The Wisdom of the Cloud

The ability to listen is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of social media.

Jeff Turner is one of the thought leaders in this area. Take a moment to read his “Listening As Strategy” series of blog posts. It’s heady, insightful, mature thinking. If you know Jeff, you know he has an uncanny, instinctive way of truly grokking and communicating the deeper implications behind all this wonderful technology.

But the flip side to listening is asking. And while there are no shortage of outlets on the Web to ask a real estate related question, in my mind none of them are great. Redfin has its forums. Trulia has its Q&A section. On Zillow, they call it Advice.

The problem with many of these services, beyond what I outlined in my earlier post, is they require us to ask our questions in less than ideal circumstances.

First I must be tethered to my computer to ask a question, when most of my inquiries likely happen on the spot, when I’m away from my desk. Furthermore, the mechanic is unidirectional. I have to wait for an answer to be supplied, when what I really want is the answer now.

Mobile might just be the bridge however, that solves this conundrum.

Real Estate Answers is an Android app that I stumbled across recently.

It’s a simple idea really. As a consumer I can pose a question anytime, anywhere. A question like how long has this home been on the market? while I’m standing right outside.

That query is immediately geo-tagged and served up to a waiting pool of agents serving a kind of virtual floor time. They can respond in real-time through a controlled channel that initiates a conversation with that individual. It’s a chance for them to get “belly-to-belly,” so to speak, in a non-intrusive way.

I’ll be honest. The app is rough, no more than a concept really. But I think the idea is significant. It demonstrates the power of mobile platforms to deliver experiences that the desktop web could never approximate. To create new forums for conversation that are both highly contextual and immediate.

Honestly, someone should buy these guys. Or at least talk to them. I think there’s a real opportunity for brokers, brands or a portal to step out ahead of their competition with a tool that takes this idea an runs with it.

Think of it this way, if you can provide a platform for your agents to better listen to the questions consumers are asking, there’s a win in there for everyone.