Will Real Estate Salespeople Have To Shift Like Cable Companies?

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Consider this:

Cable companies, the gatekeepers of home entertainment (with the worst customer service records of most industries) have been shifting their model from the ownership of the access to entertainment to a more internet-based model of delivering the connectivity that a person needs in the information age that reaches beyond the channels the cable companies have controlled the access to thus far.

“Steaming this” and “downloading that” has changed the way people access their entertainment choices and the once-powerful (and single product) cable companies are being forcefully shifted to a new model of not only delivering content but also being the delivery pipeline of content they do not control to stay in business.

Now consider this:

Realtors, once the gatekeepers of home listing and pricing information through their publications and closely held MLS data, (with consumer opinions that hover around that of a stereotypical used car salesman) will have to shift their model as the access to the information is removed from their control and consumers find access to that same information through sources no longer controlled by a real estate board’s data collection.

“Googling this” and “social sharing that” is replacing the information and contact methods that were once the cornerstone of a realtor’s business model. The information is rapidly being opened up and is becoming only a click away. It’s becoming easier than ever to get a personal opinion from a group of friends when asking for a reference for a realtor to help them instead of only relying on the broker’s marketing finesse.

The similarities of the models are astounding when put under this light.

Where once they controlled the access to the content, now the content is outside of their control. Holding on to the control they have left is not an option any longer as today’s consumer expects the content to be readily available without restriction and with so many ways to get around the access restrictions the old guard had in place, it’s no longer in their best interest to continue to restrict access.

We can see now that cable companies have embraced the role of the “entertainment delivery supplier” through internet, mobile and cable access, while simultaneously investing into the ownership of the creation of the content they deliver. They have evolved along with their delivery systems to maintain their evolving business model, raising their customer service standards in an effort to not be pushed out of relevance.

Realtors, in the same way, must change their content creation to embrace much more than listing and sales data and evolve into a model that is not only readily accessible but is also relevant to the consumer in more than simply processing the home purchase transaction and must evolve to become a larger part of home ownership lifespan of the consumer and provide excellent customer service throughout that lifespan.

How does a consumer put value into the context of the services a realtor provides?

In order to find the value of a realtor, as seen in the eyes of the consumer, we must first identify the aspects of being a realtor that tarnishes the profession.
• Realtors make an exorbitant commission for a minimum of work
• Realtors force consumers to pay more by causing bidding wars and inferring competing offers
• Realtors have a minimum education which casts the profession as a “last choice” career option for those other-wise unemployable or motivated to find “real work”

These three items, of course, are not the only things that cause the professional reputation of realtors to suffer but they are usually the highest number of complaints that you hear when the profession is discussed.

These issues must be confronted, discussed in the open, and shown that the true professionals that call themselves realtors do work hard, always have the best interest of their clients front and centre and are educated and experienced within the real estate industry standards so they are capable of providing the expertise and excellent customer service consumers demand.

Should the pay structure of a realtor shift away from the commission model to a “pay-per-service” model that accountants use? Would a menu board offering “a la carte” service options shine a light on the value of realtor’s services to be ordered?

The competition would certainly heat up for listings as consumers shop around for prices and services to compare. The employment numbers of people that call themselves professional real estate salespeople would certainly decline as many would not survive the scrutiny that a standardized and competitive pricing structure would create.

How do you protect buyers from the anxiety-filled days of multiple bidders and unknown competition for the property they want to purchase? Many jurisdictions are legislating, or considering to legislate, reforms that open competing bids to better scrutiny to protect the interests of the buyers and sellers. This is a step in the right direction that will build confidence in the honesty of the transaction and when these requirements are contravened by unscrupulous real estate salespeople we can only hope their public exposure will create a more confident marketplace.

Should the real estate sales profession have additional certifications to help identify the “better professional” apart from the part-time or new salespeople?

When professionalism and experience is easier to identify in a real estate person’s title we will allow for a greater understanding of a person’s capabilities in the industry that goes beyond the usual “Number 1” or “Highest selling” marketing testaments many real estate brokers use to set themselves above the larger pool of licensed agents.

Is it possible to open up the home seller/buyer processes so the general public has a better understanding of the complexities involved with each transaction?

The average homeowner will purchase 5 houses in their lifetime and their experience will vary with each transaction. How can they possibly be understanding about the intricacies of the transaction when they do not deal with it more often? It is precisely this reason why great auto mechanics and lawyers earn a good living: the average person just expects it to work and for the professional to get them the outcome they desire. We can draw a straight line within these comparisons that anyone can understand.


It is in the best interest of the real estate professional that anticipates a long and successful career in the industry to build towards the future in a positive and professional manner.

They must work as a cohesive group to elevate the stature of the profession in the eyes of the consumer, not only in the practice of real estate but in the ways the information is held that the consumer now expects greater access to.

Realtors can no longer be regarded as gatekeepers but as advocates that work for the better interest of their client at all times.

Their professionalism and dedication to customer service is what will rebuild confidence in the profession but only so far as this becomes an industry-wide standard.