the future, or a crock?

Cause it’s a job and they’re entitled to get paid just like anyone else? The hours a realtor keeps are definitely non standard, with a lot of late nights and weekend work, as they have to be available pretty much at any time to help their clients. Sure, in the market like it was there were a lot of realtors making a lot of money (and it pulled in a lot of sleezebags looking to make quick money) but in a slow market they don’t sell that many houses.

They provide a service that many people don’t have the time or knowledge to do themselves. Having to take time off of work to get an arrangement for a house inspection, knowing the personality of the opposing agent and knowing how they do things, knowing a neighborhood like the back of their hand, etc are all things you can do, but not necessarily everyone has the time to be able to take to handle all of that.

I mean you could apply that logic to any line of work that’s not physical, really. You’re buying expertise in a field. If you want to do it yourself, you can, but you may not get the same results.

Nope, just someone who’s has more than 2 brain cells to rub together.

They do offer a worthwhile service and do deserve to get paid. Just not 6% of a huge number for doing a couple hours of work.

I’m sorry that realtors get raped by their agencies, but that’s just the agencies cashing in on a good scam. If the agencies take such a lion’s share then perhaps we should be railing against the agencies and not the realtors. But whatever, the point is from a consumers standpoint it’s simply too much money for the service provided. Especially now that modern technology has made it a lot easier for a buyer to quickly and easily get the information that a real estate agency used to have to painfully and manually compile.

I remember accompanying my parents to visit a realtor as a small child, We were aobut to move to a new city. My parents, unfamiliar with the city, needed a realtor because they didn’t know their way around town or what services would be in what neighborhoods, didn’t have any convenient way short of uber time consuming legwork to find out details about houses on the market, etc. A realtor made that all easy by just providing the information and showing them info and pictures (actual polaroids!) of the houses currently on the market. Today the internet can do all of that even easier and cheaper.

Bottom line is that the internet has destroyed most of the value-add that real estate agents and agencies used to bring to the process.

Tell me how easily you can find the following on the Internet: School zone districting for the type of home you’re looking to acquire; if said home has been on the market frequently since it was built (and how that impacts the quality of the neighborhood via attrition); is the price of the home market priced for that neighborhood or is it too expensive/a steal; if the builder of said home has a reputation for skimping on materials/quality, or if the builder is very highly rated and the home is a diamond in the rough because of it; can you acquire full disclosure of problems with the home and surrounding areas. And so on.

I’m sure your childhood anecdote rings true to your perception of the quality of service provided by Realtors, as certainly, yes, the Internet has replaced the usefulness of showing off some Polaroids.

It isn’t just a “couple of hours” of work, like I said before, realtors work pretty long hours, and in the evenings and weekends, because they have to be available for their clients.

This discussion is pretty much going around in circles, and I can see everyone is pretty much entrenched in their positions, but I will just say that I would rather put a very large purchase such as a house, which could effect most of my life, into dealing with other human beings as opposed to buying it over the internet. Maybe it’s old fashioned or whatever, but the experience I had the last time I used an agent was such that I would use one again.

You people defending realtors should read Freakonomics. Neither buyer or seller realtors really have your best interests in mind. To them it’s all about turnover and doing as little effort as possible to make you settle for a house that will move RIGHT NOW instead of waiting and putting effort into getting you the right one. Even buy agents, who should be incentivized to get you a lower cost house, are actually incentivized the opposite. And seller agents, instead of being incentivized to get you the most money for your house, are incentivized to sell your house quickly at whatever price they can get because an extra $10,000 to you, which is a lot, is only 300 bucks to them, not worth the effort at all to aid in negotiation or get a better price or wait even a week for a better offer. It’s buy buy buy and sell sell sell. Not that they are bad people the system is just set up in a bad way. If there is any system that can be put in place to circumvent this it would be fantastic. With the ease of the internet and fast communication it seems like I’d be easy to do a cheap worldwide listing service . . . you could even base it on the existing database, the MLS. But the realty industry fights like hell to keep that in the hands of “licensed” realtors. Plus it’s regional and not standardized.

All you’d need to break the system is to have someone buy rights to / buy the MLS outright at the regional levels. Give access to anyone for a fee using standards and listing and buying fees (say, $300? $500?). Link it in to local title companies for the actual transaction since you need an escrow agent. The title agency/mortgage companies are where the real estate legal stuff really happens. What realtors do it completely worthless, IMO. It can be directly bypassed with a more efficient system. It would be like if you had to hire an agent and give them a commission to sell a used car. No one would put up with that. The title work and registration work is handled by the state, as it should be and as is the same with houses. Bypass the realtors and it would make the housing market truly supply and demand (and much more stable, I might add).

Edit: just read the Redfin site. I like!

Why is the agent’s service on a $2M house worth 4 times as much as it is for a $500K house?

