Consulting is what professionals do. This blog post will argue that real estate consulting is how real estate sales will evolve. It is coming, but it in not here yet.
It has happened five times this year. That is five more times than it has ever happened before. So I have to think about it. I have to write about it, figure it out. What’s happened is that people have called or emailed asking if I can consult (for pay) on a real estate deal they are undertaking. The answer is no. Real estate rules do not allow me to offer “service without representation”. You cannot pay to “pick my brain”.
I’m glad about that.
However, I can share with you my opinion. As long as I keep it general and informative, you don’t have to be a client, you don’t have to enter into a contract to ask me, “what do you think is going to happen to real estate values along the LRT line?” or “What do you think about the houses near Victoria Park?” or “Is a house or condo unit a better purchase for me?”
The BIG 5
Those five individuals looking for real estate consultations were:
1) looking to buy a house directly from a builder and thought she was paying too much. She is, but I told her it’s like buying a car. Don’t try to sell it in a year (or three).
2) homebuyer working with an agent friend from London, but trying to buy in Kitchener, but missing out. “Real estate is local”, I told him, “I’d never try to sell a house in London”. I don’t understand the market and whose got time for a one hour drive to show a house or two? I know, a new agent with nothing better to do.
3) home seller wanting to know what their house was worth. This is the type of free consulting that agents do all the time. Free home evaluations have become an industry standard.
4) an investor hoping to get projections of neighbourhoods with better than average appreciation over the next five years. We don’t have that sort of information. We have historical statistics (that are somewhat dubious) but nothing about where we are going. As Jim Morrison once famously sang about real estate, “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near.”
5) an out of town agent listing a Kitchener property looking for comparable neighbourhood sales. In the spirit of cooperation I used to cooperate with these sorts of inquires. But it’s not really cooperation if I only get a broken promise in return of twenty minutes of my time. I’m still waiting for a bottle of wine and a lunch or two “next time you’re in town”.
Change and the curve of information
The real estate industry is changing. It used to be that the agents had the information not only about what something sold for, but what was for sale. Consumers access to information was limited to what they could glean on their own from driving around, going to open houses and reading the newspaper. We all know that that’s changed. Now you don’t even need an app. You just go to google. Real estate consumers are much further along the learning curve now when they talk to an agent. That’s great. But you still need an agent. Just like you still need a school teacher, a tax accountant, and a plumber, you need a real estate agent. Sure you could do it yourself. You could also cut your own hair, change your car’s oil and snow tires. You can teach yourself to play the piano, or a foreign language, but why do so few of us do this?
Because it doesn’t work that way, not yet anyway.
Will Desire2Learn eliminate school teacher’s jobs?
I’m currently working with a client who works at Desire2Learn. It is, as I understand it, a platform offering online learning. I’ve taken courses online. All of my real estate update courses I take online, and many of my original courses, years ago I took online. My kids, now in high school and university take online courses. It is happening, slowing. The internet is eroding away jobs in most industries.
We can’t fear this and block this inevitability. We have to embrace technology and get it to work for us. It makes our jobs more interesting when we make the machine work for us.
Further reading: The internet will take your job
If you want to chat, call me
Speaking of technology, my chat widget has gotten a “little buggy”. It is too bad. I really liked getting involved in chat sessions at odd times. It actually led to business too. I am after all interested in taking on new business. The chat widget developer told me that he has taken a full time job and won’t be continuing with the widget. Until I find another one, if you want to have a chat on the telephone about real estate I’m at my desk most mornings 8:00-10:00am to take your calls.