Why Real Estate Agents Have Good Reason To Fear The Web

from the marginally-useful dept

There have been a number of stories lately about real estate professionals lashing out against online real estate services like Zillow and RedFin, which are seen as threats to their traditional business. A new study done by two economics professors sheds some light on why they might be feeling embattled. In an examination of the housing market in Madison, Wisc., the pair found that homes sold using brokers did not fetch sellers any additional profits after commissions were taken out. What makes Madison interesting is that it has a thriving website of for-sale-by-owner homes, so sellers there don’t have to do much legwork if they want to sell on their own. This means that real estate agents may still add value in communities where such services aren’t popular, but it’s value that could disappear as services like RedFin startt to take hold. Thus the agents’ fear seems to have a legitimate basis, and their behavior conforms nicely to the rent-seeking tactics exemplified by similarly organized professional groups.

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Comments on “Why Real Estate Agents Have Good Reason To Fear The Web”

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Darrell Young (user link) says:

Real Estate and the web!

As a retired computer programmer and currently a Realtor®; I agree that Realtors® are feeling defensive. Because of my unique background, I’m also an adjunct instructor at a local community college teaching Real Estate Marketing with emphasis on the internet.

I think there are two schools of real estate; old school, which is the typical model of “get the customer in the car, drive them around, showing them the properties that seem to match what they want” and the other, newer model of “internet centric and web focused”, where the agent guides the customer using the web to eliminate the personal involvement. The Realtor still performs a valuable service in the carrying of the transaction, the opening and showing of homes and the overall marketing. In the latter, the Realtor® had better be a little more invovled in the web and have a savvy understanding of what the new real estate customer wants. My personal image is I am one of the most resourceful Realtors® in Amarillo. I provide information as my service. If you use my information, I think you’ll use me in the final outcome.

My recommendation to modern Realtors® practicing today is to get a good strong grip on current marketing trends and what customers want. Customers are getting better at discovering the value added service that the modern realtor can provide.

Come take my class!

Amarillo real estate customers, give me a call; let me help you out with some information you may find helpful.

Mason says:

Re: Real Estate and the web!

Realtors are for the most part middle-men that charge for access to MLS listings. As information gets easier to access on the web (and it will), the cut that these folks want to take is going to look increasingly disproportionate to the service they provide. I don’t think that the lower and middle markets are going to tolerate the 5% or so that these folks demand for much longer.

mike says:

Re: Re: Re: Real Estate and the web!

I normally don’t respond to post like this, but I have to. My clients come to me and I work my tail off. I represent them to the best of my ability to negotiate the best deal for them. I have worked showing property for people in one instance for a year. That is alot of gas, time from family etc… When they bought they told me they don’t know what they would have done without my patient customer service. I have found that while alot of people know a little about real estate, there are alot more who don’t have a clue. These people are the ones who benefit from the expertise of an agent. I know there are some bad apples, but the majority I know are hardworking folks looking to feed their families. They are no different from the furniture salesman, car salesman, computer stores, doctors, grocers. etc… To lump all agents into a category of self-serving devils is crazy.

Eliot (user link) says:

Re: Re: Real Estate and the web!

Where there are some aspects of real estate that seem simple, do you remember when you signed your docs to buy your property?

Do you remember that part about the loan, or asking for credits, or the large section describing the law.

The Realtor is your local real estate expert. They’ll be your tour guide to a new neighborhood, and an expert on the homes in the area. They should be aware of local trends, and they need to know the contract, backwards and forwards. This is one of the reasons houses sold by owner sell for less than listed by a realtor.

Also don’t forget, if you are in a FSBO deal, you are legally obligated to disclose anything and everything. If you forget that one year you put a bucket in the attic to stop a leak (actually happened to a client of mine), you are now financially liable for repairs and loss of value. Where I have an Error’s and Omissions policy that protects everyones liability up to $1million.

Darrell Young (user link) says:

Re: Re: Real Estate and the web!

Actually, most Realtors® are women. Also, the charging you speak of is really a commission that typically a listing customer (one who wants an agent to sell their house) agrees to pay for marketing services. Part of that commission gets paid to the “buyer” agent, or agent that brings the buyer and the purchase contract.

Most States don’t allow price setting so the commission is completely negotiable. Of course, the Agency that takes the listing must agree to the commission and a listing contract is written.

You suggest this data will be free someday. The data you speak of is actually historical sales data collected as a result of constant sales and the current listing data is actually just that, current listings.

Various companies are doing their best to accumulate this listing data and then to provide it for free but those pipes can be turned off in a moments notice by disallowing the export of that sales data (listings and history) to any entity that freely gives it away.

As a practicing Realtor®, I can tell you the business is full of “free” work. Work that I do that does not and will never result in a commission. This happens all the time. Most Realtors® wash out in the first year because they can’t afford to pay the dues to the Associations they are required to join.

