Author Topic: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...  (Read 9370 times)

Ricky

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And Zillow doesn't cut it.

I emailed about 10 people thru Zillow in different areas inquiring about different houses a few days ago. So far, I've only heard back from four. Three of them didn't answer my question at all and just asked a ton of other unrelated questions and tried to get a bunch of info out of me and told me to call them. Only one of them actually answered my question directly with one related follow up question.

I'm sorry, but I don't want to spend half a day calling people when I can email and get the job done faster. Plus, you want the sell, communicate with me with how I prefer. I don't want to calll about every house I just have a simple question on because I don't want to deal with your BS sales tactics. I'd rather just buy the place without any human interaction to be honest when every agent I talk to is just in extreme sales mode. It just seems so old school.

I think there's a real opportunity for someone to simplify the house buying process. Any time I think about buying a house I just get so turned off with all of the overhead and old school mentalities.

krishnamba

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2015, 07:47:50 AM »
Zillow does not get you in contact with actual realtor.

You need to hop. Copy paste the address or go to realtor.com and find the actual realtor.

But I like the demographics you get from Zillow, Trulia and citydata.

You have to do your own research and comparisons.

But at least the info is available.

Field123

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2015, 08:04:31 AM »
And Zillow doesn't cut it.

I emailed about 10 people thru Zillow in different areas inquiring about different houses a few days ago. So far, I've only heard back from four. Three of them didn't answer my question at all and just asked a ton of other unrelated questions and tried to get a bunch of info out of me and told me to call them. Only one of them actually answered my question directly with one related follow up question.

I'm sorry, but I don't want to spend half a day calling people when I can email and get the job done faster. Plus, you want the sell, communicate with me with how I prefer. I don't want to calll about every house I just have a simple question on because I don't want to deal with your BS sales tactics. I'd rather just buy the place without any human interaction to be honest when every agent I talk to is just in extreme sales mode. It just seems so old school.

I think there's a real opportunity for someone to simplify the house buying process. Any time I think about buying a house I just get so turned off with all of the overhead and old school mentalities.

This already exists. It's called the MLS and only licensed realtors have access to it. If you hire a realtor, they will set you up with an account and you can see all the data for yourself. Otherwise you could always get your real estate license and get on the MLS yourself.

Ricky

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2015, 08:14:36 AM »
And Zillow doesn't cut it.

I emailed about 10 people thru Zillow in different areas inquiring about different houses a few days ago. So far, I've only heard back from four. Three of them didn't answer my question at all and just asked a ton of other unrelated questions and tried to get a bunch of info out of me and told me to call them. Only one of them actually answered my question directly with one related follow up question.

I'm sorry, but I don't want to spend half a day calling people when I can email and get the job done faster. Plus, you want the sell, communicate with me with how I prefer. I don't want to calll about every house I just have a simple question on because I don't want to deal with your BS sales tactics. I'd rather just buy the place without any human interaction to be honest when every agent I talk to is just in extreme sales mode. It just seems so old school.

I think there's a real opportunity for someone to simplify the house buying process. Any time I think about buying a house I just get so turned off with all of the overhead and old school mentalities.

This already exists. It's called the MLS and only licensed realtors have access to it. If you hire a realtor, they will set you up with an account and you can see all the data for yourself. Otherwise you could always get your real estate license and get on the MLS yourself.

Case in point.

Guess there's really no way out of this antiquated system.

One thing that really needs to be addressed is the uniformity in listings. So many listings leave off key, detailed information for whatever reason. Every listing needs to be laid out the exact same to make comparisons easier and leave out the cheesy sales pitches in the description. For instance, there have been many units I've been looking at that HAVE laundry in unit, but don't have it listed on the site so I have to email someone due to a very stupid omission, then proceed to be hassled with sales tactics to even get my answer.

Working with a licensed agent 1 on 1 is only a quasi-solution to the problem I'm outlining.

nereo

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2015, 08:30:24 AM »
Case in point.

Guess there's really no way out of this antiquated system.

