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Is the Real Estate Industry Running the Race With Blinders On?




Times have changed

It’s amazing the world we live in right now; I feel like I did the day I got my very first computer, a Macintosh Performa 400 (circa 1992).  At that time it was really rare to see a computer in a home and loading a browser and logging on to the internet in those days was a task in and of itself- and where did you go once you were logged on?  Email was a neat tool, but who in the world would you email? AOL would soon be all I had and paid out the nose by the minute to wait impatiently for anything to happen- chat back then was the in thing.

These things have changed.  Computers are virtually everywhere you look, even in your car, and in your pocket, and forget logging on, even the tiny computer in my pocket is virtually always connected. From my fingertips, I can learn virtually anything I want to, go where I want to go, explore where I want to, and buy what I want to.  As a consumer, I am completely wired into anything that I decide is important to me at that moment, even the news- it automatically updates headlines every 20 seconds.

These changes to my life at first weren’t seen as game enders, they were game changers.  I do not look at new tools as something to fear, my electronics are not seen as motive driven, they are simply part of my wired life.

Here’s the disconnect:

What is not advancing as fast as my wired life is my un-wired industry and many of our peers.  Many are still stuck at the PC and email and this worries me.  It worries me because at the root level, many have not accepted advances personally and therefore professionally fear everything that isn’t within their control.

I wrote this article on Google as tongue and cheek to some degree, and some got it, others did not. The post had absolutely nothing to do with the value of agents, yet some sprung to position to once again preach to the choir about their value proposition, but what is missed by most is that this world is no longer focused on talking about a value proposition, it’s about demonstrating it.

The audience is wired, the consumer base is wired, the world is on fire with wires, and this tiny industry of one million or so seems willing to ignore the obvious at their own core level- I used to ask why, but I think I get it now.

This tiny minority known as the real estate profession truly believes that the world will actually stop, slow down, turn around, and come backwards to ask a question or hear a lecture on value proposition, and in the short run they might- in the long run they won’t.

The starting line has changed

As an AG reader who may be stuck and afraid of paradigm shifts on a professional level, you should take a hard look at the personal level in which the world around you is moving, and I think it’s in this moment that you’ll understand what it means that the starting line has changed.

I used the words ‘starting point’ for very good reason in my analysis when I said the starting line has changed; this means ‘Game Changing,’ not ‘Game Ending.’

If anything and everything in your life is to be successful, one must understand when the starting line has moved in order to even run the race. To ignore this fact means you’re left running a race that is no longer being run.

It may feel great to read that Google is offering nothing new, and that data points are weak within other listing portals around the net and I’m sure it helps you to sleep tonight that there’s nothing to really be alarmed about- ‘it’s nothing new,’ you tell yourself. But that is an ignorant enabling of the mentality in which I’m referring to.

The era of ignorance is bliss

This is the era of ignorant bliss that we as an industry have all the time in the world so long as we just refuse to run the race.  Does this mentality work for two agents competing in the same neighborhood for the same market share?  Does it work for two competing brokerages in the same city?  No, it doesn’t.  Both run the race as hard as they can from the starting line that is visibly in front of them because it is survival of the fittest- it’s the difference between in and out of business or even a dying industry.  It is at its root core a chipping away of market share that inevitably ends with a loss to both competitors because they’re oblivious to the dedication of others who are playing the game from a completely different vantage point for the same market share.


Two guys walk into a bar, there’s only one girl to win over, they flirt and advance but get nowhere because they were arrogantly oblivious that she’s hooking up with the bartender.

My take away for MLSs, boards, and agents is really simple in that it’s time for this industry (with an “it begins with me” vision) to either get in the race or change the game- and we can do that first by acknowledging that there is a race at all.  Awareness is bliss.

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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  1. Thomas Johnson

    July 8, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Benn: I get it! Google OWNS the bar!

  2. Fred Romano

    July 9, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Excellent post Benn! I am always thinking about the future of our industry and where it’s headed.

    In order to do that, it’s important to look at realty services from the consumer’s eyes. They ultimately, decide our fate, so if we can understand their needs, then we can focus on services they want.

    If technology advances to the point that the mls is no longer useful, consumers may not need us.

  3. Benn Rosales

    July 9, 2009 at 9:14 am

    @agent21 @flatfeeddirect Thomas, you’re pretty generally always 4 steps ahead of the cursor! =]

    Fred, we all know the mls is useful, but it isn’t branded and I think it’s time to change the game. We’ve allowed others to run with the conversation for fear and or ignorance, but I’m hoping that can change.

    If those in decision making positions today are afraid of technology and change at a core level then it’s imperative they change that way of thinking or bring in a fresh voice to their conversations and allow someone else to be visionary.

    I understand that mlss have to be careful not to overshadow the local agent, but in this day and age that may not be the way to go.

