Thoughts on the Move/News Corp. deal
Michael Saunders & Company, the leading brokerage on Florida’s Gulf coast, is a long-time 1000watt client.
Michael, the company’s founder, and her son Drayton, who is president, take great care with everything they do. They are classy people who run a quality organization.
Even amidst the smoking wreckage of the housing crash, Michael and Drayton never lost their bearings, or stopped seeing the big picture. They built a successful rental division and rolled out a home-grown agent website product built on wordpress while competitors simply hunkered down.
When things got better, they were ready to innovate. Near the top of the list was rethinking MichaelSaunders.com. It needed to be simpler, cleaner, and offer more than just another IDX search experience. It needed to more faithfully project the brand’s understated style.
The mobile experience needed to be the first thought, not an afterthought.
MS&C has always maintained an in-house technology team (lead by David Gumpper, one of the very best technologists in the business), so this was going to be an inside project. No vendor. No template. Just a small team building the new site from scratch while still maintaining their other responsibilities.
They made it happen. It took a year. But it’s done.
Take a look.
Beyond the home search
Michael Saunders & Company gets a lot of out-of-market buyers, people looking for a second or retirement place in Sunny Florida. These folks need context. They need to get a good look at life in the area, not just the listings, before they contact an agent.
To serve this user profile, the company went deep on hyperlocal content. Want to live on the water? Get a sense for what that looks and feels like, then explore neighborhoods and homes that suit that lifestyle.
The photos in the neighborhood section were shot by the company over a period of several months, but agents are already adding to this visual content database and, soon, consumers will join in the creation. This was made possible (and manageable) by deploying a photo management system on the backend that enables Michael Saunders & Company managers to easily organize, curate and moderate photo submissions.
Content – a noun thrown around thoughtlessly by so many these days – is, at its most purposeful, a manifestation of a brand’s promise. Michael Saunders & Company promises unsurpassed local knowledge and anticipation of client needs. They deliver that here.
Brokers seldom leverage their access to MLS data fully, or even just let it shine by getting other stuff out of the way.
The MS&C team not only created super-clean listing pages, but also used MLS data to present up-to-the-minute, neighborhood level market metrics and recent sale prices around every property. MLS data is used to display recent sales on search results pages too.
This information from the MLS is integrated into the site seamlessly, not tacked on through a vendor or widget. It’s part of the Michael Saunders & Company experience: elegant, ownable and unmatched by any competitor.
The big picture
As Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com consolidate more consumer attention, brokers find it hard to identify a strategy.
There are no easy paths to success.
Partnering with an outside technology provider often ends up putting the brokerage in what I call the “vendor headlock.”
Recruiting and paying for in-house technology talent is often prohibitively challenging or expensive.
Innovating (and failing, then trying again) around technology is difficult when you’re not cushioned by millions of investment dollars.
But creating something good is possible. Michael Saunders & Company has just shown us how.
Smart industry takes and creative inspiration.