One thing that really needs to be addressed is the uniformity in listings. So many listings leave off key, detailed information for whatever reason. Every listing needs to be laid out the exact same to make comparisons easier and leave out the cheesy sales pitches in the description. For instance, there have been many units I've been looking at that HAVE laundry in unit, but don't have it listed on the site so I have to email someone due to a very stupid omission, then proceed to be hassled with sales tactics to even get my answer.

Working with a licensed agent 1 on 1 is only a quasi-solution to the problem I'm outlining.
You're thinking like someone that's purchasing the house, not someone who's selling it.  YOu want all the information easily accessable and comparable, but they want you to call, they want to give you their sales pitch, they want to evaluate how serious you are and whether you are worth their time.  Since it is their system, it is designed to work best for them.
Since moving to Canada I've become a big fan of DuProPrio - it's a service that allows homeowners to sell their properties without a real-estate agent and without any commissions.  Properties are easily sortable and comparable and you can communicate via email in most cases
 I agree with you that the current system sucks, but as long as people use real-estate agents the agents are going to set things up so it benefits them, not you.  Sorry.

arebelspy

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2015, 07:58:31 PM »
The amount of information on the web available today (specifically re: real estate) is astounding compared to 20 years ago.

And the fact that it's not push button simple makes for great opportunity.  Efficient markets have very little to exploit.  Inefficient markets allow you to find good deals.  :)
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ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 09:09:31 AM »
Zillow is garbage where I live, but Redfin has direct access to the MLS. So you see all listings, sales, and pending.

nereo

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 09:18:50 AM »
The amount of information on the web available today (specifically re: real estate) is astounding compared to 20 years ago.

And the fact that it's not push button simple makes for great opportunity.  Efficient markets have very little to exploit. Inefficient markets allow you to find good deals.  :)

Huh.  That's a really excellent way of thinking about it.  I've gotten annoyed at being unable to rapidly compare different properties, but I realize now that one of the reasons we got our current home at such a good discount is because it was poorly marketed (photos taken before renovations were complete, agent didn't include storage area in the posting, didn't specify that fees and taxes were for the building, so my actual taxes paid are 35% of the stated total).

arebelspy

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2015, 09:40:11 AM »
The amount of information on the web available today (specifically re: real estate) is astounding compared to 20 years ago.

And the fact that it's not push button simple makes for great opportunity.  Efficient markets have very little to exploit. Inefficient markets allow you to find good deals.  :)

Huh.  That's a really excellent way of thinking about it.  I've gotten annoyed at being unable to rapidly compare different properties, but I realize now that one of the reasons we got our current home at such a good discount is because it was poorly marketed (photos taken before renovations were complete, agent didn't include storage area in the posting, didn't specify that fees and taxes were for the building, so my actual taxes paid are 35% of the stated total).

Exactly!  Those are the hidden gems you dig for that others miss.  :)
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theoverlook

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2015, 08:29:14 AM »
Our current house was listed as 3 bed, 2 bath, and it turned out to be 5 bed, 4 bath... perfect for sharing.  I guess the listing agent didn't think a walk-out basement counted as living space?  But I love incompetent people now.

FIRE me

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2015, 01:08:47 AM »


This already exists. It's called the MLS and only licensed realtors have access to it. If you hire a realtor, they will set you up with an account and you can see all the data for yourself. Otherwise you could always get your real estate license and get on the MLS yourself.

Go to realtor.com and you can browse the entire MLS inventory. No RE license or account needed.

arebelspy

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2015, 09:05:35 AM »


This already exists. It's called the MLS and only licensed realtors have access to it. If you hire a realtor, they will set you up with an account and you can see all the data for yourself. Otherwise you could always get your real estate license and get on the MLS yourself.

Go to realtor.com and you can browse the entire MLS inventory. No RE license or account needed.

That's not true everywhere--AFAIK, Realtor.com doesn't have access to the MLS in every area, and it's not necessarily real time either, and it has less info (no agent notes being a big one).

It's a helpful website, but not a full substitute for MLS access.
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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2015, 03:37:46 PM »
Can you specify a zip code where realtor.com doesn't work? I tried an expensive zip, like Beverly Hills CA.

