Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Real estate technologies’ messaging misses the mark

By examining the messaging put forth by two real estate technology companies, it is easy to see how they have lost focus as they’ve gotten bigger.

Published

on

real estate technology

real estate technology
[row][span2][/span2][span10]

Real estate products have lost focus

There is certainly not a shortage of inspirational messages fed to the consumer by real estate product companies about how they can attain the house of their dreams, and it appears that even product companies that directly market to brokers and agents are losing their focus.

As a company gets bigger, so do their numbers and targets, so relying solely on agents and brokers as their primary source of revenue becomes a lot less viable. As I watch this unfold, I have some reservation about those that are hedging and straddling both camps and think we don’t notice.

This has become increasingly clear as a variety of companies have begun making clear direct-to-consumer plays in subtle, albeit obvious ways. While I might be accused of being a little sensitive to the messaging in the following campaigns, I do know that some lights went off when I saw both, and I’m curious to see if I’m not the only one.

“A better way of buying and selling real estate”

Dotloop recently launched a video titled “A better way of buying and selling real estate” where they catalogue the journey of a young woman as she goes about her day from a simple transaction at a coffee house, to purchasing a haircut at her local salon, and then to her apartment, where she seamlessly picks up packages from the concierge in her building through a highly technology-enabled solution.

When she finally arrives at her apartment, we hear her voice for the first time as she calls her real estate agent to inquire about submitting an offer on a property that she has been coveting (all from the comfort of her couch). During her phone conversation, we sense she is becoming more and more frustrated with her agent as he is indicating that she needs to physically come to the office to complete the paperwork on the purchase offer. She insists in a dramatic tone – “there has got to be a better way” and the shot fades to the agent sitting behind a desk full of stacks of paperwork. Not a bad premise overall, and you’re probably thinking “what’s the deal?”

As a broker, that message did not inspire action in me. It reminded me of the antiquated way of doing business that hasn’t happened in MY office for years. And so instead of being motivated to do something innovative, new, or useful after watching this video, I left with a bad taste in my mouth about how agents haven’t significantly progressed from the days of MLS books, faxes, and stacks of paperwork on a desk. And why was it so dark in that office anyway? The only similarity I could find was that the agent probably had the same flask of whiskey in his desk that I have in mine.

So instead of being inspired by how this “agent focused” product could make my life better, I was uninspired, demotivated, and definitely not running to my computer to press “go” on Dotloop.

[pl_video type=”youtube” id=”zatoSRAsT3s”]

“Know the status of that for sale sign on the lawn”

Realtor.com just released an update to their mobile app where most listings are updated every 15 minutes. AGBeat reported, “If you are searching for a home, you don’t want to fall in love only to find out that home was sold months ago.” Clearly this was a dig by Realtor.com operator Move Inc. at their competitors, Zillow and Trulia who have been widely criticized for their overall data accuracy. I thought this was a brave action by Move (and it was the statement that caught my attention in the first place).

As the article continues, Move goes on to state that “Sometimes the listing data is more accurate than real life” and by using the app as a consumer “you can now figure out what the latest status is on that For Sale sign on the lawn.”

Their information is more accurate than that of broker yard signs? Listing information is updated in real time by brokers and agents who make decisions with sellers about what they are going to do with the listing status before even changing it in the MLS, so how could Realtor.com possibly have more accurate information? Additionally, any licensed user of the MLS has real-time access to the MLS, which is absolutely the most accurate source of property information advertised by brokers. The assertion by Move is misleading.

Again, I think this is a case where a company like Move is torn. Clearly they are faced with an interesting conundrum, though it feels like they took a shot at their customers’ (Realtors’) business practices (how we use yard signs and market property) in exchange for goodwill among home shoppers. Now I’m not saying that yard signs are always kept in line with current property status, let alone kept in good shape – but Move had already taken a jab at its competitors’ accuracy issues, what purpose did it serve to take a stab at their own customers?

Where do we go from here?

The moral of this story? I am a player in this housing system these products are supposedly trying to fix (and market to), so inspire me to use what could be great products rather than distract me with generalizations about people in my line of work. Use the messaging in your marketing to show me how my role evolves as the process evolves. Show me something I could not see for myself, given how close I am to this work. Don’t show me an old version of myself and my peers – show us something new and better.

