Realtors have the key. The key belongs to a little club called the Multiple Listing Service or more commonly referred to as the MLS. This coveted database of valuable information has grown over the years to the point that the information and services of its members is the only good market data option for the public when it comes to buying and selling real estate. As we all know, when one entity controls a whole industry, we like to call it a monopoly.
The public has long been concerned about this monopoly and the government has started to listen. The Competition Bureau showed up at the door of the real estate industry and asked that the club be more inclusive. The real estate industry put up a valiant fight at the gates but ultimately through negotiations they had to open up the doors and start to share.
What does this mean for Realtors in the years to come now that they are not the gatekeepers of all of the information and the public has inexpensive, easy access to the same information? The bottom line is that things are going to change.
The real estate industry will change much in the way that many industries have changed in the last 15 years with the advent of easily accessible information and technology. We will start to see a polarization of the real estate industry. On one end, the market will be filled with real estate firms that will provide real estate services a la carte. The consumer will be able to choose the products and services they want and nothing more. For example, if you want to sell your home, you can pay a fee to list it on the MLS, another fee for professional pictures and another fee if you want a realtor to negotiate the contract and so on. The benefit to the consumer is that they have the choice to pay for services that they see value in and opt out of services that they don’t.
On the other side, you will see real estate firms enter the market place that will provide industry leading services implemented by the most productive, knowledgeable and experienced professionals in the industry. The key here is the realtors ability to add knowledge to the, easy available, market information. What does the specific data mean? The benefit to the consumer on this side of the equation will be that they are working with a real estate consultant that will, through his or her knowledge and experience, be able to provide a service that will produce the best possible outcome. The consumer will pay for the best and get the best. Over time, these firms will hopefully earn the respect that is so lacking in the perception of the real estate industry today.
It is inevitable that with this polarization of the industry, the service providers that try to appeal to everyone, will not have a place. It has happened time and time again with industries. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one. Consumers of real estate services will need to choose between an elite group of knowledgeable, experienced professionals that can provide the highest level of service, or a firm that provides real estate service a la carte.