Tag Archives: middleman

Concerning Technology and the Middleman, A Few Thoughts


For a variety of reasons, mostly having to do with speaking in front of large and small audiences, I’m researching the whole notion of “agent value” as technology turns our world upside down every other day. I’ve written about how technology is just a tool back in 2009 and maybe I’m just conceited but everything I’ve written there still seems to hold true.

But in my research, I came across this op/ed by Matt Fuller at AGBeat titled, “Middlemen cut out by internet in most industry, but not real estate” in which he compares real estate brokerage to book retail/publishing and to travel agents, and concludes that real estate brokers aren’t cut out because homes are not commodities and are permanent:

Homes differ from both other consumer goods and financial instruments because they have an innately physical and fixed presence, and they exist in a context of other homes and people. Regardless of what book you place on either side of War and Peace, the book in the middle will always be War and Peace. But a home with two great neighbors is more valuable than a home with two horrible neighbors. Homes are also not a disposable consumer good. No one ever says, I’m finished with that home lets put it on the shelf and go buy the sequel. And while people might like to brag or worry about how their investment portfolio is doing, no one ever invites you to come over and enjoy the physical presence of their stocks or bonds.

I find this argument puzzling for a variety of reasons, but believe there’s something here to be investigated, which after I write this post may end up in a presentation, since I don’t know what I think until I’ve read what I’ve written.

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