entries filed under 'real estate' tag:
posted by Odin on Feb 23, 2011
'For Sale' by lisbokt, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Just when I thought I couldn't hate real estate agents any more than I already did, they prove me wrong by pissing me off on a different level this time!
The reason I have always hated realtors is that I find them to be hot-headed, egotistical, not responsive and useless. This is not to say they are ALL bad, but many of them are.
Their hot-headedness and egoism is my personal opinion, I admit. As for the non-responsiveness, I believe that many of us, while using a realtor to buy a home, can attest to how they often show you listings that are way above your budget, or that dont fit at all your specifications, as portrayed in the following conversation:
Buyer: "I am not looking for a fixer-upper. I want something move-in-ready."
Realtor: "Just imagine the possibilities."
No! I do not want to imagine anything! Thanks for wasting both of our times with this useless visit!
Or, I love it when you tell them you am looking for a 3-bedroom for example, and they take you to a listing that says 2+1 bedrooms, only for you to find out once on site that the +1 is not really a bedroom, but a corner or tiny den that is usually impossible to make into a separate bedroom.
As for their uselessness, I have already addressed this in a previous blog entry. I still believe that with total availability and dissemination of information, as demonstrated by websites such as MLS, ComFree and others, realtors' role and value will diminish because we will all have access to the same information they have been trying to protect for decades.
More recently, however, several agents have really gotten under my nerves by sending me emails complaining about comments left on their listings on SeekOdin. Some have even insulted me, my business and threatened to take legal action against me if I do not remove the comments in question, which they think are defamatory.
Let me first state that I always filter out any comment or part of a comment that is actually defamatory. I admit that some comments left are out of place, insulting, useless and not in the spirit of SeekOdin. I do not need to be threatened to filter those out, which I do on a constant basis. However, none of the comments brought up by those complaining agents are actually defamatory. They all speak to the poster's frustration while using the services of the realtors in question.
I have never received any communication nearly as ridiculous, offensive and menacing as the ones I regularly receive from realtors from a professional under any of the other category of services listed on SeekOdin (accountants, lawyers, mechanics, plumbers ...), even though many of them have much more negative comments left on their listings.
I will not name those agents, but they know who they are. Rather than satisfy their childish demands and delete the "offensive" comments in question, I have decided to remove their listings altogether. Why should a "professional" that cannot accept criticism gain exposure on a site that gets well over five thousand unique visitors a month? It is their loss, if you want my opinion. That, plus the fact that I do not have time to keep answering their pesky and insulting emails, let alone go to court for the sake of their inflated egos.
I want those agents to know that the reason I have sort-of "caved in" at the end, is not so much to protect myself and my business, because in the end, it is not I that am "defaming" them, as they like to charge. It is rather the honest Montrealers that contribute to my site by leaving comments. For that, I thank them for their participation. If ever a case gets big enough to go to court, I would most likely receive a court order to give out the IP address used when an offending comment was left. So in the end, it is the users of my website that will lose, not me. And that is something I will never let happen.
Needless to say, those agents have demonstrated their non-professionalism, their lack of openness and complete inability to take any sort of criticism. And THAT is why I believe they are hot-headed and egotistical.
posted by Odin on Apr 03, 2009
Today I want to tackle the Middle Man profession. Middle men, or brokers/agents, are just a layer that lies between you, the consumer, and the product or service you are after.
There are several categories of middle men out there, many of which are listed on SeekOdin, such as real estate agents, insurance brokers, mortgage brokers and travel agents. They all have one thing in common: they don’t ACTUALLY provide you with a tangible product or service, but they supposedly help you in the search process.
Now insurance and mortgage brokers, I can understand and tolerate. What they are getting you is harder to find and not widely available to everyone on the internet for example. Plus, they actually get you a discount since their business model relies on volume: the more they sell, the cheaper the policy, resulting in a discount that is transferred to your insurance policy or mortgage contract.
On the other hand, realtors and travel agents are becoming less useful. Before the internet, sure, it was hard to know what properties are for sale, or what itineraries are available for a trip. But with all the information available to us today, I do not really see the benefit of going through a broker or agent. I am not advocating the complete eradication of these professions, but in a perfectly liberal capitalist society, where the market rules, they represent a market inefficiency that might get ironed out and see its purpose dwindle with time.
When it comes to real estate, as an individual you are either a buyer or a seller. As a seller, your goal is to get listed on mls.ca (now realtor.ca), Canada’s Multiple Listing Service, combining all of the major agencies’ listings. The only way to do this is to go through an agent, so you are pretty much forced to use the middle man. You may choose to go independently, and try bytheowner.com, a growing trend, but you would be reducing significantly your potential buyer’s pool.
