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Asked by bgk, Westborough, MA Fri May 13, 2011

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Answers

162
Fales, , Westborough, MA
Sun May 15, 2011
BEST ANSWER
What a bunch of self serving answers. Process of buying a house is not that complex. The only people truly working for you in this process are your lawyer and your home inspector.

Some markets are transitioning away from the typical realtor-realtor 5percent transaction. Check out madison WI. Many home sale there w.o agents
0 votes
Bill Hays, Agent, Cardiff, AL
Wed May 18, 2011
1) Mack IS, in all modesty, the Greatest Real Estate Agent in the World - not to be confused with the Most Interesting Man in the World, but very similar....I believe they are distant cousins.

2) Buying a house and going on a trip don't even compare. A hotel is a business. Airlines are businesses. Their conduct is rather predictable. The added value travel agents provided was in knowing what was the best rates, the coolest places, and the convenience they provided by booking the trip - all of which is offered directly to the consumer now via the websites.

In real estate, the consumer can certainly find the houses online, but that is really just the beginning. It is sort of like when you are on vacation - say Hawaii, and you want to go on a hike through the rainforest to find the Waimaku Falls. It's a 2 mile hike! While you might be able to find your way there on your own, it sure would be a lot safer and smarter to have a trail guide....someone who has been on the path many times before and knows how to handle the various problems that can arise along the way. And that is another role of a professional real estate agent - to navigate the windy and sometimes treacherous path to selling or buying a home.

You are dealing with a home owner, many of which without guidance, can be highly irrational. Buyers without guidance, can be highly emotional. Each may have a different level of intellect and knowledge related to a real estate transaction. It sounds to me like a recipe for disaster. That is what you are suggesting Mr. Anonymous Other/Just Looking question asker. And I'm not even going into the laundry list of forms and legal disclosures that go along with a sale that need to be correctly completed, that the ordinary consumer would have no clue about in the first place.

Two competent agents involved in the transaction level the playing field AND get both parties where they want to go. Now, the catch is that in all reality, only 20% or less of agents out there know what they are doing and if you get hooked up with one in the 80% group, you start asking questions like this one. If only more agents would aspire to be more like Mack....the world would be such a better place!

BeachBrokerBill
CA DRE#01775528
4 votes
Mary Pope-Ha…, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Sat May 28, 2011
Many consumers believe that the #1 job of real estate agents is to put buyers and sellers together - sort of like a dating agency for real estate. Bgk, if that were the case, there would be no real estate salespeople left because virtually everything is online.

Sellers need real estate professionals to assist them with pricing, staging, marketing, and making big decisions on everything from pre-sale inspections and repairs to which offer to accept or counter when there are multiples. (You don't usually hear of for sale by owners getting multiple offers, do you?)

Buyers need agents to help them get the most house for their money - the property which best suits their wants and needs. Because we are in & out of houses and neighborhoods all the time, we may know of areas that aren't on the consumer's radar. We can help our clients understand the disclosures, when answers need to be clarified, where to go for better info and understanding, and what to expect in various parts of town. In my area, that means being somewhat familiar with where there are water issues from hills or high water tables as one small example.

Most of all, buyers and sellers are looking for a fiduciary relationship - one in which they have an agent whom they can trust to help them both to "get the best deal" but also to make sure that they navigate the escrow well and go on to a closing where they are well represented all the way through. That means responding well when there are bumps in the road - problems that arise at the final walk through, permits that didn't get finaled, or plumbing leaks that burst through an hour before closing. Experienced agents know what to do or where to go to for the best advice and guidance.

I wrote about this issue almost a year ago in my blog and perhaps the post will be helpful to you. I hope so. I will link to it here. In a nutshell: hire a great agent, not an average one, and you will see the value every step of the way.
3 votes
Bill Hays, Agent, Cardiff, AL
Wed May 25, 2011
"Let me tell you from experience, most of the information available on the internet is at least a little incorrect."

A) Who puts that information on the internet? Read earlier in this thread and the answer is AGENTS.

B) A high percentage of RE marketing is incorrect or misleading. Who does that? ....AGENTS.

Like any sales profession, we, the salespeople, are our own worst enemy. Many answers ago, I talked about good agents level the playing field for the consumer - so that one party can't take advantage of another. There is nothing better than being in a transaction with another good agent, who is knowledgeable, respectful, and checks their ego at the door.

As I thought more and more about the unnamed broker's thoughts at JFK, I feel, at least for my model, he is right. My clients EXPECT me to advise them from a financial perspective, they EXPECT me to point out issues that they don't see, they EXPECT me to lead them through the process, they EXPECT to have confidence in me, my experience, and my perspectives, so they can feel comfortable about the hugely significant decisions they are making. They EXPECT me to be honest with them and tell them both the good and the bad.

The bitter taste consumers experience with agents is when their expectations aren't met or agent after agent sets such low expectations that we become a "necessary evil" as the consumer wonders what the heck they are paying all this money for.

The low bar to entry is something I don't think has been discussed here despite a brief rant about NAR. The only reason I see the low bar is for the benefit of NAR, our respective states, and the local boards because it equals $$$ to them via membership dues and fees. As I mentioned previously, many brokerages do the same thing - just want names on their roster - someone in there will sell something sooner or later. The reality is that the financial structures are such from top to bottom, that for some brokerages, even 2-3% commission is not working.