You speak with a seeming contempt for a typical Realtor® and it would truly surprise you to see all the work (and expense) conducted that is done speculating on securing a commission. It ain’t easy and its almost broken me a time or to. I encourage you to befriend a Realtor® and then ride along on a typical day just to see how it goes. Its a lot of work and a typical work day begins about 8:00 am and often ends sometime around 9-10 that night. Its not a 9-5 job and your paycheck all depends on how concientious you want to be about what you do.

Suzi Gravenstuk (user link) says:

Re: Re: Real Estate and the web!

We charge because we are charged. The MLS is not free to REALTORS! First, you pay your dues through education, licensing, and errors and ommissions coverage. Second, many MLS’s require membership in NAR (being a REALTOR). NAR dues for my area run about $400 annually (includes National, State and Local Association of REALTORS). As a broker, I paid a $500 set up fee and $60 a month. It is not Just for Active listings we pay for, though. Research and statistical analysis by any criteria we choose is valuable, including analyzing closed properties. Thank you very much:-)

Lord says:

Did anyone really expect that? On the other hand, they hired someone to do much of the work of selling their house and it didn’t cost them anything in net. Sounds like a success story to me. There is a large gray area of indirect costs, correct pricing, efficiency of selling, learning and making mistakes, market knowledge, and time to sell, that can shift the balance. The most common problem is sellers thinking they can save and pocket the commission themselves which this study refutes.

Matt says:

Re: Re:

Well that’s surely an ignorant comment if there ever were one! Look at the study; prices were a wash factoring in the commission. That would seem to numerically prove the benefit a Realtor(R) can provide to a seller. Good agents know their market, know how to present a home, know how to handle the transaction properly, and often spend quite a bit of time and money marketing the property.

I maintain an active real estate license. After going thru all the necessary course work and continuing education and seeing firsthand the many things that can go awry with a real estate transaction, I would never “go it alone.” You get what you pay for with the ‘discount’ brokers that charge 1-2%.

A *good* Realtor(R) is absolutely worth the money.

Blah Blah Blah..... says:

Re: Re: Come on!

If real estate agents provide such value then they have nothing to worry when it comes to competition.

No one said that you need to go it alone. How about breaking the monopoly and opening up MLS to individual service providers. I see no reason why one person needs to control the entire process and charge such high fees. Let a free market system decide who adds value.

Ignorance is assuming you know what’s best for others.

In my experience “Good Realtor” is an oxymoron.

S. Taylor (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Come on!

Pal you are definately a FSBO type. Not sure, besides the high fees, why anyone would hate Realtors so much. You must have ran accross some bad agents in your past, that’s all I can figure. In a soft market do you honestly think that you’d be able to sell your home quicker by yourself. (insert laughs here). Please give me a break!

Donna Yates says:

Re: Re:

Although I respect your right to your opinion but your comment is unbelieveably harsh and couldn’t be more wrong. Maybe you should actually shadow a good realtor for a few days and pay for the gas, and handle the calls, and be available on a moment’s notice, negotiate, facilitate transactions, calm fears, put up with abuse, show homes, pay for marketing expenses not to mention a whole host of other expenses at the risk of not making a dime and… well, I could go on and on and I probably will in a blog. I am curious though, what makes you feel the way you do?

Mikey says:

Re: Response to: Realtors need to get Real on Jun 8th, 2007 @ 12:50pm

I can only comment on Australian Real estate agents. They are sneaky price fixing scum. They just want a sale so they can get their commission. Most of them do nothing more than list the house and then sit back and do nothing. They talk up the value early on and they talk it down as the auction draws near. If you are the seller they try to convince you your property is toxic and it will be difficult to sell. They tell potential buyers they can get the house for a song. On auction day all hell breaks loose when the expectations of the seller and buyer are miles apart. The seller will be asked to take a giant haircut and the buyer will be forced to bid way beyond his expectations or pay a lot more after negotiating with the seller after the property is passed in. The realtors main job is to tell lie after lie after lie. “if you don’t sell now, you may be waiting a long time to sell”. Realtor = Liar.

Realtor_in_VA says:

Real Estate and the Web!

I’m a Realtor, and take objection with several points:

1. The 5 or 6% that Realtors take on a commission is split between the two agents doing the deal. After all the costs associated with being a Realtor (advertising, office expenses), the vast majority make about the same as any middle-class work.

2. “Most realtors are door openers and process paperwork, very few EVER have the buyer’s best interest in mind”. Most business is repeat/referral business. I can’t speak for all Realtors, but there is a very strict code of Ethics which must be followed that I follow religiously, and I always have my clients best interests in mind. Why would I possibly want to screw a client, when chances are if I do my job well, I may have them as a client again, as well as any friends/colleagues they may refer me to.

3. Commission on a sale pays for among other things, the advertising of a sellers house. In my particular case, we have websites, we are in multiple monthly magazines (Yeah, you know those ones in the supermarket that everyone picks up and thumbs through), newspapers, van tours, radio and TV ads. Can some Joe Schmoe who decides to sell his house himself get that kind of exposure on the local market? No.

