Published in the Wall Street Journal
Jack Ryan and Jonathan Friedland fail to recognize multiple realities of America’s housing industry (“When You Buy or Sell a Home, Realty Bites,” op-ed, March 4). The National Association of Realtors® (NAR), together with our 1.3 million members, is actively engaged in the effort to ensure consumers are benefiting from technological advancements in real estate as we look to maintain a healthy, competitive housing market.
Realtors are not only embracing the technology that consumers use to search for homes, but in most instances they are driving that innovation. And as real-estate agents and consumers become more tech-enabled, Americans on both ends of the transaction are still finding that a real-estate professional’s guidance is more important than ever.
Recent data have shown that 90% of Americans who search online for property use a real-estate agent, while only 64% of those who do not search online use an agent.
Messrs. Ryan and Friedland claim that “most buyers do the work themselves.” This shortsighted assumption infers that the only “work” that goes into this transaction is the search for property itself. NAR’s members showcase their value in guiding buyers as they sift through a sea of misleading information found online, while also helping clients navigate inspections and appraisals, secure reliable mortgage lenders and effectively prepare their homes for sale, along with so much more.
The authors also erroneously argue that a 2008 consent decree between the Justice Department and NAR had the intent of helping buyers find homes online without the help of real-estate professionals, and that NAR’s multiple listing services (MLSs) are anti-competitive. Both assertions are misinformed and fail to recognize that courts, regulators and online advertisers all agree that MLSs incentivize competition, increase efficiencies and lower costs.
Realtors are more than agents and apps. They are community advocates who commit to a code of ethics and advocate for private property rights. In a transaction that is often the largest and most complex we will make in our lifetime, consumers want a trusted professional to guide them through this process. And there is no substitute for that.