    Look at you Fred! I’m off to follow you on Twitter!

  4. Michael Wurzer

    July 9, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Benn, can you be more specific about what you’re recommending? You mention branding in your last comment, can you expand on that more?

  5. Benn Rosales

    July 9, 2009 at 11:41 am

    @mwurzer Michael, it was a passing thought I thought might be worth mentioning. If Local MLS were to brand itself and actually develop high quality local search and compete more equally with 3rd parties, it would be a game changer multiplied by number of local MLSs. There are a few instances of this happening already, but not on a scale that is impressive.

    some boards recognize that in order to protect their market share in the long run, they need to actually make a statement (in some form) that demonstrates that fact.

  6. Benn Rosales

    July 9, 2009 at 11:46 am

    and btw @mwurzer in this economy at this juncture hiring talent is actually an option on the UI/dev side – probably fractional compared to 2004-05

  7. Michael Wurzer

    July 9, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I like the branding idea but I think it should be around a new brand for IDX and VOWs. NAR could benefit a lot of brokers and agents by promoting a strong brand around IDX and VOWs, which have quality data. I also agree that MLSs creating consumer-facing web sites is a strategy that’s worked for a few larger MLSs, but that model doesn’t work everywhere. In the Seattle area, for instance, I can’t imagine a consumer facing web site ever happening. Moreover, the core competencies of most MLSs are community and data, not building consumer web sites. By branding IDX and VOWs as having the highest quality data, NAR and local MLSs would be promoting their members’ businesses as opposed to competing with them.

  8. Benn Rosales

    July 9, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    You’re talking about something much more grand than needs to be, I’m talking about a local MLS looking and feeling like a major search competitor but LOCAL- we don’t need part II we need to shore up local market share in my opinion with all of the social features, technologies large players offer- not every local can do this, but most can- if we can get visionary on the local level? that would change the game. that would put one entity competing, let’s say trulia against the actual local offering where (for a change) the contacts from that search that wish to connect with the listing agent, can. Support side buyer agents kickin on the forum side, and what we’re now working with is local communities wrapped around the branded community. The jobs this would open up, and the ad revenue from local business economies would surely make it all worth while.

  9. Benn Rosales

    July 9, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Btw, you can currently connect with consumers on Trulia if the buyer wants too, I didn’t mean that, what I meant was the ability to connect and or capture would by greater.

  10. Michael Wurzer

    July 9, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Benn, if there’s one issue that’s been analyzed in depth over the last several years, it’s whether MLSs should have public web sites. I’m confident there are no bilnders on for MLSs on that topic, and there are many MLSs with web sites now and more that are building them. Those that aren’t doing it are not ignorant but most likely have received direction from their membership it isn’t wanted or have concluded the ROI didn’t justify it.

    More importantly, I’m not talking about anything grand. I’m suggesting the NAR, state and local Associations could promote local broker and agent web sites by reating an IDX and VOW brand. This is little different than the job they already do promoting the REALTOR brand. The only difference is that , this brand would be easier because it would be focused on the narrower issue of quality data on the web.

    This approach will allow for lots of innovation by competing brokers and agents while also presenting a consistent and national message to consumers about whicb of the many web sites out there today really have the best data. In addition, this approach would leverage the significant investment agents, brokers and franchises already have made in IDX and VOWs. So, in one simple initiative, competition and innovation are enhanced, current investment is leveraged, and consumers learn the truth about data quality. Can you think of a better way NAR and local associations could spend member ad dollars? Do you think such a campaign would out perform local MLSs each reinventing the wheel trying to build their own sites?

    Lastly, you mention advertising but the local MLS markets aren’t big enough (even the really big ones) to make a real advertising play and the most profitable ads will create conflicts for the cooperating brokers. T

  11. Benn Rosales

    July 9, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    ROI? Really? What is the longterm loss of revenue looking like for these local economies with 50-60 alternatives picking the meat off the local bone?

    Agents are chasing local buyers across the country on 3rd party sites including already- they’re tired of paying the cost of labor 3xs over and sometimes more to get back what was already theirs to begin with.

    We agree to disagree on this point, a national mls is not the answer, we had that when we had From the local level agents can serve up the complete listing from the source- locally.

    If they don’t understand the long term value of creating a local venue that demonstrates a value in today’s terms, I simply submit this post for their consumption- they’re not ignorant, what is ignorant is telling them that there is no worry when we’re out here working 10xs harder for the same dollar with our own listings.

    On your last item, I’d pay money to my local mls that out shined before I’d pay to feature my listing 🙂

  12. Michael Wurzer

    July 9, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    You’re misunderstanding me. I’m not suggesting a national MLS in any way. I’m suggesting a national brand for a product all MLSs already provide to their members: IDX and VOW data. That data aggregation, along with the cooperation necessary to create it (which is what is missing by the national portals), is one of the core values provided by the local MLS, and it should be branded and explained to consumers so they can know when they find an agent or broker’s IDX or VOW site, they have the goods.

