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The Changing Landscape of Real Estate

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Q: How has the role of a real estate agent changed?
A: The role of a real estate broker or agent, past and present, can be broken into two areas of services. First, on the front end, are assistance in property pricing, marketing and/or the showing of properties; the other services are the sale or transaction itself, the negotiations, contracts, inspections, title, appraisal, mortgage and closing.

Technology has greatly changed the real estate industry over the last 50 years. In the days before the Multiple Listing Service, brokers were a lot like automobile dealers as they only advertised and sold from their own inventory and buyers had to go from broker to broker to shop for a home. MLS was created as a shared central source of inventory for participating member brokers and the advent of computers made this possible. For sellers, it was a huge benefit that exposed their property to every agent in MLS. For buyers, the benefit was not as directly realized, except they could now use just one agent to investigate available inventory. This change led to the split transaction between two different brokers by the sharing of inventory and commissions. In this world, both buyers and sellers had to rely heavily on agents for information and data.

The internet really revolutionized the industry as it allowed for a seamless form of marketing to evolve. Agents and brokers couldn’t believe this jackpot of savings as they were now able to abandon what was one of their largest expenses (print advertising of properties), to internet marketing that was full of exciting features like unlimited data, information, photos and even videos. Best of all, advertising properties became mostly free for agents and brokers. Sellers loved this exposure and buyers loved having direct access to everything that was for sale. While agents and brokers celebrated the financial windfall, they soon realized that they had also given up one of their largest assets, control of information and data.

Technology has exploded, allowing automation standardization to streamline everything. This has resulted in hours of time savings for agents and made the process of a transaction much easier for both the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent.

It’s interesting; property values have gone up in multiples over time, maybe three to ten times, but commission percentages have changed very little. So where’s the savings for the consumer? This disruption is occurring in the industry and only a few brokers and agents are embracing this new normal by being negotiable and reducing commissions; some are even offering a full-service listing for
a flat-fee.

Written by: Kevin Hopkins

The Flat-Fee Team offers buyers and sellers a full-service option for the low flat fee of $1,995. Kevin Hopkins and Greg Shahan started 395 Realty as a full-service, flat-fee brokerage with six decades of combined experience to benefit their clients. 395 Realty’s main focus is to provide the highest level of service for a very competitive fee.