eReality ain't nuthin'

As usual, a small post on Philip Greenspun’s blog kicks off an interesting discussion in the comments section of his blog. This time, he wonders why, if we’re to believe the hype about e-commerce making our lives easier and cheaper, we still have 6% agent fees when selling houses.

As with anything us ‘mericans pay for that we don’t do ourselves and that involves lots of paper-work (that, even if we read it, we’re assured, we “wouldn’t understand anyway”), money-conspiracy abound, e.g.,

  • “An interesting observation about real estate broker has been made by UChicago economist Steven Levitt, who noted that realtors keep their own homes on the market longer and sell them for higher prices compared to client homes.”
  • “The longer the transaction takes, the more work they have to do. Because they are paid a straight percentage, the faster the sale, the better off they are. Granted, there are agents that do _the right thing_ anyway, but they don’t necessarily represent the majority of agents.”

Kim’s dad is in real-estate. My knowledge, through him and one of Kim’s friends who’s an agent, is that being in real-estate basically means you’re going to work all the time, at the beck-and-call of your clients. That doesn’t really counter any of the conspiracy theories there, but the point is, at least when it comes to him, he’s not flitting around in his Rolls picking up 6% tabs here and there, going back to a palatial estate eating grapes Roman style, and watching 3 flat screen TV’s all at once: he’s out, on Saturday night, with a client looking at houses.