I've been chatting with a friend of mine back east who is in the middle of looking for a new home. Her husband is retiring from the military (25+ years service!) and they are looking for 'the last home they'll ever buy'. They're both from the midwest, so that's where they're retiring to. She's been keeping me up to date with their search, asking my opinion on different houses in a non-real estate type way and so on.
During one chat, I asked her: "I need to know something. Where are you doing most of your searching?" I wanted to do a little free market research and was expecting the usual answer: "We're looking all over online - Realtor.com, Zillow.com and so on." What she said was surprising to me.
"We're using the portal** our agent set up for us," she told me.
"That's great but what else are you using?"
"Nothing else really. She's got us set up for one stop shopping so why go out on our own? Plus, she KNOWS us and knows what we're looking for. She's there, we're here. We can talk to her about this. You can't do that with those websites. Who else better to trust?"
She went on to explain that, while all of the websites that are available to home searchers are fine and dandy, being able to communicate with their agent via the portal was the absolute best way to go. Everything they need is there - it's set up for their personal search so they don't have to re-input what they want on every single website they go to. They can let the agent know yes, no or maybe on each listing that comes up which narrows down their list. Plus, they're able to keep track of everything in one place instead of trying to organize lists and notes elsewhere. (My friend is the List Making Queen.)
Their agent, whom I haven't found yet on Active Rain, seems to be pretty amazing. She's gone out once a week to preview the homes they've liked, made copious notes, taken hundreds of pictures and shot videos for them. She's given them her reviews of each property. (One property they were interested in looked great online. When their agent got to the house, they learned why there were no pictures of the backyard - it was a mud pit.)
The human element is one that can get lost in the social media/online marketing shuffle. I've posted a bit about this portion of our business a couple of times but hearing it from an actual 'in the market shopper' hit home for me. Listening to her talk about her agent made me realize that there is so much more that I can do in my own business.
Sure - I'm out there all over the place online, working constantly to get higher rankings and getting that phone to ring. I've been pretty successful at it but there's more to it than just that.
Something my business partner says to clients when they are ready to schedule their home inspection fits here. He says, "I want you to interview each of these businesses on the list. Find out who you like and WHO YOU GET ALONG WITH THE BEST." Did you see that last part? He also says something similar when meeting buyers for the first time. Yep - we'd LOVE your business but if we don't get along then it's going to be a long, possibly painful process.
Many of the agents I've met online seem to be one way or the other...very few have found the middle ground between online and that personal element. Some seem to take to one more than the other. Most of the older agents (more seasoned agents) have that personal service portion down pat. Those of us who rely on Social Media need to work on it a little more.
I know I do.
**Portal: When I refer to a portal, I mean a search engine of sorts that your agent sets up for you in the MLS - the Multiple Listing Service. We take down your wants and needs, input them into our search engine and then set up an email service which delivers home information to you on a daily, weekly or other type basis.
Tucson uses a FLX MLS (Flex MLS) service which allows a client to make notes on each listing. That helps me help you pinpoint your dream home.