“And here’s our agent.” They pointed a smartphone at Wiley.
October 6, 2015 12:02 AM   Subscribe

Real estate brokerage Marketplace Homes has begun using its ZipTours application to allow buyers to tour homes for sale in the Detroit area under the supervision of an agent video chatting on their smartphone. After providing photo ID and a facebook account, the buyer receives a code to open the lockbox and can tour the home with their remote agent. [Alt link for possible paywall problems]
posted by polymath (16 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Of course Robocop had this in 1987. (SLYT)
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:23 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm all in favor of anything that lessons the real estate agent stranglehold on home buying/selling, but this seems remarkably awkward.

I don't have a facebook account, for one, and if I did, it certainly wouldn't be linked to an actual real life identity.
And maintaining a video chat seems somehow more intrusive than having an agent follow you around the house.

I wonder how they feel about someone just putting the phone down on the kitchen counter and wandering away.
posted by madajb at 12:27 AM on October 6, 2015


Where did the idea that having a Facebook account means that you're legit come from? When will it die?
posted by thelonius at 1:29 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


"IN BRITAIN, if you want to sell your home, an estate agent will list the property, find a buyer, help you negotiate a deal and guide you through the transaction, all for a commission of 2-3% of the sale price. In America, realtors provide the same services for roughly double the fee. Economists are baffled. The internet has squelched inefficient middlemen in other industries, from insurance brokers to travel agents. Why not American realtors?"

".... The biggest cause, however, is probably the interdependent nature of the business. Since both the buyer and seller are represented by agents in most transactions, brokers must collaborate to close deals at the same time as they compete for listings. Buyers' agents have an incentive only to show their clients homes whose sellers offer them a standard 3% commission.

To solve this problem, many sellers' agents offer to cut their own fee while still offering the full price to the buyer's agent. Alas, word soon spreads that they are giving rebates. That makes many buyers' agents steer their clients elsewhere—either in solidarity with full-service brokers or because they fear a discounter will leave them with the lion's share of the work."

I don't see Ziptours changing any of this dynamic, but it is baffling how these ridiculously inefficient middlemen have avoided the same fate as relatively efficient taxi drivers.
posted by three blind mice at 2:36 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


We sold our last house six years ago. At the time we found that real estate agents took a very passive role when they showed the house. We would hang out at a neighbors house while ours was supposedly being shown and had a clear view of what was going on. In one instance, the home shoppers were obviously given the lockbox code and showed themselves around. We told our realtor about this and though they said this was against there rules we had the feeling that there was no fallout for the showing realtor. Other times the realtor hung out in the kitchen on their phone while the buyers showed themselves around.

We cut out the middle man. Because of the realtor's blasé attitude about selling our house, we ended up with a list-it-yourself service and sold the house ourselves. It was a bit more of a hassle, but what would have been the realtors' commissions ended up being the negotiable amount and everybody was happy in the end.

Bottom line on security is that if you're showing your home you have to make it as theft proof as possible, since you don't know who's wandering around. Besides the obvious of not leaving valuables like jewelry and small electronics laying around, you should pack up and hide or remove from the house anything that has value to you that can be easily lifted.
posted by SteveInMaine at 2:44 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't see Ziptours changing any of this dynamic, but it is baffling how these ridiculously inefficient middlemen have avoided the same fate as relatively efficient taxi drivers
Time scale... it's all about time scale... wait a bit longer.
posted by MikeWarot at 4:25 AM on October 6, 2015


Somewhere in SV, a Web 2.0 entrepreneur just bolted straight up in bed, awoken by the smell of a paradigm just ripe for disruption.
posted by dr_dank at 4:48 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where did the idea that having a Facebook account means that you're legit come from? When will it die?

From Facebook's prespective, that's the whole point.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:52 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Neat technology and all, but the bit about avoiding sending their agents into the "hardscrabble neighborhoods" was pretty damn racist-sounding.
posted by odinsdream at 5:24 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't know why USA realtors get the big bucks. Last time I bought a house I did all the searches myself. Then I had to wrangle the real estate agent into showing me houses they were clearly not keen on selling to me.

But in this age when even non-techy people know how to look things up online? If you can just get your listing into MLS with some sort of accurate details, buyers will find it.

I suppose that if I were relocating from another state, I'd care whether I had a local guide, someone who knows the neighborhoods. Assuming I could find a realtor who was on my wavelength, which is not a given. Most of them seem to have really generic taste.
posted by elizilla at 6:29 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, the really terrifying part of buying and selling a house isn't even done by the realtor. I'm talking about the paperwork. In my state this is handled by a title company. You don't have to be a realtor to hire the title company, and they only charge a couple hundred bucks.
posted by elizilla at 6:32 AM on October 6, 2015


MH AGENT (via smartphone): Alright, Mr. Peterson, the lockbox combo is 8-3-4-3-2.

MR. PETERSON: 8-3-4-3-2... OK. I'm inside.

AGENT: Great! The first thing you should check out, and this is really the centerpiece of the home, is the fully-furnished home theater in the basement. First door on your left after you pass the half-bath.

PETERSON: Wow! My kids will really like that. OK, past the bathroom. This door here? Under the stairs?

AGENT: That's the one! The door code is 6-6-6.

PETERSON: A door code for the basement?

AGENT: The theater is really top-of-the-line, and the current owner is kind of a security nut.

PETERSON: Uh, OK. 6-6-6. It's open. Where's the light switch?

AGENT: It is motion-activated. Really something special. Go on down!

PETERSON: Alright. This is kind of str- *sounds of a man tumbling down stairs, followed by a meaty thud*

AGENT: *sounds of typing*

PETERSON: *sound of basement door closing and bolting shut*

AGENT: [to someone offscreen] Dinner is ready, master.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:43 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


the bit about avoiding sending their agents into the "hardscrabble neighborhoods" was pretty damn racist-sounding.

I don't know when race replaced class, but it seems to me that instead of recruiting real estate agents from the proletariat neighborhoods the bourgeoisie has developed an app to replace the worker and exploit the masses - and to show their contempt for the worker, they are testing it on the lowest end of the market - the homes of the revolutionary proletariat. But I guess you could call it racism for short.
posted by three blind mice at 6:57 AM on October 6, 2015


“And here’s our agent.” They pointed a smartphone at Wiley.

Surely that's more Smidgeo's domain than Wily's...
posted by maryr at 7:46 AM on October 6, 2015


"IN BRITAIN, if you want to sell your home, an estate agent will list the property, find a buyer, help you negotiate a deal and guide you through the transaction, all for a commission of 2-3% of the sale price. In America, realtors provide the same services for roughly double the fee. Economists are baffled. The internet has squelched inefficient middlemen in other industries, from insurance brokers to travel agents. Why not American realtors?"

You know you're trapped in a hellish dystopia beyond any fictional imaginings when british estate agents are being held up as a model of quality, fairness and value for money.
posted by dng at 2:37 PM on October 6, 2015


In the United States, the standard seller agent commission is 3%.

There's also a standard buyer agent commission of 3%, typically also paid by the seller.

Does the "2-3%" quoted for Great Britain cover both buyer and seller agents? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the buyer is expected to pay for their own agent there.
posted by Hatashran at 5:13 PM on October 6, 2015


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