As far as KW, Gary Keller is a genius, and I suspect many agents are going their because of their agent oriented model. An excerpt from;

http://www.inman.com/news/2011/02/23/keller-williams-co-foun…

"The company's agent-centric approach, including a rewards system for sharing profits, has helped to fuel the company's growth -- Keller Williams ended 2010 with 701 offices and 79,315 sales associates in the United States and Canada, up from about 420 offices and 39,000 sales associates as of August 2004."

Many other brick and mortar powerhouses are consolidating offices because their revenue isn't covering their expenses.

In every sector of every business that ever existed, QUALITY SERVICE is a niche. For me, I am ok that there are substandard, underachieving agents out there, because it makes it easy for me to look really, really outstanding as I point out the errors and mistakes (like misinformation on the internet) of agents across the table from me to my clients.
3 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue May 24, 2011
- Mack, some agents/brokers SHOULD go out of business, if they're not doing a good job for their customers. Every type of business has it's failures.

Sure, motherhood and apple pie.

It's not even about doing a "good job." On the service side, it's about providing value. On the accounting side, it's about being able to cover the bills. Zip Realty closed 11 offices - was it the service, the value, or simply being incapable of generating enough revenue to keep the doors open? Redfin's got a thirty million dollar nut to pay off - if the fail, will it be because they provided poor service, didn't provide value, or couldn't get enough customers in the door? Keller Williams is expanding and adding offices. Maybe the Market is moving in favor of full-service brokerages?
3 votes
Bill Hays, Agent, Cardiff, AL
Sun May 22, 2011
"You can argue about the cost, you can argue about the service, you can argue about the knowledge of the practitioners, but at the end of the rant, the fact is - if you don't see value in hiring a real estate agent, then, don't. And if you see the value, then be selective and hire the one that will provide you the value you see."

BRAVO!

I think the idea of the end of the real estate agent is akin to the idea of the end of the world....that came and went yesterday.

I can understand how some people feel that what appears to be a fat commission check going to an agent who does virtually nothing is absurd. That fact is those people are right, BUT the fact is also that those people hired the wrong agent. Extrapolating their experience in their vacuum as if it is the standard in the industry is like saying all hamburger joints serve Big Mac's. They walked into McDonald's - that's what is on the menu and that is the best McDonald's serves - but they could have chosen a lot better somewhere else for the price they paid. They either got fooled by slick marketing, just had to have the toy in the happy meal, or took the easy way out thinking someone else would look out for them. Stay out of the Mickey D's of real estate and don't settle for a Big Mac...Not to be confused of course with BIG MACK of Seattle...
3 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sun May 22, 2011
There's a bit of "pile on" to the argument, which makes me think that the Faith Popcorns of this decade are just venting, rather than predicting the future.

The solution to bad real estate agents isn't that people do their own real estate brokering, that's absurd. The idea that just because it is relatively easy to become a licensed real estate broker doesn't mean that you can do as good a job or better by circumventing those requirements. Further, just because you've fulfilled those requirements doesn't make you an expert, that comes with skill and experience.

The argument that "you" can do a better job than the worst real estate agent isn't a reason to do it yourself, it's a reason to not hire the worst real estate agent. Statistically speaking, somebody is going to run into six or even ten lousy agents; that doesn't mean that most people would be better off going it alone.

You can argue about the cost, you can argue about the service, you can argue about the knowledge of the practitioners, but at the end of the rant, the fact is - if you don't see value in hiring a real estate agent, then, don't. And if you see the value, then be selective and hire the one that will provide you the value you see.

If you look to the generic commodification that on-line brokerages offer for a solution . . . well, it's hard to be disappointed when your expectations are low.
3 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Wed May 18, 2011
- Even if thls low fee listing in the best for your client??

Great. A poster referencing 2002 data who doesn't read thoroughly.

What I wrote was probably too complex - agents who are in agency relationships with their buyers owe them a different level of service than agents who have a casual relationship with possible buyers.

Agents don't have to be in agency relationships to call people up and tell them about properties, which is something that you've been told but still don't know, but now you can eliminate from the list of unknown things you don't know about real estate.

As a Certified International Property Specialist, and a traveler with contacts in many countries, I may know a little bit more about global real estate practices than you do.
3 votes
Colin Emmons, Agent, Lincoln, NE
Mon May 16, 2011
You can read on the internet and find some pretty interesting articles on everything from cooking a steak, to rebuliding a car engine.

Information is power - and today's consumers are more informed and powerful than ever. Being armed with information by itself just isn't enough these days.

My guess is most people could read up for days about how to do brain surgery, but wouldn't you rather have a doctor do the operation - rather than someone who has just read about it? Suffice to say a 15 year old could read about how to drive a car all day long, but put them behind the wheel for the first time, and it's not quite as easy.

That truly is the difference - this is what we do day in and day out. I've sold more real estate in the past 3 months than most people will own in a lifetime, others have sold way more than myself. There are problems out there that you just won't be able to read about. If you come into the game unprepared, I feel sorry for the reprocussions that may come your way.

