There's no doubt about it...the times are changing. Short sales, foreclosures and auctions have changed the types of homes that today's home buyers want to buy, and the availability of information through the internet has changed how consumers shop for homes to purchase.
Often posted on Trulia.com, Zillow.com and other real estate websites are comments and questions by buyers...why do we need to use a Realtor? After all, I found the home! I found the loan! What did the Realtor do, except get the commission? Invariably, the response from real estate professionals range from: 1) you don't know everything that the agent does and never will to 2) you'll be sorry if you try to go this alone, things happen and you'll be ill-prepared to handle the problems. Technically, both statements are true--buyers don't know what agents do (and agents often disclose all of their job duties) and, as a responsible Realtor, I would be hard-pressed to tell any seller or buyer to "go it alone" without help because "stuff "really does happen and without someone there to help, it could very messy, very quickly. But it's also equally true that sellers and buyers want to take on more of the responsibilties traditionally handled by real estate professional. So what to do to bridge the gap?
It's time for real estate professionals to begin a metamorphosis from "driver of the bus" to "navigator/passenger." How? By providing interested and qualified buyers and sellers with the opportunity to work with a real estate facilitator who will perform carefully defined tasks that the seller or buyer lack the skills (or license) to perform.
The opportunity to work as a real estate facilitator first occurred in 2008 when I worked for my friends and clients. My friend, a head-strong homebuyer and her polar opposite husband met with me to discuss how I could represent them as their buyer's agent. My friend who was clearly in control of this purchase, made it very clear to me the scope of my job duties and, most notably, made note of what those duties would NOT include. Interestingly, one of the job duties deleted from my job as Facilitator would be "showing homes." My clients had determined to find their own home and, while they might ask me for the occasional list of available homes, they would choose their own property and contact me when they were ready to buy. For and in consideration of my time, the buyers and I agreed that I would be paid a "fixed fee" for my services, and they would agree to take upon themselves certain liabilities regarding the deal and acknowledge my limited role as their facilitator. After obtaining the necessary broker approval, I agreed to be prepared to "start" the job when they found their perfect home. About one month later, I received my call and we were off. My clients understood immediately that the "traditional real estate world" had not yet caught up to their real estate "new think", so I was allowed to be the "point person" in the home sale and negotiation (which worked out well as the lower commission to the buyer's agent resulted in an overall lower price to the buyer), but, thereafter, my role was to return to the "passenger seat" where I could coordinate the "trip" but did not determine the destination.
While I set up appointments and introduced my clients to key vendors, it was the client who attended each and every inspection. The clients followed all of the inspectors around so that they could learn, first hand, what the inspector saw and what he/she recommended as required repairs. It was the client who was told personally of the inspector's assessment of the overall condition of the home. The clients worked directly with the loan officer and shopped the best deals. They trailed the appraiser around the building, and they followed up with all of the various removal of loan conditions after the appraisal was submitted. When it came time to close escrow, I noted with interest that while my involvement in the transaction was limited, the client's satisfaction with the deal appeared to be far greater than in other more traditional real estate transactions where the buyers are "informed" of events, but not "involved" in the intricacies of the home sale.
Admittedly, this type of home transaction is not intended for every buyer and there will always be buyers who neither have the time nor the inclination to know as much about the home as did my clients. But for those who take satisfaction in knowing the details of their home purchase and wish to be an integral part in the purchase of the most expensive investment in their lifetime, using a real estate facilitator may be the best plan for you.
For more information on this new form of buyer or seller represntation, please feel free to give me a call! Good luck and happy house hunting!
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty