Recently I read a great post here on the Rain by Herb Hamilton discussing some of the change we've experienced in the real estate industry over the years. And there certainly can be no question that the last decade or so has brought with it an abundance of change that most of use couldn't imagine when we first got into the business. Thinking pragmatically, I suspect that could probably be said by most industries. Things are simply a whole lot different than they used to be.
Several years ago, amidst one of my own life's "trials & tribulations", a friend of mine introduced me to a great little book entitled "Who Moved My Cheese?" If you've not read it before, it's a quick, delightful, and insightful read, chock full of "AHAAAH!" moments. At least it was for me. It's a tale about four little characters who live in a maze. Two of the characters are mice named "Sniff" and "Scurry", and two are little people the size of mice named "Hem" and "Haw". In the story, their cheese gets moved (the metaphore for change) and each deals (or not) with the disappearance of their cheese in different ways. The tale examines how we perceive change, how we relate to it, what we do when we're confronted with it. Heck, they even address all the typical reactions to change ... like the things we would normally say when somethings happens in our lives ... things like:
- It's only temporary, things will get back to "normal"
- It just isn't fair
- Why now?
- Why me?
- What can I do to get my life back?
- Who's to blame?
- When will it be over?
- How can I fix it?
Sound familiar? Today I suspect there are a great many of us who are trying to figure out a whole lot more than just "who moved my cheese?" We're wondering ....
"WHO MOVE MY FREAKIN' COW!!!"
We're used to swings between a "buyer's market" and a "seller's market". We're used to adapting to increases in competition. We're used to volatile interest rates and creative financing. We've adapted to a variety of "agency" and representation arrangements. We've even somewhat reconciled non-representative interlopers wedging themselves between us and the consumer (though that's a topic for an entire other discussion!!!) But what we face now is different ... MUCH different!
Today we're faced with converging challenges: a marketplace facing large declines in housing values, buyers unable or unwilling to jump into the market despite record low interest rates and rolled back housing prices ... and amidst all that, we're faced with a consuming public who no longer understands, or is willing to accept, a real estate industry maintaining a stranglehold on a business model that has long since outlived its usefulness. Our "cheese" has been moved in a way we've never had to face before. But what's more, the source of that cheese has been moved as well! As an industry, we can "Hem" and "Haw" about how bad things are, how scarey things are, how much we want things to get back to normal, but unless we're willing to be creative and resourceful, to take a long hard look at exactly what it is the consumer ... TODAY'S consumer ... wants from us and figure out the very best ways possible to deliver it to them, not only will the cheese be gone, or even the cow ... we're going to find ourselves missing the whole entire farm!