May 6th, 2011 5:23 PM by AllenBrothers Realtors
A trend in online home marketing (with services such as
Zillow.com that began during the real estate crash of 2008) has sparked a passionate
debate between the do-it-yourself elitists of this country and the real estate
industry, calling for a mass elimination of all real estate professionals - a
phenomenon we are as unlikely to witness as the mass elimination of the common grocery
Let me explain where I’m coming from. I will gladly admit
that I am defending my own profession as I write this, and I’m also happy to
admit that the real estate profession as we know it is probably destined to
transform into something completely different in the years ahead.
It is not doomed to the same fate as the printed newspaper
or the travel agent, however. It is not headed for some sort of extinction. Why?
Because the core service provided by a good real estate agent is not something
you can simply bypass with the use of online databases and pricing algorithms, as
the do-it-yourselfers would have us believe.
The DIY cynic believes that realtors came into existence by monopolizing
data – nothing more, nothing less. If this kind of data had been available to
us 100 years ago, there would be no such thing as a real estate brokerage
today; a home purchase would simply be a two-way transaction involving the
buyer and seller haggling over the sales price like two people at a garage sale
haggling over used jeans. What a utopian vision! How could it have ever been
otherwise? Now that the floodgates of information have exploded into the public
domain, we can all make this vision a reality in no time, saying goodbye to the
obsolete real estate agent and instead buying software that will do it for us.
Or can we? A vital service cannot be monopolized in this
country. Sure you can cook your own dinner, but your freedom to cook has not threatened
the dining industry. Restaurants have probably been selling you expensive meals
ever since you started getting an allowance. An argument could be made that in this
analogy, “doing the cooking yourself” in a real estate transaction will
probably save you many thousands of dollars; much more than the fifty dollars you
blew eating out. By this reasoning, why isn’t everybody bypassing the realtor
and “cooking their own” real estate closings?
There is no need to explain all the vital skills a good Realtor
brings to the transaction. If our industry didn’t come into being by
monopolizing data in the first place, then our industry will not perish now
that online databases rival the Multiple Listing Service (which they don’t, by
the way). Another blog can explore this popular myth.
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