Agents becoming extinct?
The news cycle is at it again with threats of the real estate agent becoming extinct, often perpetuated by self deprecating agents themselves1. People fear change, whine about making less money, and that consumers are being fed too much information.
Our human story is always changing while continuing to be joined to common threads. For tens of thousand of years, humans have breathed air, eaten food, worked, lived and died. The ways in which this happens changes over time. We used to hunt food and pierce fish. Now we eat fois gras bedside in a fancy hotel and our perfectly round, genetically modified, red apples are what our kids think are normal.
So take the full time licensed agent and brokerage. They began as small neighborhood agencies then large corporate entities. No agency law, no MLS and hand written pocket listing cards to now virtual offices, electronic signatures, paperless transactions and transparent information on the Internet of every sale in many areas. But agents are still around, despite changes.
Tying the past to the present
What are the common threads? Payment structure, knowledge of homes before they enter the MLS, agents helping consumers, managing negotiations, and generally still more knowledge of home buying process than the consumer. A person buys a home maybe twice in their first ten years of home ownership. Then again maybe 10-15 years later. So, maybe three to four times in their lives.
I personally became licensed after my first home buying experience. I didn’t have an agent, I bought an owner financed home from my grandfather, and there was no home inspection, negotiations, cma, or even a title search. My grandfather was one of those who thought he could sell it himself, along with everything else in life. After just showing up at an attorney’s office one afternoon and signing some papers, I owned a home. Several years later, lots of money fixing the half self-installed roof, a five gallon bucket used as a basement sump pump pit and more, I took licensing classes. Lucky for me, my grandfather didn’t do any CMA’s and had he used an agent, perhaps he wouldn’t have been as surprised as he was when the house was “worth” two years later way more than what he felt was the value when he priced it himself.
Why industries change
Industries typically change when the consumer starts demanding more. They haven’t forgotten about their experiences in buying a home and have recently realized the need for change. When the real estate boom of the early 2000’s started, things started changing once again and real estate seemed to be on everyone’s minds.
In 2003, MRIS (our local multiple listing system) only allowed 6 photos. Around 2006, 20 more were added for an additional fee to the agent. In 2010, agents started paying photographers to take better photos. In 2012, maybe 35% of photos are being shot with professional equipment but there are still million dollar homes with agents taking the photos… and they are still bad.
Zillow, Trulia, Zip Realty, Redfin, and independent brokerages began popping up more and more. People were waiting for and talking about this new revolution wherein agents would become extinct for fear of the virtual agent or FSBOs banding together and *gasp* selling their own houses. Flat fee service companies have emerged and threatened to take business from the full service agent. Clients got burned, they didn’t feel like they got attention from limited services, and ultimately some of these systems weren’t in their best interest.
The Silicon Valley mentality
All of these companies started out with one mission, realized that their models needed to change and have done just that. Redfin tried salaried agents, ZipRealty tried rebates and both have realized while it may be a great idea theoretically, to change a way an industry works is just not sustainable. It’s about finding the balance of traditional services, cutting edge technology and client care. The majority of the country is not located or even has the mentality of Silicon Valley, so to oust all agents everywhere in revolt – that just isn’t going to happen overnight.
While all this is going on, most successful agents are still out there selling homes and working with consumers. They have kept up enough with technology to be able to text, know the main sites that consumers are searching, and have a facebook page, but their main priority isn’t the radical change happening around them, it’s their clients.
The consumer now knows about the big sites to search, and after that, they research how to buy homes, make their lists of what they think they want/need, go to some open houses and then call an agent who (hopefully) knows the areas, home styles, prices and all the rest of the intricacies of buying or selling a home. But once this experience is over, most consumers turn off the real estate radar and probably won’t be too concerned about real estate again for another several years and then, they will check to see what the newest search sites are.
But why are we agents still in existence in 2012? Hmmm.
