Something the public may be unaware of is the fact that there are now close to 900 licensed Realtors working in the Barrie area in addition to hundreds more registered with Real Estate boards in outlying areas who list properties within Barrie and its bordering townships. That number has more than doubled in the ten years since I made the decision to sell rather than build homes and that growth rate isn't unique to Barrie.
The Canadian Competition Bureau Commissioner is now claiming that the Real Estate industry in Canada does not offer consumers choice and that it operates under fixed prices and restricts the degree of services it offers to the public.
I wonder, has our commissioner of competition Melanie Aitken ever actually read the Real Estate section of a local news paper anywhere in Canada or does she just use it to line her bird cage? If she opened either of the two weekly inserts here in Barrie she would quickly learn that there are hundreds of Realtors each week offering their own unique service and price packages to the public.
Would Ms. Aitken show up to work tomorrow if she learned taking a pay cut of 50 or 70 percent or even more was the only way to keep her job? I doubt very much she has ever sat in on a commission negotiation between a Realtor and client and she clearly demonstrates through her slanderous comments in the press to know little if anything at all of the variety of options typically tabled over such negotiations.
These choices range from flat fee plans where the vendor does the lions share of the work on up to full service, full exposure listing plans, in each case the fees for service vary and most can be further shaped to fit the needs of the individual. If you feel you are up to the task there are dozens upon dozens of private services that will assist you in trying to sell your home yourself.
I wish I had the same level of choice when it came to lighting or heating my house, watching cable TV, talking on the phone or accessing the Internet. I have maybe a dozen choices when it comes to buying my groceries, filling up my gas tank or doing my banking.
To further illustrate this, the other day I sat with a perspective seller who after almost a full year trying to market a half million dollar home with one of the more popular for sale by owner company signs on the lawn was beginning to see a pattern and decided it was time to call a professional Realtor. After touring the home in a popular and somewhat prestigious area just north of town we sat down to discuss my services and hash out a price we could agree on for those services.
I explained that in each of the last few years my expenses in running my business amounted to about $35,000. This includes my marketing which is conservative in that it is predominately through the Internet now where over 90% of home buyers and sellers are doing their research these days. This also spares you from having to look at my toothy grin on bill boards and bus benches every day. Your welcome.
Additionally I pay office fees, local, provincial and national board and association fees, errors and omissions insurance and for ongoing mandatory Real Estate training. There is the cost of maintaining and operating a vehicle, phones, computers.....you get the picture.
I explained to this seller that if I sold 35 homes this year, (keeping in mind that over half of Realtors sell no more than ten homes in a year) my out of pocket cost for selling one home is already one thousand dollars and that is before taxes, before transaction fees to the brokerage and before my listing specific advertising expenses.
What this home owner was offering me as a selling commission was 1/2 of one percent for the successful sale of her home which amounted to $840 after these expenses, provided we sold for full price.
To many that might seem like a quick $840 in pocket and rather than try to impress upon you here and now the details of listing and selling, just ask a Realtor sometime what is involved from start to finish.
I will put some perspective on that $840 though. How much should a Realtor earn in a year?, lets say $60,000 is fair compensation for the moment.
Now divide $840 into $60,000 and your answer, 71.4 is the number of half million dollar homes you would need to sell in a year to earn a modest $60,000 annual income. Put another way, our industry would need to sell over 62000 half million dollar homes in the Barrie area for each licensed Realtor to earn $60,000 per year. With a population of 130000 and an average of 3 people per household I doubt we even have 62000 homes in Barrie.
If I was going to be one of the handful of local Realtors who do sell this number of homes per year, at any price in Barrie I would have to follow their model and have a team working for me including administration staff and junior agents assisting with the leg work. My expenses would quickly jump from $35,000 to well over $100,000 per year and the marketing I would need to do to attract that volume of clientele would run into the six figures on top of that.
After explaining all of this the seller still offered to pay less than I had ever taken a listing for in my 10 years but recognizing that taking the listing would give me exposure in a region where I have no exposure at present and would put me in contact with buyers looking in the half million dollar range during the open houses I do while a home is listed, I put pride and common sense on hold and agreed to take the listing.
The home owner called me last night to tell me another Realtor had since agreed to go even lower and list the property for less than half of one percent commission. I wished her luck and when I hung up I wondered to myself, at what point does competition stop being a healthy thing for the consumer? At what point did quality service and lead free toys become less important than getting something cheap that resembles what we once expected but really isn't any more?
On the slim chance she reads this I would like to extend an invitation to our commissioner of competition Melanie Aitken to tag along with me on my next listing appointment. I promise it will be an enlightening experience.
If you are planning to sell and are looking for a Realtor with the resources to net you the return you want on your home that in the end will amount to far more than fixating on commission reductions is going to accomplish for you, give me a call and lets talk business.