In the end, I think it's a matter of personal choice. I can't say I blame someone who wants to sell their own home to save a few bucks, I can blame those who choose do to it and approach an agent for help after somethings gone wrong. (Happens to me all the time.)

And sadly, if someone is making a deal on their commission dollars, that just goes to show me that they have no negotiating skills. If they can't negotiate their own money, how good of job do you think they'll do with yours?

I have great confidence that not only will our industry live one, it will thrive. Bottom line, not everyone is comfortable making the most expensive decision of their life on their own. If you are personally, more power to you.
3 votes
Jay Allen, Agent, Framingham, MA
Fri May 13, 2011
Great topic, bgk. I think the answer boils down to whether or not consumers will continue to see value in what we do. If the services that we provide can be replaced by technology, then perhaps we will follow in the footsteps of the travel industry.

As an active member of the real estate community I see our job description constantly evolving...and I see most of these changes occurring in reaction to new concepts being introduced through online channels. What is clear is that is that consumers like the idea of having more control in achieving their real estate goals - whether that is to purchase a home or to sell one – and there are online resources that help them to capture that control.

While there are resources for both buyers and sellers, I think the most profound changes revolve around the buyer. The house hunting process has been completely turned upside down...and in a good way. Gone are the days when you relied 100% on your realtor to introduce you to properties based on a description of your requirements. In the past, real estate agents controlled the listing information. Print advertising ruled. The inventory was tracked in hardcopy form...with offices maintaining binders of "available listings." Buyers put a great deal of faith in their realtor to understand their wants and needs and introduce them to the right properties. With much of that information now at the consumer’s fingertips...including property stats, satellite imagery, online parcel maps, photos/videos, sales data, etc....the task of identifying the properties that are worth viewing is now shared by both buyer and agent…with the buyer sitting in the driver’s seat. And rightly so!

There are still areas where buyers’ needs are not being met through online resources. Analyzing and interpreting market data for the purpose of determining Fair Market Value is, and always will be, a job best suited for a live professional. Zillow attempts to achieve this through their "Zestimate" feature, but the truth is there isn't an algorithm that can accurately pinpoint the value of every property address on the planet. Too bad...that would make my job SO much easier. Additionally, real estate transactions are getting more and more complicated. Stringent lending guidelines are playing a role in which homes are deemed to be “mortgage-worthy” and safely navigating short sales and REO transactions requires a full understanding of all the moving parts. Failure to appreciate the risks associated with seemingly minor decisions can have larger implications to the uninformed buyer....and that's where the agent's role becomes important.

There is no such thing as a “standard transaction” anymore. Having a professional to help lead buyers through the ever changing minefield is still essential. So for now, a buyer agent’s value lies in our ability to communicate, mediate, advise, negotiate, represent, and reassure…and as long as a computer can’t perform these functions, I believe the real estate agent’s job is safe.

That's my take on the future of buyer agents. Perhaps there is more to say on the listing agent side of this question...but I'll allow another agent to contribute on that perspective. Thanks for the thought provoking question!

Jay Allen
Coldwell Banker
Web Reference:  http://www.josiahrallen.com
3 votes
Bill Hays, Agent, Cardiff, AL
Wed Jun 1, 2011
@Alma - Totally agree - just hadn't had the time to respond to the "with no lookers" comment. I anticipated that in my comment prior in which I mention a buyer will only offer $180k. If he is truly short and can prove hardship, FSBO makes no sense at all and is a bad idea. You have to have an experienced professional. Finding one is the tricky part because everyone makes that claim, but few can stand by it - especially in short sales.

Good Realtors in my book cannot and will not tell a seller what a home is worth. However, I understand that is what a seller hears when a Realtor might mention a number that the seller wants to hear or when the Realtor throws a number out there to capture the listing and figures they will let the market beat the seller down to the appropriate price that at the time of listing, the seller says they would never consider. Under ordinary circumstances, it would seem the home is not worth either $230k or $225k....or it would have sold. Sort of like MSRP on cars - it's just a starting point....oops, back to the car salesperson analogies!
2 votes
Alma Kee, Agent, Tampa, FL
Tue May 31, 2011
Back in 1982 I was a stockbroker (Series 7) in California when I was 23. At that point in time there was only one discount broker that I knew of. I think Charles Schwab didn't even exist in those days or was virtually unknown. Commissions were deregulated on May 1, 1975 but 7 years later most firms were charging close to the "May Day" commission schedule. When commissions were fixed, you would pay the same commission to buy 100 shares of a stock regardless of which stock brokerage firm you went to.

Now let's zoom to 29 years later.... 2011 Etrade, Scotttrade, etc. $7. The same trade might have cost you $500 or more in commissions, depending on the size of the transaction.

There was a well funded, highly advertised,Tampa Bay local (I think the Outback founders were investors) discount Real Estate firm in Tampa Bay...can't even remember their name now! Failed! Also a well known nationwide discount buyer rebate firm, Zip Realty is no longer in business in Tampa Bay. Not sure why but Tampa Bay doesn't seem to be the right market for discounters.

I agree that the comission is absurdly high based on the low barrier to entry to become a Realtor. When I had to sell a property before becoming a Realtor over 10 years ago, I found a flat fee listing broker and we paid her $300 (plus $1,000 to handle the paperwork to make sure we were legally compliant) and she ended up getting the buyer for the property who found it online at Realtor.com and she made $18k on the buyer's side commission and we were thrilled because we saved $18k in commissions. That was when I decided to switch careers to become a Realtor in 2000. It looked like easy money.

After 10 years in the business I've seen some pretty unethical dealings and having come from the stockbrokerage industry where you are trained to act in the best interest of your client, it was alarming. I've seen many well known, greedy Realtors that have not only hidden offers but also have multiple offers and not presented all offers to their seller so they could earn double the commission by representing both the Seller and the Buyer. "Used car salesman" may aptly describe some Realtors. Luckily there are some highly reputable Realtors and unfortunately the way the "system" works, the unethical ones can operate freely.

So bottom line is with today's technology it seems absurd to me for anyone to pay more than about $1,500 to the listing Realtor for a typical single family home listed at $500k or less. Now that is conditioned on the listing Realtor not attending showings. By the way, it's generally NOT a good idea for the listing agent to attend showings. There's truly no need for the listing agent to pay for any print advertising (most buyers are either looking online or working with a Realtor who searches the MLS) but they do need to be skilled with having professional quality photos and a well crafted description. The agent also MUST pay for the upgraded package on Realtor.com to allow the agent to add extra photos and customize the description. I love taking short sale and relocation listings because the Seller is not paying the large listing commission so I don't have any mixed feelings about the seller overpaying. On Regular sale listings I often discount the listing commission side (leaving the Buyer's agent at a full 3%) but I also don't give away half of my commission to a broker who may only give me a "well known" firm name and a desk to park my stuff! Some Realtors give away a significant portion of their hard earned commission to a firm that does little for them. I wouldn't want such a foolish business person representing my best interests on a Real Estate transaction!

All the best,
Alma
Alma Rose Kee, PA
Future Home Realty
813.244.9898
http://www.SoldOnTampa.com
2 votes
J. Garland T…, Agent, Greenwood Village, CO
Sat May 28, 2011
As is so often said, buying a home is the largest investment most people will ever make. There are lots of complexities in determining the value of a neighborhood, the home, the schools, etc. It is smart to get the very best advice and counseling available.
2 votes
Martin H. Th…, Agent, Tysons Corner, VA
Fri May 27, 2011
Very Interesting question, but to just keep it short, it doesn't cost you to have a Realtor, but it could cost you if you don't.

Martin
2 votes
Spirit Messi…, Agent, Tucson, AZ
Wed May 25, 2011
No. Agents provide an actual service that can not be replaced by the internet and travel agents could be, easily. If so, then will Lawyers be replaced like travel agents? FYI in some states you must be a Lawyer to be an agent, and some states require Lawyers in on the deal, not here in AZ but back east. I am not mocking you, it is an interesting question and I see your comparison and where you are going with it, but simply no. I am a 3rd generation Realtor and things will continue to change, but there is still a need for Realtors and Agents.

Best of luck to you.
Spirit
2 votes
Becky Price, Agent, Allison Park, PA
Wed May 25, 2011
Let me tell you from experience, most of the information available on the internet is at least a little incorrect. Licensed agents have access to the actual legal information about properties in which you're interested. Also, agents pass state exams and study real estate law.
And another thing, if you are going it alone on one side of the transaction, and the party on the other side is using an agent, you're probably not going to come out as well as you would have, had you had an agent on your side.
2 votes
Pam Wittenau…, Agent, Fort Myers, FL
Tue May 24, 2011
As a manager in the travel industry of airports for 25 years, and I use to be involved in the startup of the internet era of putting rates, rules and regulations for reservations. We have come a long way, but it is not easy being on the receiving end of all the misquoted rates and disclosures of anonymous websites. Nothing is updated unless it comes directly from the branded airline, car rental or hotel website itself. Disclosures are not ever accurate. writing contracts does not exist on the internet in this industry. You still have to have your drivers license and credit card in person.

I cannot imagine what it would be like if we were trying to sell houses and write contracts via internet. I love my new career as a realtor and have a passion for real estates, as I did in the travel industry.

Pam Wittenauer
239-989-7077
residential and commercial
Krise Commercial Group
pam@krisecg.com

Web Reference: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Creative-Commercial-Resid...
2 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Sat May 21, 2011
I'm sorry to disagree, but I am not a financial advisor. I am neither licensed, nor qualified to advise people regarding their finances. They, and only they, are qualified to tell me (perhaps with the advice & counsel of a true financial advisor) whether purchasing property is a good idea, or not.

When they've determined that it is, then they can contact me and I'll be happy to assist them with the process.

I also don't consider myself a property expert, nor do I feel comfortable creating plans that will reduce taxes and keep the clients in a great monthly income for years to come.

Perhaps David is licensed and feels comfortable providing those services, but I (and I believe most of the real estate agents out there) have neither the training, licensing, nor insurance, to provide those services.
2 votes
nkwown Jones, Other Pro, West Chester, PA
Sat May 21, 2011
Travel Agents dont advise people on the largest investment many of them will make in their life. Hell they have WebMD but im guessing if you have a problem your still going to a doctor...As a Real Estate Broker im a financial advisor as well as property expert. Advising clients on one of the largest investments many of them will ever make. We help create a plans that will reduce taxes and keep you in a great monthly income for years to come....the internet only helps good broker/agents...
2 votes
Bill Hays, Agent, Cardiff, AL
Wed May 18, 2011
A friend of mine started a 1% commission RE company in around 2005 called iPayOne and they were doing pretty good for awhile. Their approach was seller pays 1% to the listing agent (get it, IpayOne?)....period - buyer's agent coop was ZERO. They had death threats from anonymous agents and many yard signs smashed, but moved over 1200 transactions in a pretty short time.

