DIRECT HUMAN INTERACTION--PART II--CHECKMATE!...
Real estate today is an extremely complex profession! In today's marketing of real estate, there is a huge void in the interaction between the buyer/seller with the agent.
The relationship between buyer/seller and their real estate agent was sacrosanct in the past decades. This most direct relationship between a client and their agent made a very complex transaction appear to be a seamless one!
An intentional effort to cut the agent out of all institutional advertising and marketing (Unless they pay big-time!) has created a big question mark in the minds of those looking for a simple way to buy and sell their property.
Both buyers and sellers are told that they can "Do It Yourself" by one “partner” and agents are convinced that they need the Big Corporate Branding by another "partner" in order to reach the most leads.
It is all a ruse; a ruse perpetrated by the urge to make money by huge corporations and Internet Geeks.
And now more than ever there are even more “partners” in a transaction. The disconnect of the agent with their clients and customers has done immeasurable damage. It has literally altered the way real estate is bought and sold and it has affected a healthy profession in the most pernicious way.
We, as real estate professionals, must now answer the question: What went wrong?
- The first thing that comes to mind is that the websites that sell leads get those leads through a method that is used by most lead generating mechanisms...they ask for it!
- They ask the potential lead to fill out a registration form. This form is created by the the lead generating firm to garner as much usable information as possible so they can turn that data into revenue.
- These sites then sell that personal data to many other places--like mortgage companies as an example. So, in addition to an outright dishonest way of gathering and selling private information, the potential buyer/seller is left to wonder how their personal information got out there in the nether-world? Meanwhile, the brokerage community has no clue! Most agents do not realize this--the public is just now catching on....
- Could the disconnect be caused by the persistence of the big, Nationwide listing websites as they try to capitalize on an agent's need to get leads?
- Could it be caused by greed and a craving for a bigger piece of the pie, the perceived BIG BUCKS of the real estate pie?
- Could it be by choice on the part of a society gone mad with its technology in the real estate field?
I believe it is of ALL of the above!
Gone is the natural desire on the part of the public to carefully work with a local agent to build a strong business relationship that is able to pass the test of time. The business of real estate now appears to the public as one big information processing plant with personal data gathered, collected and sold to the highest bidder. There is no fiduciary responsiblity anymore to the client--The client (the public) has become a source of revenue--and they are catching on!! They feel it everyday as they watch their personal information being used voraciously by everyone in real estate and its associated businesses.
EVERYBODY WANTS A PIECE OF THE PIE!
Because there are vast numbers of people in between the buyer and the seller, ALL of whom are trying to glean revenue from the product (the listing) AND the potential lead, there is a forced change in real estate business relationships.
The greater the number of people involved in a transaction, the greater the distance between the buyer/seller, and the agent! It is almost impossible to build a trusted relationship with that kind of intrusion!
It has become a complicated and very tenuous situation when someone wants to buy a home in this market. Not only is there a concern that they will overpay, but the buying public now has to concern themselves with the handling of the purchase of their property without the good guidance of a qualified, locally licensed agent!
MISREPRESENTATION IS FLOURISHING
Fake listing agents on Internet listings have made the public very wary of our profession. We appear to be trying to take them for a ride with miss-information or a lack of information about a property.
The public sees this as a scam and the listing platform, being a non-licensed entity, just keeps taking the "Pay to Play" money from the agents who don't understand what they are doing!... Or who don't care that they are ruining our profession:
An agent gets a call or email from an interested party on a property about which the agent knows nothing! Their face appears on that property simply because they paid a huge sum to the listing platform.
The scam has begun! Unless the agent tells the buyer that they are not, in fact, the listing agent on this property and explains why their face/name happens to be there on the property, the buyer is left with the sense that they just worked with the most uninformed agent they have ever met! Enormous feelings of mistrust settle in...
After a few bad experiences with agents who are not informed about a property that they appear to represent, buyers and sellers start to build a deep resentment for the entire brokerage business.
Out of the complexity of the current real estate market, trust is replaced by suspicion of all agents and the brokerage business itself.
THE MISSING LINK IS HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
As with all interactions with the Internet in today's world, there are huge risks to our privacy and to our established business models. The average person now uses the Internet to communicate almost entirely, (as in FB, Twitter and other Social Media) to stay connected in a disconnected way to family, friends, and others all the while losing valuable physical interaction.
The disconnect is beginning to take its toll on human development of the young---may actually already done its damage to a whole generation of young people who no longer have the ability to cope with normal human challenges like disappointment and other emotions that come from direct human interaction.
I read a fascinating take on the matter in a column written by someone who does not give their name, (How ironic is that?) The author is called “Medical Student” and I found his/her statements to be profound:
"One cannot and must not neglect the importance of human interaction. Sadly this generation has lost all of its confidence to speak with others on (a) direct basis. Electronic media and social media especially has made it easier for people to get in touch with others."
"Our generation is able to talk to a person far away from them but do not have the ability to talk to anyone face to face. Social media like Facebook and Twitter has made it easier for us to constantly follow the person we want to follow and to discuss their private lives without any regard to the feelings of the person involved. Yet we severely lack the ability to talk to each other on a personal basis. We can ‘’Like’’ thousands of posts and comments of a person but don’t have time and courage to actually talk to a person and hear his thoughts and share information."
Removing the human connection makes it more and more difficult to give the relationship of "human to human" a place of trust, especially in the real estate business which deals with and handles a person’s largest lifetime investment.
IT'S TIME TO START FORMULATING A NEW APPROACH
It is time for brokers and agents alike to take action and try to bring reality back into the world of real estate transactions. And while we do not seem to be making progress in the current environment, I believe, once we collectively see the reality of a business off its tracks, we can begin to make the necessary changes to re-ignite this once thriving profession.
- "Real estate agents are just another hindrance to getting the house I really want". "If I don't look online first, I am sure to miss out on the newest and best-priced houses"
- "My home is worth so much more than what that agent told me--I need to get a better idea of prices online"
- "I don't need an agent to do a real estate deal--information that I need is out there just waiting for me to look it up"
This is the current state of mind that the public has about real estate agents, forgetting or maybe not knowing about the past years of venerable service we have provided. I have heard comments like this and read articles quoting the public in these terms.
Because of the distance that has developed between the buying and selling public and real estate professionals, agents are considered a hindrance when searching for a property. This environment of not needing to use an agent in a transaction has been created by Internet sites who now control all real estate listings.
THE DAMAGE IS DONE AND WE MUST RE-GROUP
We can no longer overlook the damage that a rampant, unlicensed lead generating "machine" has wrought. This is the same "machine" who cranks out property appraisals without a license, creates a stir by charging agents for their own listings and has a thumb on the scale of pricing properties (incorrectly, I might add!) in this very fragile market!
We may never overcome the enormous obstacles created by a “disconnect” of brokerage with the buying public. It may already be too late for the bigger brokerages to overcome the disconnect. An independent agent may stand a chance...
However, there is a recognition on the part of serious buyers that they are not easily able to get a deal done without the help of an experienced agent.
Sellers are beginning to see the light as well, especially after they find out that they have been misled in the proper pricing of their homes by the very people who are trying to convince them to list without an agent!
There is no objective guidance without a licensed agent! The real estate agent is licensed by the state to preclude any possible harm to the buying and selling the public. The basic requirement of a licensed agent is to "first do no harm", and that we treat all without bias but with integrity and fairness.
Objectivity and your hard earned money is out the window when you have a profit-seeking Internet platform who has the latest in technology and algorithms with the ability to fleece the public AND real estate agents in the process!
This message needs to get out there to the buying and selling public...
Please comment below if you have an opinion on this critically important matter: