I was watching a special news report on one of our local stations the other night, one of those supposedly "consumer-beware" investigative journalism pieces, designed to create splash, controversy, and drive up ratings.
Their topic was "Real Estate Commissions."
While the reporter who wrote the story claimed that it offered a very fair and balanced viewpoint (she told me that her sister was a real estate agent), the majority of the information that she shared was extremely biased towards what is known as "Limited-Service" agencies. She portrayed traditional "full-service" agents in a very negative light, and made the basic premise that anyone paying full commission for selling their house was an idiot (Okay, she didn't say idiot, per se, but you get the idea).
One of the few things she did say during her report that I agreed with was the statement, "You get what you pay for!"
With a "Limited-Service" brokerage, you usually have a menu of options or listing plans to choose from. The first option/plan usually gets you a sign in your yard. They may put your house up on their website, or some will even input it into the local multiple listing service. From that point, everything else is pretty much an upgrade and increase in cost. You want flyers? That's extra. You want a photo gallery? That's extra. Newspaper advertising? Extra. You want a Broker's Open House? Sorry, we don't do that. Open Houses on the weekend? Nope. There's a reason why they're called "Limited-Service" agents!
But the one thing that remains constant throughout the entire process, regardless of what option you choose, is that you are the one who is solely responsible for doing all the negotiating and dealing directly with prospective Buyers. There is no licensed, trained professional advocating for your best interests, no one to counsel you on your legal rights and options, no one to coordinate all the various elements of the transaction to ensure that your home sells in a smooth and timely manner.
So the statement is an accurate one - "You really do get what you pay for!"
A good, experienced professional realtor will always be able to justify the commission they charge, and demonstrate the value of the services they offer.
Then, when your house has been effectively marketed and sold in a reasonable time frame, for full, or close to full market value, when the whole transaction was smooth and stress-free, and you are empowered to embark on the next great adventure in your life, you'll look back and say, "I got what I paid for!"