There’s a group on Facebook theoretically dedicated to “Raise the Bar in Real Estate.” Being a rather self-loathing lot, we tend to spend a lot of time worrying about all that is wrong with the real estate industry, most of which miraculously boils down to the “idiot” agent on the other side of the transaction or the remoras like Zillow and Trulia, who attract lots of eyeballs of people who prefer slick to design to verifiable data.
Today, the RTB crowd is frothing at the mouth over this video which shows a would-be buyer at the beginning of his home search. We see how he searches, hear his thought process about how he’s going about things and also hear is frustrations with the process.
From where I sit, there’s nothing particularly surprising about the video. And, to be honest, the gentlemen’s frustrations are totally understandable given the way he’s going about his transaction – without a REALTOR, because he doesn’t believe an agent would be able to assist him in choosing the right house.
That’s likely true enough … and it’s also not the main point of what we do, even though he believes it is. Yes, once I get an idea of what someone’s looking for I generally can translate that into an actual home once I see it come on the market. But that’s only the beginning of the process; there still are those little details of negotiating the offer, working through inspections, coordinating with title, making sure the i’s are crossed and the t’s are dotted, all while doing everything I can to make sure no one is going to get sued along the way.
Mr. Buyer says one of his frustrations is there are so many people involved in the buying process. Let’s consider how he’s doing it:
1) He starts his search on Zillow or Trulia which, at least here in Phoenix, are accurate about one-third of the time.
2) He then works to contact the “real agent”, aka the listing agent, to get details on the home.
3) If he pulls up to the house and sees a sold sign (even though not every agent smacks a sold rider on a home as soon as it’s under contract), he then looks to see what else might be in the area by using the Trulia app which, again, shows a fraction of what’s really out there.
4) Wash, rinse, repeat.
Of course there are going to be many people involved because the buyer specifically is involving them in the process. If he were working with a buyer’s agent, however, he’d have one point of contact and wouldn’t need to be concerned, as he is, that no one understands what he really wants and needs.
Mr. Buyer also equates purchasing a house to online banking, and wishes the entire transaction could be accomplished completely online. In this, I would suggest he may not be aware of the legal process of purchasing a home. Even without an agent, there’s a stack of paperwork to be completed and notarized for the sale to happen. And that leads to the larger point …
Where some (or at least one person on RTB) sees this as a sign the real estate industry is coming to an end, I see just the opposite for one simple reason – clearly, this is an individual who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He’s not a savvy investor who’s done this a hundred times over and can do it in his sleep. He doesn’t appear to have a solid memory of what his last purchase was like, assuming he’s purchased before.
He’s just a regular person who believes a home purchase to be akin to purchasing something on Amazon.
Some will argue that’s the fault of the real estate industry. I’d disagree, because in the eight-plus years I’ve done this I’ve run across countless people who absolutely are certain they don’t need an agent to help them. Some purchase without a problem. Others are perpetually looking because they don’t realize the flaw(s) in their strategy.
Perhaps you watched the video and were nodding in agreement with the gentleman. Okayfine. I’m not going to tell you that you absolutely need to use an agent.
But I would suggest this … be absolutely sure that you really know what you think you know. Because if you don’t, all you will do is make an already stressful process far more complicated and frustrating than it really need be.