landscape, it’s not surprising that people are asking what real estate brokerage will look like ahead. Despite these changes, here are three reasons why technology isn’t replacing your broker any time soon and the value derived through working with a true market expert.

#1 Specialists Know the Business Inside and Out

Navigating the intricacy of a real estate transaction requires specialized knowledge of the product type and assortment of hurdles you will have to surmount to successfully close a deal.  To think someone can log into a website and understand the nuances of a submarket, identifying the appropriate vendors to work with, let alone how to select the right opportunity is flawed.

Technology brings forth a positive force that will refine transaction processes, while aiding in accelerating timelines and transparency. It will also make the best brokers even better – but it won’t replace them.

#2 Story Telling Matters

Brokers offer their clients both a micro and the macro-level view of each transaction in a way that technology can’t. This includes examining aspects like the legal and regulatory setting to help make the best decision, utilizing avenues that are often not readily accessible or easily interpreted.

With this familiarity comes an array of invaluable benefits from off market properties or shadow space, local intelligence, and knowing what to avoid. They have a distinct knowledge and can tell the story of both a property and market – it’s in that mastery, the very best service is delivered to the client.

#3: Real Estate Transactions are Highly Complex

Real estate transactions are by their very nature complex and can often overwhelm buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants alike. Unless you have the battle tested experience of an accomplished real estate specialist assisting you in the deal, you are bound to make some costly mistakes. It pays to have an expert by your side.

Ryan Moen, SIOR,  head of SIORs tech committee added, “Technology is not replacing brokers but assisting them in all facets of the transaction. CRE transactions require large commitments by the parties involved.  Making decisions without the advisory offered by a broker is unwise.  When a problem develops, who do they call – tech support? Who is their fiduciary? Real estate investors and tenants alike will continue to look to hire brokers as an advisor representing their best interest through the entire process.”

Looking Ahead

Regardless of what outside speculation may suggest, brokerage and the role of the sales professional isn’t going away. Relationships and the corresponding trust that accompanies this interpersonal dynamic matter. Yes, people still enjoy working with like-minded people who are experts in their field.

That said, tomorrow’s leading brokers and the next generation of disruptive, industry changing real estate organizations will be the ones who continue to embrace technology and build a culture around reinvention. Our industry and the clients we serve will demand it as an entirely new generation of tech-savvy leaders continue to emerge.

Robert Thornburgh, SIOR, CCIM, CPM, FRICS

Robert Thornburgh, SIOR, CCIM, CPM, FRICS

Industrial Specialist
Chief Executive Officer, SIOR
Washington, DC

Robert Thornburgh, SIOR, CCIM, CPM, FRICS, SIOR's Chief Executive Officer, is responsible for the management of the Society’s business and executing the directives set by the SIOR Board of Directors and its governance committee.

As a long-standing commercial real estate specialist and trailblazer based out of Los Angeles, California, Robert brings more than 25 years of exemplary industry knowledge and leadership experience, with a strong focus on integrity and a transformational, service-oriented style of leadership.

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