I can see what size lots the listed homes are on. I can see what kind of appliances they have. I can see what kind of heating and cooling they have. I can even see what houses in the area sold for recently and over time. I can do this all online.
At the end of the day, there are *always* going to be those people who do not have the time, or maybe they have the time or not the initiative (or the confidence even) to do certain things (like find and purchase a home) on their own so Realtors, Auto Mechanics, Electricians, Appliance repairmen, and a whole slew of other professionals will *always* have a market. I'm not one of those people though and there are plenty of other folks who are not as well. Even in my business there are those who always hire a pro and those who always do it on their own.
Also, I'm sure that, just as in any other business there are stand up Realtors and Realtors who will do anythign to put a buck in their pocket,. That is one of the things you have to deal with in a capitalist society as capitalism can tend to nurture greed and bring out the worst in many folks unfortunate as that may be.
As for the pre-approval... my point was that Realtors were working with bans and lenders during the bubble to help folks get approved for loans they could afford *at the moment* but a lot of those were variable rate and with balloon payments.
If you look at what they did, they petty much created a large part of the mess we are in now. What it looks like from where I stand is that they did it on purpose figuring they'd take all this money from folks and, when they defaulted because of the balloon payment at the end, they could take the house back and sell it to someone else all over again.
It's like the old timers who won land in Texas (and probably every where else as well) do. They sell land, owner financed strictly to folks with no kind of credit because they know they'll miss a payment or two and then they'll take it back and sell it to someone else.
In this case they were not selling to folks with no credit but you have to wonder if they really thought every single person they sold to would be able to actually make that balloon payment...
If you are, as you say you are, a stand up kind of Realtor and you have your clients best interests, and not your own bank account, in mind when you sell a house then I applaud you and I hope your work ethic rubs off on more of your peers. :-)