Life during wartime

Part one of a two-part series.

A hubbub of technological euphoria swirls in real estate. It’s been here since the early days of agent domain squatters and will likely last well past Real Estate Connect 2008, where talking heads, brokers, innovators, technologists and bloggers sipped from the Pixie Sticks of cool and trendy.

Web 2.0. It’s now a bona fide addiction. Connect proved that. The merry band of bloggers and Twitterers mingled, typed and grooved to the orange and green.

For some,  it has become a lifestyle. But this stuff can also be a van loaded with  weapons, packed and ready to go.

Or it can  be a gravesite out by the highway — a place nobody knows.

And gunfire off in the distance

By the close of Connect, dozens sat in airports Twittering about sitting in the airport. Others madly signed up “friends” on social networks.

Bloggers blogged to other bloggers about all the blogging taking place at the conference.

I spent the  weekend sifting though e-mails, accepting and denying invites from people I do  not know.

I wondered  how any of this helps build business.

Of course I get Web 2.0. But with a calm reserve. Enthusiasts might note that my year-old consulting firm has benefited greatly from our blog , but that would then detract from the years of experience my business partner and I have inside this industry.

And herein lies a balance I feel is often overlooked by the preachers, teachers and believers. The promiscuous social necking and compost heap of useless tweets that steam atop the real estate “conversation” often, for me anyway, have no correlation to terrestrial real estate excellence.

Real estate is in the market equivalent of wartime.

The battle is fought between what’s trendy and what’s real. Between anecdotal and fact. Between hype and truth. Between profit and loss. With so many Web 2.0 tools and applications now being deployed onto real estate it feels as if practitioners are armed with only a fuse. Bullets of random advice are pinging off your helmets daily. Your efforts ricocheting out of control.

The  explosive power of deeper thinking and real application of these revolutionary  tools is left unharnessed and lost.

Three passports and a couple of  visas

Video, mapping, blogs, vertical social networks — these Web 2.0 tools are sound. But I wonder how are you applying them? How are you not applying them? Are you caught up in a facile enthusiasm, spending days and nights Twittering about what the most menial things you’re doing instead of participating in truly meaningful discussion about the consequential benefit of that activity to your clients?

Are you starting to wonder whether this Web 2.0 stuff, or at least how it’s being presented to real estate is noting short of a way to distract you in the wake of such a slow market?  Are you scratching your head wondering what the heck the bottom line is on all this stuff? Or if there is some sound application to all this that has not yet revealed itself?

If you are you are not alone.

And she was

Real estate had it right all along. Buying a home is different than buying a used car. Or airline tickets. Or shoes. Online, or for that matter, off. While there are things we can and must borrow from those experiences it is its own experience that needs to be polished not molded to become MySpace.

As for the tools and applications and the spirit of Web 2.0,  it is, at this juncture a complement, not a replacement, for the old-fashioned tenets of real estate services that are born out of providing a deep sense of intellectual guidance, service and benefit to the consumer.

As for transparency, well… I think that when it comes to stripping that final coat of cheesy camouflage off of real estate and revealing it’s many secrets and truths, that’s more about survival than it is about Web 2.0.

“This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, This ain’t no fooling around, No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,” or you  ain’t got time for that now!”

– Davison

This is part one of a two-part series. Next: A deep, balanced dive into the new tools, what they mean and how to get the most out of them.