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Are real estate agents really needed?

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In the wake of the RE/MAX (RMAX) IPO earlier this week, the WaPo's Wonkblog asks: why do real estate agents still exist? It's a question that is sure to get the gander up of many of those in the real estate community, of course. From the WaPo:

But wait–real estate agents? Wasn’t the internet supposed to drive them out of business?

The online age has been hard on all kinds of middlemen, after all. Travel agents, for example, rendered obsolete by Orbitz and Expedia. Soft goods retailers, for another, outpaced by Amazon. The effect should be similar with people who sell homes: What do they have but what they know? And what of that can’t be better figured out through unbiased, publicly available data, crunched and presented on Web sites like Zillow and Trulia for free?

And yet, real estate agents are still with us. 

Source: Washington Post
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