Together we can change the world
It is a bit of a paradox that the real estate industry is often the first to adopt and embrace new technology yet is so slow to change. There are quite a few contradictions regarding real estate. The industry is influenced by global events yet real estate remains local. It has a huge impact on the national economy yet affects individuals and neighbourhoods very differently, very unevenly. Real estate is a unique industry with a weird and antiquated business model.
Change from the bottom up
I don’t know how change happens. I suppose in most cases it doesn’t happen overnight. Things evolve. But because the real estate industry in Canada developed from the bottom up and Realtors have been the “agents of change” over the past decade, I believe we will continue to be the vanguard of change.
Clearly, the way I do my daily job is completely different than the way I did it back when I first became a licensed real estate agent. Today, I barely need a broker, I don’t need a scanner or a fax machine, a “closing room”, a receptionist, a file cabinet or even a desk.
So Realtors lead the charge for change. But what about consumers? The real estate industry will change in Canada because consumers want change.
What do they want?
They want the industry to get with the times.
What changes do real estate clients want?
Because real estate is still local, buying or selling a house in Kitchener-Waterloo is very different than buying or selling a house in the GTA, Moncton or Nanaimo, (not to mention Aukland, Barcelona or Chicago). Buyers and sellers from other places find themselves living in a parallel universe when navigating our local real estate market. It’s the same but different, like visiting Michigan, Ohio or Alberta.
Here are some examples of where you will encounter some differences
- Local real estate platforms (or portals)
- The way we deal with multiple offers
- General approach to initial offers and negotiating
So what remains is a high level of uncertainty because the business of real estate still involves a high level of subjectivity.
Selling a home will always be a major inconvenience to individuals and families. Until we find a way to shorten or streamline the time it takes to show potential (and only potential) buyers homes for sale, sellers will remain inconvenienced.
Of course sold data information for homes recently sold will at least get buyers and sellers started on the right foot with the right price. That’s last year’s possibly impactful change.
Data is good. More data is better! And although I always say that “you can’t buy a house on the internet” (one of my 365 rules about real estate), we have lots of room to provide home buyers with information about neighbourhoods, schools, crime… We can also add education and clarity about the who, what, where, when, why and how of local real estate. Before someone gets in their car to go visit a home for sale, they can have so much more information about what is happening in the neighbourhood.
The real estate model is very different in different countries. Some Australian clients told me that real estate auctions are popular in OZ where the commission is 2%. In the UK buyers deal with local selling offices when buying. Commissions there are 1.5%. In Toronto commissions are 5% whereas here in Kitchener-Waterloo they are 4%. In BC there is a sliding scale for commissions. New Brunswick makes it easy for private home sellers… you get the point. If we could adopt a standard system that works well with low commissions I think consumers would all be better off. If we can take a little less wool from the sheep, we will have fewer sheep shearers, wool classers, shearing contractors, farm owners, wool brokers…and happier sheep.