Real estate agents are not going to be out of a job simply because the Internet has become a new resource for home buying and selling. By 2002 the National Association of Realtors expects that more than 50 percent of potential buyers will log on to the Net to find their dream home. The Internet is not the enemy. In fact, Internet homebuyers are actually using real estate agents for these transactions at a higher percentage than those who prefer the traditional routes. Many important choices are involved in the purchase of a home. People still like the human touch, even if it is simply to say "Congratulations. Sign here."

         The Internet is becoming an important tool in the real estate transaction process. Industry professionals and consumers have access to more home buying and selling information but this has not made the transaction process easier. About 72 percent of real estate firms and 57 percent of Realtors conduct some of their business online. Realtor.com is one of the leading real estate information sites on the Web.

         Consumers now have direct access to more data on home listings, information that was once accessible only to Realtors. Realtors both own and operate Realtor.com and have control over the use and presentation of property listings. This Realtor organization realized the importance of providing readily available real estate information online. About nine out of ten Realtors own or lease a computer and about 62 percent use e-mail and the Internet for business. Professionals who use a computer earn more money than competitors who do not use one for business purposes.

         Some skepticism lies with sales agents and not with the lack of technological capabilities. Many industry practitioners question whether the real estate industry is prepared for consumers to buy and sell homes on the Internet. The e-transaction will enable online transactions and exchanging document information. Experts say the e-transaction must benefit the consumer. No one is quite sure when or if the entire e-transaction will become the commonplace for the real estate industry. It is simply a matter of time before the consumer's demands are met through technology, but the prerequisites have been put in place for this in the future.

         The National Association of Realtors is American's largest trade association. It represents more than 750,000 members who are involved in aspects of residential and commercial real estate. Evidence indicates that technology will complement, not replace real estate professionals. By taking control of the channels of electronic communication and commerce, leveraging the value added to the transaction and leading members to a new world of opportunity, Realtors are learning how to deal with the "Internet-powered" consumer.

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"Research shows consumers like to use new technology tools to help them with real estate transactions, and real estate firms are responding by implementing these tools in their business practices."--Richard A. Mendenhall *

"The Net is a great marketing tool for realtors. Those agents that aren't using the Net to attract customers or as a way to help customers sell their homes, are really missing the boat."--Kevin Roth *

"Today 87 percent of Web home shoppers use a real estate agent or broker, while 76 percent of traditional buyers work with an agent."--Joan Raymond *

"With Realtor.com, we have created the platform on which organized real estate can build a more efficient, consumer-friendly digital transaction that secures Realtors as the first point of contact with consumers." Dennis R. Cronk *

"We've looked into systems that track transactions online, whereby a sales associate and a customer can work together online. But, many salespeople aren't ready for it. Technologies are emerging that are making that a possibility, but sales people still have some catching up to do." --David Griffith *