1000watt Blog

Writings about real estate, branding, marketing, media and technology from the principals of 1000watt.

Both sides now

Sign in front of office

I strolled by this office with my family while on a short spring break getaway.

My wife’s take: “They bought the sign twenty years ago and just keep putting it out.”

My take: “Wow, I guess it works.”

Think about it:

Mike and Linda, Boomers on vacation in this neat little beach town, pull over and grab a list just to see what a second home would cost.

Amy, a Gen X-er relocating for a new job, has half a dozen real estate search apps on her iPhone, but grabs a list because, somehow, a sheet of paper just seems easier.

Not far-fetched, right?

Of course, these scenarios will become less plausible over time, but for now they are part of the strange duality of real estate life.

The industry is responding to massive technological and cultural change at the same time stuff from the days when people drank “Riunite on Ice” while watching Dallas still works.

Go figure.

Lately, I have been feeling we’re close to a point at which the practice of real estate as we know it will collapse like the floor beneath a gallows, bringing a swift end to a long drama.

But it’s things like this photo that remind me why I may be wrong, why we may be straddling old and new for a while yet.

If that is the case, caution is in order.

Sometimes, outside innovators seeking to disabuse the industry of its more antique notions are shocked by the recalcitrance they encounter. A fair number of agents and brokers will themselves to sleep in the face of change and hope everything gets back to normal when they wake up.

They both want something that isn’t wholly real. I find myself in this place a lot, too, thinking “That’s just stupid” or “That makes perfect sense” when in fact the opposite is true. It’s a form of blindness.

So, sometimes, it’s good to catch a glimpse of the other side.

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15 Responses to “Both sides now”

  1. TIna Fine says:

    Nice Post. Did you know Dallas is coming back and it will have the newer generation’s story line along with the old. Perhaps one day, agents and brokers and buyers and sellers will all use new technologies to change the industry for the best. Perhaps one day JR Ewing will use homingCloud.

  2. Tyler says:

    You couldn’t be more right! We all have a bit of “Triple S” as my wife calls it…”Shiny Sh..Stuff Syndrome”, and sometime’s we’re so overwhelmed with tech and automation, we forget that this is still a personal business. I’m all for technology and progression, but at the end of the day, you need to focus on what makes you money!

  3. Jeremy says:

    I’m going to fall in the “we’re straddling this line for a long time” camp. Real estate will *always* be a relationship business. All the tech and wizardry in the world is great, but at the end of the day it doesn’t buy and sell – people do. And an agent has to be in expert in BOTH camps, not one or the other.

    • Emily says:

      “at the end of the day [tech and wizardry] doesn’t buy and sell – people do.”

      Spot on.

      I’d like to point out that technology and online tools should ALWAYS be about the people – for example, social media doesn’t replace social interaction, it is just another place for social interaction to occur.

      So overall, agents should be using whatever methods work for extending their business relationships – even if that means being in “both camps”, as you say :)

  4. Judy Orr says:

    My prior brokerage (another C21) is located on a busy street and has a huge sign and there is still always the invitation to get a FREE list of homes. When I used to work there I remember people coming in asking for the free list and being confused why it wasn’t sitting there printed up for them.

  5. Thomas Johnson says:

    I do not see successful old school types looking for salaries. If the twitterati were minting money they would not be leaving real estate brokerage for salaried positions, either. Where did I put that ink cartridge?

  6. Jay Spencer says:

    I teach pre-license. I try very hard to sing the praises of technology. I tell them that if you need to hide behind your computer and can’t interact with people; you will not make it in this business. To many agents fall into the “Triple S” (Thanks to Tyler’s wife I have a new phrase) and think that is all they need to do.

    It will be interesting as the Baby Boomers stop buying houses to see how people will get their information. I am guessing it will be a mix of traditional and new technology (most that does not even exist today).

  7. victor lund says:

    This works – especially in areas where tourists appear. Not to pound on the Century 21 thing – but you will notice that this is Century 21 Award – one of the largest and most successful Century 21 franchises in the world. Here where we live, Century 21 Hometown Realty does the same thing – they have offices throughout the central coast of California in Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles – All high tourist areas. Here is a tip.

    At Century 21 Hometown Realty, they also tell visitors about their mobile app (even help download it). Moreover, they offer to send them an email when a new listing or open house is announced. The print map draws the consumer, the agent and technology expand the relationship. It works to the tune of about 350 consumers a week (more consumers than they draw from listing syndication).

  8. Jim Bilbao says:

    Some questions about lists: How many walk-in list collectors buy, sell and sell/buy within a year? It was interesting. I organized over 20,000 walk-ins to my little brokerage over a couple year period. That begged the more interesting question: How many consumers who will buy or sell decide to not use you or don’t end up using you, and Why? Then, how does one give lists to collectors such that they decide you are who they want to open the doors when the time comes 3x – 5x more often than average?

  9. matt dollinger says:

    “It must still work”. Novel idea of someone actually looking and focusing on what actually brings in business rather than investing in the new and shiny. If more agents and brokers thought this way first BEFORE venturing into other areas I think the real estate landscape would be a much different plac

  10. Alon Chaver says:

    Internet – anywhere, anytime.

    Real estate – as local as it gets, timing is everything.

    Every few years, there is a cycle of “crossing the chasm”, but the chasm re-appears, again and again.

    There is a reason why what has actually worked, still works, but new shiny things never fail to attract early adopters, who eventually learn that they have to focus on the fundamentals to succeed long term.

    Cool post!

    – Alon

  11. Amanda says:

    This is the exact balance which has been disrupted with the redfins, zillows and trulias… And that is why they are adapting as we speak.
    People forget too easily that the most successful model will be the one that “gets it all”. The most successful agents still send postcards and directmail…pick up the phone and meet with people face to face.

    • Matt Dollinger says:


      Well said.

      Cover ALL of your bases.

      Of the top 10 agents in my offices, all of them still do direct mail

      All of the do client appreciation parties.

      All of them do hand written notes.

      This doesn’t mean they have NOT embraced technology… but to pigeon hole yourself into thinking that all of the buyers and sellers (not just the hip generation – but actually buyers and sellers) are as advanced as you are, is suicide.

      Great comment.

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