Imagining a new real estate brokerage

All right. We get it. Real estate’s in a pickle. Former NAR Chief
Economist John Tuccillo’s recent observation that Realtor competence
has fallen to its “lowest point ever”, has got everyone thinking, how
much worse can this get?

Some of us are glass half full people. Others are glass half empty
people. Me, I just finish the drink. Barkeep, pour me another. So why
wonder how much worse it can get? Let’s start thinking how to make this
whole thing better.

The small broker

Let’s start here: the local real estate brokerage with fewer than
100 agents. The following is a list of ten things I would do if I owned
"Davison Real Estate":

1. Hire the best, not the most – And when I say best, I don’t mean
some top producer I’d obsess about poaching then give away the store
to. I’d recruit people who are passionate about my vision and give them
real training in real business skills: negotiation, property marketing,
management and more. No "quick trainings" or "boot camps" for my people.

2.  Create an in-house concierge department, hotel style. Whatever,
whenever – This concierge department would be ground zero for anything
clients needed locally: tickets to shows, directions, coupons.
Everywhere referrals. Why just sell someone a home when you can help
them live a life?

3. Retail – People buy homes. As soon as they move in they start
shopping. Furniture. Bathroom accessories. Kitchen gadgets. If the Wynn
Hotel can house a Ferrari dealership, Davison Real Estate can sell
welcome mats, sheets, plush terry cloth robes and aromatheraputic
candles. All these things would be offered to my customers at a great
price and branded to Davison Real Estate. Far-fetched you say? Note how
many T-shirts sporting luxury brands you see on your next trip

4. Downsize – Remove all of the office cubicles (we’ll deal with the
agents in a second). Open the space up. Make it shabby chic with shag
throw rugs, oversized mismatched chairs, Mac computers. If my agents
and their clients need privacy they can use my boardroom. Or, even
better, they’ll cut deals in the outside world, where the client
prefers to be anyway.

5. Install a coffee bar – Depending where I was, I might add a wine
bar too. Who would man it? At my full service, 6% commission facility
every single agent would also be trained as a Barista. As would I. If
someone walked in interested in my five-figure services, I’d be more
than happy to whip them up a double espresso.

6. Davison Depot – I’d have a shed. Inside would be mops, buckets,
painting gear, landscaping tools, light bulbs, etc. (again, all branded
to Davison Real Estate). When someone buys a home from me, I’d want
them coming to my place to borrow whatever they need to get their new
place spiffed out.

7. Go paperless – All Davison Real Estate agents would be required to
own a tablet computer. Those who balked would go work for the
competition and bleed their profits going through ink cartridges,
overnight packages, paper clips, staples and stamps while wasting sales
time standing in front of a fax machine. My agents might be steaming
milk for a client or serving them an imported cheese snack, but there’s
no way I’d let them fish files from a cabinet.

8. – The home page would feature an interactive map
saturated with neighborhood polygons. Users would drill down to street
level to retrieve information about every home — active, pending and
sold. The best available local information, school data, and market
trends would be fully integrated into the site. It would be completely
open to user-generated content. Every homeowner could post home with
pictures and video. I’d hold a "best home video contest" and dole out
prizes each month. Homeowners could list and sell themselves for all I
care. We’re not greedy at Davison Real Estate. We see the bigger

9. Go all-in on online marketing- For one reason, and one reason
only: Internet consumers are more intelligent, earn more money, spend
more money and use up less time. Those are the clients I want —
sophisticated people who appreciate sophistication from their service

10. Obsess on image and brand – If any of my agents have dogs, none
of my clients would ever know unless they asked. My people would dress
sharply. No Tommy Bahamas, shorts and flip flops. We’d be transacting
six- to seven-figure deals, and we’d dress like it. You don’t see
lawyers, doctors or talent agents walking around with Bichon Frise
earrings dangling from their lobes, shirts with their image
silk-screened on them, and 20 stuffed animals lining their dashboards.

Think I’m kidding? I’m dead serious. It’s time to re-imagine the
whole deal. Start from the ground up. It’s going to be fun. For those
who are game.