Again I can’t speak for all Realtors, but most of the ones I know work damn hard for their money and deserve every bit of it.

The hardworking “middle-men” are there to protect your ungrateful asses should anything happen along the way of the transaction.

Guess who takes the heat if there is a false claim in a transaction, and Realtors were involved? The Realtor.

Who takes the heat in the same situation if it’s a handshake deal? Well, unfortunately you. Hope you have money saved and a good lawyer.

Oh, and modef, I’ll pass along to my children (one of whom will be here in 2 weeks or so) that Daddy is devil’s spawn, and that we’ll all starve and die.

andy says:

Re: Real Estate and the Web!

“3. Commission on a sale pays for among other things, the advertising of a sellers house. In my particular case, we have websites, we are in multiple monthly magazines (Yeah, you know those ones in the supermarket that everyone picks up and thumbs through), newspapers, van tours, radio and TV ads. Can some Joe Schmoe who decides to sell his house himself get that kind of exposure on the local market? No.”

one word… it’s compound: craigslist. most homes don’t stay listed in san diego for more than a day on that thing.

Angela says:

Re: Re: Real Estate and the Web!

Some Joe Schmoe does not get to use the vehicle for a tax write off either, and if I recall, the seller’s house is not in every add you pay for. Realtor’s can paint whatever pic they want of how tough it is out there. The only reason it is tough is because too damn many of you are in a profession that requires little training but considerable financial benefit.

Let’s be realistic even as door openers you don’t do much. I recently toured a house where the seller showed it off and the realtor travelled behind saying “isn’t she cute”. Yeah at 80 she is cute and stupid for paying someone primo $ to do the job she is currently doing. Another friend went into a realtor’s office to do the paperwork because the realtor had too much on his plate to write up the offer…. yeah you earn every dollar I am sure!

Sean says:

Re: Re: Re: Real Estate and the Web!

So it’s wrong for me as a Realtor, to write of my vehicle for tax purposes when there are hundreds of other professions that do the same thing? Sorry, not buying it.

I do happen to put in all of my houses that I have listed in Ads. They are advertised over and over and over again until the house sells, and then I (obviously) don’t advertise them anymore.

I agree there are too damn many of us in this profession, but the vast majority are in it part time to make extra money. Some work full time (And by full time I don’t mean 40 hrs a week. Most full time Realtors work at least 50-60 hours a week, every day of the week and are basically “on call” at all times).

Yes, there is little training, but there is training. There is first 120 hours of school work that have to be completed, and tests that have to be passed. Every 2 years you also have to complete an additional 60 hours of school work. Oh, and that’s just on rules and regs, you have to basically “apprentice” to learn HOW to be a Realtor.

It’s a shame that some of you have had bad experiences with Realtors, because I assure you they are out there. People who work long hours and (according to this board anyways) get lumped into a pool with bad lawyers and used car salesmen.

It is a commission based industry and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent 20-30 hours of my time helping someone find a house just to have them walk away, change their mind, or be difficult over and over again. The last sale I did I spent well over 50 hours researching houses, pulling listings, showing houses, explaining contracts, and basically hand-holding throughout the entire process until my clients got exactly what they wanted. Tell me again how I don’t work hard and I don’t deserve every penny I get.

Moe Money says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Real Estate and the Web!

150k home = $4500.00 or $90.00 per hour (gross)
200k home = $6000.00 or $120.00 per hour (gross)
500k home = $15000.00 or $300.00 per hour (gross)

Not bad for 120 hours of school and 60 hr of remedial courses every two years.

One of our fellow posters noted that there half million dollar properties “…in neighborhoods I would never want to live in.”

Sean says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Real Estate and the Web!

The gross figures are based on 50 hours spent just on that house. You also have to figure in that house didn’t sell in exactly 1 week. It took (especially on today’s market) 45-60 days AT LEAST to sell. Over a 3 month period, the AVERAGE Realtor (at least where I’m at) may sell 2-3 houses (average price around $250k).

Assuming the Realtor works 50 hours a week, and 50 hours per house:

Hourly cost per house

$250k x 3% = $7500 or 150.00 per hour just per each house.

Over the course of 8 weeks, 50 hrs per week (approx 60 days):

$750k x 3% = $22,500 or approx $60.00 an hour (gross)

Still of course not taking into account any office fees (many brokers take somehwere between 30% and 50% of the commission before you receive it)

That drops the hourly rate to approx $30-42 an hour

Add in advertising, and any insurance, 401k and other benefits (which Realtors don’t usually receive since they are self employed) and they make a pretty AVERAGE salary

These numbers are all for AVERAGE Realtors. There are most certainly big time guys who make $200k+ a year, some of them are definitely worth it.

I have never said there aren’t shady Realtors, I know quite a few, but as Connie said, it hurts when all are lumped in the same category as a select few.

