Intense debate over bundled real estate services
Part 2: Growing competition for home buyers, home sellersBy Glenn Roberts Jr., Friday, July 30, 2004.
Editor's note: This two-part story includes highlights from an Inman News Special Report, "Controlling the real estate transaction: Who's in charge?" The full 40-page report is available free to Inman News members. To become a member, visit the member sign-up page.
The hullabaloo over bundled real estate services fuels a full spectrum of emotions among industry professionals–from contempt to contentment and everything in between.
In an informal survey of Inman News readers conducted in June, about 35.9 percent of respondents said they believe bundled services will change the point-of-purchase debate in the real estate industry, while 31.3 percent said it won't and the remainder said they weren't sure or had other comments.
Dozens of participants elaborated on their choice with written comments. One survey participant said, "Bundled services are an ideal way to handle transactions if and only if service is the key. At present it is the bottom line that drives it. That is not good for the consumer."
Another survey participant offered, "Consumers are unaware that many times (most) bundled services are not in their best interest. They continue to be in the interest of the mega-companies that offer them. I sincerely hope that one day there will be an awareness lobby so that consumers understand the reality of bundled services."
But consumers want bundled services, argued another real estate professional. "The consumers want and like the convenience of one-stop shopping. They will choose the agent who has the services as well as (the agent who has) an idea of the 'Big Picture' by arranging these services."
And another survey respondent said, "Consumers are seeking more convenience. Those service providers who can offer the most services in one location will be seen as the most convenient."
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Several respondents said that a package of real estate services could save time and money for consumers, while others questioned whether bundled services will really offer the best services available to consumers at the best prices, and whether bundled services could compromise agents' ability to help consumers find the best available options.
"Agents should not be compensated to steer people either with loans, inspections, workmen or anything else. Give them a choice and let them pick. If the agent is compensated in any way from outside sources that is not (giving the) consumer fair options," one participant said.
Another respondent said bundled services could change the nature of real estate transactions. "If bundled services packages can truthfully and accurately disclose significant savings to consumers and honor these figures at closing, it may become powerful and even change the way real estate transactions are being conducted."
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