Tag Archives: agents

Real estate ratings

Real estate agents serve a necessary function in a real estate transaction. The BLS, a government agency, points this out in certain terms.

A real estate agent’s job description is defined by the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics.):

One of the most complex and significant financial events in peoples’ lives is the purchase or sale of a home or investment property. Because of the complexity and importance of this transaction, people typically seek the help of real estate brokers and sales agents when buying or selling real estate.

Real estate brokers and sales agents have a thorough knowledge of the real estate market in their communities. They know which neighborhoods will best fit clients’ needs and budgets. They are familiar with local zoning and tax laws and know where to obtain financing for the purchase of property.

Brokers and agents do the same type of work, but brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses. Agents must work with a broker. They usually provide their services to a licensed real estate broker on a contract basis. In return, the broker pays the agent a portion of the commission earned from the agent’s sale of the property. Brokers, as independent businesspeople, often sell real estate owned by others; they also may rent or manage properties for a fee.

You can find the remainder of the Nature of the Work of a Real Estate Agent here.

At first blush, this doesn’t appear to be a position that can be replaced by a “rating system” or a “customer satisfaction bonus.Movies are given star reviews. So are kindergartners. Oh, don’t forget that Amazon and Apps for the iPhone also use a community based rating system which works quite well for the community and the product. Real estate agents are not a product. Furthermore, an agent is not “supposed to help you” they are your agent!

If the function of a business is to remove the human element, there must be an excellent reason for the automaton. Why would you want a robot helping you with an investment such as a house? I don’t even own a vacuum that functions on its own, though I do think it is a good idea. But an automated vacuum is quite different from a person assisting you in a major transaction.

Buying a home is not an impulse buy. A book or a 1.99 App for your iPhone is; hence, the five star rating system. Rating agents like this is dubious, at best.

One more problem I have with the model:

Its underlying premise is: real estate agents are not going to give you the best deal because they work for a commission. This is entirely untrue. In so many ways. It implies that all agents were to blame for the housing crisis—which is not true—at all.

Buying a home, as the BLS so keenly points out, is a one of the most complex and serious events in peoples’ lives. That is why you need an agent’s help. Even if they do make a commission.

Some things are worth a little bit more money.

Good "cheap" advertising

What is the best cheap advertising for real estate agents?

Glad you asked.

Sometimes you really do “get what you pay for.” But, not always.

Cheap advertising is usually just that: Cheap. It is cheap because it has very little value. Of course, this is economics 101, right? If, in order to obtain something, there is no barrier to entry, then it certainly can’t be valuable (unless, of course it’s a gift—that’s an entirely different discussion.) But, value is ultimately what the consumer and the advertiser’s (agent or broker in this case) worldview is.

I’ve been building and developing sites for luxury agents as of late. Why I decided to do this is 2 fold:

  • 1 When I worked as a print advertising rep, I got to know various mediums (i.e., print publications, print publication’s websites, broker and agent online aggregation services and major brokerage’s support for their agents). What I found was, in the luxury market, there were very few mediums that supported real estate agents in their luxury marketing. Hence, Artisan Branding & Consulting, LLC.
  • 2 I also enjoy it and think it will help agents and brokers. This is true. I believe 110% in what it is I’m doing is a) good for an agent and his/her client and b) good for the market.

What I’m doing is actually customizing designs and functionality into these sites for agents. This is the solution I am offering to clients. Not in a flashy way. Not in a “templated” way either. It takes time to do this. And why shouldn’t it? If you are selling property that takes time to sell, why should you expect (or your clients for that matter) a canned, run of the mill, impersonal website? And yes it’s not cheap. If you want cheap, you can be online for free. Actually you can be online (and here’s the irony) as an ADDED VALUE when you invest in ANY, yes ANY printed publication. They all do this.

Just to back up a minute, I wrote that “sometimes you really get what you pay for.” Logically, this would mean that the internet has no value. And, of course, to a medium (i.e. newspaper ads, etc.,) that is adding value with their internet service, you are likely getting nothing. No added value at all. Of course, anybody who actually believes that may need some help, but that is just me.

If you’re a real estate agent and you believe that the internet is simply “added-value,” or worse you believe that you should just “be on the internet,” then read what NAR has to say about how buyers buy homes. And it’s a year and a half old, which is a LONG time on the internet.


Primarily, sellers want agents to price their home competitively, market the property, find a buyer and sell within a specific timeframe.

Home buyers are consistent in their expectations of real estate agents. Buyers thought the most important agent services are helping find the right house, and negotiating sales terms and price. Because agents often are chosen based on a referral, or were used in a previous transaction, two-thirds of buyers contacted only one real estate agent in the search process.

