One problem with irresponsible, unchecked capitalism (yeah, still mad) is that it leaves a large portion of the population behind. Can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps? Too poor for bootstraps/most social mobility in this era is a myth? Too bad, sucker, it’s on you to figure out how to pay for your own life now that working a 9-5 won’t necessarily earn you enough. Just get another job or two and pick up shifts on Uber (if you car is nice/new enough) or Handy or Postmates. This is America, land of the [lack of] free [time]!
Potentially the largest financial and emotional burden is healthcare: insurance and the costs for services, medicines, etc. It’s…beyond fucked up. I have never received health care from an employer, either working as an independent contractor or as a W-2 employee for a small enough company that they were not required to provide it. I am extremely fortunate that I could stay on my parents’ policy until I turned 27, at which point I immediately began shelling out $400/month. As a positive, I started actually going to the doctor for things when my policy accepted doctors in NYC (my former policy was based in VA) plus I could actually understand which plan I had and what it covered. Then I left to travel and signed up for Medicaid, which I’m still on today. Because of this, I haven’t been to a doctor in America since 2016. I don’t have a PCP that will accept me (my current listed PCP on my insurance policy only accepts new clients who are Hep-C positive or just left prison). Have I been sick? Yes. And injured. I was just forced to postpone running the marathon until next year due to an injury that never healed correctly and led to another, more immediately serious injury.
BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME — this is about Compass’s announcement that they are now providing health insurance to their 1099 employees (i.e. agents). This is groundbreaking. From what I understand, no brokerage in America has EVER offered this to their employees. We do not earn salaries and live solely on commission, and this same structure is why we generally pay desk fees and a portion of our income to the brokerage, while receiving limited support in response. To be fair, the insurance policies (for being sued not for being sick) and things like power/internet/subscriptions these agencies pay are a form of support.
Although the offerings won’t be fully revealed until next month, I am wildly excited, because, as I said, this will be the first time I am eligible for healthcare through my employer. As they are a massive company, they are able to negotiate lower rates than we could receive as individuals through the marketplace. And they have appointed representatives within the company with whom we can consult about the best plans to suit our individual needs.
Tech companies — and I do consider Compass a tech company — are notoriously good at providing healthcare and benefits for their employees. They have to be; to attract top talent in such a competitive field you better be rolling out the red carpet for your recruits. Amazon, Google, and Facebook are known for providing extremely generous benefits packages. BUT agents at Compass are not really employees; we are technically closer to being the employees’ clients. Real Estate agents are independent contractors, regardless of where one works. Compass definitely goes above and beyond traditional brokerages and extends a lot of these perks/benefits to us, healthcare being only the most recent. It’s why I love this company, and why a lot of the criticism lodged at us falls flat to me. I don’t see a massive corporation trying to make us all dependent so it can then screw us over; I truly see us as one of many large companies vying for majority market share, with Compass being the only one trying to empower agents rather than eliminate them.
I strongly believe that New Yorkers look out for one another; it’s a recurring theme of the values I post. And Compass, founded in NYC, consistently upholds the same ideals. As nationwide healthcare costs explode, our life expectancy decreases, and maternal death rate rises, it is going to take companies and cities standing up, as well as federal intervention, to get this country’s act together. Thank you, NYC and Compass, for showing what can be done and launching something legitimately remarkable, historic, and groundbreaking. (Let’s go single payer!!!!!)
This can also be tied into real estate in general, outside of Compass, in a few ways. If you aren’t busy worrying about how you’ll pay for your kid’s dentist or caring for a sick family member or stressing out about whether you can/should afford to have a doctor look at your sprained foot, you have time to either SERVE buyers/sellers/landlords/tenants, or make more money and have more time to BECOME a buyer/seller/landlord/tenant.
No one benefits when the majority of the population lives with a creeping fear about what would happen if a sudden illness or injury occurred. No one benefits when citizens are sicker, at higher risk of dying during childbirth (what is this, 1795??), more stressed, and die younger. It’s better for NYC if the population is happy and healthy, and it’s better for business, too, whether you run your own (like we do as agents) or work for an employer.
We are in a soft market right now partially because buyers are too afraid to buy due to tax breaks that only benefit the very wealthy, while there are new limits on how much of your real estate tax is now deductible. An agent discussed the repercussions of this today in our sales meeting; no one is buying at the lower price points because it is more difficult to them, so while people in the lower end or the middle want to move up to more expensive and larger homes, they are finding it difficult or impossible to sell the more modest places they are trying to leave. Article after article poses the question of whether we are a generation of renters, and we are, partially because of the high out of pocket cost of living for things like health insurance.
I don’t claim to have all the answers to our failing health in this country,, but I think that the more we do to provide everyone with access to the care they need, the better off we all are. And, to get all capitalist on you again, the more MONEY we will make!
Dolla dolla billz, y’all.