Real estate agency has been around since about 1858. Unfortunately, so have many of the industry’s so called “best practices.”
While a lot has changed in residential real estate over the years, many things have remained very similar to the earliest days of home buyers and home sellers seeking a full time professional to advise them through a purchase or sale. The earliest documented instance of agents sharing property listing information was around 1887 and we have continued to do so until today. The collection of data has given agents the ability to quickly assess what is available for prospective buyers and identify appropriate homes for them to consider. The way this information is shared however has changed dramatically. From a round table in a room to a printable database to a regular fax to an internet database to smart phones, what we now know as the MLS is a very powerful tool.
While some practices have evolved to more efficient use and value for the consumer, unfortunately some have ignored the changing times and continue to try to rationalize a fee for services which are no longer a priority for clients. For example, until the early 1990’s a real estate agent could only represent the seller of a transaction. This caused a conflict of interest when an agent would work with a buyer even though his or her loyalty was due to the seller. Buyer agency was instituted in most states just in the last twenty years. After such a long time without this protection, buyers were finally able to rely on the commitment of an agent to their best outcome. Since then, many buyer’s agents have adopted practices for helping buyers locate homes, determine value and condition, negotiate agreements and process the transfer of ownership.
While these services are of value to many buyers, the process, for many, needs to be modernized again. Many buyers will find their own home through Internet searching. Others still will trust online resources to determine value and apply universal negotiating strategies to the home purchase or sales process. The real estate agent who survives the next decade will have to learn to offer a new level of professional service and advice. Clients ought to demand that agents offer value beyond information. Agents must be able to apply local, market specific expertise in the areas of property evaluation, conscientious negotiation, risk protection, financial counsel, process management, data analysis, effective communication, educational information, design, construction, remodeling, planning, marketing and sales and so many more.
The way of networking alone and contract knowledge are dying a timely death, and giving birth to a new class of real estate professional. A true advisor and market expert is what the modern home buyer and home seller need. Even for the folks who don’t yet realize it - this is what they need. The old usual, the unwilling to adapt, the simple and easy and the good ole boy network are no longer enough.
If it has always been done that way, it most likely isn’t good enough.
The Todd Tramonte Home Selling Team