We’ve all heard the saying, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Selling your home is NOT one of those events in life you want to experience regret.
Efficiency is the name of the game in real estate in this information technology age, but not so much for the client. It’s the listing agent who gets most of the benefits, particularly the ability to trim off just about all the legwork except for the time it takes to get the listing and collect the check.
Case in point: I recently put my home on the market. The last time I did that was seven years ago, before the internet so pervasively streamlined the real estate industry. I decided to call an agent that lists most of the homes in my neighborhood. She was cordial and professional and agreed to email me the comparable sales in my area, although she needn’t have done so; I had already completed the research online and had the same information. We met the next day and I agreed to list my home with her. She whipped out her iPhone, walked around the house, took a few pictures for the Multiple Listing Service, and was out the door. The listing agreement showed up shortly after in my email inbox. I quickly e-signed the document using DocuSign, a handy security app. With just a few clicks I was done. Boom. Less than three minutes and my hands didn’t have to leave the keyboard. Chalk-up time saved for me.
Before I knew it, a sign showed up in my front yard. Actually, it was more of a billboard for the listing firm than a sign. There was nothing on it about my home. This is disappointing. My neighbor—who sold her home herself—had a custom sign created for her yard that listed all the hot selling points about her property. Didn’t I deserve a sign like that? I began to question my decision to list the home with an agent. Why couldn’t I just sell it myself and have a nifty yard sign like my neighbor, one designed to sell my home, not the real estate company? Then came the lockbox for my front door, which allows a buyer’s agent to gain access without the my agent having to open the door. Fair enough, but where was my agent now that we’re all gathered? I call the company to ask why she’s not here to meet with the potential buyers and their agent. I’m told that 84 percent of all real estate transactions operate on this system because it’s more “efficient.” Points for time saved for the listing agent.
Soon after, I received a text message from Centralized Showing Service telling me my home would be shown at 4 p.m. the next day. I’m supposed to hit an “accept” or “decline” button. I hit “accept” and the appointment wass confirmed with an email. Impressive- that is an “efficient” way to schedule appointments. I was curious to know more about this service so I Google it. It’s a third-party service. Real estate agents contract with them to set their appointments. At $40 bucks a listing it’s a little pricey, but hey, listing agents have better things to do than play secretary.
My home shows four more times that week. How much of that activity is due to the efforts of my agent, I wonder? My agent sends me a “feedback report.” I take that back—She doesn’t send it or prepare it, for that matter. It’s a report generated by Centralized Showing Service. But she does get “points” for forwarding it to me. Two days later I get a text message that there’s a contract on my home and my agent will forward the documents when she gets back to her office. Hooray! The contract is acceptable with one change. She makes the change using none other than DocuSign, and I add my signature. We’re ten days into the listing and I haven’t seen my agent since I gave her the listing. I wonder if I would recognize her if she came to my door?
A few more days go by and my home is inspected. The buyer and her agent show up for the inspection, but my agent is missing in action. I call her office and I’m told the listing agent doesn’t attend inspections, only the buyer’s agent. I’m seeing a definite pattern. Is my agent trying to lay low for some other reason besides “efficiency?” Is she being primed for the witness protection program perhaps? Anyway, the inspection goes well. There are a few repairs required, but the buyer opts for a $300 credit. That’s easy, and easier yet, thanks to my buddy DocuSign.
Thirty days later it’s time for the closing. I drive over to the title company and—what do you know—my agent has made an appearance! I do recognize her after all! She graciously hands me a nice bottle of wine. Nice touch. She and the buyer’s agent receive matching $18,000 checks and I receive $36,000 worth of so-called “efficiency.” You know, I think I’d rather have the $36,000, thank-you-very-much. Looking back, I could’ve just done it myself. If only…