Growing up in Canada there were certainties that you could almost set your watch to – high taxes, cold weather, an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey, bacon with maple syrup on it (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – it’s amazing) and using an incredibly over-priced realtor to sell your home. The average real estate commission in the 1980s in Canada was about 10%, and even higher if you were using a high-profile agent.
And what did you get for your money? Not a lot really.
Bear in mind in the 80s there was virtually no internet and no multiple listing service (MLS) that was easily accessible to the public. Most people knew a house was for sale if they saw a sign on the front lawn, an ad in a local property paper or an open-house on a Sunday perhaps. And realtors did most of their advertising on bus stops and small newspaper ads.
Realtors these days are scrambling to find new and innovative ways to market properties while juggling database systems, managing staff communications with clients, constantly updating websites and a non-stop barrage of phone calls and emails.
Fortunately, technology has afforded agents with streamlines and shortcuts to make these tasks much simpler – yet, unfortunately for realtors in the west, this same technology they once welcomed has now made it easier for the public to circumvent agents and use these networks themselves to sell privately.
For example, my parents just privately sold their home in Ottawa, Canada. When I say privately, I mean they hired a company that, for a flat-fee, comes to your home, takes professional quality photos, and then lists it on the MLS site that everyone now has free access to. All for about $500.
As it happened, a realtor contacted them and brought them their eventual buyer, so a commission had to be paid to them, but I think it was negotiated at about 2%. (side note: To most Brits this probably still sounds very expensive, but in a market like Canada where even now 6% is the norm, this was a coup).
Fortunately for us agents here in Pattaya, I don’t see this happening anytime soon.
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked here is about the lack of an MLS that would allow a central database off of which customers could search for their property of choice and be able to contact the listing agent to view.
Believe me, us old dogs in the industry here have poured over this concept for years and struggled to figure out how to effectively implement it in a market where listing exclusivity is actually quite rare.
How would we decide who the ‘listing agent’ would be on a property that 10 of us all had listed?
Very difficult indeed. I truly do believe it would be better for everyone here if we could get such a thing going. Better for the agents and the clients through and through. But alas, I don’t expect it to happen anytime in the foreseeable future in Pattaya (although I do believe it could work in Bangkok, but that’s another story).
Having said this, the lack of MLS and exclusive listings (these do exist, though not typical) actually has some great advantages to the seller.
There are a number of agents in a town who have been living and breathing real estate here for 10, 15, even 20+ years.
The amount of real market knowledge and experience one gains in that amount of time is pretty vast and extremely valuable. Add to this the extensive network of old clients, referrals, contacts and other professionals they may co-broker with and you’re immediately tapping into a serious network. And at what cost? Nothing until you sell your property. And you’re not beholden to any one of them as long as a contract of exclusivity wasn’t signed. To me, that’s a hell of a deal and a major advantage a seller here has over somewhere where you’re saddled with one agent.
Another serious advantage is that different agents here represent and service the many different demographics represented in Pattaya.
When I first started working here in 2001 it was very much a European-based market. Brits, Germans, Scandis, French with some smatterings of Aussie and Americans. The Russian influx just a few years after that really changed the dynamics of the market and sellers began to seek out agencies who could present their properties to all potential buyers. Though the Russians have dampened off a bit the past few years, we now have a major influx of Chinese, middle to upper-class Thais, Japanese, Taiwanese, etc. So again, a savvy seller can ensure their property is being marketed to all corners by listing with a few different agents who each service different sectors of the market.
For us lowly agents, the lack of exclusivity isn’t all rosy. There is a surprising amount of work that goes into each listing – from first of all branding well enough that people are aware of your company to contact you, to meeting with owners, taking and editing photos, posting on websites, pushing on portal sites, social media, Line groups, personal networks, constant updating with owners – and all with the risk of doing it all for nowt – as we know there’s a very good chance that several other agents are out there doing the exact same thing with the same property – and only the winner gets the gold.
If I were trying to illicit some sort of sympathy for realtors and agents I don’t think I’d find many takers, of that I’m sure. But, they are out there working for you, as well as the hundreds of other sellers whose properties they’ve taken on. Is the way the market is set up here perfect? Far from, but I am truly of the opinion that it can work advantageously to savvy sellers.
Stu Sutton is managing director of Jomtien Property and has worked exclusively in the Pattaya/Jomtien real estate market for 16 years.
Please feel free to contact him with any queries, compliments or good jokes at
086 108 6575, [email protected]
or visit Jomtien Property’s website at www.jomtien-property.com