Recently in "Opinions & Articles"

Every year, the concept of real estate agents becoming extinct make national headlines and some believe technology will supplant the practice, but is that true? Agents have survived dozens of revolutions thus far and somehow remain in the field.

Agents becoming extinct?

The news cycle is at it again with threats of the real estate agent becoming extinct, often perpetuated by self deprecating agents themselves1. People fear change, whine about making less money, and that consumers are being fed too much information.

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I consider the demise of traditional real estate firms a necessary market correction, with their archaic business models flooding the consumer.

Over the past ten years, consumers have become empowered through technology, providing them with a wealth of resources and tools to find a home. Information that was once considered privaledge, is now available online for homebuyers

Traditional real estate brokers are trying to justify their relevance in order to continue to charge high commissions to cover their expenses and continue on wasting money on the agent trying to motivate them, versus focusing on the consumer.

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Flat fee websites using the phrase "List on" were the subject of a preliminary injunction granted by a federal judge for deceptive advertising and trademark infringement, which the Defendant allegedly says he will fight by naming "1000+" other Brokers that use the phrase in their advertising.

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Note from Lester... There are five states with Minimum Service fiduciary obligations and standards therefore the brokers that stick a sign in the ground can not profitably charge their low flat fee.


Everything about’s Bloor St. office feels more like a tech startup than a real estate brokerage, which is fitting because this relatively new company is a hybrid of both.


Its mission is simple and shouts in chalk from a wall that’s been converted to a giant blackboard: Making House Hunting Easy. is among the first of a new breed of realtors in Toronto — tech-savvy data crunchers who are determined to give homebuyers the tools they need to find their dream home from the comfort of their own computer.


This so-called Virtual Office Website (VOW) is far from alone, and a far cry from the site that has provided consumers with just the most basic of MLS information for years.


Over the next few weeks a host of other VOWs — from information-rich and to the far more basic — will be rolled out across the GTA. Some, like, will offer significant discounts in realty fees to house hunters who do most of the legwork themselves.


“Ninety-five percent of Canadian homebuyers start their search online, but this isn’t like the travel industry where you can ahead and just buy your own ticket.


“We’re not a discount broker — we’re still a full-service brokerage offering analysis, property valuation, negotiations and a network of professionals who provide mortgages,” says Rokham Fard, one of four co-founders of which claims to be an even bigger database of listings than MLS.


First introduced by psychologist Anders Ericsson and later featured in Malcolm Gladwell's popular book, "Outliers: The Story of Success," was this idea that you could become a genuine expert in a field with approximately 10,000 hours of practice — roughly 3 hours a day, every day for a consecutive decade.


But is that really what it takes? And what's the real difference between being a "natural" and a prodigious practicer?

In a study published in Harvard Business Review, researchers say that you must pass three tests to know if you've reached a level of expertise:

1. Your performance must be consistently "superior to that of your expert's peers." You can't really be an expert if you are on the same level of expertise as everyone else. 

2. Your expertise must produce consistent, concrete, successful results. For example, if you're an expert at building a car, you must be able to achieve a superior end result in a consistent manner. 

3. Your performance "can be replicated and measured in the lab." If you can't do it again, it isn't consistent, and you won't be able to measure it. So how can you prove your expertise?

In order to get to this level, it's obvious that you're going to have to practice and put in a lot of sweat, but not all practice is useful practice. The Harvard Business Review says: 

When most people practice, they focus on the things they already know how to do. Deliberate practice is different. It entails considerable, specific, and sustained efforts to do something you can’t do well—or even at all. Research across domains shows that it is only by working at what you can’t do that you turn into the expert you want to become.

According to Gary Marcus in Psychology Today, if you keep practicing what you know you are already good at, you will never be able to reach an uncomfortable level that will force you to push harder. This means you'll never improve or reach your greatest limits.

"Getting better isn't just a matter of logging hours," Marcus says. "It's a matter of developing a focused program of targeting your weaknesses and broadening your skill set."