My viewpoint is of course from the Realtors side. I know it appears sometimes, especially when you sell a house, and you are paying your Realtor $10,000 or more that they must be making a fortune, but it’s not like it happens once a week for everyone. That $10,000 took a lot of time to earn and is well deserved IF the job was done well.

Sean says:

Re: Real Estate Agents

First of all, they do not make $12,000. The 2 Realtors involved split the commission.

Secondly, lots of money is spent on advertising and office expenses. A good realtor will at the very LEAST have ads in the local Homes magazines, and most now have a good comprehensive website which is easily found by Google.

Realtors work just as hard as anyone else at what they do, and they never get anything but the same old “scum of the earth” nametag.

How many of you who posted how sleazy and awful Realtors are have even purchased a house? Did you purchase it alone? Doubtful.

You shouldn’t post a comment about something that you are obviously completely ignorant about.

Does it really matter! says:

Re: Re: Real Estate Agents

I purchased a house without the help of a Realtor. It worked out great. Not only did I do it alone but I learned alot about it. A couple hours of reading and talking with a friend is all I needed. I did get the morgage from a friend so there were now worries there.

dazcon5 says:


I am not a fan of Realtors BUT…..
A sharp Realtor has many contacts that he/she can tap to help market your home (when selling), which should shorten the selling time and get you closer to your asking price.
On the buying side an established (working the same market for years) agent has a more detailed knowledge of your desired area. That being said, Realtors need to back off the new web based service and let the playing field level itself. Wait, here’s a thought… Why not partner with them, get the best of both worlds if done right. Times will change, move forward with them and profit, or fight the change and die.

Old Guy says:

Real Estate Agents

I’m sorry that many people seem to have had bad experiences with an agent.
I recently bought a house and the agent was great. She did a lot of legwork that I didn’t have time for. My whole buying experience went smooth as silk. I don’t begrudge her the commission she made from the sale.
As in any business there will always be good and bad people. You have to do your homework before you choose, it’s no different than any other service you might use.

S. Taylor (user link) says:

Re: Real Estate Agents

Old Guy, you hit on something here. Undoubtedly there are alot of folks out there who just don’t have the time to show thier house and do all the extra detail work that an agent can do. Since there are so many houses on the market now for buyers to choose from, does a FBSO honestly think that a buyer will view the house based on the sellers convenience. I’m very sorry, but as a Realtor for 16 years, I know most buyers don’t have any patience, most won’t come back on the following weekend when it’s convenient for the FSBO seller to show. Most ( and this is very true) will have already bought a house by the next weekend! Some people will surely have an easy time of selling or buying FSBO’s, but you may want to do a bunch of research before you go it alone. In 2004 there were over 40% of FSBO transactions that wound up with an after sale dispute or court case. Do you think that maybe this figure might be so high because a private seller couldn’t possibly have the time to study all the laws, disclosure issues, etc.. like the brokers do? Yeah. So the point is, go it alone if you want to, no one could blame you. But If you’re in a time crunch and you don’t sit at home all day waiting to show your home, you may want a Realtor. Stat’s show 20-27% higher sales price with Realtor listed property. (National Association of Realtors)

Kevin (profile) says:


In an examination of the housing market in Madison, Wisc., the pair found that homes sold using brokers did not fetch sellers any additional profits after commissions were taken out.


So the real estate broker paid for the advertising, marketed the home, held open houses, did the contract work, and accomplished all of this work without costing the homeowner any money? Awesome! If a brokerage can sell your home for you at no cost, why wouldn’t someone want to hire an agent? Why on earth would you want to do the work yourself by owner and pay for the advertising?

Withersteen says:

I believe the economic point for Realtors to heed is that their monopoly on information is coming to an end. The average homeowner can do as good a job as the average Realtor, IF they want to. This competition, if allowed, will drive down the average Realtor’s commission. Realtors, so far, are trying to attack the new realities of the market, rather than accommodate those market changes. Not a recipe for long-term success in my opinion. Just to highlight the disconnect of the MLS to the realities of the changing market:

“We’re trying to tell the public that they pay 16 percent more if they use us?” said an exasperated David K. Stark, owner of the Stark Company, one of Madison’s largest real estate firms, when asked about the national association’s claims. If that were true, he said, “all buyers should shop FSBO.”

ehrichweiss says:

helpful...but not

I’m of two minds when it comes to realtors(no freakin’ R unless you mean R-rated fuqtards). We had a friend who was a realtor help us buy our house and it went fairly smoothly though due to him delaying we could have bought another house with equal or greater attributes for $15,000 cheaper than we did this one. He also seemed more in a hurry to get us ***A*** house rather than a house we really liked.

He also didn’t/couldn’t help us much when we discovered just this year that the previous owners had failed to disclose some very vital information about this house since the statute of limitations has already run out on it, so we’re stuck with the repairs ourselves. $15k + repairs for stuff we were not responsible for = no more agents for us.

