[photopress:gorilla.jpg,thumb,alignright]Take a really close look at that Gorilla protecting the baby in his hand.
The Gorilla could be NAR, with the baby representative of every Realtor in the Country. The Gorilla could be the MLS system, with the baby representative of each and every one of its members. The Gorilla could be a MEGA Broker, with the baby representative of the agents who work there.
But when is the baby representative of the Average Joe Consumer? Where is the consumer “group” working as hard for the consumer, as each of those mentioned above, works hard for the real estate practitioner?
Theoretically it is each state, and the licensing and agency laws of each state.. Clearly State Laws and Regulatory Boards are as big as that Gorilla, but how much do they really keep up with the changes in the industry enough, to propel the consumer to new heights? Does the State really fight hard for the consumer in these changeing times? Obviously not. Which is why the “Consumer’s 100 lb. Gorilla” of the moment, is the Department of Justice and their suit against the National Association of Realtors.
Redfin, Zillow, Zip Realty, For Sale by Owner in the MLS companies, these all represent the newer “alternative” business models who represent the Balance of Power for the Consumer. They represent the Checks and Balances needed, to offer TRUE competition in the market place, from the consumer’s standpoint. As an industry, we should not be playing “my gorilla can beat your gorilla”. We should not be hoping the consumer gorilla’s fail, nor should we be doing anything to assist in their failure. We should actually be HELPING the consumer gorilla get bigger and bigger, by meeting them in the middle. Clearly there is room for at least 20% of the marketplace to be pulling toward the consumer’s side of this equation, isn’t there?
Why? Why should “Traditional Brokers” HELP the Alternative Business Models to succeed? Because WE NEED them, now more than ever, all of us. The consumer needs them. The industry needs them. We need a whole lot more flavors of Kool-Aid out there. Those of us who support alternative business models, are not “Realtor-Enemies”, as some call us. We simply are acknowledging, what the DOJ is acknowledging. We can NO LONGER PRETEND that “price-fixing” and “boycotting” doesn’t exist in this industry, by refusing to discuss the topic and sticking our heads in the proverbial sand.
I don’t know the total answer. But I think that maybe every MEGA Broker should have a “Nordstrom’s and Nordstrom’s Rack” equivalent. To some extent they do, by having the Premier Homes sub-section of the company, for Elite Homes. Maybe it’s time to take that a step further, with the “Elite Homes” being the full commission, full service division of the company, and each should also have a “Discount Division” that offers break out plans and fees. Maybe the Elite Division only has agents with at least three years of experience, and the Discount Division has the newbies…I like that. More transparency there…isn’t there?
Brand new agent equals 1/2 the cost…something like that. The same way some choose to go to a Dental School at a discount, or Hairdresser School at a discount. Traditional companies can separate the newbies into a discounted service for the consumer who doesn’t want or need so much experience and cost. Or better yet…let’s not use number of YEARS in the business, but number of closed transactions. First ever transaction for agent equals lowest price. Elite division equals 100 transactions or more at top dollar. I like that better.
Someone with 10 years could have 15 sales…someone with two years could have 80 sales…so number of sales is my vote. Give the consumer a discount for using a newer agent, the same way you get a discount for using the hairdresser who has only touched a few heads with a scissor.
Instead of fighting the alternative models, every Traditional Company could EMULATE some of the great things about these companies, so that we all meet somewhere in the middle.