From the backseat, I hand Thinh my credit card.
He processes the charge for the ride.
With the receipt and pen tucked in his grip, he passes me the clipboard and says…
“Now is a great time to buy a house.”
“You an agent”? I shoot at him.
Thinh’s face bursts into a wide, disarming smile. “No, no, no – I’m a cabbie. But it is a good time to buy.”
We’re curbside at the Honolulu airport. Last thing I expect after spending four days at the AREAA conference is to find myself captured inside a taxi and lead generated by an animated, Vietnamese cabbie.
Thinh continues to tell us his perception of the local market. My wife pays more attention than I do.
I sign the receipt.
Take a GeniusScan of it for my records.
And slip into a dream…
Real Estate’s Vanilla Sky
An “Explore Hawaii” video rolls on a screen as I lean back in the seat of the cab. It is 2015.
It drifts to real estate. Lush footage of properties perched on black rock next to blue sea. Rooms that flow into the surrounding paradise.
It’s visual candy served up to a world with a real estate sweet tooth.
My retina activates the gestural interface in the plexiglass divider. A map renders. I select the Home Listings category and pins begin to overlay. Details appear. Images, social commentary. Context.
One home grabs my wife’s attention. She flashes me a look that requires no words.
I send the directions up to the driver’s screen, and within five minutes we’re parked in front of the home. It’s looks like a place we can grow old in.
I trigger the I’m Here app on my phone. Think Uber for real estate. It locates five Realtors within three miles of the property. I check out their relative sales performance and ping one of them.
Linda responds. I explain how I’m parked outside a home I’d like to see now. Can she help me?
She’ll be there in five.
While the cab waits, we tour the home.
In my dream, listings are everywhere
They’re ambient. Like the air and sunlight. They flow like water.
Cab companies, banks, hotels, hardware stores, mortgage companies and others showcase MLS listings in the 2015 of my dream. On their websites. In their apps. You can see them in digital interfaces inside their locations.
These are brokers’ new partners – entities deeply vested in the health of the housing business.
Home Depot provides the building blocks of the homes you sell.
Banks’ billions enable your customers to buy them.
Cabs and hotels move and host the people who live in them.
They all share real estate listings in my dream.
Each of them is a channel in a 24/7 network called real estate. They feed our industry leads. Their customers are easily transitioned to brokers and agents through their use of home listing data.
Listings ubiquity is something the real estate industry fought for decades.
But here in 2015, industry folks chuckle over their folly.
I’m now back in 2013. And what I know is that the real estate business is a sales business. List it. Sell it. Deposit check. Do it again.
Hoarding listings in the interest of protecting them seems at odds with that reality.
Think of all the time and energy spent worrying about Zillow. Yet the industry hasn’t lost a single sale to them. Or Trulia. Or Realtor.com.
That’s because they don’t sell real estate.
Instead, they get homes for sale in front of people everywhere sales agents aren’t.
Think about it this way: wherever there are listings, a conversation about real estate is happening. I think we can all agree that that is a good thing.
A friendly cabbie in Honolulu recited the industry’s mantra. And I actually believed it.
If I buy, I won’t hire Thinh.
He’s a cabbie.
I’d hire an agent.
Just like I always have.