4 strategies for agents to stay relevant in the age of iBuyers

New content alert! I'm trying something new: crisp, strategic "quick hits" that offer actionable suggestions. I usually publish evidence-based industry insights, while my consulting work focuses on hands-on strategy and guidance. This is meant to bridge the gap between the two -- let me know what you think!

iBuyers are a rising force in real estate. Companies like Opendoor, Offerpad, and Zillow are collectively spending billions to offer consumers a new way to buy and sell homes. As iBuyers expand nationally, more and more real estate agents and brokers are being faced with a key strategic question: How do we stay relevant in the age of iBuyers?

As overall iBuyer activity exceeds 1,000 home purchases and sales per month in just one market -- Phoenix -- it’s a trend that can't be ignored.


I’ve conducted deep analysis on iBuyers for the past four years, culminating in the recently released iBuyer Report. Based on that background and my work in the industry, I offer four key strategies agents and brokers should consider when evaluating their response to iBuyers:

Be a trusted advisor. The role of a real estate agent has always been to help guide consumers through the home buying and selling process. An instant, cash offer on a house simply represents a new path to the same end. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for an agent; it’s simply another path that needs navigating. And the agent is uniquely placed to be that expert advisor.

Solicit multiple offers. As a trusted advisor who represents the home owner’s best interests, an agent is well-suited to solicit multiple offers on a home from multiple iBuyers, and to present those offers alongside a traditional market sale. The iBuyers’ online processes make it easy to receive multiple offers; the agent can do the work and provide guidance. Each major iBuyer offers partnership programs that pay a referral fee for a successful transaction.

Don’t ignore them. iBuyers are spending millions of dollars each month on direct-to-consumer advertising (TV, radio, and digital). Agents and brokers can’t (and shouldn’t) compete with that spend, and they can’t ignore the fact that consumers are being educated -- on a massive scale -- about iBuyers. Ignoring them won’t make them go away. (In the past two months alone, I’ve been quoted in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Marketplace -- all doing stories about iBuyers.)

Highlight the power of personal relationships. Real estate agents are people, and iBuyers are corporations. If you’re an agent, highlight the personal relationship you bring to the process. The power of human psychology is incredibly strong in real estate; brokers and agents should use it to their advantage.

iBuyers represent a significant shift in the real estate landscape, but it’s not a zero-sum game. Real estate agents and brokerages can employ specific strategies to stay relevant, highlight their strengths, and maintain their position as a trusted advisor in the center of the transaction.