The Game is Changing
It took a financial crisis, labor disruption, and some significant rule changes to make professional hockey the game it is today - faster, fan friendly, and with most teams, more lucrative. One of the results of the more "open ice" was the showcasing the talent of skilled players, rather than the clutch and grab that had gradually slowed down the game.
So let's examine some of the factors that have the potential to significantly change organized real estate, starting with the recent agreement between the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and the federal government's Competition Bureau. Several decades ago, brokerages did not cooperate with each other as they do today under the Multiple Listing Service. If a brokerage took on the contractual responsibility of selling a property for an owner, or "listing", it could expect to also represent the buyer. But not all buyers wanted to work with the same brokerage that the seller had chosen, and out of that evolved a new system, MLS, that enabled "cooperating brokerages" in the same province to share commission for the respective efforts they put in when facilitating a successful trade.
However, a new generation of self-directed sellers emerged wanting to be more involved in their real estate transaction and taking advantage of the ability of the Internet to disseminate information quickly and affordably. They did not see the need to pay commission to a brokerage, but did note that try as they may, the national website serving MLS, www.realtor.ca was still pre-eminent in hosting properties for sale in Canada, a website funded directly by member Realtors of their national organization CREA. The new agreement lets a member Realtor place a "for sale by owner" listing on MLS while reserving the seller's right to negotiate directly with a buyer or with a buyer's brokerage. Will this change organized real estate? I actually don't think it will have a big impact, and here's why.
Most people recognize that major purchases like homes and commercial properties can be quite difficult to navigate from start to finish. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, and do. It is much more reassuring to have a professional at your side. The devil is truly in the details. Having said that, I believe what will really change is how parcels of real estate will be marketed, which by the way, is only one portion of how a Realtor earns her or his keep during a transaction cycle. Look at how society's daily dynamic has changed. Blended families, work schedules like ten days on and four off, long distance commutes to sites all over the world, increased life span, etc. all has an impact on how the individual looks at their housing needs; and in particular, how they look to fulfill those needs.
It is the "mobile factor"; an expectation that the world is as close as our IPhone, IPad, or laptop screen; that the information we need should be available to us when we want it, and if it isn't, then that is an indication of poor quality service by that provider. Google has been the number one search engine for a number of years, but its position is quickly being eroded by an upstart called YouTube.
It is for this reason that The Midwest Group decided to hire a multi-media specialist as the next investment in the growth of our practice. We love the potential that a hosted video walking tour provides. It's truly a win - win for everyone involved. Buyers get to check out a property at their convenience, night or day, wherever they may be. Sellers aren't asked to leave every time some one wants to take a peak. Realtors get a pre-qualified prospect who already knows what to expect from the property.
Are we as good at it as we would like to be? Not even close, but we are learning. (Who knew I had chubby cheeks and a lisp!) It has real potential for those unique and harder to sell properties - lake cabins, acreages, farms, and large homes. I guess we will see results or not in the months ahead! Check out our humble beginnings at www.mgtv.ca and let us know if you think we are on the right track.
Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster and a partner with The Midwest Group. If you have questions or comments on this article or other real estate matters, he can be reached at 780.808.2700 or through the website www.wesellmidwest.ca