They made some bad choices, he got out, and the remaining ownership ran it into the ground. He repurchased the rights to the company once it closed its doors and is just waiting for the right time to go again.

I have thought about the 1% approach, but why would I take 1% when I can get paid 3%?

In the family law practice, there are attorneys who will "process" a divorce on behalf of both parties. It apparently saves money and time. Maybe there is a way this model could be adapted toward real estate....the sticky part being the whole fiduciary duty thing that would prevent a real estate practitioner from being a neutral to both parties...besides, then they would be called escrow. PLUS, many of those attorneys are mass production chop shops. Not much personal service, which is a cornerstone of my business.

Once again, I think the big issue is really lack of value added with many agents. That creates a bitter taste in the consumer's mouth. I mean, just look at some of the questions at Trulia - consumers represented by agents coming here to ask about the situation they are in with their transaction - isn't their agent giving them a decent answer? Many times, it is the agent that got them into the predicament they are facing in the first place. Stay away from the 80%! The rest of us who provide value and expertise not otherwise available to the consumer earn every penny of our commission and are in business and available to you long after your transaction closes.

Really, your argument is with NAR....we have to follow how they say we are to transact. Make me a transaction processor instead of fiduciarily responsible to you, and I'll turn your deal for $250 and be done with you and on to the next deal within 30 minutes. You will feel real special and taken care of....NOT. Then you can come to Trulia and hope to get answers to all the lingering questions and issues I won't have to address as your "processor."

I guess in closing, if you don't like RE agents or the concept of paying for representation, don't use us and stop complaining....but the reality is you will use us because deep down you know a good real estate agent, just like a good sports agent, is money well invested to get the results that on your own, you likely would not achieve.
2 votes
Bill Hays, Agent, Cardiff, AL
Wed May 18, 2011
My first thought to the question that I am intruding on was, "Volume is higher per agent in England."

Then I looked at the 2002 report and the Introduction says, "If the typical US agent
were as productive as those in England, the brokerage fees would be closer
to 1.5%."

But it also talks about median incomes of US real estate agents ($43k) and brokers ($63k)....those incomes don't seem unreasonable for a career. This salary of course is commiserate with each individual economy and cannot be accurately compared across the board without adjustments specific to each regions' economic characteristics.

Looking at commissions in a vacuum like this won't provide true answers to the commission debate. At the end of the day, the occupation needs to provide a sustainable living salary. So back at you, what is the median salary, adjusted to US economic conditions, in the UK?

One driver of costs for US agents is agent marketing to attract business. I know of agents who would pay in upwards of $10k a month just to be a celebrity in their town.
2 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Wed May 18, 2011
I like the commission discussion, because it gives the real estate community a chance to compare commissions to other sectors of high-ticket items.

As mentioned, you can get brokerage services in England for about a point and a quarter, on each side. In Italy, each side pays, typically three points.

Auction houses. To buy a $100,000 item from Sotheby's, they will tack on another 15% or so as a "Buyer's Premium," and take 20% or so from the Seller. I'm sure they negotiate.
2 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Wed May 18, 2011
How much training is required to obtain a RE license??

More than virtually every home buyer and home seller has.

- How do you have all of this time for this online debate ;)

We could ask the same of you . . .

- Reading the answers below I can understand why there is disdain and trust issues with your profession from the outside.

And it's never going to go away; we know that.

-Anyways the original post is probably correct in that RE will be changing a lot soon.

Or, not. Real estate doesn't change, only the marketing of it.

- with increased technology the necessity of RE agents is waning.

That's ridiculous, frankly. That's like a farmer saying that once the irrigation comes in, the necessity of plowing the land is over.

To us veterans, the only information that's really new to the marketplace is fifteen photos and the ready availability of mostly useless data. To the newbies, they think they're on the forefront of something great - look at all this data that wasn't available to Mom and Dad! Well, it was, and they didn't need it, either.

You can get virtually anything in the virtual world, but to actually prepare your home for the marketplace, or to actually evaluate properties, you need to do that in the real world, with real professionals who can show you that knowing the size of a property and the sales history isn't enough, any more than it's enough when buying a diamond.

