The internet and low-fee brokers have put a bit of a scare into traditional real estate brokers over the last few years.  Now the big name brokers are fighting back with creative techniques quite unusual for the former "protected" class.  Good for them...and those of us hoping to sell a house in the coming years.
    We first learned about the new approach from C.B. Johnson, our real estate contact in Wilmington, NC.  Johnson, who leads the Fine Coastal Living Team under the Keller-Williams banner, recently introduced his "No Strings" listing program .  Its most attention-getting feature is a 0% commission if you sell your home before he does.  How can he do it?
    "I know I will sell it faster than the owners will," says Johnson, "because I won't take an overpriced listing."  If the owner lists with Johnson, sells the home before he does but wants the Jonhson team to write and process the contract, the fee is just 1%.  If the owner lists a home with Fine Coastal Living and the team procures the buyer, then the commission is 4%, a couple of points below the customary commission rate.  If some agency other than Fine Coastal finds the buyer, the commission is 6% total.
    Almost as impressive is that the homeowner may cancel the listing at any time.  All it takes is a phone call and two days to yank the listing from the Multiple List Service.
    The idea is not unique, although not yet widespread.  Bruce Hardie, an agent in Spokane, WA, offers an identical service called the "Hassle Free Listing."
    Whether hassle free or no strings attached, look for this kind of creativity to spread.  Lucky us.
    Given that an aging population puts stress on a state's ability to provide services, and that the converse is probably true -- that a state with more young persons is less burdensome and more vibrant -- we thought we'd take a look at the 2000 U.S. Census data of populations in those states that have significant inflows of retirees.  Here they are:

                                    Age by states

                           %65+        <18            18 to 65

Arizona             12.8            26.6            60.6

Florida              17.6            22.9            59.5

No. Carolina    12.1            24.7            63.2

So. Carolina     12.6            24.1            63.3

Georgia               9.6            26.0            64.4

Virginia              11.4            24.1            64.5

Tennessee        12.6            23.3            64.1

Alabama            13.2            23.9            62.9

Texas                   9.9            27.7            62.4

Nevada              11.3            25.7            63.0