My mother's house (definitely not in Beverly Hills) was visible the day the agent listed it. I don't think agents have early or exclusive access. If they do, it is obviously less than 24 hours.

In general I think you are mistaken. It is full access, for the purpose of a buyer. Who cares about agent notes?

Maybe there are agents reading here who can provide facts?

sirdoug007

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2015, 03:45:55 PM »
I agree with the sentiment.  There must be someone in silicon valley working on taking the realtor's lunch money just like Uber took the taxi driver's...

Paying 6% to realtors for everything from a months long slog of advertising to a quick sale makes no sense.  Realtor's should be paid flat fees regardless of the transaction amount.

Someone will bust the MLS monopoly open and make life easier for all of us (well almost, sorry realtors)

bruce88

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2015, 02:13:05 AM »
From a 20 plus year real estate broker:

The 2nd best way to find out as much as possible is to access the local realtor MLS board.  Many will let you surf, but only give limited "customer" info.  But, usually, that is pretty good.  Also check tax records, Zillow, etc.

You have to understand that the Realtors are self employed and only allow MLS to access their private client info.  They aren't going to give it away to Zillow, etc.  All the systems in the world will not break this market if the Realtors are not paid for their info on closed properties (and that is the most valuable info of all).  But they will give it to you, a qualified buyer, for free, if you are serious and want to work with them.

The absolute best way to play this is to "hire" a Realtor where you want to buy.  They collect commissions from sellers, so it won't cost you any more.  If you find one that is pushy and unwilling to work with you, interview another.  You WILL find competent, professional people to work with.  And they will save you a ton of legwork plus give you valuable "inside" information to where the best deals are and what is hot.

Hope this helps.  Good luck.

clarkfan1979

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2015, 08:39:22 PM »
I like the idea of revamping the MLS system. It would be like, "Moneyball" but for real estate. Good luck.

Fishingmn

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2015, 06:01:22 AM »
Everyone hates Realtors and paying x% along with feeling there should be a free online alternative like Zillow.

- MLS is realtors - they pay for it (I pay $500/year)
- MLS is what provides uniformity in listing data - we get fined for not having it correct. Can you imagine a system where sellers can fudge the numbers on their home?
- MLS provides all the comparable sales that allow for somewhat informed market price data - who gathers, collects and verifies actual sales data without MLS and brokers?
- MLS syndicates all of their data to all of the other sites like zillow, realtor.com and the like - they have almost no listing data otherwise. Can you imagine the wild west of having to go to 10 different sites to find all of the listings?
- Zillow doesn't survive without realtors. Almost all of their money comes from selling buyer leads back to realtors through the sale of zip codes. How are you going to monitize this free alternative to make some national real estate site work?
- Flat fee was suggested as an alternative but that doesn't work very well when the volume of work varies. Lawyers & accountants don't charge a flat fee when they can't determine the amount of effort needed. There are places now that will list your home on MLS for a flat fee so if that's all you want then that is available at least.
- Plenty of people do FSBO - don't like the current system you can already avoid it and save on commissions if you are savvy and willing to put in the work required. It probably won't save you as much as you think though since most buyer's have an agent.
- Don't pay 6% - shop around.
- Finally, while "Agent Remarks" is an important field that the public can't see I feel the most important private field by far is seller paid closing costs. About half of all sales include the seller paying some sort of closing costs for the buyer. The public sees that house selling for $150k but in reality it probably sold for $145,500 net to the seller after they paid 3% closing costs. This skews the fair market price data unless you account for it in working with buyers and sellers.

arebelspy

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2015, 08:14:34 AM »
Great info fishing.  Thanks!
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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2015, 04:20:21 PM »
Curious here.

Living in Europe, I don't get the concept of MLS. Is it mandatory to list your home in an MLS when selling?

Can't you buy directly from the owner, without using a "realtor", like on Craigslit (btw I am always surprised to see how painfully ugly and unintuitive this website is)?
What are the other options in the USA to buy directly from the owner?

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2015, 04:30:02 PM »
Yes, you can, but how do you find it?

