Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Contemplating cosmic changes in real estate

I made the decision to become a Realtor® last July. As in any life changing decision, there were a number of factors. I wanted to be in an industry that valued individual contribution. Working with people where I could develop a relationship was also important to me.

My vision of real estate came from my own experience of receiving dedicated personal service when buying and selling houses over the years. While I found houses of interest on the Internet when we did our last purchase, we ended up buying one that we had never seen on a computer. A great local agent at Bluewater GMAC Real Estate in Cape Carteret, NC found us just the right spot after showing us plenty of places we couldn't see digitally.

Now as I am coming up to speed as a Realtor® here on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina (SOBX), I find that there is a huge push for real estate brokers to embrace the Internet. It is true that more and more customers are doing their initial searches on the Internet. The younger the people, the more likely they are to depend on some Internet help at first.

I believe that the Internet can add value to real estate transaction. I am a huge believer in technology used properly. However, I think people who believe that the Internet is going to drive all the costs out real transaction are misleading themselves or others whom they're trying to capture as customers. Adding technology to real estate purchases is not going to be the same as pay at the pump, ATM, or self checkout at the grocery store. Technology hasn't driven down our banking, grocery, or gasoline costs.

Buying real estate is also not like buying a car. While the Internet helps intelligent car purchasers save some money, it hasn't help much with my service costs at the local dealership.

Real estate is still a local market unless you just don't care where you live. Buying a home is far more complicated than any other purchase and comes with lots of potential pitfalls. The reason many people think that real estate transactions are easy is that they have been fortunate to have had some very good real estate brokers working with them. The number of things that can go wrong in a real estate transaction are amazing. Having nearly 24X7 human help during this process can protect the largest investment that you will likely ever make in your lifetime.

While the Internet can truly help, it is still important to have trained professionals doing a great job for each client who wants to find the right place to invest money in real estate, whether it is the perfect place for a second home, or the right spot for a great retirement home. There is no getting away from real estate requiring lots of shoe leather hitting the pavement or in our case lots of sandals on the sand.

While the real estate business is going to change dramatically just as many others have, it's not going to change to the point where working with quality professionals isn't important.

A post on one of my other blogs deals with an article which hinted that real estate professionals are on their way out because they don't add value equal to the commission that they charge. The post, "Old school at times and proud of it," is a detailed commentary on the subject and explains many of the complexities of the subject.

In this market, I think most sellers will find that a great Realtor® is worth every penny they charge.

While it may be very easy to buy a property right now, buying it and buying it right are two different things. Selling homes today requires all the professional help you can afford.

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