However, as a buyer, once you have access to mls.ca, there is no real incentive to go through an agent. During my condo hunt a couple years ago, I actually got in touch with a few, and let me tell you, they didn’t do much at all. I gave them my list of requirements, and everything they showed me made it seem like they never even looked at it! In the end, I bought a condo that I actually found myself, from the Gazette’s Sunday open-house listings.
I think the future of realtors lies in reinventing themselves as more than just brokers, because once the information is open to everyone, the ‘search’ element becomes accessible to all (although it remains time consuming). There is tons of room for derived or specialty services; some buyers want investment property, others are foreigners that don’t know the city or don’t have time to do visits, etc … To sum up, as pure brokers for buyers, their necessity is declining.
It is just my opinion, but with time I see all middle men losing their grip on their respective markets, due to the increased proliferation and accessibility of the one thing over which they had complete control: information.
posted by Odin on Feb 26, 2009
'Montreal Twilight Panorama 2006' by David Iliff, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License
I know the title of this blog is MTLRants, hinting that it's all about pointing the bad and negative side of things, but I want to start it off on the positive end by praising what I now refer to as my city, Montreal. I say 'now refer to' because I am not originally from Montreal.
I have lived 17 years elsewhere prior to moving to Montreal around twelve years ago. Also, since then, I have left Montreal for around a year on two different occasions, one of which is still in progress. I have been in Paris since April of 2008, for career reasons (yes, I am running a Montreal-geared website from France, duh!), and while the experience has been enjoyable for the most part, it made me realize even more how great of a city Montreal is. Before coming to Paris, last year, I was actually starting to get bored with Montreal, leaning towards the typical clichés that most people use to bash the city, from the cold to the lack of career opportunities and such. So with that state of mind, I welcomed the Paris adventure with open arms. However, after 10 months in France, I am more than ready and willing to come back home (which will hopefully take place this summer).
Keep in mind that this post is not about comparing Montreal against Paris solely. I have lived in five cities in three different continents in my life, and I have traveled quite a lot, so my basis of comparison is broader than it may seem.
In short, of the places I've been to, only in Montreal can you find such a rich, multi-cultural mix of people that are truly integrated and equal, in an affordable metropolitan urban environment that is very laid back and that balances leisure and career at the perfect level. That last sentence is somewhat long and probably isn't written very well (not that the rest of my blog is), but it sums up the values that place Montreal on the top my list.
First, no one can deny how multi-cultural Montreal is. You have your Quebecois, your Anglo-Canadians, your Italians, Greeks, Arabs, Asians and others. This is not unique to Montreal at all. Western Europe probably has a higher percentage of immigrants from visible ethnic minorities than North America. However, they are nowhere near as integrated and viewed as equal as in Canada and the States. Obama's recent election win confirms this. In France, it is very rare to see blacks or North-African Arabs in powerful or prominent positions, and England is centuries away from even seeing an Indian or Pakistani on the ballot . In Paris, the companies I have so far worked with employ predominantly a white French workforce.
Second, Montreal is a very affordable city, compared to metropolitan cities of equal size and importance. Everything from real estate to transportation and food is significantly cheaper than in any of the major North American or European cities. Where else can you still rent for less than $500 a month?
Finally, Montreal is not a stressful city like New York, London or Paris. It is not over-populated and you do not feel like everyone around you is constantly in a rush. You are not relentlessly competing against time, space or other people. Montrealers do not place their career on the top of their priorities, yet they are not lazy either. They are very efficient and productive, yet they enjoy life.
To sum up all of the above, I find that Montreal really provides the perfect mix of North-American modernity with European charm and quality of life. Our streets are clean, our buildings are new, our apartments are spacious, our people are bilingual and friendly, our metro is fast, our restaurants are excellent, our night-life is reputable and our cultural activities are plenty. Sure, we pay a lot of taxes, our winters are long and cold, and our career opportunities leave something to be desired. But nothing is perfect. Yet, Montreal comes as close to perfection as possible.
So to you, Montreal, my city, I dedicate this comment and this website.
Now let the ranting begin :)
about the blog
MTLRants© is Seek Odin's brand new blog, bringing you entries from our staff and other contributors. The blog will cover topics and issues related to SeekOdin's central themes. Mostly, it will deal with the difficulties and frustrations of dealing with service-related businesses in Montreal.
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