When Michael Polzler sold his Etobicoke home last year, he used an agent.
Polzler, the executive vice president of ReMax, said he could have sold the home himself – but using an agent was much more convenient and stress-free.
“If you have the smarts and you want to sell your own place, that’s fine,” says Polzler. “But a good portion of the population wants what realtors can offer".
As a top executive in one of the largest real estate services companies in Canada, you wouldn’t expect Polzler to reject the services of a realtor.
But he also says the industry should not be worried about new rules that have allowed more competition in the market.
“I think consumers will have to sift through a few more sales pitches, but when the dust settles the people who offer the best service will win,” says Polzler.
“I think realtors will still be needed. It’s very probable that some consumers will try the new companies and then when they see how much work it is to sell a property, that they go back to a full-service agent.”
Under siege from the Competition Bureau, realtors have fought back with an advertising campaign and a website (www.howrealtorshelp.ca) to counter criticism that their commissions are too high for the services they provide.
New entrants in the marketplace have sparked an unprecedented turf war. They say commissions were too high and consumers want choice that has been denied them.
They have a champion in federal Competition Bureau Commissioner Melanie Aitken, who is taking the Canadian Real Estate Association to court.
“Selling a home is one of the largest financial transactions that most Canadians make in their lifetime,” Aitken said in her reasons for taking the organization to a Competition Tribunal.
“CREA’s conduct in enforcing its rules has been successful in preventing or lessening competition.”
As a result, the industry is scrambling to get its message out about the value it provides.
“Realtors can provide expertise on market trends, relative value, neighborhood characteristics, new or planned development and zoning and historic sales data, all of which help consumers make one of the most important financial decisions of their lives,” CREA spokesperson Alyson Fair said in a written message to the Star.
Don Lawby, president of Century 21 Canada, said consumers will ultimately “get what they pay for.”
“Buying a home isn’t as simple as it sounds,” said Lawby. “It’s not like you can just put your home on the MLS and it will sell overnight. This is a complicated transaction.”
In a slower market, which is forecast for the second half of the year, having a full service agent can be a boon, he argues.
“This is where the agent can get you the best price for the house and where expertise counts. This is not about setting a sign on your lawn and hoping for the best.”