- The three houses I bought with agents I basically selected the house and comp'ed it out myself anyways, and in retrospect dont feel I got my money's worth in the agent fees

You know, everything doesn't work for everybody. Have you considered the possibility that you might be responsible for not getting enough out of your agent?
2 votes
Tom and Joan…, Agent, Boston, MA
Mon May 16, 2011
BgK:

Great points, but you are discussing features and not benefits of a Realtor. Booking a $5,000 dollar vacation is not the same as selling/buying a $500,000 dollar home. A great Realtor plays an important role and with only 60% of homes selling when they enter the MLS a strong Realtor can make the difference. I have spent a lot of time learning and mastering technology over the last 8 years and I find people will pay me more for results not less. Best in your process.
2 votes
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Sun May 15, 2011
I have taken over my share of limited service and flat fee listings that were a mess. Owners don't always realize all that is involved until they are struggling. A decent agent watching out for the sellers' interest from the start would have netted these sellers more and resulted in a quicker sale.
These were sellers with some help. Sellers relying on total self help, instructed by HGTV and Million Dollar Listing (Bravo) would be in even deeper. Do we as agents need to be more than a sign and a black & white Xeroxed flyer? Of course! Lazy and incompetent agents make us all look bad, but don't judge the rest of us by the worst of us.
2 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Sat May 14, 2011
They have been predicting the demise of the real estate agent, ever since the advent of the internet. And if anything, rather than causing real estate agents to disappear into the background, the internet has made our job easier and more relevant than ever.

Instead of getting buyers who were unsure about what they wanted, ignorant as to what the values were, we now get highly educated buyers (and sellers) who are 6-8 weeks further down the line in their process when they first contact us, and more motivated.

When Zillow and Trulia hit the market, once again, Realtors and the Public were predicting doom for the real estate agents. And once again, they have become more of a benefit to agents, than a death knell.

The internet has been a boon to real estate agents, and I don't see that changing in the near future. Further down the line, who knows.
2 votes
Phil Rotondo, Agent, Melbourne, FL
Sat May 14, 2011
Bgk;
Later today I'm going to use my "Will Work for Food" sign and stand on the corner.
Or has that also gone the way of travel agents?
Web Reference:  http://www.321property.com
2 votes
Suzanne MacD…, Agent, Succasunna, NJ
Sat May 14, 2011
Dan is absolutely correct! A good real estate agent is worth their weight in gold, literally. And sometimes, a good real estate agent will pick up the slack for a not so good real estate agent and do their work for them just to keep the transaction together and moving along smoothly. Anyone who says otherwise, in my opinion, doesn't have a good grasp of just how complicated these transactions are and they have become more and more complex over the years with the advent of building codes and so on.

I have two transactions pending right now, one a short sale and one a 'regular' purchase. In one case the current owners failed to get building permits and inspections for all the work they did, about six were requried in all and it fell to the realtors to figure out what was and was not done and to get the home in compliance with local ordinances retroactively. In the other, to be honest the buyer's agent had not one clue how short sales work. With very strict deadlines looming she allowed her client to begin looking for a different lender at the 11th hour and, again, it is now up to me to educate her clients, their attorney and even the realtor in the realities of short sale purchases.

Without my services my short sale clients could be facing a huge deficiency judgment and my buyers could be purchasing a home with actual dangerous conditions. Please tell me HOW that can possibly compare to a travel agent?
2 votes
Bill, Home Buyer, Kingsport, TN
Sun Jun 5, 2011
This travel agent analogy is a poor one. A better one may be stockbrokers, since it is also a financial industry, and because they have required continuing ed as do realtors. Some of them are good, some are bad, same as in real estate. But you won't find many of them working part-time.
1 vote
Tomi Thomas, Agent, Oakland, CA
Sun Jun 5, 2011
This is such an interesting discussion point, with many good answers below. One of the things the real estate industry as a whole has not done well over the years, is to define for consumers what it is that agents really do and how much value a GOOD agent dedicated to their clients success can bring to the mix. Some buyers and sellers still think we stand around in an open house, eating bonbons, acting as chauffeurs, and collecting big fat checks. This misconception could not be further from the truth, but the image persists. Agents need to have a deeply multi-layered expertise, ranging from negotiation skills, a general knowledge of all aspects of property condition, a knowledge of micromarkets within each community, current information on property availability and competitive activity, understanding of architectural styles and their significance, and how to maintain the value of that significance over time, a long list of service providers and a professional history with those providers that will motivate them to show up on relatively short notice to educate the client, a keen sense of market trends and the ever changing legal environment, and the ability to help clients get through stressful decisions and uncertainty, just to name a partial list. We also have to manage large teams of staff and service providers on deadlines that carry heavy financial and legal consequences. It requires an almost Zen-like attitude about getting paid, because remember, we are one of the very few professional categories that is expected to work equally hard for one month or a year with a client with absolutely no guarantee that we will EVER be paid. Agents are a special breed, and those that survive in the business and remain committed to their clients success make it look easy, but it's the toughest profession I've ever been in. And I love it, in spite of the misconceptions.
1 vote
Tean Wong, Agent, Boston, MA
Sun Jun 5, 2011
The different between travel industry and real estate industry is the products. You may be able to refund your airline tickets, switch seats, change traveling route online. But can you refund, change home, change after you buy the home? No.
1 vote
Tomi Thomas, Agent, Oakland, CA
Sat Jun 4, 2011
If it does, buyers and sellers both would suffer, and lawsuits would skyrocket. Knowledgable agents provide much more to the process than is obvious to most consumers. Understanding the issues of property condition, pricing, competing, prepping the property prior to sale, and the nuances of negotiation. The process is complicated, and expertise can make a huge difference in results, in a down market even more than an up market.

