Nicole sat across the dinner table from us Friday night. She was not her usual positive self. Something happened. I decided to pry.
A former actress, Nicole followed her true calling behind the camera. She did film. Music videos. And stills. The latter is, IMO, her best work of all.
Her son came twelve years ago. A daughter, sever years later. So she ditched LA and set up a photographer’s studio here on the Central Coast.
Many of her stills adorn the walls of my home. Family portraits. My kids. Wife. Dogs. Taken at different times over the last ten years.
Nicole closed her studio on Friday.
I assumed the economy took its toll. Nicole believes it goes deeper than that. “Everyone is a photographer today,” she said. “They own digital cameras, enhance them with Photoshop (or picnik) and post them on Flickr. The value of a professional is no longer recognized I suppose.”
That hit home. Big time. Especially as it relates to real estate.
In 2004, I presented twenty-five very far-out predictions in a speech given for a large Realtor association. Slide nine read as follows: In the future you will no longer “own” any listings. A nice 3-D rendering of a product box was placed below the title. Across the top of the box the word “Maestro” was printed in bold. Underneath, it read: Orchestrate the entire process of selling your home – yourself.
- A turnkey blog site that featured your home
- A unique URL based on your home’s address
- Map mashups with local data
- A huge photo library and video player
- Direct syndication to every listings site on the planet
Maestro was real estate marketing in a metaphorical box. It provided the homeowner tools to recreate everything an agent does — the many photos they should be taking, the compelling copy they should be writing and the web distribution they should be executing.
The premise behind Maestro fed into the notion that in the future, by virtue of handling all of their own marketing, homeowners would retain ownership of their listing and simply hire agents to coordinate the sale — i.e. show property, hash out paperwork, etc.
The audience booed. “There’s more to selling a home than that,” they barked. I knew that. Just like there’s more to capturing a moment than saying cheese and properly framing your SureShot. The problem was, four years ago, when homes were selling like hotcakes, I wasn’t sure the real estate consumer knew that.
And I’m not so sure that the consumer knows any better today.
Several predictions from my presentation have now come to pass in real estate. And honestly, most of what I predicted seemed inevitable anyway.
A few, however, veered towards absurd.
“Holographic Search” that allowed consumers to walk through a listing projected from a computer while sitting in their own kitchen.
“Caravan” was a device agents provided to their buyers. Think listing alerts meets GPS (I got this idea one evening waiting at a busy restaurant that handed out devices to patrons that lit up when your table was ready).
And of course Maestro.
I know they are borderline silly. They were offered to stimulate conversation.
But then today my inbox received a press release sent from the U.K. announcing the launch of EstateCreate, a self-publishing website built to help consumers list their home and market it everywhere.
You’ll think the product is simple. Regard it as a basic template website. With few bells and whistles. Much like most agent and broker websites are now. You may also shuck this as silly, much like some of my predictions, pay it no mind and think to yourself, well… even if a seller uses this, they’ll still need to sign their listing over to an agent for full commission.
Products like EstateCreate are trying to tap into the gaping holes left in the consumer mindset all the dog branding, bad websites, lack of transparency, poor search experiences, misguided marketing and lack of professionalism created and continues to create.
These are the gaping holes that today’s real estate brands continue to avoid filling with better information. Higher standards. These are also the voids that real estate innovators are trying fill with solutions offered to real estate folks who continue to shun the idea of spending a few dollars a month for new technology.
If vendors can’t sell their innovations to real estate professionals to help the consumer, my guess is they are going to start targeting the consumers themselves in greater numbers, tapping into their motivations to market, buy and sell their homes.
I hurt for Nicole. Being taken out by the economy is one thing. But being replaced because the marketplace misunderstands your value proposition is something entirely different. I’m showing Nicole how to change that and save her business.
– Davison Twitter: 1000wattmarc