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Real Estate Implosion, Lawyers, Realtors & Disintermediation – Oh My.

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0000036548_20061218145010.jpgThe cool thing about lawyers is that even though they compete with one another, they understand the basic reality that business is there for the taking. Rarely can you walk down a street in America and not find someone divorcing or guilty of a crime. The best thing about lawyers is that even though they get a lot of ribbing about being this and that (not generally polite) they’ve never been guilty of eating themselves alive publicly- meaning, you rarely see them out publicly bucking the system. They have an understanding that the systemis what affords them a lifestyle and a profession, regardless of how twisted the perception of it is.

Realtors on the other hand (we’re not lawyers) have very much the same dependencies and lately have very much the same reputation as lawyers. Insane as it may sound, we’ve recently been compared to car salesmen and we’re even accused of being the devil in some cases, and having spun millions into subprime disaster, single-handedly causing a real estate bubble with our cat like commission skills– hell, we even set the fires in California to spark future growth! I kid. It was just a kid and matches I hear, but hey, he’s probablya future Realtor if you ask those that wish to disintermediate us from the transaction.

The truth is, the only thing Realtors are guilty of is playing into the less than 1% of 1% of 1% that would call free agency a trend. Realtors are guilty of playing into mass hysteria created by a public relations campaign created by a certain discount business model. Realtors are guilty of the thing lawyers already understand- s*itting where you eat is probably not a good idea.

The perfect storm against our chosen profession is this- we’ve always thought the other guy’s services to consumers sucks, and we spend big money saying just that. The genius in the PR campaign waged by our fishy competition plays on that vulnerability and honestly, I see a lot of hysteria in the marketplace because of it. We had a guest commenter here last week that said we were complaining about the end of the profession, but the reality is- it’s simple self defense, another mechanism used as a vulnerability in the game to weaken the position of the membership (NAR). Although, as quiet as the membership is, and as clumsy as it still remains, the collective membership matters not to the profession. The hysteria created by those seeking rankings and comments on a blog, or to score points with the pissed off of the real estate consumer is a gift to them and no one else.

I think maybe folks might want to take a look at how and where lawyers compete- it’s in the courtroom, not in the court of public opinion. They get up ever day, notwrite a blog, and they pass up the hype by those who would say lawyers are vultures and march into the courtroom and lay it down in no uncertain terms why they’re valuable. Their personal reputations are what drives the most successful, the ones you never see at midnight offering to bail you out on a DUI.

Yes, I think Realtors could learn from the blood-sucking lawyers out there on how to handle negative press and attacks on their profession. We could learn a thing or two about how to be gentlemen and where to duel , and just so you know- that’s not in the court of public opinion… just because one Realtor, market or PR campaign is bad doesn’t mean the entire industry is. Comparatively, because one lawyer is an ambulance chaser doesn’t mean the entire BAR is chasing them too- and the only lawyer that would ever be guilty of saying it to be so would be the guy on TV at midnight offering you midnight DUI representation.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Vicki Moore

    November 7, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    I don’t see lawyers getting on the internet and giving all of their knowledge, information and strategies away. I don’t see them grovelling, begging or arguing their worth. I don’t see them undercutting their pay to stay in business.

    Really interesting post. I have to think about it some more.

    BTW Boston Legal is my favorite show.

  2. Benn Rosales

    November 7, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    by your comment, you got my point.

    We never miss Boston Legal- Tuesday is a great day, always.

  3. Mariana

    November 8, 2007 at 2:43 am

    If we truly believe we ARE worth our salt, we WILL be worth our salt. The ones who aren’t are the ones that are the weak links in this profession. And it shows.

  4. Joshua Ferris

    November 14, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    The barrier to becoming a lawyer is also quite a bit higher than it is for real estate. Real estate has yet to shed its “grandma” image of being something for older people to do to occupy their time and stand alone as a legitimate industry. Good agents are worth their pay and then some but the people who are in the business to occupy themselves because they are bored or to do part time for extra cash are the ones dragging down the industry. I’ve never seen anyone go to law school for 7 years just to make a little extra cash part-time.

  5. Mitch Argon, Reno Real Estate

    March 10, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Very good post. I’ll take it a bit further. Because the real estate profession has done so many silly things for so long (sending out recipe cards, walking future seller’s dogs, and a myriad of other things to win “social favors”), we have conditioned the consumer to think that these are the essential services of a real estate agent.

    Low barrier to entry. Perception of easy money. NAR promoting more realtors (i.e. more dues $$$ to spend on supporting the brand) versus earnestly putting in programs to raise the bar (i.e. less dues means it will never happen) and this is what you get.

    At some point (long from now), this business may be about service and not salesmanship (and a lot of the nonsense that goes with it).

  6. Jacqui Richey, Las Vegas Real Estate

    May 9, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Perception is reality and the sooner agents remember that, the better. We need to change perception in order to change reality. DENNY CRANE! I think the NAR could do more by enforcing its own rules and removing members that don’t follow them.

  7. Fort Lauderdale Mortgage

    July 24, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    I agree with mitch and great post by the way. I worked as a real estate agent many years ago and adding a bit of extra service never hurt.

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Business Marketing

Google Analytics will now filter out bot traffic

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bender won’t be happy that Google Analytics will now automatically remove bot traffic from your results, but it’ll help your business.