On top of that a close friend got all the way up to closing on a house she was planning on purchasing when it was discovered there were a million and one liens against it and the property had other issues. This was while they were signing the paperwork and that’s something that, as you realtors know, is supposed to be handled by the agent before it’s even listed.

If we sell our house I’m simply going to list it as FSBO and hire an attorney to cover our asses for the disclosure in case we forget to tell them that we did some modification or the like. Since it’d cost me all of $300 instead of a few grand; that would nullify Elliot’s fees while still getting me the benefits of the “errors and omissions” clause.

anymouse vs realator says:



Lot’s of realtors posting on the board today, wonder if that’s cause it’s a common secondary profession for smart people who don’t want to actually work….

ok, ok, so there is ‘some’ work involved, but be realistic, did it require extensive training or just a little studying and passing a test? Were the courses similar to college level courses or more in line with trade school/online degree mills?

If you interpret the results the other way, realtors provided NO ADDITIONAL benefit to sellers over listing the home themselves. So while the relator may have got a little higher sale price for the home, this ‘benefit’ was wiped out by their commission, resulting in no actual benefit (and if you look at taxes and all other value related fees, you’ve just ended up paying MORE in taxes/fees because the realtor sold the home for more than you would have…)

Even if this all nets out and there is no difference to the seller between using a realtor and listing yourself, which would you rather do? Blood sucking leeches, I mean realtors, are no better than any other transactional ‘middleman’ who expect a cut of the transaction that could have taken place without them. They fit right in there with used car salesmen, credit card companies (biggest leeches besides politicians), and timeshare brokers…

Angela says:

Realtors should be on their way out.

My brother in law and sister are both realtors. Sometimes they do not table offers to the seller because they did not bring the buyer to the table and would have to split the commission. Other realtors I have dealt with have done the same. I called to owners directly only to find that they had never even heard of me or my offer. Governing bodies need to crack down on realtors who exploit the system and abuse both buyers and sellers. Internet is the only answer to circumventing the process of being nicely ripped off.

Todd (user link) says:

No need to fear the web

Traditionally, folks have valued the expertise and protection that good agents provide. Although there are plenty of lousy agents out there, our company believes that the internet actually makes good agents even better.

Like all businesses, real estate brokers must exist in the realities of the market. I don’t fear the internet at all. I just focus on putting peoples needs first and use whatever technology is available. That’s why I’m actually quite excited about the technology we are working on and how that will help our clients.

oc_boomer says:

Real Estate Agents are like car salespeople

They lie, and steal other listings and they are not people who work hard. In the middle? In the middle of what? A rock and a hard place. The rock solid owner of a property and the hard working buyer that needs to the best deal they can find to own a piece of property.

A friend of mine wanted to become an agent, and an agent said he would teach her. All she had to do is get a property to sit on and he would do the rest. She did, it was in Corona Del Mar, California which is an upper class neighborhood in Orange County. She became an assistant the other day to make things easier for a broker to teach her.

The agent who works for First Team in Newport Beach, decided this was easy pickins’ and stole the deal from her by saying she would not earn one penny even if she sold the property, that he could not pay her anything even if the property sold. Well, I believe there is a thing called ‘finders fee’ and what he said was entirely wrong. This woman only wanted to learn the business, and this agent has pisst me off enough to ruin his world a bit by telling this story.

He used her to find a property, and taught her nothing, yet he humiliated her while she watched him get greedy as he had never worked around anyone that had the filthy rich toys as they do in Corona Del Mar, his head got big enough for me to take this event to the Real Estate Commission this coming Monday, June 11, 2007 and I want his license on a silver platter so to speak.

Agents are cut throat individuals who are ruthless. This man told her he had eight properties listed with First Team and she found out he has two listings worth approximately $500K each if he can hold onto them, and in neighborhoods I would never want to live in.

He is playing with the wrong league, and now he surely has met his match.

To make a small story short, he saw big dollars, and felt this black woman was not deserving, he is mexican, yeap, and typical indeed to say, that he feels he is better than she is, wrong. She is just a woman trying to earn a living and would have trusted anyone that would helpe her make an earnest living. He is an opportunist in a county where his type attempts to use ever person he comes in contact with, as the whites here definitely make a difference between races (I have lived in Corona Del Mar for 40 years and I see how we have evolved with this mexican thing.) and this time the 6 Million Dollar home is going to earn him a 6 Million Dollar lawsuit for First Team in Newport Beach for fraud.

Good Luck Phillip, you are going to need it these coming days if you still have a job when I get through.

OC_Boomer (You wish you could walk in my shoes.)

James says:

Barrier to entry

It seems the real issue is not whether a good realtor can provide value, for a seller or buyer, but whether the commissions are too high and the barrier to entry (to become a realtor) too low.

Are there good realtors who earn their $$? Very likely. But the barrier to entry and the lure of the $$ that can be made I think can bring in unscrupulous types as well.

