There’s lots of buzz about Steven D. Levitt and Stephan Dubner’s article in the NYTimes entitled “Endangered Species”: Why Real Estate Agents Are on the Way Out”.
Their premise is that there are too many real estate agents, they charge too much for their services and, thanks to various market pressures and especially some recent online innovations, the real-estate agent will soon join a list of endangered service-worker species.
Jonathan J. Miller in Matrix points out that this is an overly simplistic comparison simply due to the importance of the dollar amount of the transaction.
Inman Blog notes “While comparing real estate agents with travel agents is convenient for argument sake, buying a home is quite different from organizing a family trip to Maui” and invites readers to comment on the article.
I take particular issue with the hostility shown by Levitt and Dubner. Either they had a bad experience, they’ve found something “meaty” to grab on to further their book sales, or they truly resent the career choices and salaries made by real estate agents.
I can point to a few phrases the two use to convey their contempt, but the article taken as a whole, has more power than the few examples I can give. However, the first sentence starts out by setting the tone for the entire article: “It is hard to think of an occupation that garners less goodwill these days than the real-estate agent. More often than not, agents are portrayed as hustlers or sharks, unimaginative opportunists who, for not all that much effort, pocket a significant chunk of the sale price of your home.”
Funny, I never felt any lack of goodwill from anyone… until I read this!
Their piece in the New York Times is just one in a series of increasingly hostile and bitter articles from commentators and writers criticizing real estate agents. Reading Damon Darlin’s blog entries and the comments he incites on The Walk-Through makes me wonder what prompts such hostility.