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In the competitive, busy world of online content, Google Analytics can help businesses and online publications deliver what their audience and consumers want. Now Google is finally taking the step of filtering out bot traffic in your Google Analytics reporting. This is excellent news!

In the world of websites, online news sites, blogs, and social media, bots are the bane of our existence. In their finest form, they are the electronic equivalent of junk mail. At their worst, they can carry malicious malware and viruses to your site and computer. They can even flood the internet with unfounded rumors that can have an impact on people’s opinions–stirring the political pot or lending misleading numbers to drive unfounded rumors, such as wearing a mask is dangerous. No it’s not! Chalk that nonsense up to bots and crackpots.

For businesses that rely on Google Analytics to determine what content is not only reaching but also resonating with potential customers, filtering out the bot traffic is crucial to determining the best course of action. Bots skew the data and therefore, end up costing businesses money.

Bots set up for malicious purposes crawl the internet looking for certain information or user behaviors. Bad bots can steal copyrighted content and give it to a competitor. Having identical copies on two sites hurts your site and can dink your SEO ranking. However, good bots can seek out duplicate content and other copyright infringements, so the original content creator can report them.

However, it is important for companies and content creators to know if their content is actually reaching real live humans. To this end, Google will start filtering out bot traffic automatically. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) actually provides an International Spiders and Bots list, through which Google can more easily identify bots. They use the list and their own internal research to seek out bots in action, crawling through the internet and confusing things.

Google says the bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the Google Analytics results–users don’t have the choice. Some may argue there is a good reason to see all of the data, including bots. Many businesses and online publications, though, will be relieved to have a much clearer vision of what content genuinely appeals to humans, to readers and potential customers. It is a welcomed advancement.

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Business Marketing

Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.

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Opportunity Zones are a beautiful mechanism for growing communities that are struggling, but some critics have put this process in a negative light. The following is an expert’s perspective on just this topic.

Jim White, PhD is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., Founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP, and Founder and President of JL White International, LLC. His new book is a heartfelt rallying cry for investors: Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds, launched March 31, 2020.

Dr. White holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an MBA, and a doctorate in psychology and organizational behavior. He acquires struggling businesses to revive and develop them into profitable enterprises using his business turnaround strategy.

In his own words below:

BY JIM WHITE, PHD

Every investment vehicle has a twist some folks don’t like. Real estate, stock options, offshore tax havens, and even charitable gifting can be criticized for certain loopholes.

Likewise, some detractors have pointed to opportunity zones, a newer investment vehicle unveiled in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. This bold, bipartisan plan allows for private investment capital to be channeled into some of the most distressed communities in the nation, serving the struggling residents and the investors alike.

Personally, I believe it is one of the noblest initiatives to emerge from Washington in years.

I grew up in a sharecropper cabin in what would have been an opportunity zone in Salem, South Carolina. What would an influx of investment dollars have meant to my low-income community? More and better-paying jobs to offset unemployment. People relocating to my town for those jobs, reversing population decline and increasing real estate values. New life breathed into local businesses. The increased tax revenues could have helped improve failing infrastructure. Social challenges, like crime and drug use, could have decreased. Better resources for my family and our neighbors, such as health care and education, would have emerged.

Today, there are nearly 8,800 distressed communities dotting the country that have been identified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). These neighborhoods were designated from census tracks, treasury, and state leaders as communities that would benefit from an influx of investment dollars directed through Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) to reinvigorate businesses, rebuild infrastructure and bolster residents.

As our economy continues to falter, more and more businesses file Chapter 11 and unemployment soars under COVID-19, I believe we are heading toward a painful expansion in designated opportunity zones. Even with the latest round of CARES stimulus money many people will have no way to rebound from this crisis.

One of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus quarantine is that many businesses are discovering that, in reality, they can succeed through working remotely. This success is a double edged sword, meaning that if a business can thrive with employees working offsite then commercial real estate will suffer. And when companies no longer require brick-and-mortar locations, a local domino effect ensues; ancillary businesses, from cafés to gyms to print shops in and around a commercial office environment will subsequently close. The ripples will be felt through many other industries, including construction, transportation, energy, and retail.

Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds are instruments that can help stop a downward spiral. When a sponsor is able to present a project that meets the objectives of the QOZ initiative, both the QOZ and the investors benefit. That’s a win!

And, it’s not only urban centers that benefit from investment dollars. Forty percent of opportunity zones are rural. Even with often plentiful food, water, energy and other natural resources, deep poverty exists, and too many of America’s 60 million rural residents lack access to education and healthcare. A declining population often goes hand in hand with failing infrastructure as tax money for repairs dwindles. Many households lack broadband, something the vast majority of Americans take for granted.

Despite the challenges, rural residents are often surprisingly resilient and resourceful. According to The Hill (“Rural America has opportunity zones too”), rural residents create self-employment opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Their challenge is to connect with investors and access funding, more of which is directed to small business investment on the coasts.

In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know about Qualified Opportunity Funds. If a business is located in an opportunity zone it is eligible for direct funding by reaching out to the QOFs with a specific request for funding.

More than any investment plan that’s come before, I believe opportunity zones have the greatest capacity for positive social and economic impact. Spread out over many communities, these investments can help our nation flourish as a whole.

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Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.

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Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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