Will real estate brokerages become assembly line participants?
Life can take all kinds of turns, and I suppose we all arrive at the same destination, but my purpose is not to speak of THAT destination. I want to fixate on the stops along the way and particularly my real estate sales journey.
My real estate sales journey.
For people who know me know that I have been with ZipRealty my entire real estate sales career. Since Coldwell Banker purchased Zip, life has not been the same for me. Majority of the agents from my Zip class are long gone working for other brokerages or left the business. Not me, I am loyal to a fault.
With that said, the last year or so I have been looking at other options. Primarily because the industry is changing, and so are the players. Many new brokerages have entered the market offering flat-fees or discounts for their services. But more on that later.
I am not thirty-something
So, I forward my resume to the new players and usually receive a response for an interview request within hours. Guess that means my resume must be compelling. I have had a long, rewarding work history.
Everything would go great with the phone interviews, and then I meet directly with the decision maker. I begin hearing things like “our agents work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week”. “This job is a lot of work, with little downtime.” That is the end of any conversations. Basically, without saying so directly, I am being told that I am not exactly what they are looking to hire–explanation; I am not the correct demographic for the image that they want to portray. I suppose they are looking for the “Million Dollar Listing” type persona and looks.
For anyone who has worked with me knows that I am tireless in getting results. However, that doesn’t change the fact that when you see me in a photo or in-person, I do not look thirty-something. The years of sun and skin cancer procedures have left their marks.
I am concluding that since I am a broker, I’ll work independently and have the luxury of offering customers the services they need/want for a fair price, not dictated by a faceless corporation.
Thoughts on national flat-fee brokers and discount brokers
Let’s be clear and name who I am speaking. The companies are Redfin, Purplebricks, Rexhomes, Opendoor, Reali, and yes, Zillow. There are others.
The title of this post is, Is Your Real Estate Broker Selling Cars. Here is how I draw the parallel.
Each of these companies performs all the marketing for their agents and feeds the agents with leads. At that point, the games begin; selling 101 kicks into gear. Remember what I was told; their agents are always on the go and work 18 hours a day. Once you sign the listing agreement, the agent is onto the next deal. For the salesperson needs to do what they do best–sell their company’s service — the same experience of buying a car. Volume is needed for their company’s financial health.
Don’t fool yourself thinking you are getting spectacular service from these companies. Having been on the other side of the table from these brokers, I found myself doing all the work once an offer was accepted, particularly when it involved keeping the deal together. I would be the one who spoke with the other broker’s client–what I had to do for the benefit of my client.
I spoke with a past client who used one of the brokers listed above. I asked about the experience since I was about to have a job interview with them. The client stated that their agent seemed to be too busy to answer questions and would take a long time to respond. Fortunately, the house did sell.
Don’t get me wrong. If you are all about the money (as was the client above) and nothing else matters, then, by all means, use a national discount broker. Be sure to enter into an agreement fully aware of the service you will be receiving.
Definition of a discount broker.
A clarification–discount brokers are brokerages that will charge sellers less than the prevailing rate payable to a listing broker. However, most of these brokers will suggest offering a commission of 2.5-3% to the buyer’s broker. As an example, if a broker offers to sell your home for 1% know that there will be a suggestion to offer the buyer’s broker a commission, bringing the total commission to somewhere around 3.5-4%.
I fear that there are many companies out there that are replicating the real estate selling/buying experience to that of buying a car. Most call themselves technology companies. Large companies like Keller Williams are beginning to sing out of the same hymnal. Technology is paraded as the panacea that will offer the consumer a better selling/buying experience. Will it help, absolutely. But only with black/white issues.
In actuality, there is a prominent emotional component to the real estate transaction that technology cannot recognize or mitigate. If all the homes available for sale had just come off an assembly line, then maybe the real estate agent could morph into a car salesperson.
The next post will be a discussion of particular discount brokers’ offerings.