Industries (and even us, as people) evolve when we highlight what people are doing that is right, not what people are doing that is wrong. Show me what’s possible, and I’ll show you someone who will make it happen.[/span10][/row]

Greg is the principal owner of Fischer Real Estate Services, a Fort Worth firm specializing in customer value and community enrichment. He's also an MBA at TCU, and a proud member of the Naval Reserves. In his spare time - he sleeps.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. JoeLoomer

    February 12, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Kinda agree with you there, Greg. Dotloop is missing a very big opportunity for a hilarious parody of the green industry here with their paperless solutions.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Mike Kehoe

    February 12, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Nice story. Good insight. Small detail. It is feasible that the information on the app is more accurate than the yard sign. Information is changed in the MLS, updated by Realtor.com, the yard sign guy at best is on his way to remove the sign. Calling the brokerage would obviously negate the advantage. Not a big deal, but probably the loophole that Realtor.com was using to make their point.

    • Greg Fischer

      February 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks @facebook-1355431723:disqus – the issue regarding the yard sign information is interesting to me. Brokers have different language on their signs, and no regulation (at least in my state) to reflect a status of the listing using signage. We are required to update statuses in the MLS for co-operating brokers information, but must also be cognizant of representing our sellers best interest by continuing to market the property (or whatever the listing agreement says) until the transaction actually closes.

  3. Jeff Bernheisel

    February 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    1 word: Royalties. 🙂

    • Greg Fischer

      February 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      @facebook-588995212:disqus contact the editor. Their selection 🙂

  4. rolandestrada

    February 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    I used to fall for almost every new service that came down the pike. I have become more techno proficient . So now when I see new “productivity” services come out, I mostly roll my eyes even if the presentation is slick. Usually once I dig into the service offered I realize it’s something I already have covered or can do myself for free.

    • Greg Fischer

      February 14, 2013 at 1:37 am

      Roland, I actually happen to be very interested in all RE tech, including the companies mentioned in this post. What I wanted to explore further was whether the marketing messages resonated or not

  5. rolandestrada

    February 13, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    I like your website. Squarespace? No IDX?

    • Greg Fischer

      February 14, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Hi Roland. Thanks for reading. Site is WordPress build on Genesis. No IDX

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

Online dating is evolving and maybe networking will too

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has the online dating industry been disrupted during the pandemic? And can we apply a few pointers from this evolved model to networking?

Published

on

Woman networking through Zoom video call with two other women.

We are often reminded that hindsight is 20/20 – a proverb that means “it is easy to understand something after it has already happened”, and how ironic that is since we are in the year 2020 and not sure we can fully comprehend all we are learning and what hindsight this will bring.

Reflecting back to six months ago, there were many of us that didn’t have much of a clue about what the rest of 2020 would look like and how we would have to adjust to a more virtual world. We’ve updated our ways of working, connecting with colleagues, socializing with friends, networking with those in our industry, or looking for a new job.

Microsoft suggested that we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in about five months. For example: MS Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet have become the new way to host networking sessions, work meetings, and “chats” with colleagues; Tele-med appointments became the norm for routine or non-911 emergency doctor appointments; curbside pickup at grocery stores and food to-go orders via online ordering became the new normal (they existed before but saw tremendous growth in number of users).

We also had to learn how to create engaging and interactive ways to connect solely through a screen. We are already Zoom fatigued and wondering how online meetings have zapped our energy so differently than in person. It turns out, looking at ourselves and trying to talk to a group is a lot for our brains to process.

The Atlantic shares a great article about why the Zoom social life might feel so draining, saying that “Attempting to translate your old social habits to Zoom or FaceTime is like going vegetarian and proceeding to glumly eat a diet of just tofurkey”. No offense to vegetarians, of course.

You could argue though, that we’ve all been interacting via screens for years with the dominance of social media channels – whether it was posting our thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter, or sharing photos and videos of our artisanal sandwiches/cute kid/pet pictures on Facebook. But this seems different. Times are different and we will not be going back soon.

In this interim, many people are trying to make the best of the situation and are figuring out ways to connect. We will always need human connection (and without the germs, even better).

