I take real estate personal.
I googled “personal real estate,” but found no results for making real estate a personal experience. Instead, the top results were how to create a personal brand in the real estate business. True, to be successful in this business, I have to stand out. More important, however, is what makes me stand out in the eyes of my clients.
More technology does not equal better service.
The demise of the real estate agent has been predicted for over a decade. When you see yet another Silicon Valley start-up trying to turn the real estate industry on its head, you have reason to be concerned. When you find out that many of these start-ups are acts of revenge by an individual techie who did not like his first home buying experience, you relax a bit. This too shall pass.
When you read that a high-tech real estate company wants to disrupt the “eco-system” of real estate with a digital yard sign that’s not rectangular but round, you begin to understand how technology became the tail that now wags the real estate dog.
The real estate business is anything but routine.
Although a 2016 article in the Economist lists real estate agents as a highly endangered species, automation experts agree that “What determines vulnerability to automation is not so much whether the work concerned is manual or white-collar but whether or not it is routine.”
A real estate transaction is anything but routine. It is often more complex than expected. For the seller and the buyer it is a rare and time-consuming event, and, the money stakes on both sides can be anxiety-inducingly high. In her latest book, “Alone Together”, Sherry Turkle, a renowned social psychologist, sums it up: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Translated for real estate: Why does the consumer expect more from a real estate marketing site like Zillow and less from a real estate agent?
In part, the answer is that the attitude of real estate agents toward technology mirrors that of the consumer. Most agents have handed over their online marketing to Zillow and a thriving real estate marketing industry who has convinced most agents that the business has become too complex for them to go it alone. Never mind that these technology platforms produce sameness. Designs created with templates do little to set apart one agent from another much less distinguish an agent’s service for home sellers.
Outsourcing your brand to complete strangers
The argument of the real estate industry marketers for outsourcing is “let us do the marketing for you; you should concentrate on the business of real estate.” This explains why real estate agents who follow this advice aren’t very busy. As Katie Lance, an expert on social media for real estate agents put it: “would you invite guests to a dinner party and then have someone else host it for you?” Use expert resources but don’t outsource yourself, she says.
Automatic happenings but with a 500 character limit
So much happens automatically. I could brag and say that when I list your home, it will automatically appear on thousands of websites. Don’t be fooled. The truth is that I can do nothing to stop this from happening. It’s called syndication. The same inadequate description doesn’t improve by repeating it. It replicates the agent input to the MLS database with all the restrictions, including a limit of about 85 words to describe a home. That’s 500 characters, including spaces, which is right now.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, how many listings do you call?
One of the most difficult tasks for any real estate agent is to find new clients. The latest lead generation business has its roots in “big data.” Predictive analysis is used to forecast which homeowners are about ready to sell their homes. With the protracted dearth of listings, it is an irresistible temptation for real estate agents to throw their money and their lot in with this technology.
Only dead fish swim with the stream.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for technology that makes our lives easier. Digital signing of the paperwork has been a God-send. Even the title and escrow people are catching up on the digital front while simultaneously keeping cybercrime at bay.
The technologies that birthed the internet and an endless succession of online expressions do provide tremendous opportunities for real estate professionals. Those who have been able to harness these technologies for their clients and public followers are not only successful but are having fun being successful.
Thanks to my earlier career in design and facility with the web, I can cook up some creative offerings for my clients and anyone willing to look and listen. Some of it I do spontaneously, other endeavors are carefully planned. In each instance, I harness technology to enhance the personal relationship with my clients.
The Personal Real Estate Portal
My latest and most innovative creation is PREP, the Personal Real Estate Portal. I know from experience that the hardest part about selling your home is getting it ready for sale. PREP is designed to help with that. The response from my listing clients has been enthusiastic.
First published by Gerhard as his
July 2018 View from the Street Newsletter.