Bloggers: Be Afraid of the Big, Bad Broker (or Bank)

By
Mortgage and Lending with San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751

The real estate weblogging phenomenon is catching fire like desert timber in the summer.  The Active Rain Real Estate Network, the little engine that could, has grown from less than 5000 members to over 50,000 members in a short period of time.  The attraction?  Talking about the future around the virtual water cooler. 

Long Beach Realtor, Laurie Manny, said, "The beauty of real estate blogging is that it gives agents access, now.  Access to people whom we never would have dreamed of meeting a year ago."  Ms. Manny was talking about the quick but meaningful connections she made through her participation on the RE.net.  Her weblog, Long Beach Real Estate Home, has risen to to the tops of the search engines.  Her notoriety on Trulia Voices has given her access to executives at many of the RE.net companies.

The debate about "successful blogging" is underway although the trend is still in its infancy. Should a Realtor or loan originator pursue search engine optimization or build a community?  Should they own the technology or use proprietary platforms?  How much time should spent on real estate weblogging?  Will it generate leads or be used as a "newsletter' to stay in touch with old customers?  

As the trend grows, large real estate brokerage firms and lenders are watching their salespeople build their own brand through weblogging.  Traditional real estate brokerage firms and banks rely upon the economies of scale to advertise heavily to the consumer.  If the sales agents are developing independent marketing communications platforms, the value proposition of a large broker or bank is diminished.  As the consumer eschews traditional media for real estate information for the online medium, the sales agents of the large companies are actually more effective than company itself.  The efficacy of this "new medium" surpasses the ancient practices of the larger and slower companies.

That will put pressure on the large companies to provide higher compensation to the more effective sales agents.  That, will be the problem.  Large real estate brokers and banks will severely curb the weblogging efforts of the individual sales agents in the name of "compliance".  In short, the behemoths will say that they can not adequately protect the consumer from the unsupervised local messages being offered by its sales agents. That, will be bunk.

The end-game play, the brokerage firms and banks will make, will always be about the money.  Control of the customer has always been a competitive advantage for a large broker or bank.  If that competitive advantage is lost, the value proposition of a large firm is lost.  They won't tolerate that loss.

Many weblogging agents and originators will be faced with a hard decision in 2008; maintain an independent blog or continue to work for the company.

Oh...they won't come at you with an economic value proposition, they'll just say it's illegal or "difficult to supervise".

What will you do? 

Comments (79)

Christina Ethridge
The North Idaho Dream Team powered by SKE Realty Group - Coeur d'Alene, ID

"I work for a major lender and if I had to choose from blogging or staying with the lender then I would definitely stay with the lender.  Remember this that we did not have blogging 10 years ago so it is not a life necessity."

Dear "Anonymous" Lender:

By that same line of thinking... We didn't have the web 15 years ago, cell phones 25 years ago, fax machines 30 years ago, personal computers 40 years ago . . .

For you blogging is apparently not bringing you great leads in addition to traditional methods.  For me, blogging is quickly becoming a strong hold for leads in our business and in less than 7 months of consistent blogging, it now represents 25% of my transactions (we average solid 3 fig. transactions each year) and it's growing quicker than our traditional methods. Blogging is more important than the brokerage /  name brand

Oct 12, 2007 08:26 AM
Rey Gallegos
Supreme Lending (NMLS ID #2129) - Las Vegas, NV
FHA, VA, Home Loans Las Vegas, NV
I will go underground.
Oct 12, 2007 08:53 AM
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA
858-777-9751

Thirdly, One tier or two tier licensing will make little difference. Already in California one-third of all licensees have brokers licenses but many continue to work for other brokers. It is just how it is.

Good point, Bill.  The abolish the licensing altogether; it doesn't protect the consumer -it protects the privileged class and drives the cost up .  Then , consumers will have to perform due diligence on the real estate consultant. 

Oct 12, 2007 10:00 AM
Anonymous
To Blog Our Not To Blog

Brian,

I can tell only a few of your readers TRULY understand what you are  getting  at. This is a great post and with control dressed up as compliance develops over the next few years, the rest of your readers will understand the underlying thrust of your contention.  

Oct 12, 2007 10:23 AM
#63
Marty Van Diest
Valley Market Real Estate - Wasilla, AK
Your Alaskan Realtor

Most of us that are serious bloggers know how much it helps us.  I think most of us would walk rather than stop blogging.

I know I would.  A larger part of my business comes from my blog, and it's only 9 months old.

Oct 12, 2007 11:05 AM
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy
This discussion is really taking off.  I have enjoyed coming back and seeing more opinions.  I have been thinking about the company and office branding that is supposed to be on everything I do... I'll have to think about that some more...
Oct 12, 2007 12:44 PM
Dru Bloomfield
The Penrose Team - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale AZ Real Estate

This insightful post and varied comments bring up even more ideas and questions as I read them.  What if?

- your broker required you and all other agents "hired" by the firm to have blogging experience and gave you the opportunity to blog on the company site (in addition to AR, your personal blog, .....)

