ComFree, part of the largest For Sale By Owner network in Canada, recently conducted a survey of 5000 Canadians that states “32% of homeowners would not automatically turn to a real estate agent to sell their property.”
In response to this survey, they have introduced a new offering for Canadian homeowners who are considering selling their property without the help of a realtor.
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Read More Essentially, Comfree offers a “turn-key marketing service to help homeowners sell their home intermediary-free as well as professional advice, legal and appraisal assistance" they are quoted as saying in a recent press release.
"We can certainly confirm that the real estate sector is undergoing a significant transformation," states Pat Sullivan, Vice President of ComFree. "The survey shows that selling a home without an intermediary is a consumer preference. That's exactly what we are seeing at ComFree. Our company meets the client's needs by providing what we call assisted sales services to sell their home."
Indeed there have been many changes recently in the real estate sector, and some of them are controversial- in particular for realtors.
Robert Morrow, Sales Rep: Chase Realty Inc says that ComFree’s services and business model are not new, but the presentation of it is: “It really boils down to consumer education. ComFree is not a "new" service; they've been around since 1997. What's new is the survey they are using to re-introduce a tired model. The survey may or may not be true but what consumers need to know is that until the government changes the laws that govern the real estate industry, a buyer's access to vital information is limited.”
Morrow believes strongly in the necessity of consumer education, so that all facts are gathered and understood before making decisions; “ComFree still doesn't list the home on the MLS and, in fact, limits exposure to their own site. Again, consumer education is required. Unless all the potential buyers out there know about ComFree, what are the odds of a seller's home being seen? Yes, the site works well but it consists of only a small percentage of the total homes for sale in any given area. The MLS shows ALL the homes and that's the site the home needs to be exposed on. When the Competition Bureau caused a change to the MLS last fall allowing sellers to list on the MLS without paying for all the services of a real estate brokerage, they also maintained that only brokerages can do the actual listing--meaning you still need an agent to get on the MLS.”
Sullivan states that this business model is geared to save homeowners commission; "We offer everything homeowners need to sell their home commission-free and save thousands of dollars. This unique positioning is immediately apparent in ComFree's new slogan 'Committed Without Commission."
Morrow defends the value in retaining the services of a Realtor: "The odds of selling a home without involving an agent are very slim. If the house is priced perfectly, is in the perfect location, and the timing is perfect, then it could and often does work. The problem is that most homes don't fit that situation. And that's why you need professional help; not just to "sell" a not-so-perfect home, but to promote it quickly and get as many potential buyers through the home in the shortest amount of time, so that the odds are in your favour. The generic brokerage model (meaning all models where the brokerage is registered with RECO) is by far the most effective way to do that.”
Morrow actually has anecdotal evidence to support his theory, and urges consumers to consider all financial implications- not just the saving of commissions:; "I recently had a client looking for a home on a certain street and we went to see all those listed on the MLS plus one that was a private sale, also listed on the MLS through a partner brokerage. (After my clients purchased one of the homes they saw) Later, I found a home on ComFree that was on the same street and in the price range. We didn't know about it because, as an agent, I am given no notice by private selling companies about new listings, and worse, there was no sign. I called the owner and she said the home had been listed for a couple of months and that they didn't want a sign on the lawn because the nosy neighbours would want to come in. They were totally relying on the website to sell their home. Homes on that street sell within 7-15 days. As far as I know, hers is still for sale. She did not want to speak to me because she didn't want to pay commission.Meanwhile, I estimate the mortgage costs for the past three months alone are higher than my commission rate. And I could have sold it to my clients in November, had she been willing to speak with me even then.”
It is clear that there are benefits to both using a Realtor and using a service such as ComFree. The most important aspect seems to be that the consumer needs to educate themselves about all facets home selling and buying, before choosing which direction to take.