I can tell, by the inquiries I am getting from friends and clients, that the public is confused about the new agreement the Canadian Real Estate Association has made with the Competition Bureau and the rules regarding mls.ca. Frankly, I've been a little confused by parts of it as well. I believe I work in one of the most competitive industries in the country and we are anything but anti-competitive. Each and every day (and except when I'm on holidays, I do mean EVERY DAY) I get up and have to "find a living". I may earn money one day, another day I may not. I may show a prospective customer 20 homes over a 2 week period and then find out they didn't take the transfer...that's all part of the risk I take in this business. My goal each and every day is to make contact with individuals who want to buy or sell and convince them that they are better off hiring me for a reasonable price than doing it themselves. Hence, I believe "reasonable price" is where all the trouble started with the Competition Bureau. Payment in our industry is based on a percentage of the value of the property or a flat fee. And payment is only made if and when your home actually sells. Over the past 20 years, as the value of properties has INCREASED, the amount our office charges as a percentage of that value has DECREASED. Our office has flexibility built into our pricing model. Unfortunately, I think there have been those in our industry who didn't sit back and say to themselves "what am I worth to people? what value do I bring to the real estate transaction? what is a reasonable amount to pay for our service?" Our job is to protect the interests of all parties to the transaction; to ensure that both sides are treated fairly and have access to all the information they need to make an informed decision; to reduce the number of "surprises" post possession; and to take the "emotion" out of the transaction so people are making sound/rational decisions. And, for the most part, we do that very well. However, there are those in our industry who haven't changed their fee structure as values have increased. Some consumers have said ENOUGH; we would like to pay for the service, but we will only pay a reasonable amount. In many respects our industry brought this on themselves. 1) We haven't done a very good job of explaining what we bring to the table - we make it look easy, and I can assure you that it's good old fashioned hard work and long hours and phone calls at 11 p.m. And 2) we haven't done a very good job of analyzing our value in the transaction and pricing accordingly. We do provide a great service, and I believe, a much needed service. And that service is worth what the market will bear. Our company is, and will remain, a full service real estate company. We will watch our pricing closely and endeavor to provide exceptional value and service for what we charge.
My biggest beef with the Competition Bureau is the way in which their "win" was presented to the public. Their representatives made it sound like everyone could ring up any real estate office in the country and simply pay a nominal fee to put their home on mls.ca, and that's simply not true. IF a real estate brokerage wants to get into the business of posting homes on mls.ca (or REALTOR.ca as it is now called) and doing nothing more, that's their business, but it's not mine. And I expect, it won't be the kind of business most real estate brokerages want to get into. So, on that note, I believe the public has been badly misinformed. However, if it does make real estate sales people and brokers sit down and reflect honestly on their business model and how it relates to the consumer, then some positive change may occur in our industry - and it is time for that.