What Use is a Real Estate Saleperson?

The supply and demand model describes how pric...

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If you follow me in the world of social media, you know that I am a Twitter person. I listen, I comment, and I enjoy watching the stream This morning someone wrote “If Realtors are really successful, why are so many homes on the market. Either you can sell or you can’t.

I don’t understand what he is talking about, or the correlation of inventory with the impact of using a REALTOR. The purpose of selling a home through a real estate professional was never about just selling the home. It was about selling the home for the best price with the best terms possible, in a smooth and secure manner minimizing the risk of potential litigation.

In a market where demand outpaces supply (commonly referred to as a seller’s market) the need for a real estate professional is often less obvious because consumers confuse getting it sold with getting it sold properly (as I defined it above). And because of that confusion, the value that the professional adds to the transaction seems to be obfuscated by the market activity. (I know its a big word – I usually eschew obfuscation, but Google the word if you need to)

In a market where the supply outpaces the demand (commonly referred to as a buyer’s market) the seller’s need for the services of a real estate professional becomes more obvious because it is more difficult to find the qualified buyer to purchase the home for any price, let alone the best price for the seller. But that same price pressure often leads the seller to the mistaken impression that the best strategy is to sell the property without professional assistance to allow them more room to negotiate. But that doesn’t make the need for a REALTOR any less urgent, or the impact on the transaction of the professional’s services any less crucial.

In fact, I would suggest that the absorption rate of even the slower market would be negatively impacted by the removal of the REALTOR’s services. Perhaps the best analogy is that of a room that is dimly lit by a few candles. The argument made by my twitter bud seems to be that the poor lighting in the room is due to the presence of the candles, when without their illumination, the room would have been in deeper if not total darkness.

I don’t know why REALTOR bashing is so popular, except that it is always easy to bash a class of people. Professional goups are faceless and do not respond to small slights like these, and these unsupported statements, fallacious as they are, create untrue impressions in those who read them. And when the market is tough, and people seek to blame someone, faceless groups become an easy target.

So if you are a REALTOR, and struggle against a slow market in your area, be proud of the positive impact you have on the ability of your buyers and sellers to make the moves they need to make in their lives. And if you are a consumer, struggling against that same market, hold your agent accountable to do what they can, and to (perhaps as importantly) explain to you what they are doing and why, but don;t blame them for the vagaries of the marketplace, anymore than you should give them credit for the better marketplaces we have experienced.

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