Real Estate world getting Amazon’d

Will the internet make real estate agents and local loan officers obsolete? Buying a pair of shoes, a camera or a designer purse can easily be done through eBay or Amazon, but the idea that you can purchase a home or obtain mortgage advice from a call center “professional” in Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, India or the Philippines seems a little off to me. Buying a house as your owner-occupied residence is not only a buyer’s largest purchase, but it is also an incredibly big deal for a family. Moving into a new house in a new neighborhood that you are going to potentially experience 30 to 40 years of holidays, birthdays, births, graduations, weddings and family barbeques is a way bigger deal than buying products online. In just the past 90 days, I have witnessed local Realtors fight hard to help their clients win bidding wars and get into dream homes and starter homes. I have also witnessed local listing agents and sellers generously negotiate appraisal and repair problems to keep the transaction together. Every day I witness top producing agents and new up-and-coming real estate professionals working nights and weekends in support of their clients’ goals and needs. On the mortgage side of the business, in just the past 90 days we have helped a few of our clients save $80,000 in actual cash. Three of our clients took our advice and improved their FICO scores to a point that they were able to get a better rate and reduced cost. One of our clients improved his FICO scores over the past 90 days to a point where his loan was approved last month after having no hope 90 days earlier because of a couple of mistakes that he was able to get corrected with the credit bureau. Many local lenders fight for their customers and do similar hard work for their valued clients and referral partners. Ninety days ago, I encouraged a 20-year client – a friend of mine – to negotiate with an old charged off $75,000 second mortgage on his house that was discharged through a bankruptcy and had not been paid for the past 5 years. I suggested he contact a real estate lawyer for legal advice. I explained that although the creditor wasn’t pursuing him for payment, the deed of trust lien on the house was never going away and now that his equity in the home has returned they may consider foreclosure proceedings, which according to the lawyer was legal and possible. This client called the creditor bank and they immediately settled with him for only $33,000 on a debt for $75,000 plus six years of interest! Technology has made it easy to see homes for sale and mortgage rates online, however deciding on a home and a mortgage via the internet is like buying estate planning or legal advice from an out-of-towner. I strongly suggest people buy homes and mortgages from people you will run into at the local grocery store or at your local high school sporting event. Accountability and professionalism is critical on the largest purchase of your life and people who live in your community have a lot to lose and a lot to gain by how they treat their client.