As information becomes more available for FSBO the commissions will come down. They should. It shouldn’t take 5%+ to sell a home.

1% is realistic. And no, you don’t have to drive me around to see homes I can meet you there, or in the case of FSBO they should be there, or the home open.

And if you want more than 1% you need to show me you can add more than 1% to the selling price to make up for the expense over me doing it myself.

Connie says:

A good consumer will research thier Surgeon before they go under the knife. They will background check an Oral Surgeon before they have Laser Eye Surgery. I think most bad experiences are because the consumer fails to interview and really get to know the person they will let represent them while making one of the biggest investments in thier life. I always suggest to my clients that they get to know me and know that I am a good fit for them. I work with them as a team, I’m not dominating anything, and I care a lot about each and every one of my clients. Think about how many times you go to the same banker because they balance your checkbook perfectly or the babysitter that you always call because he/she takes such great care of your kids. When I meet a client that is the kind of thing that dives me to be great.

I also don’t see the HUGE paycheck for very little work perspective. I average the same salary as when I was in the working world and I work double the hours. I work hard for all of my clients. There are a lot of success stories about people selling thier house on thier own and I applaude those people. But, I promise there are some real horror stories from a lot of people that were saved by a good Realtor that really cared about the client.

It really hurts when Realtors are called cheats and unethical when there are a lot of us out there that do care and provide a great service that surpasses all expectations. These days, providing great customer service is worth every penny. That is my opinion, take it as you will.

unbiased says:

My mother fed us thru real-estate sales....

….back before thar internets were stuck in tubes. Back when there was a draft, and tons of young men were getting killed by a crooked president.

It was a mind-numbing, and hard-work based job. And there were cheats and slimes back then just like there are today. She didn’t like the work, but worked hard until she found other employment opportunities that allowed her to come home to be there for her children after school. Yep – all weekend, she was working, but my dad could be home then.

There are honest, hardworking agents who *WILL* work to help you find a house as a buyer’s agent, or sell your house as a seller’s agent, but they are as rare as cobblers these days. They are very few and far between, and do not deserve the reputation that the “I don’t care what you want, I’m just going to show you what I need to sell for maximum commision” slimeballs.

Yes – they are anachronistic, but true professionals actually are working at selling real eastate, and helping folks buy the house they want/need. Sadly, they are nearly invisible in the platoons of fast-talking slime who take advanatage of the customers lack of time/resources and/or knowledge.

We read 7 different books before looking, including two on home inspections. It still didn’t prevent the bee-atch that we got stuck with from nearly losing us the finanacing (deadline issues) because she opened the windows during the radon test. “oh – it won’t ruin it to let some fresh air in!”

But one of those professionals got a friend’s house sold that was on the market for a over a year, by actually showing it to people, and not just stucking an ad in the multi-list.

Chris says:

Real Estate Agents are there for a reason. Sure FSBO.com could show your listing to tons of people. That’s simply a listing. But houses aren’t used cars. They’re the biggest investment most people make in their lifetime. Sure, put your ad on craigslist. See what happens. You’ll get calls from 150 different people trying to low ball you. Agents have been around the block. They know exactly what the houses in the area could fetch, they know if your bank is screwing you on your interest rate, and they know who is ready to make a serious offer and who is simply doing it for personal entertainment.

A website just shows off the house. I think yea, realtors will definetely lose the monopoly on listing information. But you don’t buy a house from the picture in the paper or online. You need to visit open houses, etc. If anything, I would think realtors would take over the different websites rather than be afraid of them.

They have their own place in the service industry. If websites did all this, then yea I’d be worried if I was an agent. But they don’t.

Lisa says:

real estate agents

Being that I work with agents on a regular bases… let me just tell you…its ALL ABOUT THEM!!
Don’t be fooled! They are not hard at work for you. The majority of the transactions that I handle…they don’t know what they are doing most the time..and are quick to blame other..to save face to their client. They do not look out for the best WHATEVER for their clients. They are in it for the kick back! Do you serious think that when you go to an open house…where there is cookie and coffee being served..that the nice little agent took care of it…NOPE!! they go to their list of venders like lenders and title companies and ask them to BREAK THE LAW and provide it for them…and if that vender does not…. they will simply take their business elsewhere. Its not about service…its about what they can get out of you. They change venders like the common person changes their clothes.
When the market went crazy…you don’t even want to know the amount of people that joined the Realtor band wagon. Think about it..where else can you make that kind of money…for such little education. The sad part is the consumer is the one that suffers in all of this. How can you trust anyone that has that little of education..help you make a very important decision. You don’t know how many questions I get asked everyday by an agent! The scary part is how basic the question is…and to know they are repesenting someone.
Agents are the ones that cause alot the problems in a tranaction. You always have some “high producer” out there that gets their feathers ruffled and then have to try to prove a point.
So if you are in the market to buy or sell a home…look long and hard if you are going to use a Real Estate agent.
There are some good ones out there…but they are HARD to find! Make sure the person have been in the busniess for a long time. And No- 10 years isn’t that long! I would keep looking! You want an agent that can sell your house in a cold market. Any idoit can sell a home in a hot market!!