Calm down, agents aren’t going anywhere
Perhaps the original intention was there to change everything, but from where I sit, today there are a lot of amazing people making huge advances to the real estate business but not making anyone extinct. The agent isn’t going anywhere. Calm down. There will always be consumers who can “do it themselves,” and why not let them? If they have the motivation, skills and knowledge, why not? It’s never going to be the norm because the average person doesn’t have the time, can’t keep up with trends or laws or just has no interest in taking on one more thing in their lives.
Laws change, marketing changes, contracts change, photo quality changes, technology changes, and consumer behavior changes. But for most people dealing with a home purchase a mere 4-5 times in an entire life, keeping up with these changes is not feasible. Broken pieces get fixed or enhanced and the real reasons for helping people find a home in which to live continues to remain. There always needs to be a common thread. There will be a future in real estate, and the agent will continue to be there. Perhaps in different roles, but still there.
Our five faves for Friday – almost Thanksgiving edition
(EDITORIAL) This week, I have so many faves that I can barely keep it at just five – Unicorns, gophers, tears, science nerdery, and rebellions, oh my!
I heard a rumor that it’s Friday again, so today we share with you five of the neato-est things that we came across this week – some silly, some serious, all awesome.
1. Brands refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day
It started with retailers opening early on Black Friday, then opening at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and now retailers are expected to force their staff to work instead of enjoy a bajillion-ish year old American tradition.
But some companies are pushing back, publicly refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day, so even though our home doesn’t care about Black Friday, we’ll be giving some business to those taking a stand.
2. I need you to know about my favorite tv show ever
So there’s nothing new about this, but since you’ve never heard from ME on a Friday Faves roundup, I really need you to know something about me – I have a lot of natural curiosities and history (when not told in a dusty way) fascinates the hell out of me.
Unearthed on the Science Channel is friggen amazing and literally EVERY episode has taught me something that I didn’t know before (like the one about Stonehenge included new discoveries that change how we think about how humans used to operate – seriously mindblowing stuff). All of the episodes are available online, yo, so get to nerding!
3. No one has bought me a Pony Cycle yet
One of the only email newsletters I actually open is The Grommet – they feature independent makers’ inventions and wares, and I’m all about supporting the little guy.
But I posted this insanely amazing Pony Cycle on my Facebook timeline this week with a request that someone buy me one. Guess what? No takers. My friends are monsters. I mean it comes in horse, unicorn (dibs), and zebra, why not buy me one or three?
4. Video that made me cry
After the recent earthquake hit Iran, there has been a deep need for food for the victims. Watch this video (my fave part is the pat pat on the back) and try to tell me that hate isn’t something we’re taught… also, I’m not crying, you are…
5. My favorite gif of this week
If you know me, you know I love gifs more than the average person. So when I came across this one, I knew I had to award it my fave of the week…
Is your job inadvertently harming your health?
(EDITORIAL) We often get so consumed with our work that we unknowingly hurt ourselves in the process. Learn how to keep this from happening.
With the changes in seasons, we tend to put more of an emphasis on our health. This makes sense as flus and colds have a tendency to run rampant around the holidays.
However, we should be more mindful of keeping track of our health throughout the year. And, given that our jobs are such a large part of our lives, it is important to keep in mind that our jobs can have an affect on our health. Which can often be a bad thing.
For most of us, we are in the same space for eight hours of our day. Sometimes we think that just because it’s ourselves occupying that space, things can’t really get germy. Well, think again.
We have so many things that we touch on a daily basis – our keyboard, mouse, phone, ID badge, etc. These have a tendency to become a house for germs, which can hurt us as time goes on.
Combat this by setting aside some time each week to disinfect all of your most-used items. Also, consider keeping some hand sanitizer at your desk.
Getting up to clean around your office can help take care of another issue – being too sedentary throughout the day. Sometimes we get so consumed with plugging away at our computers that we forget to get up and stretch.