What about our single friends? If they don’t have anyone in the house to already drive them crazy, then where can they go to meet new people and/or possibly love interests?

While many experts are trying to predict the outcomes of this global shift, it may be hard to know what will change permanently. We know many industries are experiencing major disruptions – online dating apps being one of them.

According to Digital Trends, Tinder still ranks as one of the top dating apps. However, now that people are sheltering in place and/or social distancing, there’s a new app taking over as a way to “meet” someone a little faster, while also allowing you to stay behind the screen, sans mask.

Slide is a video dating app that changes your first-date frustrations into real connections and instant chemistry. Explore video profiles, go on first dates via Video Calls at your fingertips, and find that chemistry before dating IRL.”

So, while Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge play quarantine catch-up, Slide is stealing their market share.

How? With video.

Slide recognized the massive success of short-form video platforms like TikTok, and have translated it to dating. They focus on features like:

  • “Vibe Check”, which gives you the option to video chat immediately after matching with someone to see if there’s chemistry. This will save you from long or misinterpreted text conversations and money you may have spent on that first date.
  • A video-first approach that lets you see the real people behind the profiles so you can pass if they aren’t really who they say they are.
  • AI-assisted creation of “future bae” profiles that help suggest your best matches and spare you extra swipes. If Netflix can find similar suggestions…

As of August 2020, the Department of Labor and Statistics estimates about 13.6 million people are currently unemployed and searching for a new j-o-b. Is it possible that some of these newer ways of connecting online could be included in how we network for a new job/career opportunity?

For example, instead of sending a connection or networking request on LinkedIn, what if we could send a quick video about our story, or what we’d love to learn from that person, or how we’d like to connect?

Would that create a faster, better, possibly more genuine connection?

This would seem worth exploring as many job connections are created by in-person networking or reaching real people vs. solely online applications, behind a screen. Some other formats that have seen increased use are Marco Polo for video chats (you don’t have to both be available at the same time) and FaceTime group calls.

It might be worth exploring how short-form video platforms could assist job seekers in networking, outreach, and connecting with others. These are just some ideas as we continue to watch this digital transformation unfold.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen overnight

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Minimalism doesn’t have to mean throwing out everything this instant – you can get similar benefits from starting on smaller spaces.

Published

on

Minimal desk with laptop, cup, books, and plant.

Minimalism. This trend has reared its head in many forms, from Instagram-worthy shots of near empty homes to Marie Kondo making a splash on Netflix with Tidying Up with Marie Kondo in 2019. If you’re anything like me, the concept of minimalism is tempting, but the execution seems out of reach. Paring down a closet to fit into a single basket or getting rid of beloved objects can sometimes seem too difficult, and I get it! Luckily, minimalism doesn’t have to be quite so extreme.

#1. Digitally

Not ready to purge your home yet? That’s fine! Start on your digital devices. Chances are, there are plenty of easy ways to clean up the storage space on your computer or phone. When it comes to low stakes minimalism, try clearing out your email inbox or deleting apps you no longer use. It’ll increase your storage space and make upkeep much more manageable on a daily basis.

It’s also worth taking a look through your photos. With our phones so readily available, plenty of us have pictures that we don’t really need. Clearing out the excess and subpar pictures will also have the added bonus of making your good pictures easily accessible!

Now, if this task seems more daunting, consider starting by simply deleting duplicate photos. You know the ones, where someone snaps a dozen pics of the same group pose? Pick your favorite (whittle it down if you have to) and delete the rest! It’s an easy way to get started with minimizing your digital photo collection.

#2. Slowly

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen all at once. If you’re hesitant about taking the plunge, try dipping your toe in the water first. There’s no shame in taking your time with this process. For instance, rather than immediately emptying your wardrobe, start small by just removing articles of clothing that are not wearable anymore. Things that are damaged, for instance, or just don’t fit.

Another way to start slow is to set a number. Take a look at your bookshelf and resolve to get rid of just two books. This way, you can hold yourself accountable for minimizing while not pushing too far. Besides, chances are, you do have two books on your shelf that are just collecting dust.

