The media likes to talk a lot about how Internet services could do just as good a job of selling your home as an actual realtor, and as a result, realtor commissions are being challenged. What could your Realtor possibly do for you to warrant the $$$ they get?
You're right to think that way, if putting a sign on the lawn and downloading your listing to MLS is all you think your professional Realtor does for you! But the reality of the job is very different.
In the REAL world, a professional Realtor spends time reviewing all the activity in your neighbourhood--what's been listed, what's sold, so that they can see the "market trends." Real estate markets literally changes on a daily basis, and a professional has to be up to date, because they're selling your most valuable asset.
There may be viewings booked to see properties, open houses to attend, interaction with the realtors whose listings you're competing with, as well as calls to agents who have shown your property for feedback. Once your agent has all this, then time is spent reporting back to you, the Seller, so that you're not left in a vacuum.
The Internet is a very important tool, so your home has to be prepared for showings, either through a stager or the realtor, so that the most important features of the home will be highlighted. A professional photographer is hired to "showcase" your home in photos and virtual tours, which are then downloaded to a variety of websites to ensure maximum exposure for your property.
The day is filled with calls and emails--prospective buyers from all the marketing efforts, agents with questions about the property, financing queries, dealing with "tire kickers" and probing to see if they can really afford your home. And if you have family problems, or financial problems, or just need some "hand holding", your Realtor is there for you, because selling real estate is a personal, "people" service, with no set hours in the day, or weeks in the month.
And if that isn't enough, in the Realtor's "spare time" they attend seminars and courses to improve their professional knowledge and marketing skills, because it's the marketing that gets the offer.
Offer day--how exciting! Once an offer is "registered", your professional Realtor goes to work by calling all the Agents who have shown your property, to let them know that there's an offer and see if they can solicit another offer for you--the more, the better. Your Agent is working for you and wants to get you the best price possible. Even if you only receive one offer, it's the Agent's negotiating skills that help you with the bottom line--what you NET in your pocket once the sale is completed!
After you have "sold" the property, there are usually conditions which have to be satisfied, i.e. financing, home inspection or status certificate. Your Agent is the one that is in charge of making sure these conditions are all met, and that all the paperwork is received, liasing with your Solicitor and Bank, as well as making sure that the certified cheque is received. Up until closing date, the Agent is still representing you, and deals with numerous calls, more paperwork, emails, etc.
When everything is complete, your Realtor receives a small percentage of the sale, and you reap the financial benefits of having dealt with a professional.
Can a computer or web service replace all this? I don't think so, because this is, and will remain, a "people" business.
Getta Levi is a broker with Century 21 Heritage Group Ltd. in Thornhill, Ontario.