Are We Becoming Relevant In Time?

Real Estate Sales Representative with Grand Rapids MI Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt

I recently was at a luncheon which featured an economist as the guest speaker.  Among his very interesting observations and comments he commented that it was too bad that the car industry was in such trouble now because for years they have told us as consumers what kind of car we want to buy (see how that worked out!:. Now ironically, even as they swim in a sea of economic turmoil, they are finally listening to what we really want to buy and beginning to produce those products.  Is it too late for them?

As I reflected on that comment I realized that the real estate industry isn't so very much unlike the auto industry.  For years we have told consumers how they should buy and sell real estate and have protected the information pipeline to force them to find information and assistance in very limited form. We have been afraid of providing what they wanted for fear of being irrelevant.  Now we are finally realizing that consumers are demanding more transparency and access to the data and will go elsewhere to find it if we aren't willing to provide it. 

Just as the auto industry is reaping the results of their business practices, we in the real estate industry are as well.  Competitors have inundated the internet in attempts to capture those eyeballs and to provide what is wanted.   Our practices have caused the consumers to go elsewhere for their source of information. 

What we have come to realize is that the information is available in multiple places and consumers know how to find it.  Does that make me as a REALTOR® less relevant and important to the transaction?  No!  Anyone can obtain information but it's the interpretation of that data, the nuances of the neighborhoods and communities and the perspectives I have that create value for my clients as they buy and/or sell property.  The consumer needs to be aware that just because the information is available does not make it true or valid in their situation.  Through the experience of many transactions I can assist my clients by avoiding the common mistakes, helping them find suitable financing in this difficult financing climate, and keep them informed of market trends and consumer behaviors.   My value is still very relevant when I sit at a table with a troubled family trying to work through a potential short sale situation or, worse, a possible foreclosure.  No access to data and websites will help that family navigate the troubled waters they will row through in the months and weeks ahead.

Marty Frame of Cyberhomes was recently quoted as saying that only a small percentage of the millions of visitors to real estate portals are actually in the market to buy a home any time in the near future.  The takeaway may be that while listings have always been the main attraction for visitors, now those visitors are looking for information and gravitating to those sites that provide the information and make it easy to find.  Since buyers begin to explore the real estate world as much as 12 months ahead of their actual search they are taking time to get familiar with the market, finding and returning to the places where the information is most helpful, consumer centric, and easily accessed.  No longer are they interested in messages about our individual listings being "shouted" at them....they do not want to be sold....they want to be educated. 

The question then remains....are we becoming relevant in time?

Ted Jernigan
Ebby Halliday Real Estate - McKinney, TX

I find the more experienced buyers and sellers to more appreciative of our value. I have a very significant commercial real estate broker who does all his residential dealings through us. His reasoning is that he believes that what we do is so vastly different from what he does primarily because of the emotions involved that he prefers having our professional assistance when buying and selling his own homes.

I had another client who bought a home with us, but said that he had already sold his existing home as a FISBO. I congratulated him and thought no more of it. His purchase with us closed without a hitch and on time. Two months later he saw me at a social gathering and took me aside. He said, "I don't want to ever do what you do." I was bracing myself for a complaint, but then he continued, " The sale of my other house still has not closed. We are a month behind schedule. Every time I think it is going to close, something comes up to delay it. I couldn't work in an environment where everything is so uncertain."

I think we still have a lot of relevance left in us. :-)

Jan 19, 2009 05:17 AM
Sondra TenClay
Grand Rapids MI Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt - Grand Rapids, MI

Ted, Thanks for your comments.  I agree that we have a lot of relevance in us but we have some catching up to do with a lot of consumers.  Have a great 2009!

Jan 19, 2009 06:19 AM
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

Sondra, this is a great blog post & I'm glad that you're sharing it with your friends on the Greater Grand Rapids Mi Real Estate Group.  I'm reading Ted's comment and smiling just a little...This job is not easy, if it were, more real estate agents would be making a living doing it. 

I think that the avalanche of information available makes an already complex process even more cluttered.  In that type of world frame, the professional consultant gains value.  But not if no one understand what you do to provide value in the process...

Jan 19, 2009 11:23 AM
Sondra TenClay
Grand Rapids MI Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt - Grand Rapids, MI

Lola, Thanks for your always "spot on" insights!  That's the challenge, isn't it?  To find ways to help others understand how we provice value in the process....

Jan 19, 2009 11:42 AM
Eric Webster
Five Star Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids, MI, Five Star Realty

Sondra,  Great insights, right on target, and in line with the direction that GRAR is headed toward.  It's that sort of insight that shows great LEADERSHIP.  Thanks for sharing it with a wider audience.  As more Realtors see, hear and believe this type of message, the change we need as an industry will become easier to make.


Jan 19, 2009 11:58 AM
Sondra TenClay
Grand Rapids MI Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt - Grand Rapids, MI

Eric, thanks for taking time to comment.  We all need to continue the conversation about this and other needed perspective changes....

Jan 19, 2009 12:24 PM
Tami Vroma
West Michigan Real Estate Specialist-Five Star Real Estate - Grand Haven, MI
Realtor, Grand Rapids MI Real Estate

Sondra you are very insightful to a ongoing tug of war with information.  We need to realize that we have vaules other than just information and you did such a wonderful job showing others!

Jan 19, 2009 12:52 PM
Harrison K. Long
HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty - Irvine, CA
REALTOR , GRI, Broker associate, Attorney

Sondra ... thanks for this article. We as Realtor agents should be more open and transparent with giving information to the public and not protect our listings and so-called proprietary information.  We become relevant when the consumers believe that the Realtor is the best one to provide the free and easy information and then interpret that with recommendations for informed decision making.  True value and providing expert advice for our clients is what we are all about. 

Best wishes. Harrison

Jan 20, 2009 02:24 AM
Sondra TenClay
Grand Rapids MI Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt - Grand Rapids, MI

Tami and Harrison, Thanks for your comments.  The on-going challenge is to remember it's not about US but about the consumer and what they want!  That's the only way we can focus our efforts and stay essential to the transaction.

Jan 20, 2009 04:30 AM
Mary Kent
Five Star Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids to the Lake Shore

Sondra-Great post, really makes one think about the future and to stay current with the most effective way to communicate with future home buyers and sellers. Best to you in 2009!

Jan 20, 2009 12:00 PM
Sondra TenClay
Grand Rapids MI Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt - Grand Rapids, MI

Mary,  Thanks..we really do need to always be considering what the consumer desires and how to best communicate our value proposition.

Jan 20, 2009 01:35 PM