This can be harmful to your weight and your circulation. Keep the blood flowing by getting up and moving a bit every hour or so.
The mindfulness of your health should not stop at the physical, but should also involve keeping an eye on mental health. Your job plays a big part in this as well.
First of all, you start and end your day with a commute. For some, this can be incredibly strenuous – expensive, traffic-filled, etc.
This has been known to lead to depression. Try filling this time with positivity and fulfillment by listening to a quality podcast or an audio book. This will help to give meaning to otherwise wasted time.
The most important thing to monitor with your mental health is making sure to not overwork yourself. It can be difficult to find that perfect work/life balance, but it’s necessary for a happy and healthy life.
Try staying away from work emails and texts after a certain time of the day on weekdays or on the weekends. Think about it this way – you’re not supposed to tend to your personal business during work hours, so why let work interfere with your personal time?
All of this can be helped by checking in with yourself every once in a while, or even by using the buddy system and discussing the topic with a work friend.
Lastly, be sure to check with your company to learn about health and wellness programs that may be offered.
Do literally anything with your money besides buy an iPhone X
(EDITORIAL) The iPhone X is pretty snazzy, but let me express why your money belongs literally anywhere besides in Apple’s pocket for this phone.
The iPhone X is off to a rocky start, beginning with the fact that no one seems to know whether it’s supposed to be pronounced “iPhone Ten” or “iPhone Ex” and working up from there.
If you’re here, you probably don’t need me to tell you that a 5.8-inch OLED screen, facial recognition, 4K recording at 60 FPS, and an all-glass design are superfluous as hell — but just in the off-chance that I’m wrong, THE IPHONE X IS SUPERFLUOUS AS HELL.
Take literally 30 seconds to think about all of the mega-cool features that convinced you to buy your last smartphone, then think of the last time you used even half of those features without feeling compelled to do so. If you’re one of those people who uses all of the filters on the camera every day, fine, but I’m willing to bet that you just use your phone for Facebook, texting, and calling your grandma.
You don’t need a 5.8-inch, all-glass, basically-a-tablet-of-a-phone to do those things, but if money doesn’t mean anything to you, be my guest.
It’s also worth noting that there is a certain point at which “really fast” and “really, really fast” feel identical to one another. My personal experience with this phenomenon was with the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8; it doesn’t matter how fast your newest processor is if the last one was fast enough.
Apple has a long history of publicly executing things that people are still using. While it’s hard to be too mad about the headphone jack, they hit a soft spot when they nixed ethernet ports—and, more recently, USB 3.0 ports—and the most recent dissident to fall victim to Apple’s indiscriminate chopping block is the Home button.
Yeah, that thing that make the iPhone usable in the first place? Not there anymore. Worse still, the simple display is now flooded with different shortcut hotspots. For example, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Center — no, wait, that’s how you get home. You swipe from the top-right corner of the screen to open the Control Center, while the top-left corner opens the notifications screen that — hey, are you writing this down?
To make matters worse, Apple added a bunch of different contextual shortcuts to the physical buttons on the sides of the iPhone X, further reducing accessibility. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Is the iPhone X necessary? Absolutely not. Is it neato? Sure.
But is it worth your time if you’ve got dollar bills to blow? Again, absolutely not — do literally anything else with that money, up to and including burning it. As long as Apple continues to ignore the issues that plague their devices in favor of broken facial recognition and 3D emoji animation, consider spending your money elsewhere.
Former Budweiser exec says marijuana is the new craft beer
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Apple under fire for alleged patent infringement
Another thing that can trick iPhone X facial recognition
Well great, now the robots can do acrobatics
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All I want for Christmas is some Nuheara ear buds
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Disruption vs destruction and AI’s use of both
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Turns out a lot of people are in between introverted and extroverted
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Ladies and gentlemen, the U.S. National Anthem
Indeed President, Chris Hyams tells us #WhyAustin [video]
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