We live in a do it yourself culture. We have do it yourself big box stores galore! We self-serve our gas and some of us don’t remember a time when gas was pumped for us by the service station owner and employees. We can get cash from our bank accounts without any assistance and we bag our own groceries! Remember when we tried to be our own stockbrokers? For most people, trading stocks and bonds wasn’t a good idea and even got some people into financial trouble. Our home purchase is a huge investment. Perhaps our home purchase is the largest financial transaction we make. There are lots of vibes in our popular press about how consumers can do it yourself when it comes to purchasing our homes.
The question is, can we really do it ourselves? Do we operate on ourselves? Scale our own teeth? Provide veterinary services to our pets? We don’t represent ourselves in a courtroom. Most of us don’t attempt to service our own cars. Why is it we think we can help ourselves to and through the process of purchasing our homes that requires legal offer documents, post-offer procedures like inspections and appraisals, complex financing arrangements, reviewing title documents and navigating through the closing?
It looks like a fun and exciting process, doesn’t it? Put people in the car – oh, that part anyone can do. Right? Consumers feel they can drive themselves around to look at houses. Perhaps consumers feel finding open houses is all that’s necessary. Sellers who are listed with an agent are represented by an agent. An unrepresented consumer who calls a list agent to arrange a property showing winds up taking representation from the listing agent which creates dual agency. That might not be what the do it yourself consumer has in mind – right? The other alternative – no representation? Does anyone really want to be unrepresented amongst professionals? I don’t think so. Do it yourself-ers haven’t been able to figure out how to prepare a legal offer on their own – right? When an offer is prepared by an exclusive buyer agent, the offer to purchase contains about 14 pages of legal documents. Professionals are trained to make offers and negotiate the offer once it is delivered.
Finding houses for sale seems like fun. Do it yourself-ers can find houses too. Is that correct? When a consumer finds a house for sale on their own they don’t have interact with someone they don’t really know. Is that the draw? The internet makes finding houses easy and no need for an agent. Right? The last I heard there are 17 different MLS services in our metro area. Our metro area has broker reciprocity which means we share listings amongst brokerages and most metro area brokerages post the listings on their individual websites. Consumers can search themselves. We encourage consumer education including encouragement of consumers to interview real estate professionals before they hire an agent to work with. A professional takes the time to search seriously with attention to details as related by words and actions from the consumer-client. Some thing to think about: if left alone, a consumer who wants 3 bedrooms and 2 baths searches for 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. That consumer may miss great properties with 1 more bedroom or 1 less bathroom or a property that has the potential for adding a basement bathroom and has a fantastic backyard or new siding or a property with 1 less bath and a great room addition.