Redfin is Changeing Buyer Expectations

I was at an open house the other day talking with the realtor about the house I was looking at and current trends in real estate. Two trends we discussed were open houses and online sources.

I brought up the topic of open houses because I find it interesting that agents are not sitting in the open house for houses they list. I learned this is a relatively common practice now-a-days because most realtors don’t gain anything from it. Instead, they sit in as the realtor for open houses that they have nothing to do with so they can prospect with the people that show up.

From their perspective, this makes sense: focus on what will get or drive business. From a client’s perspective, I am not sure I would be supportive of this practice because now a realtor that has little to no knowledge about my property is showing or selling it to prospective buyers as well as using my house as a lead generating tool!

Perhaps, this practice would not come across as disrespectful if every time I came across a realtor sitting in for another they didn’t start the conversation with “This isn’t my house” or “I’m not the listing agent” as if the house, homeowner, or other agent has cooties.

Also, if as an agent, your job is to sell the house how can you do your job, if your representative doesn’t know a thing about the property? Again, I have asked sit-in agents questions about the property and every time I hear, “Well I don’t know, it’s not my listing.”

The other trend we talked about is the influence of online resources such as Redfin and how that company is changing the industry and customer expectations. As a realtor, his perception of the company was very negative and he feels other realtors feel the same way. He believes that these new sources have caused buyers to distrust realtors and that buyers are now using realtors (instead of working with them) so they can see the house then go put in their own bid—independent of the agent. His and many other agents solution to this is making buyers sign an agreement that if they choose to buy that house they must use them as their realtor. (But they won't sit through an open house of the property 'they' are supposed to be selling!)

I find this dynamic very interesting as it is an industry changer. Realtors of tomorrow are going to have a completely different job than realtors of five years ago. Redfin was able to create a brand that responds to what buyers want. Today’s buyer in any industry is far more educated about the process because they now have the resources to learn about it. Yesterday’s realtors are no longer needed.

So what does that mean for realtors trying to make it to tomorrow? It means they need to change how they think about their business. They need to decide how they can adapt and embrace a new class of real estate. The basics will always be there, the tactics need to change and communication needs to change.

Hmmm . . . I wonder if a buyer would be willing to pay a flat fee for an agent to teach them how to bid and close on a house without them?
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