- the broker was a blogger too

- the company blog was one of your main source of your leads because of the abundant local presence created by mutual vision and an abundance of local content

- agents in the firm were clear on their branding, their niches, because of the clarity they developed through blogging

Sometimes I get a bit pollyanna, but it's fun to think about the range of possibilities! 

Oct 12, 2007 04:39 PM
Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate - Los Gatos, CA
CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley
All true but is it sustainable? I keep reading that AR is just losing money all over the place. I don't see how there could be enough ads here to pay for the staff etc. But of course I love this place, am a raving fan and want to see it succeed!!!!
Oct 12, 2007 04:44 PM
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA
858-777-9751

Sometimes I get a bit pollyanna, but it's fun to think about the range of possibilities!

That's not pollyanna, Dru, that's forward-thinking.  I think you're on to something, there. 

But of course I love this place, am a raving fan and want to see it succeed!!!!

Ditto, Mary 

Oct 13, 2007 04:23 AM
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes
Agreed there are agents and likely brokers who are willy nilly blogging without putting in the "required info" as footers or somewhere on their pages -- and who need a tap on the shoulder to add the appropriate things. But if a broker takes a position that they must read all blog entries before they are posted .... well forget it. We had a broker once who wanted to have us "print" off our website so they could see it.... huh, "print" the website. We are no longer with that firm, need I say more. 
Oct 15, 2007 01:52 PM
Cris Burlew
Beach & Luxury Realty, Inc. - Saint Pete Beach, FL
Broker ~ St Pete Beach FL Real Estate
Both the owner/president of our company and myself as the broker, encourage our agents to blog. We have found the information here on AR helpful, not only to us, but to agents in general. It would be a shame for agents to be told NOT to blog or somehow prevented from doing so. After all, through a site such as AR, it becomes a great way to network and pass along referral business to agents that you get to know. Let's hope it stays that way.
Oct 15, 2007 02:22 PM
Tina Maraj
RE/MAX One - Fullerton, CA
Celebrating 30 Years of Real Estate Sales
Wow that is really going to cause problems. My broker encourages AR so I do not know if it will be  problem for me.
Oct 15, 2007 02:36 PM
Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

Brian- What a great post and great comments. I have really learned a lot from all of this. I have never been a fan of NAR, thought of them as a necessary evil. I ask, what have they done for me lately? Not much that I can even think of. I would suppose they will side with the ones that grease their palms the most, as you said, it is all about the money. 

We own our own company so we will blog and then blog some more. If things ever change, well that is why I have a plan B for income and also have multiple streams of income. I never put all my eggs in one basket. Great post, thanks for making us think. Katerina 

Oct 15, 2007 06:44 PM
» Bill Burress Nationwide Mortgage Originator
» Bill Burress Nationwide Mortgage Originator - Fort Myers, FL

Brian:

Excellent post on how the A.R. community can grow and its members prosper because of it.

Oct 16, 2007 12:08 AM
Marlene Bridges
Village Real Estate Services, Inc. - Laguna Hills, CA
Laguna Homes|Laguna Condos|Laguna Real Estate
Brian - What a great topic.  Coming from the Securities Industry prior to working in Real Estate was very freeing.  I had been denied the priviledge of having my own website because of compliance issues.  The rule of thumb when sending out an investor package was no highlighting and the info you sent should be able to fit on a 1 X2 post-it.  How freeing it was when I decided to become a REALTOR.  Fortunately, I made the choice to work with an independent Broker.  His ego doesn't get in the way of business. 
Oct 16, 2007 03:24 AM
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA
858-777-9751
Great points, Marlene.  Having shared the same background as you, I understand completely
Oct 16, 2007 03:44 AM
Artur Urbanski
Cimpler Real Estate, Inc. - Burlingame, CA
Helping property owners to maximize property value
Great post and a great topic Brian. Can NAR ban blogging? Making it a compliance issue would come close to it. It would be extremely unwise and of grave consequences to NAR, I believe. It would generate so much bad publicity that those in NAR who might push it through - will be rolling it back in a very short time. Who can afford bad publicity and lack of public support before incoming DOJ suit? As someone said (was it you Brian?), RedFin CEO would laugh all the way to the bank if this happens.
Oct 16, 2007 07:17 PM
Scott Daniels Florida Real Estate 2.0. Agents Earn 100% Commission.
Florida List For Less Realty, Inc. Broker/Owner. - Cooper City, FL

BB,

It`s time to grab our passports and run!

Oct 18, 2007 11:08 PM
Kirk Mulhearn
Prudential California Realty/Gem Mortgage - Long Beach, CA
Pretty relative and advanced  thinking here, Im a broker and I encourage all of my agents to blog, but like every other marketing tool before, so few will make the effort so I plan on building the best broker blog site in LA and then I want use it to recruit a virtual boutique of professionals.  What do ya think, a broker actually helping instead of hampering?  ktm
Oct 19, 2007 05:15 PM
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA
858-777-9751

What do ya think, a broker actually helping instead of hampering?

Possible, probable, and potent.  I'm sure you'll do it, Kirk.   

Oct 20, 2007 01:51 PM