Yesterday I saw a new For-Sale sign in front of a home in my neighborhood.
A couple of decades ago I either would have written down the brokerage phone number and made a call or stopped in at an open house to find the price on the home. You see, the real estate broker owned "the book," and "the book" had all of the listings and prices.
Real estate brokers controlled the most precious information to potential buyers and sellers. If you were shopping for a home, you never got to take "the book" home to shop in privacy. If you just wanted to keep track of asking prices in your neighborhood, the real estate broker controlled that information. You had to ask. You could usually get the price, but the rest of the story could be quite selective.
When it was time for serious buyers and sellers to make decisions, brokers had a great deal of power to control the conversation with the information that they chose to share or not share. And "the book."
Times changed quickly, thank heavens. Enter the internet. Consumers demand access to information. They want to be fully informed as they make decisions. Real estate brokers have had to change. They can no longer define the value they add by controlling the information or the conversations. They have to add value in different ways or find new careers.
And think about the travel-agent industry has changed. They no longer own sole access to flights and seats and hotel prices. Travel agents can't make a living today with control of information and access.
And think about the Voluntary-Health-Agency industry. Whoops. It hasn't changed yet. It will. It must.