There's FSBO (for sale by owner), but Realtors/MLS dominate the market.
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DrMinimal

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2015, 01:31:33 AM »
Well, why not on FSBO or CraigsList then?
I bought mine on the French equivalent of CraigsList, avoiding realtors at all costs.
Why would a seller prefer to use a realtor instead of a peer-to-peer solution?

lhamo

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2015, 01:44:29 AM »
Our current house was listed as 3 bed, 2 bath, and it turned out to be 5 bed, 4 bath... perfect for sharing.  I guess the listing agent didn't think a walk-out basement counted as living space?  But I love incompetent people now.

This may have to do with zoning/code requirements.  Many basement bedrooms do not meet the current egress requirements so I believe they cannot be listed as bedrooms.  I see this a lot in Seattle area listings -- finished basement rooms are frequently listed as "bonus rooms", offices, dens, etc.   

Also, if the work was not properly permitted it is sometimes listed as an "unfinished" basement, even though it looks fine/functions as a finished space.  And unpermitted MIL apartments cannot be treated as a duplex, etc.

Fishingmn

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2015, 04:50:26 AM »
Well, why not on FSBO or CraigsList then?
I bought mine on the French equivalent of CraigsList, avoiding realtors at all costs.
Why would a seller prefer to use a realtor instead of a peer-to-peer solution?

Obviously, there are people who are successfully buying/selling today without a realtor. Given today's market though these are primary reasons why I think most don't do it themselves.

- Exposure - Not many people are using Craigslist to sell real estate. You want as broad exposure as possible to hit all the potential buyers in the market. This will reduce time on market and more importantly should increase sales price. You actually have more assurance of getting the highest price by having the largest exposure. There's a whole real estate investor industry of people called "wholesalers" who are trying to find people who aren't listed that will sell their home below market price so they can take a cut and sell it off to a flipper.

- Buyer's Representation - Currently, the vast majority of buyers have an agent. Currently you might list your house for 5% with 2.5% going to the buyers agent and 2.5% going to the listing agent. If you go FSBO you can avoid the listing agent fee but you really aren't saving the buyer side if the buyer has an agent. Either you agree to pay the listing agent's commission or the buyer pays it themselves as a part of the Buyer Rep Agreement and they reduce their offer to compensate for having to pay their own agent.

- Time and complexity - Most people don't want to take on such a timely and complex process which has large financial and legal ramifications. And it's not just finding a buyer - you have inspection, appraisal & title issues that come up frequently.

- Risk - You are talking about your largest financial transaction and signing legally binding contracts. There are also numerous disclosure issues along the way that can come back to bite you years after the sale. I had a seller once that decided to be in the yard raking when the inspection was taking place (against my advice) and casually mentioned that they occasionally had mice. Almost scuttled the deal and the buyer required that he buy a $1k pest elimination contract for them. MN has disclosures for material facts, wells, septic, methamphetamine, lead paint and arbitration that you need to share with buyers.

- Negotiations - A realtor has full access to comparable sales data & market statistics to help determine what the fair market price should be for your home. But contracts aren't just about the sales price. You need to negotiate earnest money, closing date, personal property and financing terms. Those negotiations often start over again after the inspection.

- Psychology - Selling a house is stressful. A good agent can help with the ups and downs associated with trying to sell your home which may have lots of emotions attached. I've found it's good to have someone not personally invested who can help make more factual decisions. For example, many sellers think their house is worth more than it may be worth. If the goal is to sell then it may actually help achieve that goal to have an outside party give guidance.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2015, 06:56:15 AM by Fishingmn »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2015, 04:54:34 AM »
Well, why not on FSBO or CraigsList then?
I bought mine on the French equivalent of CraigsList, avoiding realtors at all costs.
Why would a seller prefer to use a realtor instead of a peer-to-peer solution?

I sold a house last year through MLS. Sale-by-owner homes simply don't sell, and the only people looking on Craigslist are renters and investors, and I wanted (and got) a homeowner price. Beyond that, paying 3% to have a very solid negotiator as my realtor was well worth it.

