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Will Releasing Real Estate Sales Data Replace Realtors?

This month, the Federal competition tribunal ordered the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) to release ‘more home sales data to the public via the internet’

This action follows on the heels of the tribunal’s order in April 2016 which found that TREB was stifling competition by restricting access to data on its proprietary MLS. The new regulation stipulated that TREB must let its members offer searchable online databases called ‘virtual office websites’

Releasing sales data | Karen Paul & Associates The information now available includes information held on MLS, including data like sales prices, broker commissions and withdrawn listings, as well as archived data. TREB said that going forward, it would be protecting the rights of property owners by restricting access to individual home sale information including mortgage and security information.

The reaction to the changes in and around the real estate industry stated that this was the most revolutionary change in the real estate industry to date.

With over 35 years of experience as a top selling real estate agent, it seemed prudent to ask Karen for her thoughts on the changes and ask for her comments on the reaction on some of the social media platforms. ~ heather

? HR: You’ve been in real estate for over 35 years and have seen dozens of changes, will revealing this data to the consumer make a difference to the biz? Some pundits are referring to this as the ‘uberization’ of the real estate industry.
? KP: Honestly, it will make my life a little easier. Now my clients will be able to access that information on their own and won’t need my help.
This information that TREB has to release has been available for years in the US and it hasn’t affected the number of real estate agents doing business or the industry as a whole.
Change is good.

? HR: In a CBC interview about the new changes, the question was posed “ if all this critical information is now readily available, why do we need real estate agents?” Any comments?
KP: Real Estate agents perform many tasks beyond releasing sales information.

? HR: Can you elaborate?
KP: Sure. If I had to say what the top 5 services a real estate agent provides, I’d say the most critical was exposure. Real estate agents have access to multiple real estate listing sites, as well they are skilled marketers in their own rite, particularly on social media.

Besides that we’re always talking to someone who is either looking for a house or wants to sell a house, or knows someone in that position.

Unlike an individual home owner, who may have bought and sold maybe 3 or 4 homes in their lifetime, a typical real estate agent may engage in 20 transactions in a year. That’s a lot of experience.
And I’m seeing just how much experience makes a difference in this seller’s market. Particularly when we get into understanding how much a property is worth and how far we can push in getting more dollars for customers.

Real estate agents have to possess superior negotiating skills. Ever been in a bidding war? It’s more than just a battle of the nerves – but strong nerves helps. It’s also knowing your competition, when to bend and when to walk away.

There are numerous legalities in any real estate transaction. Contracts have to perfectly written-up with all the I’s and t’s dotted and crossed. In real estate transactions, verbal discussions don’t count and mistakes can be costly.

? HR: After the CBC interview, there were some nasty comments on Twitter stating that real estate agents don’t add value to the sale of a house.
KP: I’ve heard that before. Most real estate agents charge between 3.5-5% in commission, but we always get more than 5% in terms of an asking price.

Just last night I was accepting offers, and we received two. The homeowner was disappointed in the offers, although they were asking price. And so on his behalf, I sent back the offers and asked the agents to ‘sharpen their pencils’ which they did. I’m not sure the homeowner would have done that if he didn’t have an agent as his advocate.

And just recently we had a local situation where two houses were sold on the same street. The first house was privately sold, and received $30K over asking price. But when our agent listed a similar house on the same street – around the same time, we listed it 100,000 higher and sold it $50K over asking.

When you do the math, it adds up to an upsell of $150K way more than 5%.

? HR: So – it’s exposure, experience, negotiating skills, legalities – that’s a lot of service.
KP: Absolutely and that doesn’t cover getting the house listed at the right price. Real estate agents have the tools to valuate your house properly to market standards and we have the marketing expertise to bring the right clients to your home. And then there are the open houses, organizing home inspections, advising the client on home repairs… there’s a lot involved in each transaction.

And using a real estate agent is a form of protection for the home owner. We’re licensed, we’re accountable to the province and our brokerages.

If you purchase a home privately without an agent, you’re missing out on a whole lot of important information about that home that may or may not come out in the walk through or inspections.

Heather Robertson is a professional writer with Mynah Communications. She currently rents. 

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