Although matchmaking has been my profession and one of my greatest passions for the last 18 years, I have many other interests, and residential real estate is one of them… I love driving and walking around and noting homes that are for sale and, more so pre-COVID 19, touring open homes. I believe deeply in serendipity – random discoveries on Sunday open home drives have led to my two home purchases. There was clearly luck involved, but had I not put myself out there to get lucky, I would not have had the chance to get lucky.
Please humor me today as I engage in some residential real estate comparisons to shed some light on what I do at Linx Dating. Please forgive any simplification in my analogies – I am simply trying to make a few broad points.
In the old days pre-internet, as a prospective home buyer, you generally relied on a broker to do even the very basics of your search, unless you were willing to settle for driving through neighborhoods looking for “for sale” signs or perusing the Sunday local newspaper real estate section. A good broker would get to know you and your needs, would generate a list of potential properties to view from a listing service which was not easily accessed by non-brokers, and take you around to open homes and private tours until hopefully you found what you were looking for. They would then generate paperwork to help you complete the various phases of the transaction, along with your bank if you were obtaining a mortgage, and then earn a brokerage fee calculated as a percentage of the sale price of the home.
The question is, why, in the age of the publicly available and online multiple listing service and seemingly endless choices of secondary apps and services such as Zillow or Redfin, do we still need real estate brokers? They basically do what they used to do.
It’s a fair point. Why should an agent, today, earn 2.5% for creating a list for you that looks like the MLS list and auto-generating paperwork from a repository of documents using “find and replace?” Yes, they can get you into a home during non-open home times, etc. etc. But what distinguishes them? And why, somehow, in light of this, do only 7-10% of homes get listed directly by sellers, meaning they are not using a broker? There has to be more going on.
The parallels to dating are noteworthy. Why invest in a personalized concierge matchmaker when there is Match.com, Tinder and all of the countless others available like the MLS?
Well, this is where it gets complex.
Are all of the available home properties on the MLS? Many are, for sure. But some of the best properties are “pocket listings,” “off-market listings,” or might never even make it to any listing. A good broker has a strong local network and can hear about properties that might be coming on the market in the future, or even owners who might be worth proactively approaching about selling their homes. You don’t get this on Zillow. A great broker is worth their weight in gold – certainly 2.5%.
In the dating world, not all of the great “catches” are on the apps. Why? Maybe they are just uncomfortable with putting themselves out there publicly and they value their anonymity and privacy. Maybe they don’t have the time or energy to invest in volume dating – to cycle through all of the prospects, messages, phone calls, texts, zooms, coffees, drinks, dinners and all of the rest. Or maybe even if they *are* on the apps, their profiles are hidden or they are burned out on the games. Or maybe they are *thinking* about trying online but haven’t yet.
At Linx Dating, we are discreet, we protect your privacy, and we tap our existing massive vetted and trusted network of referrals to find your match whether they are online or not. We can also do highly tailored outbound recruiting on your behalf and come with a stamp of credibility for the “buyer” and the “seller.”
All of this aside, I still haven’t touched on what might be the most important function of a broker – something that for me can be the most frustrating and yet most fulfilling part of my job – and that is working to be a bridge builder, confidante, and psychologist to both candidates at the same time, nurturing the “transaction” and serving to smooth the lines of communication so that a potentially great long term match is not permanently impaired by some early turbulence, miscommunications, and reluctance for candidates to give each other the benefit of the doubt early in a relationship.
I know this is true in dating – and I am told it’s true in residential real estate. There are so many pitfalls that can derail a home purchase – problems with bank mortgage approval, a housing inspection gone awry, weird neighbors, or just the raw emotions of buying or selling a home. This is where a seasoned broker with not only domain experience, but the right personality, can make a huge difference in closing a transaction that otherwise might have headed into the large abyss of the majority of deals that never get done.
I spend a large chunk of my day walking through my neighborhood with my Apple airpods cranked up, accumulating miles and steps and getting my exercise, as I talk to multiple clients, hearing how their early dates and communications with their matches are going, offering a listening ear, advice if needed or requested, and, on occasion, direct intervention if I feel it is warranted and can be helpful.
In the earliest stages of any relationship, when two people are just getting to know each other and to build trust, differences and misunderstandings can get completely blown out of proportion when emotions run high, and they can sink what could ultimately be a beautiful relationship. It is often my job to steady the ship, to communicate with both people, and to help them see the big picture. This can be as basic as my helping folks interpret signals from each other, or as in depth as providing “color” to both people if they might not initially be willing to give the other person the benefit of the doubt.
Just one recent example comes to mind – I was recently working with a successful 30-something male entrepreneur who had already successfully sold a company and had matched him to a 20-something female entrepreneur who was raising one of her first rounds of financing for her startup. They clearly clicked, had chemistry, and long-term relationship potential. However, a few of the dinners crossed over into business talk and, before you know it, he was giving her stern advice about the mistakes he thought she was making in her business and she, in turn, felt lectured, and that he was condescending, unempathetic in his inability to understand that she might not have the resources to follow his advice. She was deeply hurt and needed to take a break. He did not understand where he could have gone wrong as he was truly trying to help. Enter Amy, as I tried to help them both individually understand how they could listen to each other and save something that could be really special and I am glad to say they are back on track.
I am not here to deny that homes can be bought and sold without a broker, or even that some home transactions use a broker who still basically only does what is available online with a little looking. Similarly, online dating absolutely can work – with some luck and perseverance, there have been countless happy couples that have emerged from the apps.
But I am a believer in economics and survival of the fittest – ultimately, brokers need to justify their worth if they want their 2.5%. This goes for residential real estate and elite matchmaking.