According to government statistics, there are currently 422,000 Real Estate Agents and Brokers in the US. And until the internet was created 20 years ago, they plausibly provided some value by tracking listings and knowing info that the average home-buyer or home seller didn’t know. Today however, they mainly insert themselves into deals that their clients found online and charge ~$30,000 in exchange for nothing, because their lobby makes it nearly impossible to avoid paying them 5% of the value of all property in existence, every time it changed hands.
And now it turns out that most Americans who sell homes implicitly realize that real estate agents are the recipients of legally protected make-work. The Wall Street Journal reports that home sellers these days are so confused about what it is that real estate agents are actually doing for them, that they now routinely ask their agents to clean their homes, watch their pets, and do other menial tasks around their homes in exchange for earning the commissions they otherwise do nearly nothing to receive. Despite this degrading turn of events, real estate agents still report having among the happiest careers ever measured. The only happier jobs are Real Estate Brokers. Instead of earning thousands of dollars for having homes vacuumed or giving people a few car rides, brokers get money all day long simply by signing paperwork that assigns money to themselves.
If you’d like to avoid participating in this sham economy, I recommend using services like For Sale By Owner. Then you can list your own home online and get it picked up by all the major directories, including Zillow and MLS for only a few hundred bucks, instead of surrendering 5% of the value of your home to professional money collectors.