Across the landscape it spreads, sticky and slow, a human jelly. Few escape its warm embrace. Once covered in its unguent, few escape.
A million cells floating together. Suspended in an ectoplasm of perverse incentives and low expectations.
I speak of the Undifferentiated Realty Mass.
No, I did not have mushrooms for breakfast. Just having fun with a visual that’s been rattling around my head for a while, that of an amorphous mass of real estate goo. And the phrase comes from a theoretical construct, the undifferentiated ego mass, I learned in college psychology. Go figure.
That goo, that mass, is the BS, the self-aggrandizing bravado, the shear incompetence thousands of factory-farmed Realtors have smeared into every corner of the popular real estate consciousness.
Good agents and brokers get stuck in it. They struggle with the glut of licensees flooding their markets. They suffer. Their profession suffers.
There are lots of places to point the finger: Regulators, careless brokers, those who stumble into a real estate career like a drunk finds the last open bar.
It doesn’t matter. All that aint gonna end any time soon. NAR membership stood at 1,132,297 as of July. That’s off just 17% from the October 2006 peak and a 1% increase over June.
The only course of action for brokers and agents that get it is to break away. Fast.
From micro to macro
Two weeks ago I gave a presentation at the Inman show titled “Ten new tools and technologies.” It was nothing special, just a collection of apps with suggestions for how an agent or broker might put them to use.
But these things, small as they seem, can rid you of the goo.
Here’s just one example:
Issuu is a document sharing and publishing app that allows users to create rich online “magazines” with a couple of clicks. It’s free for most purposes.
What might a brokerage or agent do with this?
- Creating an annotated online guide to major real estate forms. Break down the purchase offer; go nuts with agency disclosures; cast light into every dark corner. Is this against your board rules? Raise hell about the rules!
- Creating a monthly online magazine of recent sales in your market or neighborhood. Present a photo for each along with a little play-by-play on why the home sold when it did and for what it did.
At this point, the best bus bench ad or postcard isn’t really going to do it for you. Simply being there – whether there is the newspaper, the big real estate sites, or social media platforms – isn’t enough.
If you are good at what you do, if you have talent in your company, then the plentitude of web 2.0 applications like Issuu represents more than a collection of tactical doo-dads. They are a huge strategic opportunity to do what others can’t, say what others won’t.
In other words, differentiate.
There are lots of reasons to deviate from the standard real estate brokerage playbook. But there is none more compelling than this: In an industry with so much noise, new and different wins.
And right now, if you have the chops, there are tons of ways to make that happen.
Old and safe? Well, it might be comfortable … for a while. But it won’t set you apart from the mass.