Preliminary Home search will be dominated by the internet, yes. But that is only the beginning of the process.
1 vote
Kenneth Good…, Agent, Concord, NH
Sat Jun 4, 2011
Yes the internet has changed the way we display the market of homes for sale. However, in a real estate transaction their is a critical human effort called negotiating. Home owners may feel vulnerable and uneasy asking for certain things. If you have a great agent that has negotiating skills that may guide you, why not use the help. Especially if you are a buyer or renter..it doesn't cost you.
1 vote
Kolsky Realty, Agent, Long Beach, CA
Fri Jun 3, 2011
Anyone if they put their mind to it, can do anything. I will say, certain types of RE Agents will always be needed and some RE Agents actually help their clients and make the process better. My 3 cents
1 vote
., , Baltimore, MD
Fri Jun 3, 2011
Well BGK,
I certainly hope not. I see your logic... however, I feel there are great differences between using an agent to travel and one to help you buy a home.
First, staying at a hotel that might not be the best choice, is far different than buying a home that you are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in. With a hotel stay, it is over in a few days. A bad home purchase will haunt your for years.

Or possibly choosing a wrong carrier to fly with, can cost you time, some money or possibly some lost luggage. But choosing the wrong neighborhood could prove to be dangerous to you and your family.

So true, you can search over the internet for homes but utilizing an agent that can offer so much insight into the pluses and minuses of one house over another is extreemly valuable .
I seriously doubt that your prediction will come to pass.
Good luck with your trip and your home purchase.
Bob Wiley
the Wiley Group of Keller Williams Realty Baltimore
1 vote
David Cooper, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Fri Jun 3, 2011
The paperwork in a real estate transaction is overwhelming and technical. Booking an airline ticket is pretty straight forward. Real estate laws change quickly as new legal decisions are made.


DAVID COOPER Foreclosure and Bank REO Buyer's Agent at Vertical Realty-Las Vegas. For a Freee List
Call +1-7024997037 davidcooper@lasvegasweinner.org
1 vote
Bud Zeller, Agent, Folsom, CA
Thu Jun 2, 2011
Interesting Question!! But what you might find more interesting is I had conversations this past week with both a Travel agent and a person who still uses them! The travel agent informed me that people are only now discovering that they can get deals as good or sometimes better then some popular internet sites. She was telling me that business has been increasing a little over the pass year from people who are not as satisfied as they had hoped using the interest exclusively. This was an experience Travel agent that loved helping people and getting them good deals ( and making money ) Now I see this Question on Trulia?!?!?! Well lets analyze this question with just one example shall we? Just one!!!
My office recently closed a transaction for an elderly lady who was "beyond impressed" ( Her words ) with the deal she got. A huge part of this was the experience of the agent, but not the only thing!
By going out to the house before and after an offer was written we was able to use among other things, the termite report ( which he went out to meet the termite inspector ) The whole house inspection ( He met him too! )) His own visual inspection ( he took his wife, smart guy ) Got the buyer about another $3,000 off the agreed upon price. ( Even though it was a "As Is" Sale ) This is just the tip of the iceberg of the things that a good agent used to get the buyer a great deal on the house. Still don't believe me? Digging a little bit more the agent found out the seller was living out of town and correctly guess she no longer wanted to "deal" with the house and just wanted to sell it. Found out that the renter in the small studio house died and was probably going to be looking for another house to rent.( Agent offered to help keep his eyes open for him, future client? )
oooo did I mention the 'Buyers" daughter lived next door on the adjacent parcel ( She wanted her mom closer to help take care of her and have her spend more time with her Granddaughters ),,,But didn't sell his client out by telling the listing agent about this until after the deal closed?
A lot of people use the internet to book a $99 southwest flight or get a "Deal to stay in Cancun for a week " but hey Most banks still offer a real person you can talk to inside, even though you can do most things using the ATM. And Yes I've used the self check out at the grocery store, even though most of the time I like to talk to a checker! But the core of your Question is,,,,,,Will "MOST" people use "some person" on the other end of a computer to make one of the biggest financial decision of their life ? Just to save a few bucks??$$$ Maybe. The Majority?? I don't think so. They have been calling for the death of the Real Estate Agent ever sense Al Gore invented the Internet. Will it come maybe. Will the government pass some law to neuter Real Estate agents income? Thats the real Question! By the way, do you want the name of a Great Travel Agent?
1 vote
Bill, Home Buyer, Kingsport, TN
Thu Jun 2, 2011
Is there another way, other than hiring an appraiser? I am in St Louis now and unable to go back and forth very often. In fact, I was just in SC to check on the home and to see what my renter has done. She and my neighbor have done a great job of decorating and "staging", better than my agent. She fixed my peeling wallpaper, and is going to paint my purple room. They and I seem to think the problems are more cosmetic than anything, and this relatively easy. Once the painting is done, they are going to email me new photos to give to my agent. He said he'd gladly post them online and in the brochure.
1 vote
Joan Congilo…, Agent, Freehold, NJ
Wed Jun 1, 2011
Dear BGK,
Oh if you only knew all of the work that a real estate agent puts in to getting a buyer and seller from the showing stage to the closing table. If it were as simple as looking on the internet and selecting a house we would all be rich. In addition we pay for the photography, websites, hosting, ads & maintaining of all of those lovely homes that you browse through , they are not free . Our real work begins once the home is in escrow ,so we are definitely worth every penny we earn.
Web Reference:  http://www.joancongilose.com
1 vote
Frank Natalli, , New York, NY
Wed Jun 1, 2011
This one BS asked and answered question have taken on a life of its own i see.
1 vote
Alma Kee, Agent, Tampa, FL
Wed Jun 1, 2011
This is at FSBO seller Bill. You need to pay $350 to a licensed appraiser to get the genuine value for your house. If there were no "lookers" at $230k it may not be even worth $200k. FInd an expert and pay the money and then go ahead and list with a discounter (just don't go with a well known discounter). Plan on doing your own photos, flyers if you decide to "do it yourself" with a flat fee Realtor.
1 vote
Bill, Home Buyer, Kingsport, TN
Tue May 31, 2011
Hi Bill, this is my primary home (in the sense that I'm in a temp. place in St Louis right now). Therefore, I don't think anyone in St Louis would be interested in helping me. I do know 2-3 realtors in SC but wasn't able to find a good discounter before I left.

