by David B. Colmar, contributing editor – Real Trends Newsletter May 2011
It always depends on your perspective as to
whether or not changes that affect our business,
our home, lifestyle, health and all else that impacts
our lives is positive or negative. Attitude drives
nearly all of this. Do we embrace these changes?
Are they drivers for improvement or detractors? The
one thing we can be certain of is that change is
constant. It may be gradual or occur suddenly,
subtle or catastrophic, but it will occur.
Over the past five to six years, broker/owners have
seen rapid changes in the total real estate brokerage
business. Price declines, foreclosures, short sales, or a
lack of sales have all changed the landscape we call
our business. None within our control. We have
gone from placing page after page of print
advertising to little or none and from offices buzzing
with active agents to satellite stopping-off locations
or offices lying mostly empty.
We moved from printed MLS books being updated
weekly with new listings and sold properties to
computers, mobile devices, and the Internet
updating instantly. We moved from broker control
of the information to consumer control and access.
Good, bad, or indifferent our business model has
undergone change and there is more to come.
Remember when we actually walked into a bank to
cash a check or make a deposit? Then the bank
added drive-up windows so we did not have to get
out of the car. Today you don’t really have to go to
the bank. In fact, banking has become nearly
virtual. Any ATM will work for getting cash (for
those of us who still use the stuff) or making
deposits and BillPay means we don’t even need to
write a check. Rows of teller windows are gone and
your personal banker does business with you in your
office, at Starbucks, or some other public place.
Like banks, our offices have become repositories for
desks, chairs, and phones but with fewer and fewer
agents. We might as well advertise monthly public
storage units! What little control we may have had
over agents and their activities has dwindled even
more since their appearances in the offices have
become rare. The office has become a stopping off
point – a sort of docking station while repairs are
being made – or possibly a place to meet a client.
Agents today are learning how to operate from
anywhere, and since the advent of cell phones and
“smart” phones and iPads, they have become even
Now enter the era of “cloud” computing, paperless
document storage, and even greater remote access.
Brokers and their agents can and will have access to
all property files and other documents literally from
anywhere. When a listing is taken, in addition to
going into the MLS, a new file is started on the
Internet. As the property moves through offers,
contracts, and escrow through close, all documents
including agent notes and peripheral reports can be
scanned and entered into that specific file, completely
secure and able to be accessed by different levels of
security. The appraiser can have limited access, the
lender can have limited access, and others involved in
the transaction including, of course, the client.
In a recent study, authorized by LPS Real Estate
Group and conducted by Colmar & Associates and
REAL Trends Consulting, participating companies
were proud of being able to offer agents and
clients paperless transactions with secure access by
numerous parties involved in the transaction. Need
information at the end of the year for tax purposes
or can’t recall certain facts of a home purchase 4
years from now? As long as you have access to the
Unternet you can access your data. Racks of
Banker’s Boxes could disappear. Gone would be the
wait while some contracted service provider fulfilled
a search request. Received a call late one afternoon
to go list a property you sold 5 years ago but can’t
recall all the details? Get the data from your file on
LPS found that certainly there was a cost savings
for companies on such obvious things as paper
usage, printing, ink cartridges as well as document
storage and even file cabinets. More importantly,
such cost savings in most cases would cover the
cost of their TransactionPoint or DocCentral
programs, yet participating companies found that
mobility, ease of access, and greater accountability,
all of which fit into each company’s vision, were
the true qualitative benefits.
Over the last two months Dell Computer has
announced partnerships with a number of
companies to create data centers to better enable
cloud computing for a number of businesses. As
Dell reported; “Cloud-Based Services will simplify
information access and sharing from the point of
care to the data center and business office for more
efficient healthcare.” In another press release; “Dell
and Microsoft to develop on-demand reporting and
analytics for community hospitals.” If the
independent doctor is actually a real estate agent
and the patient is the consumer, then this allsounds a lot like real estate brokerage.
So, are large offices a thing of the past? Brokerage
companies are looking to downsize in space not
service. They are adapting their business model
around the needs of the consumer and agent and it is
not with more paper, ink, or empty desks. With
electronic signatures and anytime, anywhere access to
the transaction, LPS has put the information squarely
at the fingertips of the consumer and their agent. As
a broker/owner, if I can rid my operation of vacant
space, have fewer cartons of paper delivered, and
fewer files to keep in boxes, all while satisfying my
customer’s needs as well as mitigating the potential
of some future challenge relative to risk management,
then this sure looks like doing more with less.
Dave Colmar is President of Colmar & Associates,
Inc.; a consulting firm serving the real estate
industry since 2000.
Upcoming Forms Release
The April 2011 Form release is underway. Please note, the following forms will be changing/released in zipForm® 6 on April 29th, 2011.
- Denial of Rental Application (DRA)
- Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure (AVID)
- Cancellation of Listing (COL)***
- Notice of Change in Terms of Tenancy (CTT) ***
- 48-Hour Notice of Inspection Prior to Termination of Tenancy (FEHN) ***
- Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA)
- Lease Listing Agreement (LL)
- Residential Lease or Month-to-Month Rental Agreement (LR)
- Application to Rent/Screening Fee (LRA)
- Notice of Entry (NOE) ***
- Notice of Obligation to Pay Rental of Lease Payments in Cash, Money Order, Cashiers Check (NPC) ***
- Notice of Right to Inspection Prior to Termination of Tenancy (NRI) ***
- Notice of Sale and Entry (NSE) ***
- Purchase Agreement Addendum (PAA) ***
- Probate Advisory (PAK) ***
- Probate Advisory (PAL) ***
- Notice to Perform Covenant (Cure) or Quit (PCQ) ***
- Property Management Agreement (PMA) ***
- Notice to Pay Rent or Quit (PRQ) ***
- REO Advisory (REO)
- REO Advisory (Listing) (REOL)
- Trust Advisory (TA) ***
- Trust Advisory (Listing) (TAL) ***
- Tenant Estoppel Certificate (TEC) ***
***These forms will no longer be available in printed format and will only be available via zipForm® 6. Printed versions for all other forms will be available from your local AOR on April 29th, 2011.
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They guys at Domus Consulting Group have been very innovative in their thinking and networking. They have created a very original and new way of creating a large and powerful referral network.
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Check out the presentation on The Social Media Referral System Here:
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