The Way Things Used To Be
The real estate agent was the gate keeper. The one that buyers and sellers HAD to go to in order to receive information about their home and the state of the market. In the "good ole days" being an agent was simple. Tell everyone in your family, church, and the kid's school that you were in real estate and there was a good chance you'll start getting business. And how about advertising? Well, that was easy too. Pick the neighborhood you wanted to target then spam them with mailings, go knock on their doors, and let the homeowner know you have a buyer for their home in case they ever thought about selling - even if you didn't. And if you were in the right circles and the market was good, "fuhgeddaboudit", you were home free, kick ya feet up, life is good, and the money's rolling in.
Then the internet showed up
...and that has changed everything! Suddenly, the internet became the gate keeper, and rather the information was right or wrong, didn't/doesn't make a difference, the consumer believes what they're being told as they're constantly being inundated with information about how much that home is worth, where's the best places to live, and where are the top school districts.
Now an agent can't just tell all their friends and family they're in real estate and expect business to come. They have to prove their worth and demonstrate compentency because the internet has a lot to say about what that agent think they know.
And now advertising has become trickier. The ROI on direct mail marketing has fallen to less than 1% and door knocking campains are now socially perceived as rude. Today it's about SEO rankings, organic reach and engangement, web presence and how much traffic your site is attracting.
Of course, being part of the right circles help, and always will, but that won't save a real estate agent in this new economy. Now more than anytime in our profession the real estate agent must demonstrate a greater degree of value than what's currently being offered by the internet. And that presents a real challenge that's not only difficult for many agents to wrap their heads around it's also forcing them to consider how much change they're willing to commit to. That will be the "death" of many agents careers. Spending more time thinking about what sort of things they should or shouldn't include in their business, fighting change, instead of executing on the way things are now in today's marketplace.