S. Taylor says:

Are you joking?

The National Association of Realtors regularly tracks price differencials of For Sale By Owners vs. Realtor sold properties. Firstly thier price differencials range between 27 – 20% less for privately sold homes (FSBO). You also may have not mentioned in your article that of the close to 80% of homes that are sold FSBO, a great percentage (close to 90%) are in fact sold by Realtors. I would suggest you do more research before you write such rubbish. In a hot sellers market I would suppose that your info may be closer to reality, however in a slower buyer’s market, the FBSO’s are having a much tougher time. Don’t mislead the public into thinking that a Realtor listed property is go to sell in the same amount of time as a FSBO. Realtors have much more advertising out there and attract many more buyers. Some of the larger franchise real estate companies, for instance, have a network of Realtor referrals that a FBSO will never get to see. Realtors shy away from selling unlisted properties because there is no commission protection and the seller most usually has no professional guidance. Most private sellers are much more difficult. FSBO’s miss out on a great deal of relocation buyers, they just won’t be seen.

LP (user link) says:

Real Estate Agents Need to Change

Things change and real estate agents really no longer need to do advertising. MLS listings with lots of photos on the web are all that is needed. Real estate agents will either die out or change. Currently when you go to look at a house, even when it is the listing agent doing the showing, they have NO information. How old is the a/c? Why is it being sold? What material are the water supply lines made from? What repairs have been done in the past year? DUHHHH.
When someone is buying something as expensive as a house they deserve to have information on it. Have your client fill out a form, make copies of it to leave in the house for buyers to pick up the FIRST time they visit and see what happens. This is the information age!
As it stands now a real estate agent seems to just be someone who protects the seller from having to answer questions from the buyer. The buyer has to waste time playing detective to find out what might be wrong with the house. The entire process is ridiculous.

agent to retire says:

why to use a realtor

Read the positive and negative comments on using a real estate agent. I personally have been a real estate agent for over 7 years and soon leaving the business to become a nurse. The worst customers to deal with are FSBO, some are dishonest and most times their homes are very overpriced. My only transaction that came to a legal dispute was when I represented a buyer who was purchasing from a FSBO. Fraud was the reason we went to trial.
I have 99% of the time have met and worked with dedicated, professional, caring, highly ethical agents. And yes, there are the scum out there but sadly we get the reputation from the small % of scum. But the bias and close minded remarks about agents is just that!

Any industry has its scum: doctors, lawyers, plumber, etc., but to put everyone in an industry of this nature shows being self-absorbed and a lack of character of the complainer.

Fortunately, as an agent I can choose who I want to represent. And I will and have fired clients that were unethical, dishonest, and bias.

As for our fee, love the assumption that we should only charge 1%, I assume this is from someone who believes and earns minimum wage? Fine with me, have the seller pay for the advertising and the buyer pay the buyer agent fee. This has been done. Then the seller can decide on how much he wants to pay for marketing. And the buyer can shell out the professional fees for the representation.

See it only proves how our commissions are negotiable. Funny, there is a flood of lawyers but no one is complaining of their 20 to 40% commission rate on a class action suit? Or their high hourly fee? Maybe because the market has always or should always determine the fees of any profession.

joe schmoe says:

realtors make too much commission

I know a real estate agent personally. The actually are very much less than 50 hrs. per week. Thanks a very rare occasion. I’m told by this agent it a few phone calls, plugging pictures onto a web page or two, and maybe putting it into a local newspaper. The most time is spent working with a lender who does not have their stuff together. On occasion do an “open house”, 3hrs. max!

joe schmoe says:

realtors make too much commission

I know a real estate agent personally. They actually work very much less than 50 hrs. per week. Thants a very rare occasion. I’m told by this agent it takes a few phone calls, plugging pictures onto a web page or two, and maybe putting it into a local newspaper. The most time is spent working with a lender who does not have their stuff together. On occasion do an “open house”, 3hrs. max!

ellie says:

Please tell me if real estate agents freeze out fsbo…or do not take potential clients to fsbo even if the fsbo is offering 2.5%…take two old houses. one is clearly overpriced (the realtors) and take the fsbo (had been previously listed by a crappy agent that put in wrong addresses in the papers, and wrong times in the open house ect)…Please tell me what is up with that…and maybe you’ll find out why people hate real estate agents so much!!!

Chester says:

Real Estate and the web

I read this post with interest as I am in architecture/construction and have a love/hate relationship with my counterparts on the agency/brokerage end.

