Posts will likely be short for a while. We’re in the process of buying a house and moving. Hooray!
However, over the past 3 months, while house hunting, open housing, making offers, accepting offers, and everything else that goes into the process, nothing has been more clear to me than the fact that the process of buying and selling a home needs to be massively disrupted.
When making what is likely the biggest purchase you’ll have made to that point, you basically see a house for 30 minutes in as optimal a situation as possible. You have to go through agents on both sides because, well, why would you be able to act on your own? That would be cutting out the middle man. The hilarious part of it all is that the least expensive part of the entire thing are the lawyers, who basically have the whole thing covered and end up costing pennies out of the whole process.
Companies like Redfin, Trulia, and Zillow are helping with connecting buyers and sellers, but really, they’re now just full of buyer’s agents and seller’s agents. It’s a market where it’s very hard to actually find the real person on the other side. That probably works fine when the market is hopping, but if/when the market comes down, the loads of agents just hanging around the market and acting as gatekeepers will get churned out and replaced by either a) nothing, or b) real, value added agents.
During this process, there are lots of places where I’d happily pay someone to solve a problem with skills I don’t have (a mortgage, legal documents, moving). Those services seem to be priced appropriately. The real estate agent side of things is a place where the price you pay seems to dwarf the services rendered. The interwebs have a tendency to solve that problem over time. I expect that by the next time I buy a home, it’ll be a very different experience.
Post-Script: I did some googling around to see if I’m the only one who feels this way. I’m clearly not. This post resonated so strongly with me. I heard nearly every one of those canards during our buying process.
Post-Post-Script: Our agent was quite nice, and I don’t think doing anything that was deceptive or misleading. It’s really just a case where the goals of the real estate agent are not aligned with the goals of the buyers/sellers. They don’t get paid for their time, just for the sale. Like car dealers, the folks working the floor of your local Home Depot, or the folks calling you to offer you some new phone service, they make money when you buy something. And they don’t, when you don’t.