Towards representation

My wife called to me last week to watch a segment on the Today show (no link to the story) focusing on Sellers choosing not to have representation when selling their houses – some call them FSBOs. The gist of the story is that the internet has somewhat leveled the playing field for those marketing their homes. While accurate to some degree, one cannot minimize the impact that marketing via the MLS has. The MLS is currently the single-greatest aggregator of real estate property information available.

To market one’s home through the MLS requires one to work with a Realtor. There are several different business models available in today’s market that will simply post (usually accurate) listings in the MLS for a certain fee, but will not provide any negotiating, representation or any other assistance. There is a place for that – no question.

The future of today’s Realtor is going to depend more and more on the representation aspect of real estate transactions. Any monkey can do data entry (look at some of the MLS listings and you will think that a monkey could easily have done better; there is no excuse for not putting in at least eight photos with a property). Representing clients is a far more difficult and learned skill.

Representing the minutiae of a transaction – the seemingly little problems that can swiftly become seemingly insurmountable, managing the people and emotions involved, knowing about and doing those aspects of a transaction that can make a transaction a good or a painful memory – those are the parts of this profession that will

Being able to successfully represent clients will define the future of this profession. There is much online competition (update:bad link) for the real estate industry – Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Google –   that will fragment real estate search. Picking up the pieces by representing clients and their best interests will define the successful Realtor. No amount of online data will replace a walking into a basement and immediately knowing whether there has been water infiltration recently, or whether the wood floors are real 3/4 inch wood or a laminate-type product.

The next several years will be fascinating. My prediction (and hope) is that there will be fewer, better, more professional Realtors.

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11 Comments

  1. OpenMLS June 28, 2006 at 17:17

    I guess I’ve blown the neighborhood then. My site doesn’t require any kind of credit card information to register. It’s free to all. You can find it at openmls. The reason I stated it was because realtors in my are would not let me post something on their MLS system with out giving them money in some form or another. So I said “screw” that monopoly. I’m going to start a competing MLS for Mexico. After I got done with that, I decided to open a US and Canadian site as well. Now I’m probably the most hated man in my area.

  2. Jim Duncan June 28, 2006 at 17:50

    I am not sure I understand your post – is your site similar to the other ones I stated above? Similar to the for sale by owner sites?

  3. OpenMLS June 28, 2006 at 21:08

    Yes, it is an FSBO, but Realtors have opened up shop on it, an dnow they are the majority of the people that use it. The funny part about it, was that it was never intended to be that way.

  4. sara June 29, 2006 at 21:52

    Hi Jim,
    I totally agree with you, especially after going through part of this home-buying process myself (no hard feelings about not using your services, I let my guy pick and he went for the female realtor 😉 I still like your blog!). Luckily for the good Realtors, there are MANY roles to play and hats to wear throughout the process, part of your job is making customers aware of that, but doing such a good job that they don’t have to be aware of it.

  5. erin July 5, 2006 at 09:46

    I agree with your post – Realtors are going to promote customer service more than ever now.

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