Will real estate data save agents?

RPR now live in 43 markets

I didn’t even click on the headline when I saw it on Inman.com a few weeks ago.

At this point, and previous writings here notwithstanding, I am having difficulty seeing how RPR will change the working lives of agents.

But my waning interest has little to do with RPR specifically. It seems to be picking up momentum and will be a solid member benefit. My lack of interest reflects a declining faith in the primacy of data in the realtor marketing mix.

Data and difference

Here’s the deal: I believe the role of real estate data formed into charts, graphs, reports, and websites has diminishing differentiating power. And difference – substantive difference – will be increasingly determinative in a world where everyone’s got the same charts, widgets and reports hanging off their professional Christmas tree.

This stuff may cosmetically enhance a Realtor’s value proposition – to a point. But it won’t sustain it.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have market charts on your website. A market report to share with clients is a good idea. You have to deliver a CMA.

You should get these things. Soon, you will appear deficient without them. Just don’t count on them to set you apart.


How does this narrative fit into a chart?

“Surprisingly, homes in Redwood Heights have been moving well. Lots of people from Orinda are moving in here to downsize, and after the 3 bedroom place on Redwood Road sold at asking despite the noise I feel pretty confident that we’re not going to see another dip in prices. But that really depends on the school enrollment situation this spring.”

It doesn’t fit, of course.

But being able to assimilate this sort of information (which is done, interestingly, by actually practicing real estate), articulate it capably and account for it in a marketing or offer strategy is how good agents break away from the pack.

It ain’t the charts, folks.

No easy way out

What I describe above is what real estate blogging was supposed to enable, right? Practitioners leveraging their unique real estate knowledge into engagement.

In reality, there were a couple problems with this:

  1. Most real estate agents don’t have unique real estate knowledge
  2. Writing is hard

So, many were happy to move on to Twitter and Facebook. Facebook is a sphere marketing playground beyond your wildest dreams, but it’s not quite the same. Twitter is an invitation to self-indulgence most are unable to decline.

So we’re left with data. There’s always data. Just print out the chart, copy and paste the code, forward the link.

A job marginally done. The job anyone can do.


But this will become and increasingly inescapable truth: Brains win in the end.

What, then?

Well, you could bite the bullet and blog. It will produce results if done well.

You could distill what you know into an email newsletter. But execution has got to be really good.

You may jump into a “Q&A site” – places like Quora, Formspring, Answers.com and Stack Overflow that provide structured intelligence to people who want answers to questions on a specific topic – from people.

You could do video.

You could even buy ads in the community newspaper (I know, crazy, huh?) with a tightly written take on street-level market dynamics.

But whatever you do, and if you want to be in this business to last, find a way to get what’s between your ears out there.

In the end, it’s all you’ve got.