Yes, I realize Four Pillars just had a post also called Middlemen. I’m not stealing it, I promise.
Before I get into this post, I just want to say that I really don’t hate The Financial Blogger. He’s got some good stuff over there. I have his blog in my reader because for the most part, I enjoy reading what he has to say. He uses way, way too many winky faces 😉 for my liking, but we won’t hold that against him. 😉
(Note, that last winky face was an ironic winky face)
Recently, Mike has been running a series of posts on selling his house himself. He’s had pretty good success at it too, selling it in less than 2 weeks, although he didn’t quite get as much for it as he hoped. He outlines his reasons for not hiring a real estate agent in this post. All of them further reinforce that someone with a reasonable amount of knowledge is more than capable of selling their own home.
The thing that interests me about the whole situation is what Mike does for a living. For those of you in the dark, Mike is a financial planner. What may strike you as ironic is that even though Mike is a middleman himself, he avoids real estate agents because he labels them as overpaid.
The irony is delightful. One could very easily make the argument that, for reasonably educated people, financial planners are simply overpriced unnecessary middlemen. Why should anyone pay a financial advisor, when the answer to just about any question they may have is just a Google search away?
That’s not really that hard of an question to answer. People use financial planners or real estate agents for lots of reasons. They may be too busy to give proper attention to their investments or selling their house. They may not think they have the expertise to do it. They may simply be trusting of an expert’s opinion. Heck, they may even be jaded do it yourselfers, bitter from a lack of success acting on their own. All of those are legitimate reasons to use any middleman.
This just doesn’t apply to middlemen. I’m told that changing my oil is a simple process. Yet I’m more than happy paying an expert to do it. It’s the same thing with cutting my hair (I could always give myself a “buzzcut”, like I used to have as a kid) or fixing my washing machine or repairing my computer.
I personally try to cut out middlemen as much as I can. I like the independence of doing things myself. That doesn’t mean, however, that all middlemen are overpaid. I just choose to avoid them.