    This approach doesn’t exclude an MLS spending money on building their own consumer web site, but I believe MLSs and Associations would see a far better return by promoting existing IDX and VOWs than building their own sites. Paying for featured listings is never going to be a successful approach in a cooperative model like the MLS, which is why you don’t see featured listings on any of the current MLS web sites.

  13. Michael Wurzer

    July 9, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Also, the cost of data distribution can be reduced by syndication, which most MLSs are already pursuing is well and is another program that could benefit from a branding campaign for the MLS data.

  14. Matt Stigliano

    July 9, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Benn – Exactly why I made my recent move. I asked myself, “Sit here with the status quo or go somewhere with agents and a broker who question, learn, and experiment with new things.” The answer was easy. Last night I sent Sheila (my broker) a link to Google Voice and said “sign up for an invite, I’ll explain later, but I have a great idea for this.” This morning? She was signed up. She knew if I thought there was something there, she should react. That to me is facing the facts that there’s a race going on. She’s been an agent for quite some time, her dad was an agent…she’s old school in terms of where she started, but she steps forward everyday. For me, that provides the opportunity for my own growth as well as to be a part of a group of agents that are willing to embrace change rather than stand still and watch it all pass by.

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Opinion Editorials

4 ways to stand out against the competition in today’s job market

(EDITORIAL) Are you trying to figure out how you can stand out to recruiters and hiring managers in this job market? Look no further than these 4 steps.



Woman doing a job search on laptop in the hot job market.

Are you trying to figure out how you can stand out to recruiters and hiring managers in this job market?

Recruiters often have aggressive hiring goals and are sorting through many resumes to discover the hidden gems that will help organizations achieve their business transformation and growth goals. If you have had a non-traditional education or career path, or have a resume gap due to a layoff, being a caregiver, or any of a multitude of other reasons, it’s important that you know how to share your story in a way that will empower recruiters to advocate on your behalf in this job market.

When I’ve mentored diverse job seekers through the years, these are the four key steps I recommend they follow:

  1. Develop your personal brand

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If so, when is the last time you audited it? Is it telling the story of who you are now and where you want to go?

It’s important to make the most of the eight (8) seconds that recruiters are spending on your profile. Because, on average, and as lazy as ‘we’ recruiters sound, unless in that time we can tell what you do, who you are, etc., we might not keep reading on.

  1. Tell your story

You have probably heard the phrase “elevator pitch,” but did you know this doesn’t just apply to businesses? As a job seeker, you need to know your story and how it aligns with the roles you are looking to get hired for. If you were to record yourself and tell YOU how great YOU are, would you hire you? If not, remember what value and experience you bring (no matter how seemingly small), your story is you and some of the best stories can be told badly, and some of the most challenging stories can become the most inspirational. Only you have the power to decide what you want your story to be.

  1. Build your network

Your network is your net worth. The more contacts you have, the more chances you create, and the single hardest part of the journey is just to start. Have you built a network in the job market that has the type of job you want? If not, how do you? First, go and find hiring managers. Start by searching on Linkedin, use “job title” and “hiring” in the search bar. Then connect with the people who have posted that they are hiring, sending them a message about your interest, and/or asking them for help (industry tips, thought leaders to follow, who else is hiring). People are generally very open and friendly, and in this landscape, they will be willing to either hire or connect you with someone else. If they don’t, is that someone you would want to be connected with anyway?

  1. Focus on your goals, your “why”

The most important thing! Focus on your WHY. No matter what, job searching can be one of the most challenging things in the world! So don’t just focus on the results, because you will get a job; focus on why you are doing this. Remember you are going through a journey and that you will have a good day, and you will have a bad day, and the best advice I can give (which I repeat to myself ALL the time!) is this… “You either WIN or you LEARN.” Make sure you remind yourself of this and remember WHY you are doing this because the why will keep you going and the experience is something you should embrace, no matter what.

Job seeking can often be all about the numbers and let the saying “Your network is your net worth” be inspirational to build your personal brand and grow your network daily. You will be amazed to see the kinds of opportunities that the network will open for you!

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Opinion Editorials

Finances in my 20s: What I wish I knew then that I know now

(EDITORIAL) They say money makes the world go round. So, let’s discuss how to be smart with finances before it’s too late.




Being in my early twenties, something I’m still getting used to is the fact that I’m making my own money. This is not to be confused with the babysitting money I was making 10 years ago. Twice a month is the same routine: I get my paycheck and think, “Wooo! We goin’ out tonight!” but then I snap back to reality and think about what that money needs to be put towards. The smallest part of it going towards fun. It’s been tricky to really start learning the ins and outs of finances. So, I do what I usually do in any type of learning process? I ask for advice. I used to be fixated on asking those more advanced in age than I what they wish they knew when they were my age. Now that I’m determined to learn about finances, that question has been altered.

