The reports of our demise seem premature. Even in this horrendous economy, there is no groundswell, grass roots change from traditional brokerage to virtual office, online, discount/FSBO brokerage despite the chatter to the contrary. Contrast that with the almost overnight decimation of stock brokerage and travel. The Internet hammered those professions, yet, as Active Rain and other sites clearly illustrate, the ‘Net has actually helped real estate brokerage. Why?
- You can’t click on a house and buy it. You have to see it, walk through it, smell it, and sit in it. And few do that without a licensee present.
- Few do that without a licensee present because most buyers don’t want the seller around when they look.
- Even when the seller is present, most of the time they are deplorable salespeople. I have an interest in a non-traditional company. Believe me, commission “savings” is more than counterbalanced by ineptitude, lack of objectivity, and absence of professional advice. Many a seller has lost tens of thousands in sales price in order to save a few thousand in fees. Penny wise, pound foolish.
- A trip or a security can be purchased online in 5 minutes. Real estate takes weeks and sometimes months.
- Travel and securities don’t require appraisal, title search, certificates of occupancy or engineer inspections.
- Travel and securities are cash transactions that can be done with a click; real estate is seldom a cash transaction and even when it is, it requires far more due diligence. See prior bullet point.
- At the risk of sounding Darwinist, overall real estate professionals are just tougher and more resourceful. This is a hard business. We embraced the new technology and made it an advantage. We adapted, we survived, we’ll thrive.
Brokerage is more than bird-dogging for a house. Who saw the house first is immaterial, and handling the shifting landscape of the transaction requires representation. People know that a few percentage points is a bargain for what they get in return, anecdotal horror stories aside.
The market is efficient. If the Internet were going to kill real estate brokerage, it would have years ago. Until people can buy real estate for $500 immediately without seeing it, consumers will need our services. And that is a good thing.
Brokers- take 30 seconds and acknowledge yourself, and then let’s all get back to work.