Sellers have always had choice
Having just read “Tough lawyer hails real estate fee victory” (Tue Nov 03 2009) I feel I must respond. As a real estate agent, I feel like we have been under attack for quite some time now. We are not evil, nor predatory, just doing our job like everyone else.
Mr. Dale states “At the end of the day it should be the consumers who decide how they sell their home…” but that is exactly how the world works right now. Should you choose to sell your home, you can work with a real estate agent, put a for sale sign on your lawn, or sign up with a for-sale-by-owner website. No one is forcing anyone to do anything!
MLS is a members-only site, as are many others. If I want to put an ad in The Star, I have to pay to do it. Just because you have the largest readership does not mean you have a monopoly. If you want to list your home for sale on a FSBO site, you will have to pay. Just because realtor commissions can cost more than these fees, that does not make it wrong. Some people are quite happy to pay more and drive a Lexus while others are happy to drive a Kia. That does not mean we have force Lexus to sell their cars for cheaper, or make them offer Kias on their lots.
Real estate commissions have been trending down over time, because of the internet and other DIY options. Sellers routinely negotiate commissions down these days, I hear it all the time. Most of my listings are for 50-60% less than the “standard” commission. We do not need legislation to force our wages down, smart sellers are doing that right now. Listing agents used to routinely get 3% to sell a house, now I am lucky to be offered 1% – all without legislation. Let the free market continue to work, as it already is.
And people have to understand that the “possible” $20,000 in commissions on a $400,000 sale does not all go into one person’s pocket. That amount is likely split 50/50 with the buyer’s agent. Each of their portions is then split again with their brokerages, sometimes as much as 50% going to the brokerage. From that amount we have to pay desk fees, advertising, taxes, website costs, gas for the car, etc. So an agent could end up with $5,000 of that initial amount, not so much anymore. And if they are doing one deal per month, then they end up making $60,000 per year – hardly Trump money.
And that is only if the house sells! Nothing is paid unless there is a result – and the result has to be agreed upon and accepted by the seller. So unless they are happy, they pay nothing. FSBO sites make you pay up front, regardless of whether or not you sell. People forget all the work real estate agents do with no result. If a seller won’t accept a reasonable price and their home never sells, the listing agent gets nothing for all of their hard work. Same with a buyer’s agent who spends umpteen hours driving clients around, paying for gas and parking, only to have them be too picky and never find anything they like. All of that effort for free.
The fact that MLS is so successful might have something to do with the people who run it, or the men and women out there working in the real estate field. There are any number of competitors to MLS, such as for-sale-by-owner websites or discount brokerages such as RealtySellers. If they fail, it might be due to something other than the so-called monopoly that MLS has.
As the story states, both Mr. Moranis and Mr. Dale were involved in the traditional real estate that they now rail so heartily against. And as far as I recall, Mr. Moranis is involved again with his late mother’s brokerage. They cannot hate the system that bad, can they? Perhaps it is more of a publicity stunt? Or were they so upset at the failure of RealtySellers that they decided to scuttle the entire ship and take everyone down with them?
And to clarify, Fraser Beach had his MLS access terminated because he was taking listing information and posting it on his own site without permission. He was working with Bell to create a second MLS-type system and was taking the data from MLS to add to it. It had nothing to do with his brokerage, which had been operating for many years and was very successful. Please get your facts straight. CREA and TREB do not punish those who offer cheaper services to the public, they go after those who break the rules. And while I am not 100% sure, I am next to positive that the initial fight between RealtySellers and TREB had to do with advertising, not the fees they were charging. And they were also involved with Mr. Beach and Bell and their failed venture. Just because you do not like the rules does not mean you can break them.
Please do not make all of us look like greedy salespeople. We do get our backs up when we feel we are under attack and we sure do not like the idea of our incomes going down. Look at the CAW and how they reacted to pay cuts. It isn’t just us, everyone fights for what they have worked for – be it income or reputation.