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Opinion Editorials

Technology as the new rat race – looking busy, 2011 style

If technology were a car engine…

First off, don’t let the title fool you into thinking that when it comes to high tech, that I have a clue — for the most part I don’t. I’ve admitted for years that I’m President for Life of Techtards Anonymous. Truth be told though, I’m rowin’ in a pretty big boat on that count. Most of us don’t understand the various technology we use in our every day work, any more than we can rebuild our cars’ engines. Either the software/hardware does what we got it to do, or it doesn’t — right? Right.

In the experience of the majority in the real estate business the attitude about software is that it either falls woefully short of promised results, or fails miserably. And before the techies get their panties in a bunch, we all realize sometimes it’s operator error. But really guys, the real life results of software designed for Realtor use has generally been, um, less than impressive.

Most of the CRMs out there are laughable, especially when the user actually, you know, is a producing agent. Then there’s the love affair with IDX, which has for the most part, failed epically for the vast majority adopting it as a lead generator.

Oh, did I use the most overused, under delivering phrase in the industry? Yep, that’d be ‘lead generation’. What a crock. Most so-called lead generation ‘services’ succeed in generating business leads for themselves and not much more. Ouch. It’s been a racket since the first Realtor bought a desktop computer. Yet, relying on Barnum’s axiom as worked well for those bankin’ on real estate agents’ penchant for dodging anything approaching real work.

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The high tech rat race

Discount the exceptions to the rule, who’re pilin’ up impressive bank using IDX. As a percentage of the agent population whole, they’re barely measurable. Techies don’t like guys like me sayin’ that out loud, mostly cuz they’re aware, painfully so, of its validity.

For generating real estate business, unless you’re talkin’ about blogging, social media is the most oversold, overrated, underperforming tool for Realtors since, well IDX. Back in the day, when I first reported to a real estate office, ink still dryin’ on my license back in 10/69, shuffling 3X5 cards was how you fooled yourself (and those watching) into thinkin’ you were working. Now it’s social media.

Meanwhile, the agents really closing escrows are doin’ things resulting in them finding themselves belly to belly with someone who might tell them to go to hell. But, hey, your FB wall was tagged so it’s all good. Somehow that’ll lead to tons of new biz, right? Tell me — how’s that been workin’ out for ya lately? Big ouch.

Next month will mark my 42nd anniversary of being licensed. I continue to do what I do cuz I’m addicted. Otherwise I’d be crazy. In all those years, all those economies, all the ‘sea changes’ that have come and gone? Not much has changed, people. Technology has served only to allow brokers/agents to screw up more quickly and, in some cases more epically. Am I anti-high tech? No way.

I’ve embraced it…

…to the extent it produces measurable results. The CRM I use is, in my humble opinion, the best there is, and there’s no #2 I’ve seen. I blog. My company’s website has an IDX so my family and local buds can use it at their will. Sure, I have plans in the near future to make use of ‘coming new IDX breakthroughs’, but will believe the results when I see my banker’s smile. No offense to my good friends who’re designing these changes, but the next IDX that produces to a greater extent than 5% of it’s users will be the first. Another ouch.

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My Suggestions

1. Hi tech should only be viewed as a tool, period. It’s marketed the same way toothpaste is, as sexy, but stop believin’ ’em. Most software Realtors buy simply falls treacherously short.

2. There are only two questions to ask about any, pardon the expression, high tech ‘solution’ you’re considering.

A) Will it directly or indirectly help me get in front of more folks who might tell me to go to hell?

B) Will it save me time, enabling me to do more of ‘A’?

Of course, the best answer is that it’ll do both.

What makes a survivor?

We’ve just gone through another periodic and painful cleansing of real estate agents/brokers. If you’re still puttin’ yourself in the arena every day, ask yourself the common denominator attached to the full time survivors. Could it be that they’re workin’ hard? Could it be they understand it’s the agent in the mirror producing the results and not the latest social media magic, or software sprinkled with magic dust?

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When it all boils down, those who consistently produce bankable results are those who put their bellies in front of other bellies who might tell them to go to hell. Then again, they might ask ’em where to sign. It’s all about being in the arena yourself. In the end, that buyer or seller is lookin’ you in the eye, cuz you’re the one into which they’re putting their trust.

Written By

Jeff Brown specializes in real estate investment for retirement, has practiced real estate for over 40 years and is a veteran of over 200 tax deferred exchanges, many multi-state. Brown is a second generation broker and works daily with the third generation. With CCIM training and decades of hands on experience, Brown's expertise is highly sought after, some of which he shares on his real estate investing blog.



  1. Richard

    September 19, 2011 at 5:39 am

    You're on point. With all the technology there is today, nothing out there beats the return on your investment than face to face. Everything else serves as validation (most of the time not required) after face to face.

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