Jul. 28, 2011 - Another voice heard from...
I have this friend, a Realtor Association exec, with whom I share an important personal habit: we both get up very early in the morning. So early today when I staggered over to my desk, clutching my iPad to my chest and gripping my coffee, there was an email waiting--no surprise. My AM pen pal had already been at it, thinking about my blog post from last night.
He had written the following:
When an MLS does innovate—such as the launch of a public website—some large brokers become very angry because in their words “Once again, you are leveling the playing field.” Since no brokerage has all of the listing data—nor will they ever---the MLS provides the vehicle for brokerage collaboration but the large brokers do not want MLS providing a way to make the smaller-than-them brokerage look large to the consumer. They assume incorrectly that consumers do not already understand that fact.
Another area to which the large brokers are currently blind is their inability to understand that collaboration with consumers is the new normal. Listing information is ubiquitous. Brokers should be improving the consumers experience with the listing information while driving them to experts who understand what it all means and where to get the best information.
I go to a physician’s assistant for check-ups. We were talking about real estate websites and I was explaining why some had great looking tools but bad data. He laughed and said too many patients were showing up with “medical” advice garnered from a website and a list of prescription medicines that must be prescribed to cure them. He was spending more time with patients explaining what the site they visited was--a university where they were doing research—and why the drugs could not be prescribed—because the drugs were not approved for the use in treating a particular disease—the university had permission to conduct trials but doctors could not prescribe!
My AM penpal's letter was written in confidence, but I asked him if I could share it anonymously because I think it makes some important points that we all need to think about:
1. The consumer public is well educated--sometimes much more so than we imagine. They understand and value accurate and complete information, and when they don't receive that information, they will go find it in some other way.
2. Witholding information, or making it difficult for a consumer to find and access, is not the answer. Consumers want complete listing inventories, valuations, and sales histories. They want to know about the quality of service they will be receiving for the dollars they are paying to the Realtor. Consumers expect to be answered when they ask: they've been trained by websites like Amazon.com and Ebay to expect compete information, and to share their experiences with others.
Often, Realtors shoot themselves in the foot by thinking that they can change consumer behavior or ignore the need for convenience and completeness. "Let's not have a cooperative public website," they say. "Let's not even mention that there are quality issues and/or differences among our salespeople." "We don't want to level the playing field," they say. Have they not shopped at one of Amazon's 'partners' or clicked on a 'Buy it used' feature of the bookstore? There's a reason why consumers begin their shopping experience at Amazon--because they go for the transaction satisfaction, not the product itself.
3. But having researched and discovered the information, consumers still need an experienced guide to help interpret and analyze what they've found, particularly as the product gets more expensive or the purchase process more complex.
Let's face it: there are things which we can do more successfully in cooperation, than we can do alone. One of them is to create a satisfactory transaction environment for real estate buyers and sellers. As my morning correstpondent says, "Collaboration is the new normal." When MLSs recognize that it's collaboration, and not competition, that creates a comfortable environment for buyers and sellers, and that its the consuming public which will judge our success, we will be able to move forward with confidence.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Another voice heard from... : Off Stage