What Is an Online Brokerage in Real Estate?

Every town in America has a real estate brokerage. It is the office where a resident meets with an agent for help with buying a new home or listing his or her property for sale. Recently, however, advances in virtualization and the browsing experience have enabled a new model, the online brokerage, which promises to expand consumer options while lowering costs.

What Is an Online Brokerage?

Traditional, brick-and-mortar brokerages have limitations. Overhead costs, like rent and utilities, constrain agents with regard to their commissions and cap the amount that can be spent on modern technology. More importantly, agent knowledge is limited to the local area, with some agents restricted to regional listings.

Online brokerages solve these problems by freeing professionals to work from home or whatever location is convenient for their clients. There are still expenses for support staff and software, but the burden is shared across the network, allowing greater flexibility on commissions. Meanwhile, consumer options are expanded by replacing the neighborhood expert with a web of qualified specialists, each of whom understands his or her respective market.

Innovation Across the Industry

The virtual model is also spurring innovation. REX is a full-service online real estate brokerage which leverages data analytics to accurately price homes and target qualified buyers according to their interests, demographics, and location. With agent assistance included, commissions are just 2%, one-third of the typical brokerage fee.

There are also innovative platforms like Propy, which enable any real estate professional to take a client through the purchase process virtually, with contract obligations automated and all documents committed to the blockchain. This system is especially helpful to overseas clients, who can either pay with fiat money or cryptocurrencies.

Online Brokerages Are the Future

Buying or selling a home is often the largest financial transaction that a person will make, and it can be comforting to work with a familiar, local agent. However, with so much at stake, it may be wiser to take advantage of the latest in data analytics, blockchain, and cloud computing to save on fees while ensuring the smoothest and most secure experience possible.