Organized Real Estate (ORE) is going through some changes a few of which are overdo. REALTORs are no longer the "gate-keepers" for information about houses in Canada. Now, when I say information I'm speaking of the easy stuff - what's for sale, what's sold and for how much, assessment values, and so on.
This is good information to help someone get started on buying or selling a property. But this is not the critical information and sometimes you get so much information that you're not sure what it all means. It's all free but what does it actually tell you? it doesn't tell yo if this is a good neighbourhood, what the schools are like, is it convenient to get to whatever is important to you.
I often refer to Google Analytics. Here is a free source of information about traffic to your website. It's free but it isn't always clear as to what it tells you. So now an entire industry has grown up out of Google providing you with this free information. That industry does not work for free.
So now, buyers and sellers can access all kinds of information about houses for free. One of the many functions of a REALTOR is to help you understand what this free information means. If you are hiring a REALTOR to sell your property, (s)he will help you put a price on it so it will sell, help you market the home to all the appropriate markets, many of those on the web now, and most importantly, write up contracts that won't get you in trouble. There are a dozen other little jobs like taking the phone calls on your property 24/7, trying to screen the people coming into your home to ensure they are a real buyer and actually have the money to buy, helping you stage your home for showings, putting up a sign, paying for the advertising,etc.,etc.
As a buyer's agent, the REALTOR helps you decide if the asking price is realistic, what comparable homes in the neighbourhood have sold for, and again writing the contracts that keep you out of trouble.
I think it says something when you speak with people who buy and sell commercial/investment property. They quite often use a REALTOR to look after their best interests because the are too busy to try to do it themselves. Yes, they can hire an appraiser, building inspectors, lawyers and so on but these people don't work for free either.
Remember, most REALTORs only get paid when the deal closes unlike the private "For Sale" companies whom you pay up front regardless of results. So if you're buying or selling, it pays to speak with a REALTOR before you make any decisions about the route you are going to take. Just getting your property onto the MLS is a very small part of our overall service.
Call me - I can help. It's what I do.