Los Angeles agent Jon Strum wrote a stupendous Manifesto for the Future in his blog today, arguing that real estate agents can provide a unique service by reinventing how they deliver service. The posting has begun to draw caustic commentary at the NYT’s Walk-Through.
I am the last person who should agree with Mr. Strum, but I do.
He recommends that agents get a Blackberry, provide home-cleaning services for sellers and handymen for new homeowners. What is beautiful about this post are not the examples of good service that he cites, which he says are unimportant anyway, but the premise that agents should compete by innovating rather than hoarding information or through anti-competitive laws and regulations.
In this respect, Mr. Strum has a lot in common with the real estate professionals on Rain City Guide, who are as committed in their own way to re-imagining real estate as we are. There is a fundamental recognition that information access should be open and direct, that consumers have new choices, and that agents provide crucial legal advice and negotiating capabilities.
This is probably why requests for meetings with our partners at traditional brokerages were up again last week at Redfin. But we’ve also got plenty of folks who found a listing to buy on their own, and want electronic service and a 67% commission refund. Of course, this service uses a Redfin agent for legal support, negotiations and closing.
I think if Mr. Strum met the agents we’ve hired for our electronic service, and saw the work they did, he’d like what he saw. Hats off to him for a gutsy, thoughtful post.