Last November, when I first wrote about the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)/Competition Bureau conflict (over who gets to post listings on Realtor.ca) a flurry of comments were left at the end of that blog post - some in favour of the move to open-access for all to list on Realtor.ca, and some strongly against the move.
In the latter camp, one Mike Wiseman left a telling comment. He wrote that “there is no rule that an individual must use a realtor to purchase property, and on top of this, anyone can access the listings posted on MLS.ca. [now Realtor.ca] So why, in theory, would a realtor be necessary?”
He continues: “The answer is that a realtor knows the market, which changes daily, and can help you as a purchaser make an educated decision regarding your purchase. Would an investor invest without proper guidance, or without doing their homework? I think not. Why? Because the potential loss that may result could be catastrophic. Yet people on a daily basis invest in real estate without being given the proper knowledge, advice and guidance necessary to make the appropriate decision.”
Mike’s example about people getting appropriate guidance to make their investments is a good point - one that is often overlooked, it seems, when it comes to the buying and selling of residential real estate. Owning a home is the largest investment many Canadians will ever make, and it is a complicated and potentially risky business.
What if there are health-related hazards regarding the construction/materials of the home or office? What about outstanding liens? Making sense of the legalese put forth by real estate lawyers for the purchase agreement? Which comparable homes are selling the fastest and for what prices in your neighbourhood? And many, many other examples of knowledge required to avoid costly pitfalls. None of that assistance will come with piecemeal list-only services.
Now that CREA and the Competition Bureau have agreed in principle (CREA members still have to ratify the decision) to let Canadians hire a realtor solely to list their home for sale on Realtor.ca, what does that really do for the betterment of Canadians making the biggest investment of their lives?
My colleague, Phil Soper, President & CEO of Royal LePage, has been quoted as saying, “ "There will always be people who would like to sell their own real estate, just as there are people who like to represent themselves in court. But that won't be the majority."
It will be interesting to see what happens with the new direction real estate is heading in this country. I wouldn’t be surprised if many consumers decide, after trying the alternative, that using the full range of services provided by an accredited REALTOR is a better investment choice.