How The Internet Has Changed The REALTOR

technology changes real estate

Great Partnership or the downfall of the common REALTOR?

Real Estate professionals have spent the last 200 years in almost total control of the real estate information needed to conduct real estate transactions.  From the MLS to personal networks the timely dissemination of information has been in the REALTOR hands.  They held on to that information like gold to force prospective buyers and sellers to seek them out.

Enter the Internet

online real estateThe traditional model had the REALTOR controlling 90% of the real estate transaction.  That model has been flipped upside down and has put the consumer in charge.  Just as the travel, automotive and financial services sectors were forced to reboot, so too has the real estate industry had a major paradigm shift in the way business is transacted.

Multiple independent portals started popping up and giving the consumer all of that information the REALTOR held so tightly to their chest and more.  The Real Estate industry reacted and began putting that information in the hands of the consumer through Realtor.com.  Quickly the real estate industry regained the majority share of online consumer traffic looking for housing information.

Online Real Estate Evolves

death of the realtor?Of course, as everything else on the internet, evolution comes quickly and sites such as RealtyTrac and HomeAdvisor began providing information previously unpublished such as foreclosure listings and prescreened lists of service professionals for the use of both buyers and sellers.  Consumers’ appetite for real estate information became insatiable.  They began demanding information such as home price estimates which had generally been controlled by the REALTOR.  Zillow came out with the Zestimate – which automatically provided home values to the consumer.  It didn’t take long to realize that Zillow’s Zestamate was inaccurate!  They wanted lists of houses that were for sale by owner.  Overnight websites such as ForSaleByOwner.com and NewHomeSource.com popped up and started providing that information.  The floodgates of real estate information were being forced open and real estate professionals needed a way to catch up and still maintain a feasible business model.

Online Real Estate Grows With New Users

The current generation of home buyers, Generations X and Y, want everything available online.  Their already buying clothes, household supplies, electronics, etc. online and they will eventually want to be able to do the same with real estate.  Websites such as Auction.com have begun giving these consumers what they want.  These sites have made it possible for a buyer to get a satellite view of the property to determine proximity to important amenities; they can search for comps online, and have an offer in a real estate agents hand within two hours.  They can do all of this without getting out of their pajamas.  In the old way of doing things that process would have taken a few weeks.

Online Real Estate Resources

Many real estate brokers now take advantage of technology to assist their customers.  Sites specializing in specific real estate niches such as Boston Brownstones or Beachfront condos or Granbury Homes for Sale or even smaller cities such as Picayune have found great success in providing search tools, real estate education, home value tools and community information to their customers while holding a consistent branding.

What has to happen is a hybrid model; one that provides a best of both worlds approach.  By using the local REALTORS’ expertise and people skills along with the power of the internet; Real Estate agents will always play a role in the real estate buying process.  It is not about whether the internet is going to make them obsolete, but more about finding a value proposition that allows them to give consumers their expertise in a tech-driven marketplace.

Death of the REALTOR?

Most home buyers still want the one on one time with a professional.  They want to be led through their potential new home, shown the amenities, and be educated on the process.  Consumers are going to do their research online, that’s inevitable, but we all want the human touch that comes with a personal relationship with a trusted REALTOR.  By availing themselves of the extraordinary powers of the internet, REALTORS can provide their clients with the information they crave while being there on a personal level when the client is ready for it.

The old days of the MLS that only a REALTOR had access to are no longer the power of the day.  Of course, the MLS will be used and needs to be, but the days of holding on to critical data just for the sake of pretending to stay in control no longer make sense.  Open up to your clients both with information and the people skills you already do so well and our new digital age can be one of your greatest assets as opposed to your greatest nemesis.

Are Real Estate Commissions Built In The Fair Market Value?

real estate commission

You hear many people speak about how real estate agents are overpaid or don’t do anything.  Although just like in any industry, there are good and bad.  Most real estate agents earn their money and work hard for it.

Many people feel that they will “save the commission” by attempting to sell their home on their own.  Although in some instances that can happen, more times than not the home either doesn’t sell or has some level of disastrous results.  Why?  Because the commission is already built into the value of your home.  If you try to remove it, it will usually bite you.

Why You Cant Save The Commission

The most common reason someone would want to sell their home without a real estate agent is to “save the commission”.  There are some challenges with that idea.  Keep in mind, 89% of all residential real estate transactions use a licensed agent.  There is only one commission.  When a FSBO lists their home they are attempting to “save” that commission.

Any home buyer, who chooses to NOT use an agent and look on their own is also looking to “save the commission”.  So what you end up with are two cheap people, both attempting to beat the system and save themselves money.  There is only one commission to be saved and both “cheap” people are fighting for it!  You can see how this setup can cause problems in a transaction that is based upon mutually agreeing on multiple aspects of the home sale.  Its important to remember, there are many hidden costs in buying a home, the real estate commission is not one of them.

Commission is Baked Into Fair Market Price

NAR – The National Association of REALTORS puts out a set of real estate statistics every year.  Its called the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.  Although it is only available by purchase you can get the highlights here.  Those statistics show that 89% of sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home.  So with 89% of all residential real estate transactions including a commission, and fair market value is based off what is available for the same price, real estate commissions are baked into the price.

When an licensed appraiser does an appraisal, they look at recent sales of similar homes.   Those similar homes are called comps.  The appraiser will make adjustments to the sold price of a home in an effort to bring it as close to the subject property as possible.

