Sound unbelievable? I actually borrowed the words in the headline from a fellow Tweeter (thank you @sd_mls_photos!), who wrote them in response to my Tweet on the phenomenon of online coupon/deal sites commingling with the real estate industry. It definitely made you stop and want to read on, right! How ridiculous would it be if banks made such an offer?
There is one broker in Chicago that had much success in offering a Groupon to prospective buyers – they offered cash back at the close of escrow, and sold 200 deals. Some in our industry believe these types of sites are a good way to market real estate services. I do not agree.
I believe that being a Realtor means you are a professional. Sure, there are those who dabble in it, rarely sell homes, work part time, don’t take it seriously…but you will find people like that in any industry. The serious agents – those of us who work full time and work hard for our clients – we are professionals. Offering an online coupon for services cheapens those services.
I believe that a prospective client needs to meet an agent and talk to him/her before deciding to work together. Likewise, I like to meet clients to decide if I want to work with them (yes, as a professional I do have that choice, and there have been times I have chosen not to work with people…it’s not about the money – integrity and saving one’s sanity come first).
Apparently Groupon and some other sites have recently put working with Realtors on hold. Many are trying to figure out why, but my legal mind senses potential liability – people wanting their money back (maybe they are dissatisfied, maybe they found out they couldn’t qualify for a loan and thus cannot purchase a home, or other reasons). This could undoubtedly create a problem for online deal sites, even though I am sure somewhere in the fine print it must say the purchases are non-refundable.
If you are a homebuyer you need to shop carefully for an agent. Do not choose someone solely on the basis of a coupon. Meet them, check out their credentials, ask what they will do for you and why you should work with them – this is a service industry and you are the client, so you deserve to be well-cared for.
Don’t get me wrong…I am sure there are some very good, professional agents who would opt to use coupon sites to attract clients. But just because you get a deal doesn’t mean you will click with the agent. If a deal is important you can discuss it with an agent who does click with you!