Severe disruption coming disguised as “byowner.com” broker sites … not Zillow
I read the best quote the other day: “There are two ways to do anything, the right way or again…” This pretty much sums up what needs to be done to the issue of growing online brokerages disguising themselves as forsalebyowner.com websites. We need to try again. I don’t think when they originally approved data feeds to online brokerages anyone had true understanding of what could potentially happen.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about and see if you have the same concern I do. The other day I got a call from a past client that wanted to let me know that he was selling his house by owner in case I had a buyer looking for something like his. At first I thought it was an opportunity to convert a FSBO. After getting all the info about the house I asked him if he could email me a few pictures so I can see what it looked like to which he replied, “Oh you can see it online… I put it on the MLS. I listed it myself online on a for sale by owner website for just $300 and that puts it on the MLS for six months.”
The frustrating part about this isn’t what he said, it’s the fact that it’s the third time I’ve heard it since the beginning of the year! And he actually thinks he is selling his own home.
Below are a few issues I have with this being a reality that you have to deal with as an agent now.
First, our national association spends more time worrying about its own paying Realtor members using the word “REALTOR” anywhere incorrectly, or using “MLS” as part of your website name then fixing this loophole in the rules.
Second, how long will hard-working, ethical agents stay in the industry when their competitor isn’t each other anymore but a ghost online charging one percent? How do you expect them to feed their family when that’s what they have to work for in order to get a listing versus an online company? This loophole literally lets the consumer bypass the agent based off the false assumption that they are listing it themselves.
Lastly, It hurts to see agents bring their buyers to these online listings and write a contract, working for their buyer, and end up having to do the job of the non-existent listing agent/brokerage as well… but receive no compensation for the liability it’s creating. I know they’re listed as limited service brokerages, so no big surprise there, but “limited” and “nonexistent” don’t mean the same thing.
How could we ever let this happen? And more importantly why would we let it continue?
The disruption I see coming isn’t in any single one of the online brokerages becoming too dominant, but that there will become too many of them everywhere multiplying like a virus.
If we’re feeling the impact of this in a market like mine in the “micro-metropolis” of Mobile Alabama, I can only imagine what it’s already becoming in large cities with huge population clusters to capitalize on.
The powers that be didn’t get it right, so it’s time to try again.