It seems that the issue of commission is a hot bed issue.
The documentation involved in selling a residential home does not change whether you price the home at say $220,000 or $300,000, you still need the Purchase and Sale Agreement, Escrow Instructions, Home Inspections, etc. Needless to say, I think that the internet will help more on the buying side. There are tech savvy individuals/couples who can choose a home that they like and visit it on the weekend, then pay a flat fee to Redfin and save on the buying commission.

I think the value/efficacy of brokers is more on the selling-end where busy couples/individuals may not have time to collect market data on home pricing or may not have much experience in marketing.

I do see that there is a resentment towards agents some justified, some not. As the housing bubble grew, there are so many new faces in the field, many of these new agents are unfamiliar with finance/construction/title/economics. At the peak of the market, I had a Realtor (r) trying to convince me that I would be priced out of the market if I did not buy (That was in June of 2007 here in Los Angeles. Since then home prices have dropped 16-24% depending on how the statistics are manipulated 🙂 ) and I had tried to explain to her market equilibrium of the oversupply of houses and tightening mortgage/credit markets. Her only response was “Interest rates are going up. Wouldn’t you like to have a place of your own?”. As I continued to discuss policies of the Fed, it was obvious that she was new, unskilled, and trying to make a quick buck. Will be interesting to see if there is a structure change to the traditional agency/brokerage model.

cheryl carroll (profile) says:

Real Estate Commissions

I have had several of my properties sold on auction websites, as well as have a ton of calls from buyers who bought a home through zilla etc. There is more to closing a transaction then just calling the title company to do the title work. Our work starts when we get an accepted offer. Who works with the loan officer to make sure they are on top of your loan and making them actually work on it instead of putting it on the bottom of their pile of work? Who actually checks the title work to make sure it was done correctly? Who make sure all of the paperwork is done propertys? Who make sure all inspections are done in the time frame alloted for them? Who answers the millions of quetions most buyers have? Our market is mostly a second home market and nearly every single buyer who bought on a auction site or used an online lender had problems after the closing and then called me to straighten them out. I told them to call the website and let them handle the problems, but of course they never get an answer from online sites. The most common error is that when checking the box on whether the buyer is going to occupy the property or not they check no because it is going to be used as a second home. Wrong answer. They should have answered yes because they do own the home no matter when they will be staying there. So by answering wrong it is assumed since they are not going to be occupying the property that it is going to be a rental property so now they have to fill out the DILHR paperwork and get an inspection done within a year and do all repairs to the property to make sure it is weatherized properly for the “renters”. If this isn’t done the buyers will not be able to sell the property in the future because this unfinished DILHR work will be recorded against the deed, and you can’t sell a property without a clear title. This is just one of the mistakes that happen. So for the sellers, and others, who think we only list a property and then charge a commission have no idea all the work that goes into getting a property closed after the offer is accpeted. I know because I get about 40 calls a month from buyers asking for my help on a closing gone wrong off the “net”.

Clayton Bonjean (user link) says:

Realtors are more important now than ever.

The current real estate market is complex. You are dealing with short sales, foreclosures, and other AS/IS sales. A good Realtor understands how to protect and negotiate the best possible deal for their client. All Real Estate transactions are complex because you have contracts, time lines, inspections, insurance, and deposits. I am a Real Estate Broker and I still learn things every week. Entering a real estate transaction without a licensed professional on your side is risky business. Real Estate Agents will never be obsolete nor will investment advisors because the good ones will make and save your money.

Clayton Bonjean, Broker – Realtor, MBA
Certified Distressed Property Expert

Phil J says:

The only good real estate agent is a ...

When I meet someone and find out they are a real estate agent I will never speak to them again. ALL real estate agents are sociopath money worshipers who have zero personality which is why they get into the occupation in the first place. I am all for jettisoning them into space like garbage.

Phil J says:

The only good real estate agent is a ...

When I meet someone and find out they are a real estate agent I will never speak to them again. ALL real estate agents are sociopath money worshipers who have zero personality which is why they get into the occupation in the first place. I am all for jettisoning them into space like garbage.

Jennye says:

Wow, I can’t believe so many people hate realtors. Either you use their service or you don’t. Learn the market and what it takes to buy, sell and invest in realestate and do it your damn self. Do it and quit complaining about realtors trying to make a living. They provide a service and should be paid for it. You don’t like it do it yourself.

martketingman (profile) says:

I feel this topic is subjective

Honestly i am not by any means educated in the real estate process, i do however provide plenty of realtors online marketing. I have to cold call these people, who typically aren’t too thrilled to speak to me.(Like i enjoy calling them, HA!) What i can say is that compared to the price of our service and the money they make, its crazy that any agent on here will try and pretend that they don’t cut corners any way they can for their own monetary gain. They say any price is too expensive, and i know for a fact we have the most affordable campaigns, just blows my mind how they treat someone trying to make a living, not a completely honest one, but still a living so bad. We only exist, because they exist, so in short, “Have no fear consumers! for every on of you they piss off, we probably piss off an additional ten!”

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