An ad aired during the Super Bowl from Vroom, an online car-buying service that eliminates the
"Dealership Pain." It featured a slimy-looking used car salesperson torturing a customer. It promised a
completely automated car buying experience without having to interact with an unprofessional car
This same story is being promoted today by online real estate entities messaging the horrors and waste
of working with a real estate agent. They paint a portrait of the same kind of unscrupulous type featured in
the Vroom commercial and promise to save you boatloads of money by using their services.
First of all, these companies have applied the stereotype of unprofessional, lazy, and dishonest agents to
the profession writ large. Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first to admit there is plenty of that type of agent in
my field. Much to my dismay, the entry barriers to my industry are low, creating fertile ground for the rise
of unprofessional and inexperienced agents.
But the question is, can an online real estate brokerage really save you money on commissions? The answer is yes, of course.
They can save thousands in performing the tasks associated with a real estate transaction. Exposure via the Multiple Listing
Service and associated websites, shepherding of paperwork, granting access to buyers, etc. The problem is, while the consumer
is saving a little on the most basic of transaction tasks, they're potentially leaving ten's of thousands on the table. The real money
for the consumer is not in the basics; it's in the intangibles. Things like negotiation, marketing, professionalism, expertise, and
experience. Knowing how to stage a home for maximum appeal. Leveraging relationships to get a buyer accepted in a
competitive market. Anticipating problems before they happen and possessing the expertise to solve them.
The problem is, it's really hard to place a dollar value on an intangible. It's easy to say, "I can save you $5,000 in commissions
and fees." But how do you know how many 10's of thousands you might leave on the table during a negotiation until it's too late?
If you're focused on the tree, you'll probably miss the forest.
I'll leave you with one last tidbit. The clients I serve who would never consider conducting a real estate transaction with a
discount broker are my most experienced buyers/sellers. That's right. The folks who have been around the block several times
are the ones who understand what they DON'T know about buying and selling real estate, and prefer to hire a trusted
professional to counsel them through the process. Who represents you matters.