Not Jason in Boston. From his description, he’s not getting anything out of the relationship.
Check out this email I just got from Jason, who is looking for a condo in the South End and Brookline.
It cuts to the core of some of the changes sweeping the real estate industry.
A few years ago, real estate agents had a lot more market power. They had access to the stats and the most pertinent listings. For the average, hapless home buyer – as I was back in 2002 – doing it on your own was not necessarily an attractive option.
But with the explosion of information available on-line – and a profusion of websites offering different insights into the numbers – there has been a democratization of all that information.
Does that mean the real estate agent is doomed? I don’t think so – like journalists and a lot of other folks, they have to reinvent themselves and get smarter about what they do.
Yes, we are awash with information in our society, especially when it comes to real estate.
That makes expertise in evaluating all that data even more valuable.
Alas, Jason, a first-time buyer looking for a condo in the $300,000 to $350,000 range, is stuck dealing with a real estate agent whose ways appear mired in decades past, not in the data driven market of 2009.
Here’s how Jason frames the issue:
“Scott – I think the age old question needs to be brought up in your blog, “why do I need a Realtor”. I am currently looking for a condo in Boston and the only thing my realtor seems to bring the table is getting me in the door to see the place. With the advent of the internet and the MLS, potential buyers now have access to all the listings as any realtor. I figure I could easily find a condo I like and simply hire a lawyer to draw up the paper work for the deal.
What am I missing?”
In a followup email, Jason elaborates further.
“I currently view my Realtor as more of a salesperson than someone there to guide and assist me through what is supposed to be a complex process. I’m constantly the one finding properties on MLS and then I go to her to get me in the door if there isn’t an open house. I can somewhat see the importance of a Realtor during a boom market, but the way things are right now I just can’t justify paying the commission when I’m the one doing the work. “
I guess if I were Jason, I would be questioning as well.