Yeah but you don’t have to take humans out of the equation. What if real estate agents charged you a flat fee, say $300 per six houses, to show you listings personally? That is they get the keys to the house in those boxes, take care of calling the listing owners, etc. They can schedule as many times as they like. Then you still look at the house, etc. You schedule a home inspection just like always (this is never “included” in the 3% commision). You go to a title agency and mortgage lender and do closing and all the stuff just like normal. The only difference is you pay say, $300 or $600 or whatever instead of $15,000 on a $500,000 house. Same with the seller agent. You pay them a fee, or an hourly rate, to show the house and do open houses etc. But it’s like $300 per open house instead of $15,000 to do a few shows and then close. The system as set adds THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS to the price of a $500,000 home. That’s lik buying a home for less and then getting a free brand new BMW thrown in. Or a brand new upgraded kitchen. Or whatever.

Agents are nice, and helpful, but they are WAY overpaid and the percentage system is terribly set up. Hell, triple my price above and have them get $1000 for 6 showings. It still saves you oodes of money.

Explain why, please, selling and/or being the buyer agent to 4 transactions per year of $250K homes that are already highly regulated by the state qualify you for $30K a year. I think they should be compensated but houses are not cars. Making the fees a percentage of the sale price is ludicrous IMO.

Okay, cool. That sounds like a fun game. I accept your challenge. And for the fun of it I’m going to use Madison, WI because I see it is your location.

So let’s say I want to move my ass to Madison, WI. I have never even set foot in your fine state so I fit the bill as a clueless outsider who needs everything explained. So I turn to my good friend Google.

Google tells me about this gem:

Great, now I can look up properties and see their history of valuation and more importantly public records of their sale prices. I can also do this with similar properties around the neighborhood to get the same info a realtor would be basing their pricing info on. So now I’m sure I can negotiate a reasonable price for a property without a realtor. Oh, and one of the challenge items “if said home has been on the market frequently since it was built” is now solved. I can see how many times a property has changed hands, as well as neighboring properties.

But I still don’t know where in Madison to look, what neighborhoods are nice, etc. A bit more googling shows me a great many message-board threads of people asking the same question! Assuming I was a motivated buyer I’d read them all and take some notes and see what opinions were unanimous, which contentious, etc. I won’t do that now, but let’s assume I can. If I cross reference this data with the assessor’s site and google maps, I can take care of the challenge item “is the price of the home market priced for that neighborhood or is it too expensive/a steal.” Hot damn, I’m on a roll!

So now I can target a nice neighborhood, but what about the schools? Oh wait, the internet can tell me that too!

The assessors site also listed the public schools for every level for each property.

If I was a very finicky parent about the schools and that was a major concern to me, I might take it further and investigate private schools as well!

So that takes care of challenge item “School zone districting for the type of home you’re looking to acquire”

But that does leave me with the challenge of finding out about the builder. Tricky tricky. Oh wait, assessors site to the rescue again! Take this property for example

If you look at the sales history it of course lists all the sales all the way to the first sale which would be between the original owner and the builder. So I can tell who built this house. I however must admit I can’t find anything on google about the reputation of that builder, so we have identified one data item of possible interest to a home buyer that I can’t find with 10 minutes on google.

Not sure that piece of info is worth even 1% of the cost of a home.

Nick has a good point but I’ll step back and say I would DEFINATELY go look at the homes/neighborhoods/schools in person. All the stuff about days on market, turnover, listings, nearby house, etc. is better done yourself for such a large transaction.

Oh totally, I was not suggesting that a home purchase could be done with anything less than a lot of legwork. I’m saying that the valuable exclusive info that realtors purport to have up their sleeve is almost all immediately available to anyone who has a little google fu. If I was ready to pull the trigger on a house I’d still check out a lot of this stuff in person. Regardless of whether I’d found the home on my own or via the recommendation of a realtor.

I’ll tell you a little story about my buyer agent that kind of sums my feelings on realtors. I was following the guy around who I hired to do my home inspection and we’re in the utility room. He’s point out to me the safety shutoff of the furnace, some other stuff, etc. The realtor/agent was in back of us standing there watching us, useless. Then she backed up and whanged her head really hard on this shelf. We turn around and look at her and she’s holding her head and says, in a bright cheery voice “Oh, there is a shelf here! That’s convenient for storing things!” I about bust out but was able to hold back. Yeah, she was worth $10,000.

Useless. Give me access to the MLS plz.

Nick, Guapo, Mike, stop trolling! Obvious trolls are obvious! Straw men are poking holes with straw! Etc.


I’m sorry, it’s my humorless lesbian side showing again :(

Does the house have a high turnover rate because the neighborhood is next to a nuclear power plant, or does it have a high turnover rate because house values and speculation create an incentive for people to move on quickly? If I looked at similar dry data in California two years ago, I might have concluded that houses in neighborhoods surrounding San Francisco immediately gave people Syphilis, and should they not sell the house in under 6 months, they would die.

As you can see by just scrolling up in this thread, believing everything you read in anecdotal message posts might lead you to believe that, even with corroborating evidence, stusser is filled with a odorous chewy substance that, when added to water, turns him into a large green dinosaur.

