Friday Flash: The need for speed

When COVID first hit, our client 8z Real Estate moved fast. 

They spoke to the marketplace about what was happening, how it was impacting real estate, and what they were going to do about it. 

They began publishing understandable and timely market updates. 

They stood up a pandemic relief fund to help 8z team members and their clients, and got grant checks flowing quickly. 

They launched “Virtual Agent Services” with virtual walkthroughs and curbside closings way ahead of their competitors.

All of these efforts were presented within a cohesive and purposeful campaign, “Always Here.” 

8z is an extraordinary company. Company founder Lane Horning and president Ryan Carter are impressive people. In just a decade, 8z has grown to 14 offices up and down Colorado’s Front Range. They’ve spun up mortgage, title and insurance companies, started iBuying ages ago (Lane also founded Zavvie, which offers an iBuyer solution to brokerages nationwide), and created systems that consistently produce results for their agents. 

But there’s another reason why their COVID response is so visible: they were able to deploy it quickly and cohesively on their company website. That’s a big small thing that too many brokerage companies have struggled with. 

Sometimes that has to do with a lack of marketing capacity within the brokerage. But more often it’s simply because their website platform makes it really, really hard. One company we’re close to struggled to change the headline on their website homepage for 3 weeks. During that time, thousands of people got the impression that this company was utterly oblivious to the fact that the world had just turned upside down. 

This is stupid. Writhing on the floor in a digital straightjacket during a time of convulsive change is a bad way to be.  

This isn’t all the website vendors’ fault. Brokers bear some responsibility. It’s part of what I call the “Circle of Crap,” a mutually aggravating situation wherein brokers, faced with a reality of low tech adoption and slim margins, grind vendors to the nub on price, who then, predictably, under-invest in their product and, as a result, end up, over time, with a product that more or less sucks and for which brokers are unwilling to pay a decent price. 

Ugh. Crap. 

This is one of the reasons we announced a partnership with MoxiWorks this week aimed at giving brokers beautifully-designed websites with strong copywriting on a modern tech platform. But we’ve worked with nearly every real estate web platform vendor out there and find it’s often possible to escape the straightjacket with a little creative thinking. 

In any case, this is no time to be tied up.

Homeownership creates economic opportunity and better lives. Housing policy has been – and remains, in effect if not intent – an instrument of racism. 

I’d like to think most of us can agree on these statements. If you take issue with the second of these, you would do well to dig deeper into why your city is laid out the way that it is. 

Anyway, if you are looking for a way to combat racism, you’re lucky to be in real estate. Because we’re on the front lines.

One of the companies in our industry I’ve always admired is Down Payment Resource. For years, they’ve been quietly connecting people struggling to buy a home with programs and dollars for down payment assistance. They do this through lender and MLS partners, who implement a widget on property listings or loan apps that alerts the potential buyer if assistance is available and directs them to specific area programs. 

Earlier this week, Rob Chrane, the CEO of Down Payment Resource, shared a free version of this widget with me that the company had set up for a housing non-profit in Minnesota. I searched “St. Louis Park,” the Minneapolis suburb where George Floyd lived. Nine assistance programs were available. 

I asked Rob why every real estate company and lender in America hadn’t partnered with him. He said it’s frequently a back-burner kind of discussion. Nice idea, but not high-priority. And lenders and Realtors sometimes balk at working with clients that need to use assistance programs because they are not “easy deals.” 

OK then.  

If you want to act now to help people, and in particular black people, achieve home ownership, consider reaching out to Rob. He’s got some ideas. 

Have a good weekend.