What’s Changed with Home Sellers’ Need to Hire a Real Estate Agent? Plenty!

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Home sellers and buyers are losing faith in realtors, and the days of the real estate cartel monopoly are numbered. This outcome was hastened by automatic valuations, and whether you think these valuations are accurate or not, buyers and sellers love looking at them. Determining your home’s value without an agent has become easy, even in non-disclosure states—it just might take a few extra clicks and a bit of sleuthing on your part.

Realtors Lose the trust of home sellers

Cracks in the real estate industry’s wall are rapidly surfacing, and that wall is going to tumble down. Realtors lost the trust and loyalty of home sellers because for decades they have behaved like a closed cartel, keeping comparable sales and statistics on active homes for sale under lock and key, like Coca-Cola guards its top-secret formula.

When brokers lost the automated valuation search to third-party websites like Trulia and Zillow, they lost their monopoly as the local go-to source for housing information. Once this wall was breeched, loyalty to agents and brands began to diminish.

More than 50 percent of all real estate transactions are now automated. Real estate news and trade journals have attracted the agent’s attention with the latest and greatest technology—handy, efficient gadgets that all have one thing in common: they make it easier for agents to remove themselves from human, one-on-one contact. It’s no wonder consumers feel they’re getting very little agent face time. That touchy-feely, visceral experience the seller feels when they’re dealing with their agent in the flesh has been replaced with a text message or e-mail. Now, realtor-agent interaction has become filtered through layers of digital technology.

Clients aren’t blind to what’s happening. They get it. When an agent whips out a fancy comparative market analysis (CMA) with color-coded charts and graphs, the seller knows how much of that slick report is based on their agent’s personal expertise and how much is produced by software programming. The realtor inputs the address, a couple of numbers and bam!—a slick report is generated, popping up like a piece of toast. Are sellers supposed to be impressed with that?

Three years ago when Zillow wasn’t so big and powerful, Multiple Listing Service (MLS) served as a realtor’s ace in the hole. It was exclusive and off limits to non-realtors. Today, Zillow has delivered a real alternative to MLS, and is now the go-to site for home searches.

What NAR would like home sellers to think

But The National Association of Realtors (NAR) wants home sellers to think otherwise. Their latest annual surveys claims that the for sale by owner (FSBO) market is not growing, yet independent studies show it is growing more than 50 percent each year. What the NAR numbers don’t reflect is how many homes in the MLS system are being sold with flat fee services.

Once you break out the numbers for those services, you’ll find that the number of FSBO listings is soaring. NAR won’t release those numbers but experts know that FSBO sellers are wising up. They’re saving the roughly 6 percent they would be paying to an agent, which adds up to thousands of dollars. They are no dummies.

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