Real Time Paradigm Shifting in The Real Estate and Mortgage Industries
Posted on March 11, 2008
Real Time Paradigm Shifting in The Real Estate and Mortgage Industries
Very few will argue that we are in the midst of an historical era of change, largely leaving the Industrial Age heading steadfast and firmly into The Age of Information.
Transitions between era’s have traditionally taken anywhere from 100,000,000,000 to 100 years, with each succeeding ‘period’, ‘time, or ‘age’ shrinking rapidly compared to the prior by a factor of ~10.
If the above is true then it’s not contrived to think that we may be passing through multiple periods of relative historical significance during our own life, whereas prior such ‘times’ have lasted for >10 generations. This is a remarkable reflection if you really consider it. Change is happening at a far faster pace than any of us are used to because it can.
‘The Times’ change so fast they now call it Real Time (as in the time before real time was fake time, or something like that).
Change is also something that does not feel natural thus most don’t adapt to it well, especially over very short periods of time. Over 10,000 years? Sure. Over 5 years? Maybe. 6 Months? What just happened..?
People within a society affected by change can be generally classified as:
The Moral: Business is moving, evolving, changing faster than ever. Real estate and mortgage used to resist such rapid change, today embracement is necessary for survival.
It’s pretty well accepted that in the Information Age, withholding information for money has diminishing value.
It took real estate and mortgage (to a greater degree) longer to understand this, which is evidenced by the initial industry aversion to sites like Zillow et al (Innovators). Many agents understand that wider distribution of their inventory is in fact a good thing (Adapters and Adopters); placing ones product in a place where there are a lot of potential buyers is likely to increases the chances of selling that product. Other agents are just now realizing and acting on the same (Laggards).
New technologies start big then get smaller and better.
Zillow launched in February of 2006 offering tools and services that draw in consumers and feed participating professionals using intuitive user interfaces (UI’s). Trulia evokes similar qualities; single site with all the tools (and the list goes on). To one extent or another Zillow, Trulia et al have exponentially improved the real estate Search experience over the past two years. They’ve blazed a wonderful path.
They’ve also raised and spent capital that exceeds some Nations GDP to foster a technological paradigm shift towards information transparency coupled with uber-intuitive UI’s with regards to real estate listings, a map and other relevant local data (also called a mash-up).
Today the same tech driven mash-up UI’s that drive gobs of traffic to the Zillows and Trulias of the world are available and affordable to individual real estate professionals (rePros) at pennies on the dollar.
Zillow and Trulia are advertising/media websites. Their business models depend primarily on traffic so advertising may be sold for a premium and each have numerous vehicles for an agent to spend their money on.
They’re kind enough to offer tools (widgets) that add a coolness factor to an agents individual site and create social conversation forums to leverage participating agents experience/knowledge for the community as a whole. But make no mistake; they depend on the traffic a rePros personal knowledge and information draws to embolden their respective brands. Every tool provided is inherently designed to increase their traffic first, yours second.
Other real estate Search sites like Roost will re-skin, redisplay and replace your current ugly IDX then charge you for the privilege of the traffic they direct back to your site. This is certainly a better alternative to what’s been available in the IDX market and more importantly another step towards blending technology seamlessly with an individual rePro’s Brand…yet not quite ‘there’.
- Your brand is prominently displayed at the top of the search results
- You receive a virtual card with your contact information and links to your listings
- You receive your own URL on Roost
Claim #3, receiving your own URL on Roost, isn’t the highest and best way to support your brand. This also leads to a similar experience outlined above where a consumer is bedazzled with one slick UI, only to eventually fall into a foreign place called your website.
- Performance-based and transparent
- Pay only for the clicks you receive to your own site
- Target people in specific geography (town, zip code, etc)
- Buy only as much traffic as you want in any given month.
- Your Roost dashboard will make it easy to manage your spend and track performance.
Very Googleicious…carefull, if you don’t keep the traffic tank monetized, it’s possible to be the Star one minute and invisible the next.
