Home Selling in Boston>Question Details

Bill Wendel, Real Estate Pro in Cambridge, MA

With all their combined brain & purchasing power, both faculty and zillions of alumni worldwide, what would

Asked by Bill Wendel, Cambridge, MA Thu Nov 15, 2007

it take for Harvard & MIT alumni (like me) to create a real estate version of the Harvard Coop?

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I'm really confused... you're waiting for consumers (home buyers and sellers) to respond by giving their opinions from drawing off their experience of opening a real estate company....
Or is this turning into a shameless plug thread? Spotlight Realty Rules!!!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 16, 2007
As I consider your question a little more, I think having a "Coop" idea is based on the false-premise that a "menu" of options available to customers is going to solve their real estate needs. At the end of the day, there are certain clients who will continue to use the brokerage model, especially in our market in Greater Boston, because they simply do not have the time to dedicate to the mountains of work necessary to fulfill their real estate needs. Do you feel that a Ph.D researcher will be able to take Sundays away from in-vivo experiments to effectively show and sell a home or condo? No, it will be next to impossible to think that they'd be able to pull that off. Also, there is no "magic bullet" in selling a house. It is not like airfare in which you are able to directly connect consumer with supplier. Airline tickets do not have emotions and do not have faults and defects like homeowners and their properties do. This is why the expertise of the full-service broker will always be sought after by a significant segment of the marketplace.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 15, 2007
No, not drawing on their experience of opening a real estate company, but their legacy of being innovators and "change agents" in their own respective professions. Contrary to the suggestion that Harvard & MIT alum or too busy to be "do-it-yourself" home buyers and sellers, my experience is that they are some of the most insightful and innovative clients one could ever dream of serving. (In fact, we ALWAYS learn from them!) No doubt, I wish they needed more help. The more help they need, the more service we provide and the more money we get paid. As the interent makes more self-service tools available, it has become increasingly difficult to amass billable hours that total even one percent of the price of homes those buyers are purchasing. Candidly, makes Redfin.com look overpriced. Is that shameless self promotion, or evidence that consumers are demonstrating how little help they need these days.

I'd be glad to provide timesheets! Can any of your full service, full-fee business you match that claim, too?

Guess who said:

“The next major revolution in real estate will be fee based services replacing the blanket commission pricing that has dominated the industry for so long.”

It was the National Association of Realtors's own Former Chief Economist, John Tucillo, AND it was a decade ago. So I repeat the question, "What will take for real estate consumers, regardless of whether they have Ivy League educations or not, to organize into money-saving real estate coops?

I think that American icon of frugality Ben Franklin would say enlightened self-interest. So how should a real estate agent respond? Again, I quote Ben:

The best way to become rich is to enrich others.

I don't expect the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) to come banging on my door just because one of their alumni will be getting a $20,000 rebate from my company tomorrow (see web link related to this point). But if other companies adopt the "community commission" described below, and a portion of rebates are donated legally, my guess is that it will not be long before some alumni fund raising office figures out there "thar's gold in them thar' real estate rebates! Before you know it, there will be RFP's (requests for proposals) inviting money-saving business models to join a preferred vendor list.

With a few connections, that coalition of service providers might find themselves with a link to HAA's home page, someday, too. If you think I'm, blowing smoke, check out what Northeastern Alumni are already doing on HomeGift, another Boston-based innovator:

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 20, 2007
He only went to MIT (just ask him, he'll tell you!) Jon so take it easy on the tough questions.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 20, 2007
Greetings, fellow agents. Thought the question would appeal to consumers. I'll wait to hear from a few of them before sharing my thoughts on the subject. In the meantime, consumers are invited to watch Twitter link below for money saving exhibitors at the National Association of Realtors convention this week in Las Vegas. Feel free to send your questions to me there as well. Homebuyers and sellers, if you were a fly on the wall at the Realtors annual convention, what would you want to know?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 15, 2007
Wow that's a question...My first thought is do you even know what it takes to be a Realtor and follow our Code Of Ethics and rigerous training? That weekend agent class - get your license deal doesn't even touch upon working with client needs and how the field actually works, it only covers rules not clients and procedures. Lawyers are automatically granted RE license's but how many do you actually see practicing realestate? I would suggest you mentor an agent to see what it's really like in the field before you think this is an easy job and when you're done I would love to hear your thoughts. There's plenty of ala-carte realestate services available and I can say that after 20 years of being part of the business. The Seller or Buyer always seems to turn to the full-time full service agent vs discount brokerage's. It's all about building longterm releationships with your clients for lifelong referrals to grow your business.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 15, 2007
You are going to have to elaborate a little bit, because coming up with an "independent" bookstore is a little different than providing brokerage services to customers and clients. Which aspects of the real estate world do you see being applicable here?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 15, 2007
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