Canadian Real Estate Agents: Without Us, Poor Homeowners Would Be Getting Attacked And Killed
from the oh-really-now? dept
It’s often amazing how legacy industry organizations come up with the most far-fetched and ridiculous reasons to insist that giving the public more information isn’t actually in the public interest. Rob Hyndman points us to an effort by real estate agents in Canada who are fighting back against a plan to put house listing information online by claiming that this will expose home sellers to crime, as suddenly criminals will break into their homes. This is based on… absolutely nothing. Well, actually, it’s based on a false claim that realtors are getting attacked and killed already. The Globe and Mail report on this story could have done a better job calling the realtors on their crazy claims, but goes with a more understated approach:
“Easy access to information online is a huge safety issue,” said Von Palmer, the real estate board’s chief privacy officer. “There is a real possibility of break-ins and assaults; you only have to read the headlines to imagine what might happen. You hear stories about realtors getting attacked and killed. Can you imagine if we put that information out there about consumers? You can only imagine the headlines.”
A spokesman for the Toronto Police Service said he wasn’t aware violence against real estate agents was a problem in the city.
Also, they could just look south of the border. The information that the Canadians are now discussing putting online is, for the most part, already available online here in the US. And while I’m sure if they tried hard enough, somewhere, somehow, someone might be able to connect a real estate listing to crime, it’s certainly not a common occurrence.
It’s pretty clear that the real issue is just one of control. The real estate agents benefit from being the gatekeepers to that information, and they fear what happens when people can start to route around them. A few months back, I did a talk at a real estate conference, where I compared the music industry to the real estate industry, and it was amazing just how many similarities there were between the two. They were two big legacy industries trying to hold back the tide of what the internet allows, and they were able to come up with all sorts of ridiculous scenarios to explain how horrible the world would be if the information they used to control was allowed to go free online. But it’s tough to stop the free flow of information, and real estate agents will learn soon enough that a strategy of spreading FUD isn’t a way to future-proof your business. Learning to adapt, and to take advantage of the spread of information by becoming an enabler rather than a gatekeeper, really is the key.