Why Are There Still Real Estate Agents?

Chart - Real Estate Agents

Many thought that the Internet would kill off real estate agents, but they’re still here. Wonkblog looks at the reasons why:

The post-crash world is more complex: The housing crash and ensuing tighter lending standards, as well as the prevalence of foreclosures and short sales, have made the average transaction harder to navigate without expert help. Getting financing and negotiating tricky contracts, for example, probably shouldn’t be done on your own. “There’s always something doing down the pike that makes the process more complicated,” says Scott MacDonald, who runs a Re/Max brokerage in Chantilly, Va.

The internet improves productivity: When buyers can find out the homes they want through online research, an agent has to spend less time touring them around. Then, they can just come in and help with closing, and pick up the same commission. Some sites, like Redfin, offer lower rates for less wraparound service–but even Redfin decided last year to flesh out its bare-bones model to cover more home tours, and increased rates for buyers. (That could change more with services like Jason’s House, which allows agents to bid on buyers who only need a few specific tasks performed).

I agree. There are many things I will do for myself on the Internet, but buying a home is not one of them. It’s too big a purchase, with too great a downside if I get something wrong.

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