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2015, 09:31:20 AM »
Well, why not on FSBO or CraigsList then?
I bought mine on the French equivalent of CraigsList, avoiding realtors at all costs.
Why would a seller prefer to use a realtor instead of a peer-to-peer solution?

MLS is what everyone uses.  More potential buyers = higher price and quicker sale.  It should make up for the Realtor fees.  Hopefully.
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DrMinimal

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #25 on: April 15, 2015, 03:46:33 PM »
Thank you all for the enlightments!
That probably explains why there isn't already a Real Estate 2.0: realtors actually have an added value that might be hard to "webify"?

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #26 on: April 15, 2015, 03:56:53 PM »
Thank you all for the enlightments!
That probably explains why there isn't already a Real Estate 2.0: realtors actually have an added value that might be hard to "webify"?

And/or a monopoly on preventing it from happening.

Fishing brings up a good point though: who's going to do all the work of aggregating the information, making sure it's correct, etc.?  And if the real estate websites make most of their money from Realtor referrals, but those commissions go away, how will those websites generate money to do anything?
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MayDay

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #27 on: April 20, 2015, 07:25:12 AM »
We are trying to sell FSBO right now.  It's on CL, zillow, and a sign in the yard.  It's not going well (2 showings and 1 phone call in over a week). 

I have had numerous realtors contact me and offer to list it for me.  I'm just not willing to pay their commissions since we don't "need" to sell.  But I'm guessing that when push comes to shove, we will pay.  Doesn't hurt to have the sign out in the yard in the meantime though. 

The other option is a 600$ flat fee MLS listing and blank contracts from a local realtor.  A friend did that and offered only a 2.5% commission to the buyers agent.  He got almost no traffic.  Apparently realtors around here are diehard about their 3%.  They are perfectly willing to steer buyers away from lower commission houses, ethical or not.

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #28 on: April 20, 2015, 07:42:44 AM »
The other option is a 600$ flat fee MLS listing and blank contracts from a local realtor.  A friend did that and offered only a 2.5% commission to the buyers agent.  He got almost no traffic.  Apparently realtors around here are diehard about their 3%.  They are perfectly willing to steer buyers away from lower commission houses, ethical or not.

I disagree that this is the reason.

The reality is that realtors have much less say anymore about which houses buyers want to go see. Almost all buyers use the internet to find homes and THEY drive the decision process on which houses to see and which ones to make an offer on. If you don't get traffic or activity it's much more highly likely that the reason is your price or how it's marketed (shows poorly, not pictured well).

I actually did an analysis from data in MLS in our local market to see if the buy side commission seemed to impact sales. The going rate in the Twin Cities is 2.7%. I analyzed homes that were at 2.5%, 2.7% and 3.0% to see if there was any difference in time on market or discount from list price. There didn't seem to be any difference at all (this was 12 months ago but doubt it has changed).
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 07:47:03 AM by Fishingmn »

waltworks

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #29 on: April 20, 2015, 08:17:43 AM »
I've never tried to sell FSBO but I've looked at lots of them. Inevitably the sellers are batshit crazy (sometimes they lie in wait to "show" the house to you themselves, that's always fun...) and/or have horribly mispriced their home.

Now, that doesn't mean a smart, rational person couldn't do a good job with the pricing, staging, marketing, etc, all on their own. But I have yet to see that and I've seen plenty of FSBOs. I think the smart rational people sit down and figure out what they really need to do and then just hire an agent.

Commissions have come down a little bit and I think they will come down a little more but to be honest, given the money involved and the legal complexities, I don't think 5% is that bad.

What does drive me nuts is that nobody posts video walkthroughs with listings (or floorplans). It would be trivial to do and let you really see how a house is laid out rather than guessing.

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arebelspy

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #30 on: April 20, 2015, 08:18:23 AM »
You realize you can end with more money by paying a Realtor if it ends with a higher sale price by more than their commissions, right? 

By all means, try FSBO. If you have time to wait, cool. But it's not just the time--the money may be different as well.