Where is there?
When consumers begin their quest for a home, they’re after one thing: listings—all of them. Trulia, Zillow, Roost et al face a perpetual problem with the ‘available to in-house listings ratio’. Big players in this space like Realogy and Prudential are picking sides, contributing listings to one site or another. Some agents choose to contribute their listings while the vast majority do not. This leaves consumers with a choice between bad and worse: Try and search all the listings with inferior tools, or perform cutting-edge searches on ~20-30% of the listings available in a given area. Thats not an acceptable ratio in my book. Pretty soon we’ll have an aggregator of the aggregators, and so on.
It seems ironic though, with all these brokers now lining up in different camps to feed their listings to the big consumer search destinations on the Internet, that it’s ultimately the consumer that suffers from these alliances being formed.
If I’m trying to search for a house in Portland, I still have to have to go to multiple destinations (Frontdoor has X, Zillow has Y, Trulia has X & Y but no Z) just to get an accurate picture of the complete inventory available on the market.
Either way and any way, this would be another big win for Trulia, but as Joel notes, Michael agrees, (and I’ve said before), it is note self-evident that at the end of the day, the consumer wins with broker-fed listing sites.
While penning and researching this post, I came across the above snippets and couldn’t agree more: A viable solution could be a website that hosts robust Search UI’s and engages social networking as well as SEO strategies under a rePros personally owned and controlled domain.
BlueRoof360.com is about as close to ‘there’ as I’ve seen. The only aspect that I question (and this is being very nit-picky) is the platform that they are using…is it proprietary or open source? In other words, can I snap pieces in and out? If I don’t like the property search UI, can I swap it out with a better one? Can I add plug-ins and other features vis-à-vis WordPress? Realivent and Incredible Agent deserve mentions here as well.
As a rePro on the Listing side of the relationship, if you are going to ‘give’ your listings to the Zillows of the world, your personal website had better be on par with the site that the link came from, otherwise that ‘link’ will likely leave your site and go back to more beautiful and userfriendly pastures.
As a rePro on the Buyers side of a potential relationship, a website with real time information and a solid property Search UI is mandatory for future survival.
RePro’s can offer consumers via their personal websites a vital claim that the big players will always chase: 100% of the information located within a local MLS’ database. Days on market, sold data, and a glut of other valuable information to consumers that currently is not available on the big players sites can be displayed on a licensed pro’s site. Regardless if one person (consumer or professional) thinks that such info is important or not is irrelevant. Someone does, it’s the long tail consumerism that dominates the current and future markets terrain. In any case, the more information you make accessible the larger your potential audience. Redfin gets this, they offer their agents and consumers best of breed technology and information.
In case it’s not evident i’ll point out that consumers are getting smarter about how the real estate industry internally works due to this new real time access to information phenomenon thingy. Better to be deemed transparent and open rather than a shifty salesperson.
To keep in line with change in real time, the best strategy is a likely mash-up of all of the above, sprinkled with a little bit of this and that.
- License great looking, highly functional, scalable technology to display your products through, and seamlessly build your brand. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, don’t go for the cheapest solution by any means.
- Push and maintain your listings with the big aggregators: Trulia, Zillow, Google Base etc for the exposure.
- Blog incessantly about topics that are local to your listings. Need a blog and the proper education to go along with one? Check out The Tomato.
- Participate in Social Networks, optimize your Social Networking Optimization. Participate in conversations on ActiveRain, update your professional profile on LinkedIn, create a group on Facebook.
- Seek to learn: Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens…Attend some of the current seminars like 4RealzED, BHBU, and if you’ve got some extra coin, Inman Connect. I’ve personally been to three Connects, registered for Dustins preso in Orange County on April 17th, and plan to attend BHBU schedule permitting.
- Prepare to change, upgrade and sharpen your tools often. Today’s rage is tomorrow’s fizzle, stay razor while you shine.