What Can Realtors Do To Remain Relevant?
by Eric Stegemann
on Apr 13, 2009
Listed in News

What Can Realtors Do To Remain Relevant?

In the previous post we discussed how Realtors need to work to remain relevant.  The very first thing is to answer the three questions people have when visiting a real estate websites. 

( What homes are for sale? What is my home worth? and How’s the real estate market?)  Provide the data that prospects are looking for before they go somewhere else.  Work with the sites that are giving that data now and have already been embraced by the consumers.

Moving Forward There Are Other Items That Need To Be Tackled.  They mostly involve increasing quality and transparency in the field.

Here’s what we propose:

  1. If you work at a real estate company, contact your broker or whoever is in charge of your technology.  Get them to put in place the resources that answer those three questions.   Make them prominent on your website.  Let people get answers to their questions without having a hard time looking.  Use Altos data, have an IDX that’s easy for people to use, and implement the Zillow Widget on your site.  If you do these three things you’ll answer their questions and create sticky users!  These are minimum items to get started with; there is much more you need to work on to get a truly amazing solution.  (We can help with that!) 
  2. Association Of Realtors #1 – Kill the “It’s a great time to buy because affordability has never been better” ads.  Replace them with why it’s more important now than ever to use a Realtor.  Explain how Realtors have data available that can help answer questions.  Explain that Realtors offer knowledge and support and are committed to helping people getting loans they can afford.  Back that up with an internal campaign amongst Realtors to learn how to spot people that might not be able to afford a home and show evidence that a mortgage broker might be taking advantage of someone.  Explain that Realtors can walk clients through a transaction and are the only people primed to  know the ins and outs of transactions because they are Professionals.  (Guarantee that by doing the below.)  
  3. Association of Realtors #2 – Yes we realize this is an administrative nightmare, but these are the things you need to be doing….  Create a division to monitor customer satisfaction amongst your members.  Create your own quality service system like QSC .  Start getting data and trying to weed out the bad apples.  They make everyone look bad.  And reduce the value of the brand.  Along with increasing quality, make sure your staff members aren’t telling people it’s a good time to buy, EVER.  That way you don’t look like you have egg on your face when it clearly isn’t true.  Just give the data, raw and without filter!  And make sure it’s accurate.  Be transparent!
  4. Association of Realtors #3 – Require more education!  It stinks, every Realtor hates going to classes.  But they (we) are all better for it.  Instead of letting agents loose on the public with no experience, no shadowing, etc.  Step up and have the local association teach classes on how the contracts work, what an agent can expect at each phase of the transaction, have them work a mock transaction, and require them to apprentice with someone else on three transactions.  
  5. Companies – Require your agents to be professionals.  Move the business from being one of part time people that don’t keep up with contract changes to one of people that are confident in what they are doing.  This will cause them to be more productive and create a better image for your company.
  6. Companies – Be up front with ALL your fees.  If you are a flat fee company tell people your ins and outs.  Explain the pitfalls and benefits.  Don’t just take their money and list the property.  If you list the property give them a chance for it to sell.  (I.E. don’t list a Seller’s home for 50k more than it’s worth if you know it won’t sell.  You do them and everyone in the area a disservice.)  If you charge “broker admin fees” tell people BEFORE they sign an agency agreement with your company.  If you are a full service company and get a 7% listing, explain how the pay is worked out between the Buyer and Seller’s agents.  If you say you’ll do opens, do them.  If you say you’ll feature the home on 35 websites, do it.  Offer a virtual tour on every listing.  Consider hiring transaction management staff to ensure there are no surprises at closing.  Consider also investing in the employment of a professional home stager and include the services in your listing.  Offer written service guarantees, if the agent doesn’t live up to expectations, make sure there are repercussions.  No matter your business model, be transparent, be a professional!
  7. Companies – Either find one in your company or hire someone to be a technology advisor or perhaps a technology team of agents that “get it.”  Then implement their ideas.  Consistently review them for what’s working and what’s not.  Start working immediately on ways to improve your website.  Start doing focus groups and user testing of your website and tools.  When you realize problems, change them ASAP.  Get your agents involved with blogging and social media.  
  8. Agents – Why did it take an economic downturn for you to start treating every lead like it was your only lead?  Why is it that only now you are starting to go through your past client lists only to find they’ve bought another house through someone else?  What are you implementing right now to make sure you are following up with your clients.  At Tribus we help our brokers initiate an inexpensive solution to drip email to past clients information about their home with data on how the market is doing in their area.  It keeps up with them, keeps a personal tone, and anwers the questions they care about.  If you aren’t sending birthday cards or home anniversary cards, why aren’t you?  It costs $0.99 for the card and $0.42 for the stamp and could help to guarantee a $5000+ commission.  Start treating your clients like they are valuable.
  9. Agents – Start putting money aside from each of your closings to reinvest in education and marketing.  Why do so many agents get the commission check and put it all in their personal bank account?  Being an agent is much like owning a business, there are expenses, of which one of your largest should be marketing.  Why is it that the average agent spends so little on marketing when large companies spend so much?

It is these items that can bring Realtors out from being considered the bottom of the basement (barely above used car salesmen) in terms of prestige and back to the purveyors of the American dream.

Eric works with real estate technology companies and brokerages across the country to see what's next for the future of the industry and directs our internal development projects here at TRIBUS.

1 Comment
  1. Josette Skilling

    Wow! I think I’ve written every work of this at some point or other, especially about the low barriers to entry in this business. Great post.

    Posted on 12.16.09 at 1.27 pm
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