Embrace Internet Technology in the Real Estate Business

Saturday, December 29, 2007

“All progress depends on the unreasonable man. The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.”
– George Bernard Shaw

I’m being unreasonable. I believe in using the Internet to make personal connections to people all over the country. I know I have friends in many areas because I have spoken with them online, spoken with them over the phone or IRC, and have met many new friends and business professionals personally.

I know many agents in the declining market are wondering why their businesses are weak or faltering. I see many who refuse to embrace technology, while also simultaneously refusing to participate in volunteer or community service projects to benefit their local community because it cuts into their personal time. I meet agents every day who won’t take phone calls at night or answer emails promptly. They won’t work weekends, they won’t sit extra open houses, they won’t market online, they won’t update their web pages, they won’t do this and they won’t do that.

I hear so much bah-humbug to creative advertising or non-traditional work schedules to help the professionals who only have time to do business in the evenings or on the weekends. I hear a general disdain toward IT executives who telecommute or rely on emails and blackberry to get them through their global professional commutes.

I suppose this season I feel like the ghost of Christmas Future because I know the power of the next net wave will come through to rescue our housing markets advertising these next ten years. I also know that without a mind and heart that is community centered, self centered individuals and business that give nothing back to the world will never make it through.

Today, I picked up another local newspaper that proclaimed the housing market slump tops the years business news. The other proclaims despair deepens in market for homes. Though I’ve seen proof to these claims, I can’t help but think that the wording could be changed to indicate our national housing situation is more positive. With global citizens peering in on the Internet, we need more writers talking about how our communities are banding together. We need to highlight how families are making situations work in lean times. We need to talk about the possibility of families living together to conserve resources and how the American people have banded together historically to persevere when they are threatened in our homes.

As agents, we need to find way s to increase our community service, decrease our fuel consumption, and make use of environmentally sound marketing tools that get our listings advertising and sold. We need to make sure our clients understand how to properly stage homes and we need to be willing to roll up our own sleeves and use some elbow grease to help things get going. We need more comprehensive digital photography, more interior floor plans with comprehensive measurements digitized for mass distribution (including wall space views and window placement measurement), and we need to provide more market reports that allow listings to be priced correctly and according to up to the minute market conditions.

I have a friend who knew her listing was not going to move without so help from somewhere. She stepped in to rep a listing where the owners were in another state. She knew the home was not staged well and that lack of care had allowed dirt to accumulate in the home. She did the right thing. She herself mapped out what needed to be done cosmetically to the home (cleaning, minor painting, cabinet knobs, window scrubs, rehang a few new blinds, clutter removal, furniture rearrange, and landscape details). She made an agreement for the client to pay her a modest fee to do it all… one weeks worth of manual work. Then, between other showings and property maintenance she worked in all the details to prep the home. Once done, she took extensive digital photographs, uploaded 30 pics to MRIS (Virginia’s MLS service), uploaded the pics and a all the property specs to a web page, and repriced the property according to what was SELLING in her area (rather than to the price most were asking in the neighborhood). THE HOME SOLD IN TWO WEEKS TO AN ONLINE CONNECTION IMPRESSED WITH HER CLEAR INTERNET INFORMATION AND PHOTOGRAPHS. She also received a back up offer for contract.

My friend was an unreasonable woman. She demanded the property be cleaned, repaired, staged, photographed properly, market with current technology, and she spent her energy on completing the task and her money on online advertising rather than print marketing. She knocked on no doors, mass emailed her sphere of influence about the property, and used the multiple listing service effectively. She printed signpost information for the property and included the web address for her listing to give comprehensive information. She also spent 40 hours electronically posting and distributing information on her property. As a service minded professional, her yard cleanup of the home helped to benefit not only this owner but the other listings in the community. As a compassionate person she saved the homeowner thousands of dollars by bidding a reasonable amount to do all the work and saved the client a tremendous amount of time by getting it all done promptly and right the first time. She also used technology to her advantage and saved a few more trees inadvertently in the process [while taking less time on the highway and needing to pay foreign oil prices while polluting more of the environment].

Adapting the world to ourselves, when done in a positive manner is a noble goal. Persisting to make reasonable modifications to assist individual clients, changing the way Realtors do business, shifting the way we look at our present market; these are all unreasonable but logical changes to the way the real estate world does business. It is my hope that the coming years bring an improvement in market conditions. This statement does not mean I expect prices to rise to ridiculous levels or that sales need to be back to 10 contract offers in ten hours of a listing and agents not needing to do anything to market or service their listings other than sit by a phone in an office with a pen and paper ready so they can earn that big commission. In my mind, a positive real estate market occurs when people are able to both buy and sell their homes comfortably, in a reasonable amount of time, and that they are able to develop a positive working relationship with their real estate agent that includes moving assistance (welcoming the new residents into a community and referring outgoing sellers to good community members in their new location). It also means being available to a customer through the mediums they find most useful; marketing to the slower pace of people over 50 may be monthly through print, but working with people under 50, this may mean by keeping up daily through aggressive use of the Internet.

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