In the past, when buyers wanted to find a home, they enlisted the help of a real estate agent. While this is still the case for most buyers, real estate agents are no longer the main source for finding a home. People are increasingly turning to the Internet to browse home listings on popular websites, such as Trulia and Zillow. Realtors are a valuable source of information for home buyers; however, more and more buyers are relying upon the Internet for such information.
CNN estimates that half of Americans now find their homes online, but 87% still retain the services of a real estate agent to walk them through the buying process. Because of this, sellers often go out of their way to ensure their homes are appealing online. Failure to achieve this could reduce foot traffic through the home.
In short, web appeal has begun to replace curb appeal. When buyers finally drive up to a home, many of them already know what to expect and what is inside. Even if the staged furniture is removed, they have a good idea of what the final product should look like. This has led to a boom in the home decor and interior decorating industry, as physical staging can cost up to $8,000.00, while virtual staging can cost around $150.00.
As buyers continue to take on more of the roles usually left to real estate agents, many consumers/sellers feel that the realtor commission is too high. CNN reports that this has led to a class-action lawsuit. As of late spring 2019, attorneys were recruiting plaintiffs to expand the class from the one Minneapolis homebuyer. This is not the only lawsuit of its kind as others were filed in Minnesota and Minneapolis. Successful awards could crumble the commission structure on which real estate commissions are founded. Please remember that real estate commissions, like any other contracts, are negotiable so please speak to your listing agent about what percentage they want to charge and the amount you’re willing to pay, what services you get for that percentage amount, etc. Be an educated consumer and ask questions…your agent, and your wallet, will appreciate the straight talk.