For instance, if one of the comps had 2 1/2 baths but the subject only has 2 baths, they will adjust the sales price of the subject DOWN to bring it in line with what the subject is.  Keep in mind, almost every one of these “comps” have commission built in.  So when they are valuing your home, they are factoring in the value of that home being sold with the commission built in.

You may want to ask an appraiser, if a home that they use as a comp is sold without the benefit of a real estate agent, do you adjust the price accordingly? Keep in mind when you get a value of your home — the real estate commission is already built into that price. In the US, that average commission is about 5.5% – Canadian real estate brokers have a different system in which they charge over 10%. In either scenario, with the vast majority of homes sold in Canada or the US, they are with an agent.

That is why the typical home sale without an agent sold for $210,000 compared to $249,000 for agent-assisted home sales.  You cant save that commission, you can not pay it to the agent, but in most instances it will come out of the sales price of your home.

How Do Real Estate Commissions Work?

The Perils of A Real Estate Transaction

Anytime you are dealing with large amounts of money such as a real estate transaction, nice people can become not so nice very quickly.  People act differently when the largest investment of their lives is on the line.   When their children’s financial future hangs in the balance.  One of the most overlooked aspects of using a real estate agent is they keep the greed in line.  Meaning real estate agents explain to their sellers “you cant do that”.  When the home seller wants to not disclose a certain defect in the home or leverage some other aspect of the deal, its usually the real estate agent telling them they cant do that. So much for people saying that agents are the greedy ones!

Leverage Experience

Every real estate transaction brings new experience in addition to the courses taken and continuing education needed to keep a real estate license. Things that you never would have thought of come up.  If a particular non-licensed home seller has sold 2 or 3 homes in their lives, they feel like the expert.  Most successful real estate agents have sold more homes last month than most people sell in their lives.

When an issue comes up, they have a quick answer because they have seen it before.  When home sellers think back on the real estate transaction, they probably don’t remember that asinine question they asked, because of the quick response their agent provided.  What would have been the repercussions of moving forward with that? There is a lot of value in knowing that the path you are on (for your transaction) is one based upon experience.

You CAN Sell Without An Agent

You can get through a real estate transaction without an agent.  You can drive a car without full coverage insurance.  You can pull your own teeth.  A wise man once told me “everything is OK until everything is NOT OK”.  The value of an agent comes out when things get hairy in a transaction. There are 1 percent commission Realtors.  They would have systems in place that put your property through a machine, to maximize what they can do for 1 percent of the listing side of the commission.

There is also value in making sure that things simply don’t get hairy in the transaction.  Most real estate agents will tell you, very few transactions go smoothly.  Some do, but most have some type of challenge that needs to be overcome.

Use an agent.  Your homes value already has their commission built into the value of your home.  Its not worth the effort and potential disastrous results of not using an agent.

 

 

Real Estate Closing

real estate agent

What Actually Takes Place At The Real Estate Closing?

With real estate transactions being such a large purchase, the actually process of purchasing a home is called the closing. Using a notary for closing on a property is a very efficient way to get through the closing process on a new home without paying the high fees associated with a full real estate attorney.

What Happens At A Closing?

The final step in purchasing a new home is at the closing table.  Closing on a home is when all of the hard work and stress in the home buying process finally comes to fruition.  Closing on a home is when all of the final paperwork is completed and the title on the new property is transferred.

Who Are the Participants in a Closing?

When you attend a closing on a property, there are a multiple positions being represented.  They buyer attendants as they are the ones acquiring the new home.  The buyer has the most paperwork to sign as they are usually implementing a mortgage on the property.

Home Buyer

For most new home purchases, when a mortgage is on the new property, a package is generated from the lender.  A package is simply a group of documents that make up the legal transaction of the implementing the mortgage.  That package is sent to the closing attorney who makes sure that everything is in place and the notary oversees the signing of all of the documents.

Home Seller

In many instances the home seller will attend the closing but that is always not the case.  The home seller may show up at a previous time to sign the conveyance or Act of Sale, which as as the legal document that transfers the property from the previous owner to the new home buyer.  They will also be required to sign a HUD1 (which now has been renamed).  the closing attorney or notary will usually have a handful of other documents for the seller of the property to sign, but these two are the most important.

The Closing Notary

Usually it is more cost effective for a closing notary to oversee the actual documents being signed.  The notary’s job is to verify that each person signing a document, is indeed who they say they are.  They usually will take a copy of some form of the home buyers identification as well as the home-sellers identification.

Closing Attorney

Most real estate transactions require the use of a real estate attorney to oversee the process and to generate many of the closing documentation.  The closing attorney makes sure that all of the required documents are legally prepared and meet the federal, state and local requirements as well as the requirements of the lender.

Lender

The lender plays a crucial role in the closing process.  The lender provides the funds for the real estate transaction.  They prepare the “package” which contains all of the required loan documents that the closing attorney will oversee and the notary will witness being signed buy the home purchaser.

Insurance Company

In almost every case, an insurance company is needed to insure the new home.  The lender will usually require that insurance cover all aspects of damage to the new property as the property itself acts as collateral for the mortgage.  All of the required insurance documents are prepared prior to closing to take effect the day of the closing.  Once again, the notary will oversee the signing of the insurance documents and insure that everyone is who they say they are.

Other Miscellaneous Players

Their may be many other people or companies that play a part in the closing on a new property.  For instance, the buyer may have a new home warranty that goes into effect the day of the closing and in turn must be paid for.  In that instance, the home warranty documentation is filled out and payment of the new home warranty will usually come out of the proceeds that the seller gets and is deducted on the HUD1.