Anecdotal evidence on the message boards regarding my neighborhood, cross referencing my house price with other houses in range via Google maps and the like, and using the Assessor’s site to come to some conclusion about a FMV for my dwelling might lead you to believe that you’re getting a freaking phenomenal deal by purchasing my house. No, really, buy my house. Now.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t. It doesn’t show that the School Board has been in negotiations for the past few months about districts, or that there’s an elementary school soon to be built a few blocks away from my house, or that the school’s construction is being delayed because of (of all things) it’s name, or that once it’s built, kids in some neighborhoods will be bussed to schools to which they could otherwise walk – or that this city is so screwed over on a politically-correct and progressive agenda that every little complaint about schools is addressed until all of our precious snowflakes are walking around in large plastic hamster balls and are denied contact with other humans.

Even if you did find out anything on the Internet, it would be qualified by the same “Internet forum authority” standard that was applied above. A Realtor works with house builders every day – you don’t think a Realtor would have aggregated experience over the lifetime in their profession that would apply to an informed judgement on the quality of a builder?

Our little game encompasses my “And so on” comment, so all that you’ve proven here is that you can meet my imagination for Realtor services in a single forum post.

As another example: Did you miss the small print in the Seller’s Agreement To Acquire Due Process of Intent To Sell, page 34, paragraph C, where you’ve clearly initialed that the guillotine installed as part of the front door has a hair trigger? Sorry about your dog, and all.

Hell, after selling a home and buying 2, I’m to the point where I don’t want to have a damn thing to do with it. I’m thankful for the workload that a Realtor takes off my hands.

In the state where I used to live, the qualifications of the inspector literally had to be agreed upon by both the selling and the buying agent. You couldn’t just show up with Joe Random and have him point out a shelf and say: “Well, gawrsh, that shelf there is not very convenient for storing things!” and then give the house an overall poor rating because of his assessment of the storage capacity of shelves. The most I know about where you live, ElG, is that it’s pretty lose on the hot tub restrictions.

If I had to do that bullshit myself, I’d find you and kill you on the principle that you suggested I didn’t need a Realtor.

Ah, I see you live in California, Mike. For the rest of the country, selling a $2M house is actually difficult. I imagine selling a 500k home out there is about 4 times easier to sell.

I’m not suggesting internet research is exhaustive and I’m going to buy just on that, but it can quickly narrow down the field of homes to look at just as much as a realtors expertise.

The message boards and assessors site are enough to get a general sense of what neighborhoods people like and what average values are for an area. That’s basically all a buyers agent is going to give me in terms of rough neighborhood info, the specifics of a particular house I might be contemplating purchasing require some research and comparison that again I can do just as well as a realtor.

Why would they? Realtors don’t maintain houses, they negotiate their transfers of ownership. I’m sure they’ve heard plenty of anecdotes, but people tend to be real bad at extrapolating from anecdotes to figure out the real general trend. I’d much rather trust a thorough home inspection (I always insist on one, and pick the inspector myself) than the realtors anecdotes for this. I agree it’s important info, but one doesn’t need a realtor to get it.

As to the “internet forum authority” standard, well, fair enough. But do you think it’s any worse than realtors? At least with the internet and some research I can see when an opinion isn’t consensus. With the realtor I have to just swallow what I’m told. We’ve already discussed why realtors might not be motivated to do anything but close a deal quickly.

O-kay, what other realtor services would you like met? You’ve already listed more than I’ve ever seen in my experiences with realtors.

A lawyer will look over the paperwork and protect your interests in the actual sales agreement for a few hundred bucks. Better than a realtor would no less, and much cheaper.

I’m not suggesting that outside expertise is not of value in purchasing a home, I’m suggesting that realtors don’t possess that expertise. What they possess is knowledge of local market conditions, local neighborhoods, knowledge of local home listings, and knowledge of the other agents. Only the latter is something I can’t get off the internet. So I think a realtor can provide value but nothing approaching the fees they charge.

Well I can’t argue with that. Different people will pay different amounts for convenience. If you want to give up thousands and thousands of dollars of your own money to not muck with this any of this yourself then have a ball.

When I wanted the interior of my house painted, I went out and bought paint, watched a bunch of DIY shows and read up on the method. I had the general presence of mind to figure out that paint goes on the roller and roller goes on the wall.

When it came down to the hours and hours of masking, covering, painting, realizing I suck at painting, repainting, yelling and screaming at the wall to just fucking look good dammit, I began to understand why someone might want to pay a painter.

But before I really started in on it, it seemed like a relatively simple task to me. I had the Internet, I couldn’t possibly go wrong. For comparison, I had some professionals come in and tell me that they’d end up charging me 1500, which roughly came out to about .50 a square foot. If I could, I’d go back in time, kill Hitler, have sex with that particular girl in high school when she offered it the first time, and pay those guys to paint my house.

When I sold my first house, my agent would field all calls to show it. He advertised it in locations he knew potential buyers for my price bracket were looking for listings. He walked me through my own house on more than one occasion and made a list of suggestions for changes that he knew, from his experience, would sell the property. When we finally got an offer, he worked with the asshole that wanted to buy the place. And finally, he hooked me up with a real estate lawyer that was so good, he’s still on our Christmas card list.

I tried to do all of that stuff with my cable modem, but the little fucker would never listen.