Over the course of my career serving the real estate industry, I have spoken to thousands of agents and brokers and there hasn’t been one that ever said their consumers were “national”. Not one has told me they want to attract a consumer located 10,000 miles away nor have they told me they do not want a local buyer or seller. When you ask an agent where most of their business comes from they will almost always say a referral or past client. This has been true for as long as I can remember, but even knowing this, brokers and agents practically turn inside out when you talk to them about a national portal like Trulia, Zillow or REALTOR.com.
For years the industry has feared the portals and many have pulled their listings, or created focus groups to “bring them down” but the fact remains, these search portals have only grown bigger, more powerful, and even more attractive to the consumer.
But if real estate is local, why does it actually matter what these national portals do? More importantly, how can you make your business more relevant to today’s consumer on a local level?
“Put down your phone. Stand up. Introduce yourself to someone near you that you don’t know. Look them in the eye. Tell them something about yourself that has nothing to do with business.”
This is exactly what I said on January 27,th 2015 at the beginning of my keynote session at the Inman Connect Agent Reboot real estate conference in New York City.
At first, the audience of around 250 real estate professionals seemed uncomfortable. It wasn’t like I asked them to do something incredibly difficult. I just asked them to put down their electronic devices and actually talk to one another.
Within just a few minutes, people followed my instruction and started walking around looking for someone new to meet. I could tell that many of them were actually struggling to have a face to face conversation with someone that they have never met before. But from the stage, I could hear introductions being made, new friendships being formed, and internal personal walls being brought down.
Considering that this was at real estate technology conference, it’s to be expected that there are several hundred in that crowd that make their maximum impact through a keyboard and a computer screen. I’m sure I took quite a few of these audience members out of their comfort zone. “Can’t I just text them?” joked an audience member.
And that’s what I found so interesting. Why were brilliant real estate professionals from throughout the country having such trouble communicating in person?
In our previous article “Is a Chromebook for You?” we reviewed what a Chromebook is and debated whether a Chromebook is a tool or a toy. I presume most of you may still believe Chromebooks are toys. But some of you I know have made a decision and decided to take the plunge. You have now joined the estimated 5M+ people who have purchased a Chromebook! Congratulations!
But how do you survive the transition from a Windows operating world?
Chromebook setup is a breeze. It’s best to begin your setup while you are within a WiFi accessible area. Turn on your Chromebook and follow the onscreen instructions. Connect to your WiFi network and login using your Google Account username and password.
Once signed into your Google account, which works best if you have a Google Apps or Gmail email account, you have immediate access to Mail, Calendar, Drive, Sheets, Docs, Slides, Chrome browser favorites, Hangout conversations and YouTube channel subscriptions. That’s quite a lot of things setup right off the bat.
Let’s face it… the most intricate and important part comes after a buyer has found the home they want to purchase, or a seller has decided to sell. That’s truly where a REALTORS’s value proposition shines, and always has. This listing data debate, and ownership over it, is such a minimal part of a REALTOR’s value proposition. Anyone who focuses on this is missing what REALTOR’s actually do. The only reason it’s a never ending, big debate is because these online portals cannot survive without it. They have very little value proposition beyond that 5%.
That said, it’s no secret that pretty much all buyers use the Internet to find their home, research the buying process or learn about neighborhoods, but what’s of great concern to me is the minimal voice REALTORS now have online. Unfortunately, it’s a result of the lack of participation, and daily local contributions by our own industry. Let me explain…