Finally, it’s also possible to take things slow by doing them over time. Observe your closet over the course of six months, for instance, to see if there are articles of clothing that remain unworn. Keep an eye on your kitchen supplies to get a feel for what you’re using and what you’re not. Sure, that egg separator you got for your wedding looks useful, but if you haven’t picked it up, it probably has to go.

#3. Somewhat

Sometimes, minimalism is pitched as all or nothing (pun intended), but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because I want to purge my closet doesn’t mean I’m beholden to purging my kitchen too. And that’s okay!

Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything that needs to be reduced, just pick one aspect of your life to declutter. Clear out your wardrobe and hang onto your books. Cut down on decorations but keep your clothes. Maybe even minimize a few aspects of your life while holding onto one or two.

Or, don’t go too extreme in any direction and work to cut down on the stuff in your life in general. Minimizing doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything – it can mean simply stepping back. For instance, you can minimize just by avoiding buying more things. Or maybe you set a maximum number of clothes you want, which means purchasing a new shirt might mean getting rid of an old one.

The point is, there are plenty of ways to start on the minimalist lifestyle without pushing yourself too far outside your comfort zone. So, what are you waiting for? Try decluttering your life soon!

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Your goals are more complicated than generalized platitudes, and that’s okay

(OPINION / EDITORIALS) When the tough times get going, “one size fits all” advice just won’t cut it. Your goals are more specific than the cookie cutter platitudes.

Published

on

Split paths in the forest like goals - general advice just doesn't fit.

‘Saw.’ – “Vulgar, uneducated wisdom based in superstition”, according to the good volunteer compilers at Wikipedia. See also: ‘aphorism’, ‘platitude’, and ‘entrepreneurial advice’. I’m not saying there’s no good advice for anyone anymore, that’s plain not true. SMART Goals are still relevant, there’s a plethora of cheaper, freeer, more easily accessible tutorials online, and consensus in April-ville is that Made to Stick is STILL a very helpful book.

But when I hear the same ‘pat on the head’ kind of counsel that I got as a kid presented by a serious institution and/or someone intending on being taken seriously by someone who isn’t their grade school-aged nephew, I roll my eyes. A lot.

“Each failure is an opportunity!” “Never give up!” “It’s not how many times you fall!”, yeah, okay, that’s all lovely. And it IS all very true. My issue is… These sunshiney saws? They’re not very specific. And just like a newspaper horoscope, they’re not meant to be (not that I’ll stop reading them).

Example: You’ve been jiggling the rabbit ears of your SEO for months, to no avail. No one’s visiting your site, there’ve been no calls, and the angel investor cash is starting to dip closer to falling from heaven with each passing day.

Does ‘don’t give up’ mean that you use your last bit of cash to take on an expert?

Or does ‘don’t give up’ mean that you go back to R&D and find out that no one actually WANTED your corncob scented perfume to begin with; algorithm tweaking and Demeter Fragrances be damned?

This is the thing about both your goals you make and the guidance you take—they have to be specific. I’m not saying your parents can put a sock in it or anything. I’m thrilled that I’m part of a family that’ll tell me to keep on keeping on. But as far as serious, practical input goes… One size fits all just leaves too much room for interpretation.

When you’re stuck, behind, or otherwise at odds with your growth, are you asking the right questions? Are you sure of what the problem actually is? Do you know whether it’s time to give up a failure of a business and ‘keep pushing’ in the sense of starting another one, or whether you’ve got a good thing on hand that needs you to ‘never say die’ in the sense of giving it more tweaking and time?

No one should have stagnant goals. A pool of gross sitting water is only attractive to mosquitoes and mold. ‘I wanna be rich’ as your business’s raison d’être is a setup for a story about the horrors of literal-minded genies, not an intention you can actually move upon. But that doesn’t mean you need to go hard the other way and get lost in a nebulous fog of easily-published aphorisms.

To be fair, it’s not as if saying ‘Ask the right questions’ is exponentially more helpful than your average feel-good refreshment article, since… This editorial column doesn’t know you or what pies you have your fingers in. But if I can at least steer you away from always running towards the overly general and into an attempt at narrowing down what your real problems are, I’ll consider this a job well done.

Save saws for building community tables.

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!