Read more:

I am Your Customer


I am your customer

I am someone that you should appreciate and hope to develop a relationship with

I don’t want to be ‘sold’, I want information

I am not an annoyance, I am someone you should be happy to educate on your business and the things you offer

I am not someone for you to match wits with

I am not someone to lie to, deceive, bait-and-switch, or otherwise treat differently than your own mother

I am your customer

I am six to seven times more expensive to acquire than to retain

I have rights – that should not be the thing that keeps you following the law

I expect to get what I pay for

I don’t forget things as easily as I used to

I am your customer

You be the judge, but I think we can sometimes poach ideas, be motivated and otherwise benefit from what happens in the corporate world. After all, where did the idea of consulting come from? Hardly from within our own industry! This piece from today's Globe & Mail Report on Business about innovation is an example. Have a peek and see what you think. Here's the link... 

Technology-based real estate brokerage Redfin says it's reducing the commission refunds it offers to buyers, raising fees by an average of 16 percent, in order to provide customers with "a one-on-one relationship" to their agents.

Redfin had previously offered buyers refunds equal to 50 percent of the commission split the brokerage received from the seller, subject to a $6,000 minimum fee. Now, Redfin will employ a fixed-dollar refund for each listing based on a sliding scale that's tied to the listing price, CEO Glenn Kelman announced on the company's blog. 

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I watched this video from a one certain Mr. Jim Abbott, broker and President of Abbot Realty Group. In the video he took a dim view of Real Estate aggregator sites like zillow, trulia, and Realtytrac, and spoke of restricitng the access of these sites to our listing data. He made several strong points:

On every point he made strong arguments. 1) These sites do use a form of fear to induce an agent to buy their lead generation and marketing products. This is true. 2) The accuracy of the data is suspect., 3) They ARE stealing our property and they do not compensate us for helping to build their brand, but rather they demand we pay THEM!, 4) They do present a false picture of the market and may (but I think this is a long shot) distort current market values. 

HOWEVER, that all being said, I think the aggregators sites offer tremendous value to both agents and brokers, a value that I think makes the good outweigh the GLARING bad. 1) While fear is a common technique I've experienced, let's not forget that not only are we councilors of real estate, we are as well salespersons. If a salesperson buys an item or service they neither need and what and as well pay far more for that service than it's true value then that salesperson isn't worth her salt and shouldn't be in the business anyway. 2) The inaccuracy of the data present me personally with opportunites to "get it right" for the prospect, be a hero and make the sale (BOOYAH!) 3) Theft, yes, but theft that you too can steal back if your savy enough, yes, yes, yes. Let me explain. Right now I'm programming another website from scratch. This one aimed exclusively at buyers. I simply refuse to be enshackled by an IDX provider to run my virtual office. I refuse, but what am I to do to give eye candy to buyers, a cohort that now fully ebntrenched in the internet age, has little pateince for "non moving" websites? I tell you what I do, I modify the widgets, and utilize their (aggregators) raw data to create my own IDX system that sends me leads, yes from their data. You can do this too with a little elbow grease, and you as well can give your favorite one finger salute to the robber barrons known as IDX solution providers. They steal, I steal back. All is fair, right? 8) 4) Once again the zillow presentation of inaccurate market data presents opportunites to display one's expertise. Listen I don't know about you, but I get paid to do a CMA or BPO. I don't do those for free, because I take them seriously. Someone not willing to pay for a serious evaluation of a home I send to zillow and tell them to call me when they are ready to be serious. Ok, I'm not that crass, but essentailly that's what it boils down to. They call me back sometimes, they pay me always. If the data on aggregators were correct that would be a lost income stream for me. 

In the end, given the merits and limitations of Mr. Abbott's postion I'll continue to choose for the aggregators. Shutting them off would raise the cost of entry and operation or the small firm. Aggregators or syndicators allow small firms to grow into the role of a big firm, and allow them to look big while doing it. As a small firm grows, perhaps utilizing the tools and resources provided by the aggregators, they can branch out into more specilized and exclusive forms of marketing.  Shutting out the aggregators would force more agents to remain as such while large brokerages gain complete marketshare,, leaving no room for small and new innovators who themselves aim to knock the big guys off their thrones. No I vote for keeping the aggregators despite their egregious crimes against us.


The real estate industry, like so many others, is being upended by the Internet.

Eckardt’s venture in the Albany, New York, area,, is promising real estate agents they will earn more on each sale because of the low-cost structure.

He is also offering homebuyers a 20 percent rebate on the commission at closing.

“We’re really trying to leverage where we see the industry is going,” said Eckardt, 38. “My objective is to bring a model that will disrupt the marketplace.”

Real estate agents have little choice but to embrace the digital revolution.

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