Real estate practitioners and photographers know you can’t Photoshop out the brown grass or ugly power lines in a listing’s photos. There’s major liability if you misrepresent the property you’re trying to sell. You already know that. But what about artificially adding in elements?
Clients often stage homes to give it that ready to move in feel. Staging gives potential buyers a chance to visualize what can fit into a space and at some price points is expected. The rise of virtual staging software and augmented reality apps speak to the power of staging. Professional staging.
However, virtual staging is best left to buyers to pursue on their own. Virtual staging in images of an actual home for sale is a big no-no. Surely no one would really use faked photos for a professional listing though, right?
Think again. We invite you to soak up this unintentionally hilarious listing in Massachusetts, featuring fake staging, ambitious proportions, and impossible furniture angles.
While the home looks perfectly normal and real from the outside, treat yourself to a journey of the interior:
Behold, a rug to make even non-OCD folks cringe. The other pieces are pretty convincing, and they would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling rug angle.
While the virtual additions may be well-intentioned, this visual trickery makes it difficult to tell what’s truly included in the house. Is that built-in cabinet really there, or is it more Photoshop magic?
The kitchen seems pretty harmless in terms of fakery, but honestly it’s a little hard to tell what’s included or how physics works properly. You have to squint a bit to discover that you’ll need to install your own pot and pan rack (and 10 pound wheel of cheese), setting false expectations for buyers.
If a buyer falls in love with an element that was artificially added, a real life tour could lead to heartbreak (not to mention legalities around what conveys).
You’re not doing future homeowners any favors by faking the inside. Staging gives potential buyers a chance to visualize what can fit into a space. Digitally displaying furniture at wonky angles and haphazard proportions doesn’t give an accurate depiction of the home.
This example may be eye-wateringly laughable, but fudging details about the home you’re trying to sell has serious negative implications. Even if adding elements is meant to be helpful, it is dishonest. Especially when it’s done this poorly.
Include real pictures, and let potential buyers play around with augmented reality and digital design. Providing dimensions of rooms would be more helpful than ‘shopping in fake furniture.
Editing photos for better lighting is okay, but removing or adding elements reduces the integrity of your listing. Avoid a world of headache and potential litigation by accurately representing the property. If you can’t legally edit items out of listing photos, can you legally edit items into them?
Why real estate brokerages are NOT startups
(REAL ESTATE) Brokerages are popping up nationwide that are sleek and modern, and also misinformed as they call themselves startups. Let’s talk about the technical definition.
Businesses that are just starting out often refer to themselves as startups (which is inappropriate given that startups are funded differently, scale differently, and have completely different KPIs). Take real estate brokerages, for example. An increasing number call themselves startups, but when you look at the definition of a startup, can you really call yourself one?
Small businesses and startups have very different definitions (and there’s no shame in being a small business or an “innovative brokerage”). Let’s discuss.
1. Startups have a different goal altogether.
Typically, startups are about growth. They’re designed from day one to scale extremely quickly. Small businesses are often limited by a target market or geographic location. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they aren’t scalable the same way an international software brand is. Think about scaling in terms of a beauty salon versus MatchCo, an app that uses technology to create a foundation just for you. A franchise does not a startup make.
2. Startups generally seek outside funding to accelerate growth.
Startup founders often give up equity shares to generate funds before becoming profitable. Small businesses are typically self-funded, bootstrapped into profitability, and owned by one or a select few. A small business venture is typically less risky than a startup, too. The idea behind a small business venture is profit, and you want the business to last. Startups are structured to be sold or acquired once it hits critical mass – a “startup” is temporary.
3. Startups disrupt the industry.
Think about these companies – AirBnB, Google, Dropbox, Facebook, even Apple, a long time ago. In their early days, they were startups. It was risky to invest in these companies as they were trying something new (not iterating on something like the real estate practice which is one of the oldest professions in America), but they have outshone their competitors. They disrupted the marketplace. That’s what a startup does. And it doesn’t always work. Sonitus Medical attempted to disrupt the hearing aid market. They raised almost $90 million in funding before the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services decided the product wouldn’t be covered. The company held an auction and closed its doors. Brokerages have experimented with paying salaries, going paperless, or having all agents working remotely – these are all fabulous innovations and iterations, not disruptions.
