When shopping for appliances, we rely on the big yellow Energy Star stickers. When shopping for cars, we rely on the big stickers in the window outlining the basic standard features. But what about houses?
As a consumer shopping for homes, I am at the mercy of whatever flyer is possibly in a box outside a home or whatever information an agent has put into the MLS (and hopefully a picture) that is syndicated all over the web.
Is this good enough? Maybe it’s my inner consumer advocate, but I just don’t think so. As a consumer myself, I want to be able to have some consistency in information I am seeking while house hunting. I am well educated on the topic, so I know that each MLS system is different- input fields are different, business rules are different (ex: how the DOM is calculated), etc. But guess what? Car manufacturer data is different, each line is made of different materials and contains unique features, but they still manage to feature a logical label.
Why not houses?
Recently, the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed new fuel efficiency labels for vehicles. There are two styles currently under consideration (vertical and horizontal):
Click images to enlarge.
See where I’m going with this? Imagine a similar label on the front door of a listing or on the back of your real estate sign.
Now the EPA is adding fuel efficiency labels to give them a grade. Energy Star essentially does the same. I don’t think that’s necessary here, but why not something like this? I think it would look good on an 11″x17″ sheet:
Getting a nation on the same page is an extremely difficult process and the above sticker idea is mostly a pipe dream. It is a possibility on a local level however, if a large brokerage decided to make things easier on buyers and enticing for sellers.
Imagine if Keller Williams adopted the label (or printed paper taped on the inside of a listing’s front window) and every KW listing had a colored dot and standard info, some of which is visible from the road. Sure, you might cut down on the “opportunity” of the lookie lou buyers (that are going to buy in 12 years), but as a listing agent, the point is to sell the home and someone looking for a 2 bedroom is not likely going to buy a 5 bedroom house- they’ll recognize the color and keep moving. On the other hand, if the dot is in the right color range and they can immediately see the price, you’ve got an opportunity to open that door right away.
It’s a rough idea, but it could work to serve the consumer better by standardizing and making transparent (the internet’s favorite buzzword) the basic information that buyers are seeking. If a brokerage got the ball rolling by adopting a standardized color coding system, I believe it would garner consumer trust but more importantly, consumer attention.