When we stared in the real estate business, it was a very uninformative landscape. You could say it was barren. With a ton of insider knowledge and very little knowledge obtainable from any source other than a real estate agent.
I often think back to when we bought our first home. There were those whom we met who were really excellent. The thing that set the agent we chose and ultimately was taken by was my youth.
Yes, I was a full-time LAPD Cop. Yes, I had a high felony recap. Yes, I had shortly before made motors and was working for the DUI enforcement squad. You could say that I knew a thing or two about being lied to.
I just never expected a professional would lie to a law enforcement officer, at least one who was utilizing their service. I supposed that this service provider was going to be doing everything they could to protect and serve my family and me. I did not expect he would be taking advantage of us, steering us away from new construction because they did not pay a commission, and steering us toward a home which we could have done a lot better than. A home which was owned by a licensed real estate agent (not disclosed), and one where our agent was the property management agent (not disclosed). Furthermore, a home where the main had been plagued by tree roots stopping the flow of sewage from the home to the sewer connection. So bad in fact, after the event occurred my first phone call to a plumbing company revealed how often the call to have the main cleared and not replaced, happened by the agent we used to buy the home.
My guard was down and it happened. The agent made good on everything, after some strategic prodding, but it was harder than it should have been. I was, in fact, holding all the cards.
The timing in real estate of "another source" seemed ripe to enter. So the real estate syndication websites were born. They had been built, not to lift the veil off of the mysterious real estate market, but to make money.
How are they going to make money? They are and do, take the real estate listings that are on the market for sale and beat the agents at their own game. They built a better mousetrap. While purporting that they are on the side of all that is right and just, they literally sell the agents leads back to them. Leads that would have come directly to the agents in the first place under the old guard.
The Boards of Realtors are not fans of the real estate syndication websites, nor are real estate agents. Those who pay them for leads and who is making a living real estate business by injecting money into their systems are quite happy. Heck, the only price of admission to get leads and build a real estate business is money. It does not matter if said agent is new if they don't have the foggiest idea of how to best protect and serve a client in real estate, the fact they have a credit card is good enough.
Instead of the boards of realtors giving the real estate syndication websites, like Zillow and Trulia the feed to the MLS, Multiple Listing Service based listings Z and T go around them.
The syndication websites figured out a long time ago that the real "owner" of the real estate listing is the brokerage of record. The Broker, the real estate company, is the true owner of the real estate listing.
The real estate syndicators go directly to the real estate companies/brokerages and get the listings from them to publicize on their website. Why would they do this? Why would the real estate companies do this when a lot of their agents are not fans? When most did not ask their real estate agents, who were responsible for obtaining those home listings, for input or permission?
That answer is apparently way above my pay grade. I suppose they did not want to be left behind with regard to the "other" brokerages doing it. Example, I get a lot of people that come into my office to pitch me on the next best thing in real estate lead gen and client procurement. They have a lot of fancy two dollar words and they throw them about as if they are free. They also have a bunch of WEB 2.0 garbage that they tout as if they are welding a perfectly balanced Roman Broadsword.
When they have exhausted all else, they defer to the "Do you know" close. This is the one that goes like this, "Connor, you know Kate Elkwood, don't you? I answer "yes, of course." I'm now thinking that they must think I'm stupid, Kate is famous in Southern California and is ranked in the top 10 in the country as far as real estate commissions so. Heck, if you did not know Kate, you aren't anyone in the business worth having the business...
They then say, "Kate uses what we are selling..." OMG - really, so hence you have now learned the "Do you know" close. Of course, this does not work on the learned salespeople, most times. But, it sure worked with some of the brokerages that felt as if they were selling out their hard working agents. Join or be lost below the fold. "The fold" - the place in the page on the internet that is not visible until you start scrolling. In newspaper print, it is referring to the articles below the fold in the page which are not visible until the newspaper is opened fully. (Below the fold - where you are not seen and that is bad for a business owner and real estate agent)
What has all this gotten the real estate agents? Do their seller's homes sell faster? Do those seller's homes get better exposure? Is the system better now for selling homes, than when before the syndication websites existed?
The real estate market is very cyclic. I don't think it has been studied to be known for sure. In fact, in many housing markets before the syndication websites, the data did not have a very long shelf life. But know, since their start, you can find listing data dated back to their beginnings. The board of Realtors keeps data longer too because they have "competition" so they think.
If I were to give you my opinion after being in the real estate business since 1998, seeing life before and after the syndication websites, I would say no. They have not helped speed up any of the processes when it comes to selling real estate. They would hope my answer would be different.
