Once every two years, I go to Tucson for the annual Arizona State-Arizona football game. It’s a ritual that I’ve been following since 1990 when I first made the 120-mile drive and, with rare exceptions, these have been my only trips to Tucson. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in Tucson over the past 20-odd years not related to Arizona State athletics.
There’s a very simple reason … there’s almost nothing in Tucson I really want to see, do, or visit. In fact, I proudly count myself as one of the right-thinking Arizonans who want to reverse the Gadsden Purchase and send Tucson and everything else south of the Gila River (but mostly Tucson) back to Mexico.
For those who love to protest, this is in no way an anti-immigration stance or a post about SB 1070. It’s an anti-Tucson stance.
Legally, I can sell homes in Tucson if I so chose as I’m licensed in Arizona. I can’t access the lockboxes, don’t know the neighborhoods outside of the one with the same burned-out car that’s been at Speedway and I-10 for the past twenty years and the mall east of campus with a Chick-fil-A. I have no guarantee of getting paid since I’m not a member of the Tucson MLS and, honestly, most agents there would just as soon light a real estate agent from Phoenix on fire before cooperating with a carpetbagger from 120 miles away.
I don’t blame them. Two weeks after getting my license some six years ago I tried showing homes to a friend who had been laid off by Charles Schwab the same time I had. Aside from the fact I was brand new, which was an adventure onto itself, I didn’t know where I was or what was going on. But I was licensed, so that was good.
There are many, many other places in Arizona where I can sell homes if I were so inclined to deal with the lack of guaranteed payment from not belonging to the MLS. Not that I should, but I certainly could.
And right now, there appears to be some discussion (or at least thought) about creating a statewide MLS.
This would solve the compensation issue. I would say problem, but it’s not really a problem. If I’m loathe to drive to Queen Creek to show homes, why would I drive to Prescott other than lunch at The Palace?
But such a move would make me a referral monster. You see, I’m not too shabby with a website and with access to listings elsewhere in the state would soon be creating sites for those specific locales. Sure, there already are agents with websites in some of these places but that’s not the point – there are other agents with websites here in Phoenix, too.
A prospective buyer would come to my website, log on for the registration and then I’d start to qualify them – not so much for the purchase of a specific home, but for their strength as a referral lead I then could pass on to another agent in exchange for a portion of the commission.
I don’t know very much about Flagstaff or Kingman or Payson but I don’t really need to, outside of setting up the website. My local expert and referral agent would take care of that side of things. And if you don’t think a real estate agent would take on a qualified buyer for someone in their backyard from a guy in Phoenix and happily pay a referral fee, you don’t know this business.
From a business perspective, this sounds absolutely awesome … but from the consumer’s standpoint? This is an absolutely brutal setup.
Buyers are searching online for homes in a given community and, at least in theory, they are looking for an agent with the slightest bit of local knowledge to help them with their search and purchase. An agent in Yuma whose express purpose is sending leads to Winslow doesn’t qualify, but that’s who they’ll be dealing with at least initially with all the tap dancing such a situation entails.
I’m sure there’s a benefit somewhere to the consumer, perhaps the ability to search statewide for homes in one place. But when that place isn’t local … wait, what am I worrying about. This already happens on sites like Trulia and Zillow, aggregators who serve as middle-men trying to drive traffic to their “preferred” agents (read: those who pay to be featured agents, or whatever lingo is being used.)
Really, such a rule would even the playing field for a small guy like me even if it’s a playing field that I really shouldn’t be on in the first place. But if the rules allow me onto the field … that’s their problem, not mine. It’s actually the consumer’s problem but this discussion isn’t really about them, not on this post and not so much on the larger levels where this is being mulled.
Hate the game, not the player.