I spent nearly an hour yesterday talking with freelance reporter, Christian Gaston, about all things real estate. He’s got a couple of stories brewing so I won’t steal any of his thunder here that would relate. I’ll post or let him post once the stories hit the streets.
One of the subjects that we talked about that was off topic was what our changing market has in store for Realtors. Lots of us entered the market when it was easy money. The barriers to entry into the real estate profession are too low. It would cost just over $1000 to be able to call yourself a Realtor in less than 60 days. You’d be completely unprepared, inexperienced, and lack to professional tools to fully service your clients but you’d be in business. You could get your Internet access from the public library and buy a disposable camera at Safeway just in case you happened to get a listing from friends or family that were trying to help you jump-start your career. You could probably get away without having a car. Carefully plan to meet your buyer at the one property you’re going to show and arrive early enough via public transportation or bike to cool down and look professional by the time they arrive. Pray that the listing isn’t at the top of Council Crest. Just remember that you don’t get paid until the deal closes which will mean a couple of months of ramen unless you have financial backing to realistically not receive a paycheck for 90 days. What? You thought you could do this part time?
Did I just describe your Realtor?
Obviously everyone starts their career at zero. I have no problem with that. I know I can find an attorney that will charge around $50 an hour. I can also find one that will charge $400. Is one better than the other? It entirely depends on the situation. What we do know is that they both passed the bar exam which is well respected. The bar for entering real estate is a little more than a trip hazard. I honestly think that if you fail the exam, you shouldn’t be able to try again for a year.
The distinction between full service and discount brokerage isn’t clear either. Each individual agent determines what their version is so it is up to the client to know what they are getting regardless of how the agent describes themselves. If you and a friend are going to look at numerous houses on a hot summer day, you might have liked to have known in advance that your agent drives a two door car and the air conditioner broke last week. They may have the best website in the city but your day is going to be pretty much a disaster as you unfold yourself from the backseat for the tenth time.
After a listing appointment yesterday we were told that the seller has a friend that will list their place for a significantly lower commission rate than we will. That’s nice but we won’t come down and we’re not going to be upset if we lose it because we feel that what we offer is commensurate with what we charge.
Our market is clearly cooling. I have to believe that we are going to see fewer people trying to make an easy buck at it as a new career and see more people dropping out of the industry who are finding they have to work harder or lack the tools or capital to compete. Hopefully the cooling market will thin the agent herd so that we can strengthen the perception our profession.