The following post is simply one non-conformists opinion, albeit a relatively educated one...Its my hope that my words, cutting as they may come across, cause an epiphany for more than a few...
This entire post is based on The California Association of Realtors 2008 Home Seller Survey (released in July 2008, I just happened upon the PowerPoint presentation a few days ago) but the statistics are just as relevant today, if not more so...Granted this survey is but a snapshot of an industry, yet pictures are worth thousands of words...You can read the entire survey here. (All statistical references in this post are derived from the aforementioned survey).
Public perception of the real estate professional and the greater industry is amongst the lowest of any on record. Consumers are looking for an alternative to the 'traditional' Agent and they're defining what this alternative is, yet relatively very few professional are heeding this demand and actually providing a tangible solution. This Survey demonstrates to me that 90% of Agents are not providing what the consumer wants...and it is ALL ABOUT THE CONSUMER.
Personally I know alot of fantastic real estate professionals. Genuinely great people, passionate, always striving to better themselves, their clients, the industry they serve and represent...they're worth every penny they command...they dont suck...I'm just a sucker for a good title (no pun intended). I could fill this page dropping names like Jay Thompson, Kris Berg, Missy Caulk, Bill Gasset and 30 others nobody has heard of as examples of who I consider to be the vanguard of where this industry should look to as ministers of positive change. Unfortunately, they're in the minority and a few good apples don't ripen the bunch.
Agent Perception: I can Has Consumer!
Talk to most any real estate professional and they will tout their expertise, knowledge and marketing prowess as the main reason you should retain their services. Most will maintain that commission rates (should) mean very little to the consumer and they're worth every penny.
Consumer Reality: You Suck!
According to the respondents:
Number One factor considered when choosing an Agent? Lowest Commission.
Last reason? Most knowledgeable.
You'd best start putting your knowledge out there if you hope to attract a client...get a blogsite that rocks, start dropping neighborhood knowledge, get a killer IDX solution...substantiate your value!! The days of being a prude with your listings and expertise until you had an executed contract are over.
I can find out more than you know.
~70% of respondents polled on 'Information from The Internet vs Information from Agent' indicated that the Net provided information that was as useful, 'different' or more useful than an Agent. I can only surmise that 'different' means information an agent couldn't or simply didn't provide. In the Age of Information, lack thereof is akin to being useless.
The ~31% that said The Net provided less useful information than an Agent are part of a 50% declining trend over the past 5 years.
You're still (a) very necessary (evil?).
~95% of respondent sellers still used an agent, which makes perfect sense. I often state that: While technology won't replace a good real estate Agent, the Agent that properly utilizes technology will replace Agent that doesn't.
Consider- 74% of 1st time respondent sellers considered not using an Agent, up 46% from 2007.
You can't market your way out of a brown paper bag.
Of the reasons given for using an Agent only 7% said it was for 'Better Marketing Exposure'. Ummm, isn't this what an Agent's core value proposition is supposed to be, to market property? Consumers clearly do not believe Agents can effectively market their property...yet online and offline marketing is the 1st and 3rd highest reason for choosing an Agent. This is a huge disconnect and opportunity at the same time.
84% of respondent sellers are searching online and 96% Agents polled use print advertising. Helllllooo!?! Can you say poor ROI, waste of money? Newspapers and other print media are going out of business because less and less people read them. Advertising in these dinosaurs is of almost no value going forward.
Only 57% of agents use multiple photos or a virtual tour as part of an online home listing. This just blows my mind. I'd guess that 50% of the 57% that actually use multiple photos look (kinda) like these:
Proper Feng Shui can do wonders for a small space.
Extra long chain for convenient access to light.
Sweet shower curtain stays with home!
Thanks to MLS Trash Can for the pictures. Descriptions by me.
Seriously, an agent who can't manage to market a property with quality photographs should have their license suspended on principle alone.
You're being perpetually judged.
97% of respondents interviewed 3 or more Agents. 50% interviewed 6 or more Agents. Consumers are getting more and more finicky about who they hire. Agents better step up how they present themselves. Better have an impressive resume and a killer suit = a slick engaging blogsite & robust IDX solution.
Here's a scary thought (depending on who you are):
Consumers are lurking on your blog, stalking your FaceBook page, following your Twitter stream, viewing your Flickr account, reading your answers on Trulia, Zillow & ActiveRain, evaluating your IDX, the quality of your multi-media marketing, processing how you engage comment threads and otherwise perpetually judging you under the cloak of anonymity.
How are you representing yourself in public and when you don't think anyone is looking?
The silver lining in this post could be that 'The Bar' is so low in a consumers eyes, those Agents willing to set aside their perceptions and confront reality are in a great position to capture some huge marketshare. Take this information and use it to your advantage rather than deny its validity.
Many Agents are out there cleaning up despite this 'depressing' market...Find them, reach out to them, study their successes...I find the most successful people in life are more than willing to share their successes and help others get there too. Reciprocity is still live and well...
To hear more, check out this interview with Tim Harris…