These are the chronicles of real estate people walking confidently into new territory. People that think to wonder why. They are connecting. Linking. Creating value.
What happens when you lay awake at night knowing there’s a better way to do the traditional brokerage business you’re managing? If you’re Greg Tracy, you quit your job and start Blueroof.com. When the new company launched in July of 2006, two things occurred immediately: 1) The shear elegance of the company’s website got the industry abuzz, and 2) The transparent value proposition resonated in the local marketplace, producing a flood of inquiries.
BlueRoof’s buyer rebate was expected to be the key driver of that interest upon launch. But, “It became apparent to us that people ultimately chose BlueRoof based upon the perceived value of our service,” said Tracy. The rebate seemed to be inconsequential. Two months after launch, the rebate was removed along with many of the other “alternative model” features.
2006 dragged on. The market tightened. Yet Greg was busier than ever. One progressive website in a sea of sameness adorned with value gave BlueRoof 114 transactions in 2007. For Greg it was all about giving consumers something that they just couldn’t find elsewhere. "It was the experience, which began before they ever met us. It continued when they contacted us via our immediate response policy. It was about our enthusiasm. Our knowledge. And our follow up after closing. It’s all about the experience."
In 2008, Blue Roof’s chimney is smoking with business. “It’s all about investing in your business,” says Greg. “Most agents spend what they earn and save nothing for rainy days.” There are no rainy days for BlueRoof. Not for the guy who believes in creating an experience for the consumer that’s one of a kind.
How does someone who knew little about real estate, marketing or blogging become a leading authority on all three, a highly paid executive for national real estate portal, and creator of the most well know real estate agent blog in the business?
According to Dustin “sometimes, the absence of knowledge is your greatest asset.”
We all get caught up in what we know. Assumptions imprison the imagination. But by not knowing where the limits are, you can be set free. This is what happened to Dustin after his wife Anna became an agent in 2004. Looking at all the experienced competition around her, Dustin focused his engineering mind on building a straight path towards success.
The first step was to promote Anna. A believer in getting what you pay for, Dustin decided to create a custom newsletter rather than using the typical, template driven stuff. By focusing on local issues and local market conditions and displaying maps by parcel, a benefit of Dustin’s GIS background, the newsletter circulated “because it looked like a lot when into it.” In others words, it offered value no other publication delivered.
2005. Putting newsletters together took considerable time. And money. Taking all he learned about the limits of print marketing, RainCityGuide was born. In keeping with the Luther culture, the blog had to be different. It was a guide instead of an agent soapbox. It was transparent, starting with the acknowledgment of Seattle’s notorious climate. And it was interesting.
But the turning point came when Dustin included a Google map mashup using a feed of data from Northwest MLS. “This had little to do with coding ability and everything to do with creating value for the reader”, Dustin explains. The result — a presentation totally unique in the agent community.
Traffic ensued. As did questions about Dustin’s decision to invite other real estate people to blog along with he and Anna. “The blog was build for the readers”, he said. “Bringing other opinions to the mix served their interests. By removing the self serving nature, we allowed this to grow beyond us.”
And it did. The blog became so popular Dustin was offered (and accepted) an executive position at Move.com, relocating his family to SoCal in 2006. RainCityGuide continued to flourish, serving as the premier blog destination for Seattle as well as the model for other group blogs in real estate.
Today, Dustin runs 4realz.net. He consults and speaks on the value of electronic marketing, social media and thinking about agent marketing differently. And while many agents sit and count the raindrops, Anna is busy running the referral business flowing southward from RainCityGuide.