They would want me to say, Yes, yes the process is much faster to sell homes because of their great exposure online. That is simply not true. It's just like Salad Dressing. Have you taken a moment to pause at the salad dressing aisle? Have you seen how many different types of salad dressing there are? OMG - it is hard to focus. Like being at the top of a mountain viewing a long and wide valley, almost too much for the mind to comprehend.
The same came about with the advent of real estate syndication websites. They are everywhere and they are all making money hand over fist. Not from the sellers that have homes to sell. But from real estate agents who are paying them for leads.
The "way" homes sell is not different now than it was before. To date, we now have 41 regular disclosures that accompany a basic real estate buyers contract in California. The forms are "official" and are maintained via a team of Lawyers that are with the California Association of Realtors - C. A. R.. Every lawsuit that establishes the need for clarification is followed by a new disclosure if one does not exist that needs to be updated or added to.
That's a bunch of explaining, not as a lawyer, but as a Realtor. Remember, we are not lawyers, we are professional Realtors. We need to be knowledgeable so we can answer our client's questions to the best of our ability. If we are new without experience, we can get the leads by paying for them, but how well are we serving our clients needs? Professionally? Knowledgeably? Probably not, it depends on our time on the job.
When I was with the LAPD, when I was a new cop, a "Boot" as we were referred to, the old timers would say that they had more time on code 7(cop vernacular) for lunchtime than we had on the job. And in most cases, that was true.
In real estate, we comment that "The ink on their license is not dry, yet they are paying tons of money for leads, God help their clients..."
Knowing how the system works is super important in the making of great decisions that are based on knowledge and fact. Education in real estate goes only so far. Experience in the trenches is super important and seasons a real estate agent. I cannot tell you how many times I was sad to tears in the beginning. Real Estate is not a friendly industry and it took me getting knocked down and getting up before I learned what I had to in order to best protect my real estate clients.
The syndication websites have places, Questions, Answers, and Blogs where agents can write content. Those articles are policed, not for accuracy, but for "offense". Those agents writing questions and answers cannot be racial, religiously, gender, age, or preference is driven negatively. A realtor has to be careful in what they write and with the advice they so freely give.
I am all about transparency so hence me having the number one visited real estate blog in Santa Clarita Valley. But there are rules. My site is policed and monitored by the Great California Association of Realtors, the National Association of Realtors and the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. What I'm saying is that I have failsafe mechanisms in place to ensure that I'm providing the best in real estate content to my clients and those who are discovering me online.
I want only good and accurate information to make it from my mind to my fingertips to be transmitted via my keyboard onto the SCVnest blog pages. Before, when you were going to want to buy a home at a time when the real estate syndication websites did not exist, you would contact an agent from the sign you saw in a home's front yard. Or, you may pass by a real estate office and stop by to see if there was someone you could speak with.
Today, those real estate signs are online. You will search for real estate in a particular city and get the first places on your search results pages syndication real estate companies. Some pay for their ads, others are big enough being driven by agents writing their content to appear on page one above the fold.
My explanation is simple. Just be careful where you are searching and who's website you are clicking on. If you go onto a real estate website, in some cases, a nonlocal realtor's site, you are going to be followed. You will see real estate paid for ad placement start to follow you around online. You will start seeing ads for real estate appear on your facebook, your Instagram, your twitter and Pinterest feed. It's innocent enough, but I'm tired of talking about stuff within earshot of our automated home systems only to have toilet paper starting to be pitched to me everywhere I'm researching online :)
I tell my kids that some of the review websites have those who are in those businesses pay for placement. Don't believe everything you are reading. Some of the websites who are telling you they have the list of the top real estate agents in the Santa Clarita Valley, they are making those agents pay to be on their websites.
Think of it this way, if you are searching on a website to find the BEST Santa Clarita real estate agent and it's free for you to search. And if it's free for the agent to be listed, then who's paying? In this case, they are making money from selling your personal and private information to a ton of businesses and service providers.
If they are not doing this, then they are having the agent pay to be placed on their website. That brings us full circle to the "money" thing. Where someone who does not know what they are doing in the least regarding being a real estate agent is able to pay for leads and placement.
Don't be that person. Don't be the person who falls for the "wrong agent". Do a little research. Check our that agents' blog. Check out that agent's video's on YouTube. Maybe they have a radio show like I do. Check them out and give it a few minutes to find out where they are and if what they believe and stand for is akin to your life position.
You owe it to yourself. Real Estate has way too many moving parts to become automated. It's "big money". There is a lot of "basic disclosures" that accompany every single deal. Not to mention the plethora of local disclosures that also accompany every single real estate transaction.
Be well, I'm Connor MacIvor and I'd love to be your Realtor in and around the Santa Clarita Valley Cities. I'll be here when you are ready. Be safe and I'll keep the light on for you.