I say it's worth $225k because that's what 2 different realtors said after looking at comps. Actually, they had it up to 230k 3 months ago, with no lookers, so I dropped it. I know one guy who is flat fee only, but he's not a real "hands-on" agent. I told him I've made some interior updates, and he asked me to send him photos. Not really my job, is it?

This would be one of the situations where I could sell it myself if I were living there or close by, but it isn't. If you have anymore suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Thanks Bill.
1 vote
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue May 31, 2011
Thanks, Alma! It's really difficult to write humor, and on these threads, most of the time people are looking for a straight and serious answer - but when I'm in the car with buyers, or when we're getting a home ready for the market, I make sure we're having fun!

I've also found that humor helps people broaden their perspective - it's not the content of the joke so much as the logical twist that can help people see things from a different viewpoint. I used to try to "educate" people (Back in the 1940s, they LIKED this style of house), now I can help them, with a laugh, discover things for themselves (with a little guidance!).

Thanks, again!! Whenever I see your name on a post, my eyes widen in anticipation!
1 vote
Alma Kee, Agent, Tampa, FL
Tue May 31, 2011
I love Realtor Mack McCoy of Seattle's description of himself!

"I am, in all modesty, the Greatest Real Estate Agent in the World. "

Cracked me up! I would definitely want to work with Mack for his sense of humor alone!
1 vote
Bill Hays, Agent, Cardiff, AL
Tue May 31, 2011
@Peter - I think you have it backwards. Actually, if it were that easy, there would be no agents because no one would pay for them. What is too easy or too low is the barrier to entry as Alma says and the way agents call themselves "Joe or Jane Super Agent" via marketing with no real substance to back it up.

@Alma - Have we met the same agents!?!?! Small world! ;-)
1 vote
Peter Bonanno…, Agent, Succasunna, NJ
Tue May 31, 2011
NO! If real estate was that easy everyone would be an agent. There a lot more to it, then you think!
1 vote
Bill Hays, Agent, Cardiff, AL
Mon May 30, 2011
@Billsweb200 - so is this a second home or rental? Your postal code below your name comes up as St. Louis, MO.

http://zip4.usps.com/zip4/zcl_3_results.jsp

When was your house worth $225k? In other words, how do you know its value isn't really $200k? Because 6% of $225k is $13,500...So is the issue truly over $3500? I find it hard to believe you can't find an agent who will help you over 1% or so.

But if that is the case, then maybe you might consider calling your local Help U Sell office.

http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0oGdd69PORNB0oAH3JXNyoA…

If I got the link right, there are the local office numbers for St. Louis. They can refer you to an office in South Carolina, BUT maybe that won't work for you if you are out of town. But if you are truly short in the payoff for your mortgage (like a buyer will only offer $180k), you will have to determine whether you qualify for a short sale, and at that point, the commission is less of a factor, and hiring the right agent to negotiate deficiency releases becomes paramount.

The tough part about Trulia is that not all the facts are put on the table at one time when it comes to problem solving.... If you are an out of town owner, that puts you in a tough position....you will need to find a hungry agent and hope for the best.
1 vote
Billsweb200, Home Seller, 63136
Mon May 30, 2011
You know, maybe you're right. We're all smart people here. Can you help me find a realtor who can sell my $225k house for less than $10,000 total commission? It's in great shape, in an excellent neighborhood in S. Carolina, but I'd take a loss if I pay any more than that.

Thanks.

Private replies preferred.
1 vote
Gail Jordan, , Gahanna, OH
Mon May 30, 2011
The real estate agent of the future is going to be more necessary than ever before. Doing a real estate deal is not as easy as clicking on a home that you want and sending the cash in to purchase it. The real service an agent gives is to help you purchase the best property for you in the best possible area for the best possible price. It is amazing how many homes you will look at on line and when you get there to view the property you are not sure you even in the right place.

Beside all that the Board of Realtors is a very powerful group and they will be sure realtors are present not only in their own areas but represented in Washington where the laws are made to protect the home buyer.

I am sorry to tell you this bgk but we are here to stay!!
1 vote
Frank Natalli, , New York, NY
Sat May 28, 2011
bgk.....i think youre a child looking for us to give you answers for some class your taking....
1 vote
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