by Dan Krell
Have you ever used a hotel concierge? It is sometimes amazing how some provide spot-on service and great advice about where to eat and the sights to see. Once only offered to wealthy clients, real estate concierge services are becoming more popular and offered to everyone as way to provide a value added service by real estate brokers and agents (who are now trying to scrape out extra market share in a quickly shrinking real estate market).
The origin of the concierge is rooted in serving others. According to Miriam-Webster.com, the word concierge is a French word derived from Latin meaning “fellow slave.” Although historical references agree that the origin of the concierge originated in medieval times as a royal trusted advisor, the described function differs from an officer of the royal court who executes justice to a member of the court who kept the room keys of visiting nobility (concierge is often referred as the French definition of “keeper of the keys”), while fulfilling the desires of the nobility.
Concierge services developed into an indispensible part of European culture. Concierge services were found everywhere, from apartment buildings to the government; the concierge only served those who lived or worked within their service areas. Modern concierge services are commonly found in hotels and spas; because they often obtain the hard to get items for guests, concierge services often have the reputation of obtaining the unobtainable.
Concierge services (sometimes known as errand services) are becoming more popular to save us time in our hectic lives. Real estate concierge services often range in services from preparing the home for sale to moving home owners to their new home. Some real estate concierge services offer expanded services where you can find just about any service in and out of the home! In fact, one prominent real estate concierge service that is provided by a real estate broker lists over one hundred services; incredibly, the list is described as being “a partial list!”
Home builders have also begun to offer concierge services. Additionally, home builders are adding the concierge services as a “premium service” built-in to communities as a way to lure home buyers to their communities.
Offering services other than real estate, these real estate concierge services are another attempt for real estate brokers and agents to be a “one stop shop” for home related services. Needless to say, the quality and level of service of real estate concierge services may vary. Many real estate concierge services enlist the services of highly regarded local professionals to provide their services, while some real estate concierge services only “recommend” professionals who are willing to pay for the privilege of having their service listed.
Taking Ben Franklin’s advice, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” it is good idea to investigate unknown service providers with local consumer advocacy groups. For example, the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection offers advice to consumers about some service specialties. Additionally, it is also a good idea to research the license status of service providers who are required to be licensed, certified, or insured. The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (www.dllr.state.md.us/pq) allows you to check the status of home improvement contractors, plumbers, electricians, and HVACR services (among other professionals).
This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of July 28, 2008. Copyright © 2008 Dan Krell.