Single Family Home Sales Largest Obstacle is Trust

Dear Monty: We recently discovered Propbox, the new platform your team recently launched. We think we understand it even though we haven’t registered but we are are intrigued. This new alternative is very different from a for-sale-by-owner or an agent. We can see the differences and get the “how,” but we do not totally understand the “why.” I’d bet others are wondering the same thing. Would you please expand on the “why” with us?

Monty’s Answer: I recently listened to Zillow’s 3rd quarter investor call. At the end of the call Rich Barton, the CEO of Zillow had a comment to share with investors and reporters on the call. It struck me when I heard it, and I do not agree. Rich Barton’s comments reflect many of the current beliefs that have been part of the decades long understanding of how real estate works. I believe the last 20 years of the internet has made many of his beliefs obsolete. Below are his comments in italics first, then my comments:

–  Rich Barton –
” The second principle is independent representation. People deserve and need independent representation. We’ve seen double citing in the industry, which is clearly a conflict, and at certain times more expensive for the – to the transaction. We do support DIY – the people who want to do DIY and we have a pretty healthy DIY FSBO marketplace. But in most instances movers want and need counsel. And we think that takes the form of a buyer’s agent.”  

– Richard Montgomery –
” I think the counsel movers want takes the form of technology. All of us negotiate from a young age all through life. We negotiate major purchases, salaries, bedtime, dining choices, vacation spots, and more daily. Technology has made our lives easier in many ways. One way is with home sales. Over ten percent of home transfers in 2022 were Owner-Direct (a/k/a for-sale-by-owner).

Here is how Propbox works for you:

1. The home inspection comes first – not last. Both parties can make informed decisions early, preventing the second negotiation when defects appear just before the sale is finalized.  When the seller provides the buyer with an upfront inspection, it builds trust.

2. The internet replaces multiple listing services.  Pooling inventory 100 years ago was a significant benefit. Today, homebuyers using this technology can simply call the seller directly. Buyers and sellers have a common goal – a successful transaction. Two people communicating directly builds trust.

3. The paperwork is standardized. The product has built-in all the options. The buyer clicks a button on a list that includes the contingency in the offer. The sellers react to short and easy-to-understand documents. Both parties know what they are doing and why. This new efficiency reduces stress and misunderstandings.  Informed confidence builds trust.  

4. Peer-to-Peer communications. The party’s direct communication has many advantages: a.) Two parties are more likely to avoid a misunderstanding than four. b.) The negotiation is memorialized directly in their dashboard thread to reduce miscommunication further. c.) The efficiency of direct communication reduces anxiety produced by waiting for replies. d.) The expense of two or more extra voices, who may put their interests ahead of yours, is eliminated. Direct communication builds trust.

5.  Peer-to-peer participant rules are few and simple. The buyer furnishes evidence they can buy before they make an offer. The seller provides the condition report when publishing their ad. These actions remove important concerns up-front. These two modifications, and similar ones, simplify the process and reduce the chances of unwanted surprises. Establishing realistic guidelines reduces unrealistic expectations. Simple rules build trust.

PropBox is nothing more than a simple, but unique advertisement. PropBox is not a real estate company. It is a media advertising platform pure and simple. There is no connection to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) nor the multiple listing systems and the rules that they deploy. Propbox takes the guesswork consumers face along the customer journey out of the equation and replaces it at each step with the options they deserve, rather than advice. Home sellers and buyers can make their own informed choices when they have accurate data. This statement is not a prediction; PropBox is an early version of today’s technology. Over time, it will improve as early adopters who choose to buy an advertisement shape the product with their input on the process and suggest new features. Think of when Amazon first started; all it sold was books.”

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