It's something to consider. :)
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nereo

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #31 on: April 20, 2015, 10:34:30 AM »
Interesting thread.  I appreciate the detailed responses from posters like fishingmn and others.
However, reading the reasons why real-estate buying/selling is dominated by realtors/MLS, it seems to me that most of them can be summed up by one word: inertia.  Sellers use realtors because that's what most people do, and it allows them to have the most traffic and get the highest prices even after the commission.  The weaknesses with FSBO (signs out in the yard and postings on craigslist) are that you can't attract as much attention and there is no support for the legal paperwork involved when buying or selling a property.

That said, I would agree with the OP that just because the system currently operates this way doesn't mean it has to in the future.  I think the system is inherently inefficient. I've purchased just two houses in my life, one in the US through an agent, and a second in Canada via Duproprio.  I think DuProprio is an example of how the system could work more efficiently.  For a flat listing fee they provide the infrastructure, marketing and professional assistance that RE agents would otherwise handle.  It seems to work well (at least here in Quebec), and it costs a small fraction of what a typical commission fee would be.

waltworks

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #32 on: April 20, 2015, 11:06:38 AM »
Well, something equivalent to the MLS is pretty much mandatory - you need historical pricing info/comps, especially if financing and hence appraisals are involved. And that data has to be policed so that people don't try to fudge or misrepresent their property somehow. That's never going to go away and whoever/whatever maintains it has to be paid (especially since there's lots of legal liability). I guess perhaps you could make a case for the FHA to handle that sort of stuff directly and perhaps that would be cheaper? But it would never fly with anti-big-gov't folks.

Title transfers and legal mumbo jumbo, again, are not going away anytime soon, so we'll all be paying for that too.

So it's not *all* inertia. Some of what you are paying for you'd pay for almost no matter what. I do think commissions and fees will trend down until we hit maybe 4% or so, but below that, no way. And it's really worth talking to a realtor about what they actually *make* after their broker's cut and overhead. It's not a ton. Top agents do great,  just like top professionals in any field. Middle of the road ones scrape by.

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nereo

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #33 on: April 20, 2015, 11:41:47 AM »
Well, something equivalent to the MLS is pretty much mandatory - you need historical pricing info/comps, especially if financing and hence appraisals are involved. And that data has to be policed so that people don't try to fudge or misrepresent their property somehow. That's never going to go away and whoever/whatever maintains it has to be paid (especially since there's lots of legal liability). I guess perhaps you could make a case for the FHA to handle that sort of stuff directly and perhaps that would be cheaper? But it would never fly with anti-big-gov't folks.

Title transfers and legal mumbo jumbo, again, are not going away anytime soon, so we'll all be paying for that too.
I agree that there is a real cost to maintaining those records, providing those services etc. and currently those needs are met by the MLS.  I'm just arguing that this may not be the best or most efficient system. That's why I suggested Duproprio as a potential model for what could replace it - you pay to list and all the things you listed are handled by them.  Besides the inertia of our current system, I just don't see the reason why every city should have dozens of agents working for several real-estate companies (or working independently), each representing just a handful of clients and charging a commission on sale price.  Sure, it leads to the best results for a buyer/seller right now - but get a couple of good entrepreneurs to develop a more efficient system and I think it could change fast.

For an analogy, consider travel agents of yesteryear... 20 years ago most people booked their vacations through a travel agent, and the agents had the best access to flight itineraries and hotels, and they were best equipped to book travel accomodations, particularly when they required multiple flights, different carriers and foreign cities. Back then a good travel agent could save you a lot of money and time because they could find the most efficient and economical routes across multiple carriers.  Now websites like Kayak and Orbitz can compile all this information quickly and efficiently for anyone to use.
Of course this isn't a perfect comparison, but it will do for now.

theoverlook

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #34 on: April 20, 2015, 11:48:14 AM »
Well, something equivalent to the MLS is pretty much mandatory - you need historical pricing info/comps, especially if financing and hence appraisals are involved.

At least where I am, the county maintains prior sale price data as well, for property tax valuation reasons.  And since it's a government resource, the data is freely available to the public.  And there are legal penalties for fudging the data in attempts to evade taxes, so it should be a good bit more reliable than MLS data which has no such penalties.

