Overall, e-commerce is on the rise, and in a big way. It's escalating so quickly that it's been called the magic carpet of Aladdin in business, flying ever upwards. As part of that, online trading has become a big sector of e-commerce as more and more investors take control of all or part of their own portfolio.
Rather than relying on an agent or broker, those who use online trading portals go directly to the market and buy and sell without a broker. Most online trading sites have very small fees and some have nothing more than an annual membership purchase. All of them offer a new way for investors large and small to be more in control of their own financial destiny.
One sector still struggling that has not entered the e-commerce era, however, is real estate. Although it's one of the largest markets in the country, it's still using an outdated paradigm of brokers and agents all of which often collect large fees for each transaction made. To go with that, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) real estate agents use to list homes locally and nationally has a monopoly on listings.
Just a few minor changes could drastically change how real estate is handled, opening the system up to both entrepreneurs and seller-to-consumer brokerages that reduce fees dramatically. Sites could largely take place of brokers/agents, finding potential buyers and offering full information disclosure automatically. The agents who finalize the deals (most states required licensed agents for most home sales through brokers) would see lower commissions per sale, but have a big increase in sales volumes without changing workload.
With the current system, excessive fees often come out of money that would otherwise be the buyer's down payment, reducing chances of securing a loan and increasing costs and interest rates, deterring buyers. Removing those things would increase the number of responsible and available buyers almost immediately. The benefits to the struggling U.S. economy especially in this important sector would be tremendous.