“You”, Time’s 2006 person of the year. I am sure some people may think this seems like some type of cop-out...or even stupid? I think your opinion greatly depends on your generation. However, Time Magazine is part of one of the biggest media conglomerates in the universe. So give them some credit. No doubt, they have let us in on the greatest new business trends of our future. Transparency and social networking. Ordinary information of interest to the community is made freely available. Additional, meta-levels of organizing and decision-making are themselves also published. This is known as radical transparency. Welcome to the new world of collaborative, social networking.
So what does “you”, and transparency have to do with real estate brokers? Simple, millions and millions of users continue to participate and contribute content to this vast new universal knowledge base known as the internet. As more of the world opens up shop in “the cloud”, the real foot race is to see if the current “mind controllers” can pull things back before critical mass is achieved and there is no turning back! Many believe we have passed the threshold. Whatever the deal, you, the real estate broker, will now have to play a crucial role as “Human Browsers” or end tech users. We are the human browsers spoken of by futurist, Harry S. Dent. I predict only that it is going to be an interesting next several years and that looking for anything resembling sanity will be like waiting for fog to clear.
The web allows information and content to come from multiple sources in real time. As a real estate broker, you need to play and participate in the same arena as the buying and selling consumers. With so much information now available, real estate is becoming a very noisy field. "In a complex world of nearly infinite choices, customers increasingly need a new middle-person to fit a broad array of products and/or services into a customized solution," Dent writes. Your job description is now quite different than just having access to MLS. In addition, Dent foresees a profound re-engineering of organizational structures to make them "operate from the customer back, not the top down." This is what Dent calls the new "network organizational model."
You, the real estate broker, need to be at the forefront of information gathering.
Make it your commitment in 2007 to become part of the transparent social network. To understand them, you need to become as they are, contributors and consumers of content on the many web portals like YouTube, Google, MySpace, Criagslist, dodgeball, Wikipedia, eBay, Skype, Delicious, Friendster, Picasa and even Real Estate Portals like Zillow.
Zillow is an example of a transparent social networking portal based around real estate. It will be one of many to follow. Hey, maybe Realtor.com will even participate...maybe not?
In my position I see three types of brokers in our business today. Group #1: This group is hoping that things can not and will not change enough before they leave the business. Group #2: Naive and still think the internet is a fad...nothing else to be said here and no impact on our business. Group #3: The rest of us, scrambling to position ourselves somewhere out there and survive what will be nothing less than an industry turned upside down! Which group do you fall into? I think your answer will be evident in the actions you take in 2007.
For 2007, it's time to cancel all paper subscriptions (including the newspaper) and receive all information form RSS feeds. It's time to pay all bills online. It's time to commit to going paperless and committing all paper into image. It's time to carry browser access tools (smart phones) with you at all times. It's time to attend conventions like Inman Connect and Web 2.0 Summit instead of just the NAR convention. It's time to create your own Blog or two. It's time to contribute and post to other blogs. It's time to get a PayPal account and buy something on eBay. It's time to dump your copper phone line and subscribe with Vonage or Skype.The future is ripe with opportunity. Never have there been so many venues for you to promote the uniqueness of YOU. The interesting thing is that many of these transparent networking sites cost little or no money...they just take the initiative from you to get involved. People are seeking truth. Having all the information available will not make it any easier for the real estate consumer...and that's why a Human Real Estate Browser, YOU, can make a huge difference working with buyers and sellers.