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.
What is REbar Camp? Watch the video to find out and to see what took place.
Real Innovate Realty will be sponsoring RE Barcamp Los Angeles, Thursday April 2nd at Pasadena Hilton.
RE barcamp is a gathering of the brightest minds and most innovative companies in the real estate industry for a one day meeting on technology, services, solutions, marketing, social media, etc… Its very cutting edge and tech driven. We hope to see you there.
You may have seen the popular application Facebook Connect on websites such as CNN.com.What this valuable application does, is allows users of a paticular website the ability to login to the site using their facebook username and password. While the news is reporting, users have the ability to communicate with their facebook friends on the CNN website. Its as if they were watching the news together in the same room. These discussions and comments will be posted on their facebook page for all of their friends to see when they happen to login and check up on their facebook account.
The power of the application comes in the form of viral marketing. You say something once and its published for all of your friends to see it.
This is greatly beneficial to the owner of the site that is being discussed. Now imagine how this can work for the real estate industry. You have Facebook Connect on your website or blog. A user logs into your site to view properties using your idx solution. That user logs into your site with their facebook username and password. They search your site, look up some properties, find some that the like. They then mark their favorite properties from their search.
Now a couple of very important things just happened for the user and for you. The user has now just shared some of their favorite properties with their facebook friends, who will have the ability to share comments on the properties that were marked. Your website and yourself as the real estate professional have just been shared with the users facebook community.
Do you see how the power of this application can benefit a real estate website and the power of the marketing potentional? A user searching for properties on your website is common. However, now thier search has the power to become public to that persons 300+ friends and along with that comes indirect marketing for yourself as the real estate professional. The more people that know that you are the real estate professional, the better. This application has the power to do just that.
What does one TRILLION dollars look like?
All this talk about “stimulus packages” and “bailouts”…
A billion dollars…
A hundred billion dollars…
Eight hundred billion dollars…
One TRILLION dollars…
What does that look like? I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like nothing, so I thought I’d take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.
(And notice those pallets are double stacked.)
So the next time you happen to hear someone toss around the phrase “trillion dollars”…
Let’s start off small..
Believe it or not, this little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a back pack and cruise around with it.
While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet…
And $1 BILLION dollars… now we’re really getting somewhere…
Next we’ll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we’ve been hearing so much about. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it’s a million million. It’s a thousand billion. It’s a one followed by 12 zeros.
You ready for this?
It’s pretty surprising.
Ladies and gentlemen… I give you $1 trillion dollars…
You just happen to come upon 1 Trillion Dollars..
..thanks to this little email you’ll know just How Many PALLETS to order.
Real Innovate Realty has just completed a 3 week free webinar series discussing Technology, Marketing, and Overhead Expenses. We are very pleased with the successful outcome. We have had several very positive comments in regards to the content discussed in these webinars. We will be conducting future webinar series, so please make sure that you are on our email list to learn about the upcoming discussions.
We have made the notes and video recordings of these sessions available to anyone who is interested. Please click on the links below to access these.
Session 2 Video Recording (Not Available)
Everything is Green these days. This is a good thing for everyone and our environment. It’s not just a trend anymore, its a way of life now and in the future.
As with any trend, new innovations and technologies arise. This is a great part of our evolution.
Out of this evolution comes the paperless real estate transaction. Imagine the costs saved if all real estate transactions were conducted paperless. There are very innovative products and applications available that specifically catar to the real estate industry. The companies that grasp this concept and push it, will be the ones to advance.
To name a few of the specific products and applications that make this possible:
Relay – Online File Management – This web based application keeps all of your documents, contacts, and important information and notes all in one central location that can be accessed by any computer any where. It can be shared very easily with your clients, broker, and TC. You have the ability to email and efax these documents around.As well as use digital signatures with docusign (which I’ll get into shortly)
eFax – Online Fax – I’m sure everyone has heard of Efax. There are a few other similar products out there that are similar. But this is a great tool. Faxing is a very productive tool for real estate professionals to send documents back and forth. Users of Efax can enjoy the ease of always being able to access there faxes without having to go to the office. A very powerful and useful tool in any real estate professionals arsonal.
Docusign – Paperless Digital Signature – This is another great tool. Docusign which also caters to real estate is a way to send out documents for signature which can be signed without printing out any paper. Once the recipient receives the file, he/she will sign the document by clicking on the areas marked for signature and when completed the document will be sent automatically to the sender.
Online Winforms/Zipforms – If your still using the desktop version of Winforms/Zipforms act quickly and make the transition to Online Winforms. This application gives the user the ability to access the library of real estate forms for their association online and from any computer. Forms Advisor accompanies the online version of winforms/zipforms. (No more confusion on which forms should be used for a particular transaction) Now every agent has the ability to act as the very experienced agent/broker.
Can you see the trend here. Not only are we talking about paperless transaction, but web based.
The future is all web based applications powering the transaction. The transaction can be conducted paperless. Saving our environment, alloying the transaction to be managed much more easier and organized.
Learn these tools. They are the now and the future.
Real Innovate Realty was founded on these principles. www.realinnovate.com
What’s your opinion?
There was a very interesting article writtin today on Inman News, Consumers follow agents, not brands. For most people, when deciding on a real estate agent there are several factors in mind. Obviously, brand will play into the subconcious mind when making a decision. But when it really comes down to it, wether that person was working for Century 21, Prudential, Keller Williams, RE/MAX, or Real Innovate Reallty, in the end the brand is a very small fraction of the decision.
The agent will ultimatly showcase his/her brand (Themself). How does that agent present themself, online, on paper, over the phone? How does their professionalism compare to the competition.?Are their skills, technology solutions, and experiense displayed online or in a fashion so that a stranger can find out about that person?
There are several methods of advertising oneself and getting their own name recognition out there. With all of the advances of the social media, technology geared towards real estate, the possiblilities of distribution of content, etc.. will be what makes the agent known and showcases their abilities, experience, and ambitions.
When deciding on which Real Estate Company to affiliate yourself with, one should ask themselves several questions.
- What type of experience does the broker have?
- What type of solutions and support does this new office have?
- What are the commission structures?
- Where is my money really going? – Find out – you may be surprised.
- How technologically advanced is this company?
- Is this company actively pursuing new trends in marketing, technology, and support?
These are just a few questions – you would be surprised when comparing the answers of several different companies and offices. Its just as easy for a broker to open up a Century 21 franchise or a RE/Max franchise. When making a decision on a company, just like the title of the inman article reads Consumers Follow Agents, Not Brands, – Agents should title their search “Agents Follow Brokers, Not Brands.”