We’ve been on the forefront for over a decade of ushering in the era of indie brokerages, paperless real estate brands, and counter-culture companies, but brokerages are simply not startups, and this is not up for debate. Iteration is not innovation.
Don’t call yourself something you’re not – be an “innovative broker” and rock it, because you’re not a temporary company seeking to scale so rapidly that you’re acquired for your indisputable disruption.
And finally, don’t fall for real estate brokerages pitching themselves as “startups” when they’re misinformed and really mean they’re simply, and beautifully “modern.”
Google’s secret formula for the perfect team (that you should emulate)
(BROKERAGE NEWS) Google is famous for building high quality teams that change how technology works, so let’s talk about what they do well so you can emulate them.
Google is infamous for having highly functional work teams, and for being a great company to work for. What accounts for the success of Google’s teams?
It’s relatively easy to discern the effectiveness of an individual employee. It’s a bit more challenging to figure out how to study what makes a group thrive or fail – but Google has done it.
A few years back, they released the results of an internal two-year study of their own teams.
Google conducted 200 interviews, and analyzed 180 of its teams using a list of 250 attributes in order to see what characteristics are most important in making teams successful.
The results show that the attributes of individuals on the team are less important than how they work together. The single most important factor in determining a group’s success turned out to be something called “psychological safety.”
In teams with a high degree of psychological safety, members are unafraid to take risks, and are unembarrassed to ask questions and make mistakes.
In other words, people can be vulnerable with one another without fearing negative reactions.
Said Google, “Individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave Google, they’re more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they’re rated as effective twice as often by executives.”
Other factors that made a big difference were dependability (team members can rely on one another), structure and clarity (the goals, roles, and plans of the group are clear), meaning (the goals are important to the individuals on the team), and impact (the team members believe that what they are doing is important).
Factors like how much the team members have in common and their experience and education levels were much less important than one might think.
In a nutshell, great teams aren’t as much about great people as they are about great teamwork.
The best ways to handle stressful clients
(BROKERAGE NEWS) Moving can make even your calmest clients nightmare wackadoos. Here’s how to manage them.
Three researchers have published an interesting study on how customer service can be improved by recognizing a customer’s stress level before a connection with your business is made.
For example, a customer can often be anxious over using a particular service, i.e., a funeral home or a lawyer in connection with a divorce. By learning more about how your clients feel when they call your business, you can better manage the customer experience. This offers your business a more effective customer base of referrals and repeat business.
The researchers identified the following steps to manage stressed-out customers:
1. Find out how your customers are feeling when they need your service.
One reason so many breast cancer facilities are free-standing, away from the main hospital complex, is because women voiced their ideas to the healthcare team designing the facilities. Women wanted coordinated care under one roof, but felt like the hospital was not a calming environment. Use your empathy to walk in your customer’s shoes to change the experience.
2. Hire not only for skill, but attitude and personality.
Employees who love their job can’t be trained. The passion and enthusiasm, even for a high-stress career like a cancer nurse or funeral director, cannot be taught. Look to bring on team members who have empathy for your customers and understand that business is all about customer service. It’s far easier to teach someone the skills needed for a job than it is to teach them to be motivated to work.
3. Study your approach to the customer’s journey.
How does your business interact with the client? From the first link online or phone call, to the payment options, what is the customer’s experience? Address the high-stress interactions by providing information about your services. For example, when calling to view a listing, what can your customer expect?
4. Give the customer more control over the service.
Dealing with a mechanic who tells you that your engine is shot is highly stressful. Instead, learn to be more specific and talk to the customer in a language that can be understood by someone without technical knowledge. Make sure your customer has one point-of-contact throughout their experience. Have a plan B in place for when that individual is sick or goes on vacation. Empower your customers through today’s technology, maybe an app that tracks the sale. There’s no excuse today for poor customer service and information.
I would highly recommend that every real estate professional read the research from Harvard Business Review. Leonard L. Berry, Scott W. Davis, and Jody Wilmet packed so much information into their report that there’s no way I could cover it all here.
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