Banker & Tradesman Editorial: Help Needed To Hang A Hat

straw hat hanging on white wall

If home is where you hang your hat, do you really need a Realtor to help you find the right wall?

Probably not – but you do need one to help you negotiate the best price for that wall, and all the other walls around it and the roof over it. And then you need one to stand by you as you navigate the byzantine process of actually purchasing said walls and roof.

The real estate market exists as a series of ebbs and flows, of highs and lows. As we all know, Greater Boston is flying high. When the market is hot – and right now a confluence of factors makes it possibly the hottest it has ever been – brokers and agents must use every tool at their disposal to secure a buyer’s or seller’s contract.

This particular high is also characterized by new and different threats to the industry. No longer must a Realtor merely worry that another agent will undercut her commission; she must also worry about that a portal site will do the same even as it moves into traditional purchase and sale services.

Technology is a real threat to the industry; so are changing attitudes. Many of today’s first-time buyers are convinced they don’t need the services a Realtor offers. This is particularly true in Boston, where many of these would-be buyers have spent a decade or more finding their own apartments and negotiating their own leases.

They may be correct. Between Zillow and Redfin a prospective buyer can see most of the inventory available in their price range and preferred geography. Millennials know what they want and they know how to do the research to get it. They (generally) understand that in today’s market they aren’t going to get the perfect house at the perfect price.

But what buyers don’t know is how scary and stressful a home purchase can be. Why would they? They’ve never done it before. So much can go wrong between falling in love and the closing date. When the inspection turns up mice in the attic and cracks in the basement, your Google-fu isn’t going to save you; you need a seasoned professional to walk you through your options and back you up on whichever one you choose.

That’s what a good agent does; supports their buyer (or seller) as they navigate the twisting, winding road to achieving their dream. An agent is more than a business partner; an agent is a friend, a confidante and a purveyor of tough love, as needed. That’s why they call it a relationship business.

And for all the industry’s fretting about the future of the Realtor, evidence so far does not support a big uptick in FSBOs. The percentage has increased, but at nowhere near catastrophic levels, supporting the conclusion that even the more experienced homebuyer recognizes the importance of agent representation.

Take heart, brokers, Realtors and agents – today’s buyers still need you to help them hang their hats – and they know it.

This editorial was reprinted with permission from Banker & Tradesman.