Prior listing prices are not important for comps, as far as I know.  Only actual sales.

waltworks

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #35 on: April 20, 2015, 12:46:43 PM »
Bwahaha!

Comps from tax records. Great idea.

-W

Well, something equivalent to the MLS is pretty much mandatory - you need historical pricing info/comps, especially if financing and hence appraisals are involved.

At least where I am, the county maintains prior sale price data as well, for property tax valuation reasons.  And since it's a government resource, the data is freely available to the public.  And there are legal penalties for fudging the data in attempts to evade taxes, so it should be a good bit more reliable than MLS data which has no such penalties.

Prior listing prices are not important for comps, as far as I know.  Only actual sales.

ender

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #36 on: April 20, 2015, 05:16:16 PM »
This thread has given me a lot more respect for the need of realtors than I ever had before.

Thanks for all your posts fishingmn!

LSUFanTX

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2015, 04:47:07 PM »
I would agree that there should be a better way of doing real estate transactions, but change is slow. At this point I think the best alternative is listing on MLS using a flat-fee broker. We did this on our last home sale and were very happy with the results. For us the way it worked was we paid a fee to a broker to have our house listed on MLS but we were responsible for preparing all descriptions, pictures, etc. We also prepared all the paperwork (the broker provided us the forms, but little guidance) and negotiated directly with the buyers' agent. The fee also got us access to the showing service the Realtors use for scheduling showings, although we did pay extra to rent the Supra lockbox as compared to the basic number combination lockbox.

A few notes/observations:
  • We did offer a 3% buyers agent commission just so we would have the potential of agents steering clients away because they thought they were getting short-changed.
  • The first few weeks we got TONS of calls from agents offering to list our home. Thankfully I set up a Google Voice number and routed all the calls to voicemail. Since agents showing the house would be calling the showing service and not me directly, I saw no reason to have the calls ring me direct.
  • It may seem intimidating, but if you can take decent pictures (or know/hire someone who can), are comfortable with business contracts, and can write decent sales copy you should be alright. If you have purchased or sold a home before in that area you should already have a pretty good idea how the process works.

We sold within three months (list to close) at a fantastic price at the depths of the downturn in early 2009 this way, and we plan to do the same in the next few months with our current home.

zephyr911

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2015, 11:45:29 AM »
Can you specify a zip code where realtor.com doesn't work? I tried an expensive zip, like Beverly Hills CA.

My mother's house (definitely not in Beverly Hills) was visible the day the agent listed it. I don't think agents have early or exclusive access. If they do, it is obviously less than 24 hours.

In general I think you are mistaken. It is full access, for the purpose of a buyer. Who cares about agent notes?

Maybe there are agents reading here who can provide facts?
My local MLS (NALMLS) was involved in some kind of contract dispute with Realtor.com starting before I got licensed and running for nearly a year afterward, during which time none of our local listing info was passed on to their site. I have no idea how common that is; I only know that it happened here.

Fishingmn

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2015, 12:35:27 PM »
I think the best alternative is listing on MLS using a flat-fee broker. We did this on our last home sale ....

The first few weeks we got TONS of calls from agents offering to list our home.

If this is true (and your home was listed with the flat fee broker) then those Realtors were breaking Article 16 of the Realtor Code of Ethics which is a huge no-no. If your flat fee broker were to find out they could bring the offending party in front of the local Association board for an ethics hearing.

zephyr911

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Re: There really needs to be a Web 2.0 version of real estate buying...
« Reply #40 on: April 28, 2015, 01:36:23 PM »
If this is true (and your home was listed with the flat fee broker) then those Realtors were breaking Article 16 of the Realtor Code of Ethics which
is a huge no-no. If your flat fee broker were to find out they could bring the offending party in front of the local Association board for an ethics hearing.
Man, that didn't even occur to me. Fishingmn is absolutely right.

Even if your listing is through a flat-fee broker, and you're really not getting any services beyond the actual MLS listing, they are still officially your agent. Realtors are strictly prohibited from offering their services to anyone who is already in an agency agreement with another.