Tue, Jul 31st 2007 6:35pm
As Steve Levitt explains in Freakonomics, the primary power held by real estate agents is their control over information. Bizarrely, he compares them to the Ku Klux Klan (because they also derived their power from information), which is an absurd overstatement that seems mainly aimed at hitting readers on an emotional level. Nonetheless, the point is valid, which is why real estate agents fear the potential for the web to circumvent their control on real estate information. Recently, real estate site Zillow introduced a new offering to provide prospective buyers more information about their communities, while another site, StreetAdvisors, is introducing more tools to deliver the same thing. These have the potential to be significant, since real estate agents are limited legally in what they can say about a neighborhood. Seeing as this is crucial stuff for prospective buyers or renters, knowing that this information is available on the web but not through their agent will only hasten the industry's shift towards the web.
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