Buyers used a variety of resources in searching for a home: 87 percent used the Internet, 85 percent used a real estate agent, 62 percent yard signs, 48 percent attended open houses and 47 percent looked at print or newspaper ads. Fewer buyers rely on a home book or magazine, home builders, television, billboards and relocation companies. Buyers most commonly start their search process online and then contact a real estate agent.

When asked where they first learned about the home purchased, 34 percent of buyers said a real estate agent; 32 percent the Internet; 15 percent from yard signs; 7 percent from a friend, neighbor or relative; 7 percent home builders; 3 percent a print or newspaper ad; 2 percent directly from the seller; and 1 percent a home book or magazine.

Eighty-seven percent of home buyers who used the Internet to search for a home purchased through a real estate agent, in contrast with 72 percent of non-Internet users who were more likely to purchase directly from a builder or from an owner they already knew in a private transaction.

I’m not decrying print media. I love magazines. But, if it’s cheap, it’s probably cheap for a reason. Furthermore, if you hear that someone is going to “throw in the internet” for free, proceed with caution. The internet is not a fad, a trend or even worse: added value. It’s also not “cheap.” What’s cheap is that person that just opened up a facebook account that I’ve been talking to about business that suddenly wants me to be friends on facebook and be part of their facebook fan page.

On a side note: Seth Godin has an interesting post today titled: How to buy a house

Real estate agents need a new job description

Snowflake

If the point of social media is to completely blur the previous solid wall between our corporate presence and our personal selves, then it is not the immediacy of sales that is involved.

The long tail approach is exactly that:

a lengthy displaying of a long term approach, perhaps years in the making, not just months.

The internet has erased time and geography.  We are locked into a binary world rhythm (on/off, act/react, yes/no) in the post computer revolution moment.

In the 90s—and seemingly into the “oughts”—of this century, it appeared to be business as usual, with people trying to stuff the old model into the new, and to simply carry on as usual.  This is normal, of course. We all want things to continue the way they were. We like what we’re used to.

The hybrid moment is over.

Some things to consider:  a website is like a library. One can pop in, take out some information, use it or not, catch up on background—it’s sort of like an individual’s wikipedia, and is focused on what that individual “does.”

Conversation adds value to the platform

A social media platform is about introducing ourself to the global village. Yes, it’s ok to say what it is we do, but it needs to be about so much more. It’s a conversation that takes place regardless of time zones, and has an immediacy about it.  We get to share what we do, to describe where we live, to offer information about our neighbourhoods, our community, our concerns—to introduce it to those unfamiliar with it. It’s not a place to trot out all our listings, to comment only on statistical evidence for market trends—that belongs back in the library of the website.

A blog is one social media envelope, “mailed” to the readership.  In it, we are allowing our real selves to come forward.

We often hear about the need for differentiation, that unique aspect of ourselves that we need to bring forward.  I think if we are simply “ourselves” in our blogging that we will have done that. Just as snowflakes are unique, so are we. There is only one of us. We are already  “differentiated.”

Important: be authentic in our blogging, and to let our real selves “show.”

Time has also been erased by the internet’s immediacy. The point of Twitter is that it’s a microblog—a place to quickly note something, like one of those post-it notes we used to attach to our paper world.  If we’re in time famine, then a Twitter post is a great way to get a message out there.

Facebook is creating two parts: a personal connecting with our specific world and a “fan page” aspect for our business lives. They overlap, though. Not a wall between them, as used to be the case.

Video is the thing we all need to get creative with. People like to see each other. The voice, the body language, the laugh, the shyness or not. It’s all what makes us “tick”, and is who we are.  We respond to the visual world, so why not those we encounter?

Time erased…I back up a little. This is true, and yet there’s that long tail approach, again, which implies some space of time going by, before any impact will be felt. The business model now in play means that we have to spread out our real self, our “soft” message, and let it take root. Find a willing listener, who might actually ask a question, and then the dialogue of a sales process can begin. The consumer is in charge of the timing of that initial encounter, and it can be years, not months.

When will it change?

It happens when the consumer is ready for it to happen.

Wow! That means patience is required.

Now there’s the biggest difference of all from the “oughts.” We are used to our real estate lives being more in our control and with a more immediate outcome. Not so, anymore.

I can see that there will be a lot of unhappiness in a sales career if one is still looking for an immediate response to a message about a listing. It’s not about the listing. This is a people business, right?

Important to put ourselves in the shoes of a consumer, and go looking ourselves, somewhere outside of our own well understood area. What is it we notice?  Who is it that is talking from their heart as well as from their head? Who is it that makes us smile with their enthusiasm for their area?  What is it they do, that we could be paying attention to?

Whether it’s entry level or extraordinary luxury oriented property opportunities, the consumer is seeking the same thing.  A compatriot who knows their stuff, and who will listen to their desires. How to choose that person, in this global village environment, where we don’t choose off an initial personal contact?

Authentic presentation, maintained consistently, on a social media platform—it’s the language of now, never mind the future.