National syndicated real estate columnist Edith Lank, author of Confessions of a Real Estate Columnist: I’ve Heard it All and So Should You (Dearborn Financial Publishing, 2007), responds to your questions.
I read in the book blog that you once held a real estate license and that your husband was a REALTOR®. So I’m interested to know your view of the real estate industry and the constant debate over the cost of brokerage services. What’s your response to the argument that it costs too much to sell a home?
LANK: My first reaction is that agents don’t seem to be all driving around in Mercedes Benzes. The practice of real estate can yield a decent income for a hard-working self-starter, but it’s interesting how many people enter the field only to leave within the first year when the work turns out to be too demanding of time and energy, with no guaranteed salary. As for the cost of brokerage services — I think discount brokerages, which charge low commission rates or flat fees for “unbundled” limited services, are just fine as long as sellers know what they’ll have to take on themselves. Problem is, many people think the job consists of finding someone who wants to buy the property. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Making sure the would-be buyer is financially qualified, negotiating a win-win agreement that suits everyone, and then running interference and clearing up problems all the way to closing are by far the biggest part of the job. Continue reading »