I reached out to a few professionals I know and trust and they gave me solid feedback to keep in mind about building my finances, about what they wish they had known in their 20s. However, I don’t think this only applies to those just starting out, and may be helpful for all of us.

“It’s important to simply know the value of money,” says human resource expert, Nicole Clark. “I think once you start earning your own money and are responsible for your housing, food, etc. you realize how valuable money is and how important it is to budget appropriately and make sure you’re watching your spending.”

Law firm executive director, Michael John, agrees with Clark’s sentiments. “I wish I had kept the value of saving in mind when I was younger,” explains John. “But, still remembering to balance savings while rewarding yourself and enjoying what your efforts produce.”

There are so many aspects of finance to keep in mind – saving, investing, budgeting, retirement plans, and so on and so forth.

In addition to suggesting to spend less than you make and to pay off your credit card in full each month, Kentucky-based attorney, Christopher Groeschen, explained the importance of a 401k.

“Every employee in America should be contributing everything they can into a 401k every year, up to the current $18,000 maximum per person,” suggests Groeschen.

“401ks present an opportunity for young investors to 1) learn about investing and 2) enter the market through a relatively low-risk vehicle (depending on your allocations),” he observes.

“An additional benefit is that 401ks also allow employees to earn FREE MONEY through employer matches,” he continues. “At the very least, every employee should contribute the amount necessary to earn the employer match (usually up to 4%) otherwise, you are giving up the opportunity to earn FREE MONEY. Earning FREE MONEY from your employer that is TAX FREE is much more important than having an extra Starbucks latte every day.”

Whether we like it or not, money is a core aspect of our daily lives. It should never be the most important thing, but we cannot deny that it is, in fact, an important thing. It’s tricky to learn, but investing in my future has become a priority.

This editorial was first published in May 2018.

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Opinion Editorials

Dopamine detox to rewire your brain from internet addiction (it’s common!)

(EDITORIAL) So, you’re addicted to the internet. Whether your drug of choice is scrolling, posting, or interacting – it’s time for a dopamine detox.



Upside down photo of man holding iphone case saying "social media seriously harms your mental health" representing dopamine.

Ah, smartphones. The best friend we can carry around in our pockets. This small device that’s nearly glued to our hands gives us instant access to many worlds.

It’s exciting to see what’s up on Instagram, take up to six stabs at Wordle, and scroll recipes you’ll never make on Pinterest. It’s also a place where we can share the highlights of our life and, in return, get validation through likes.

With that validation comes a small rush of dopamine, something we’ve all become accustomed – and some of us addicted – to.

While I’m not addicted to posting, I would say I have an addiction to scrolling. I can’t make it through a 50-minute episode of “Dexter” without picking up my phone to check an app or two.

And there is that dopamine rush with it, where you feel like you’re the most up-to-date you’ve ever been. But what about when this becomes too much and we’re overloaded with information and feel bogged down by the constant updates?

First, we need to understand what dopamine is.

It’s a neurotransmitter that works in two spots in the brain: first, its production helps us begin movement and speech. Second, we feel it when we receive or expect a reward. It even creates a kind of “high” similar to what’s found in nicotine and cocaine.

So, if we expect these dopamine hits from social media and we don’t get those results, the dopamine crashes to the ground creating burnout.

Well, this can cause burnout. And, while tempting, the solution isn’t as easy as just deleting all of your social media and walking away clean. Additionally, “take a break” features are too easy to swipe away.

So what can you do?

Mana Ionescu at Lightspan Digital recommends a Dopamine Detox.

While breaking an addiction takes longer than a day, Ionescu recommends starting there and tailoring it to your needs.

Here is what she describes is necessary for a detox:

  1. Turn off all notifications on your phone. ALL of them. You will be looking at your phone every 10 minutes as it is. You won’t miss anything. We lose endless hours of productivity because of those pings.
  2. Tell people to call you if it’s urgent. And teach them the difference between urgent and important. So do keep call notifications on.
  3. Stop over-messaging. The more you message, the more you’ll get responses.
  4. Shed the pressure to respond right away to messages that don’t need a response right away.
  5. Take detox days. Nothing but calls, confirming meetings, and using the GPS is allowed on those days.
  6. Put your phone on sleep mode at night. You can, at least on iPhone, set permissions so that certain phone numbers can get through, in case you’re worried about mom.
  7. If you’re dating, remember that texting is for laughing, flirting, and confirming plans. Please pick up the phone and talk to that person to get to know them. I will not take you seriously if you just keep texting.
  8. And yes, we all know the game, whoever looks at their phone first over dinner picks up the bill.

This won’t be easy, but your brain will likely thank you in the long run. And, when you’re back online, hit up the comments and let us know how the detox went!

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