A little over three months ago I started a company called Hoboken Home Advisors. HHA was born from the demand of local residents searching for an independent resource to evaluate and recommend the best real estate professionals for their unique and specific needs. This demand surfaced from the transient nature of a town where the streets are lined with real estate offices and most everyone connects with their first real estate agent by simply walking randomly into an office or responding to a listing online. Understandably, the result often isn’t a good one.
A well-known published report distributed among NJ Realtors conducted a survey and found 57% of all buyers picked the first real estate agent they met– not surprising, a large percentage would never use or recommend their real estate agent again. But truth be told, it’s not the agent’s fault; it is that of the unknowing public. Clearly, there is a disconnect and understandably so since most buyers conduct very few real estate transactions in their lives and have no resource available to find or choose the best agent for them; the questions to ask or how to interpret the answers. HHA’s only charter is to change these numbers and make the experience more positive.
Unfortunately, most real estate agents have a poor reputation. They are seen as tour guides or simply facilitators and to the seller who pays the fee, the fee is too much. I don’t see it that way. The value of an “expert” is immeasurable and like in any industry or profession, there are those that are more proficient than others. The challenge is the real estate industry has historically low barriers of entry and many use their license as a second or third income or a fall back profession because they were laid off from their career. As a matter of fact, in the very licensing class I attended the instructor told us more times than once, “don’t quit your day job”.
Honestly, I was shocked at this notion. How could one do this part-time and be educated and informed enough to advise on one of the most important financial decisions many of us will ever make? The answer is, most can’t. Not all real estate professionals are created equal. There are fewer transactions per year in Hoboken then there are licensed agents, with no way of truly differentiating one agent from another, many consumers are left with a poor experience, choosing the wrong agent for them.
Which brings me back to my disappointment. I expected HHA to cause some skepticism among real estate professionals; it is after all a new business in an already compressed and competitive market. But what I didn’t expect was the barrage of threats and complaints from those threated by a business set out to improve the consumer experience. Truth is, we are a threat to those inexperienced or unprofessional real estate agents whom have had reports of poor consumer service, and it comes as no surprise that those are the people with the loudest voices.
In the short three months since HHA’s launch the local real estate board has received numerous anonymous calls and complaints from agents and brokers, none of which had the nerve to disclose their identity. I’ve received several letters from various real estate boards questioning the very viability of my business. My advertising campaigns to reach the good folks of Hoboken have been sabotaged on several occassions. And one particular agent, familiar to everyone on Hoboken Patch, attacked me with such venom without knowing me or considering the value my business brings to the Hoboken community that one can only question their sanity.
The results of the complaints: It has proven to demonstrate the sheer lack of respect and pure ignorance displayed by the unprofessional and inexperienced agents and brokers responsible for the poor real estate experience that we aim to improve, and has helped to validate the very reason our company has been extremely successful in connecting local residents with the best professionals in the business. And I’ll add, we have been found to be in full compliance with all local real estate rules and regulations.
I’m a family man with 3 children and roots in Hoboken since 1993...I live here unlike many of the agents that serve Hoboken. I’m just trying to make a living like everyone else, and I’ve found passion in a business that allows me to help the my community. I’m shocked and disgusted by the treatment and hypocrisy of the few…the threatened; all at the consumers’ expense. I would imagine with little effort I could find legitimate violations with the strict and good standards of the New Jersey Real Estate Commission with most real estate agents in town, but I have better things to do; like work for the people of Hoboken.
My experience thus far only makes me more convinced that a service like Hoboken Home Advisors, one that protects the best interests of the consumer is necessary. And proof is in the numbers…in our first three months we have connected over 300 consumers to various exceptional real estate professionals and have received a number of letters from folks like you who couldn’t be happier with the value our service provides.