We like to read about the future, especially the future of the real estate industry. There is no shortage of opinions on the subject, but most days the future seems far from reality.
I try not to let the shiny objects distract me from the seemingly endless amount of hard work that it takes to make a buck or two selling real estate.
According to experts, in the future my business will come from such sources as Google Plus and social searches.
In the present, having a real estate blog works much better. I had four appointments last week, and all of them were with blog readers.
Instead of writing to other agents, for years I have been writing to consumers. I have accumulated thousands of posts that in the future will hopefully be found through social search and can be found today via search engines.
In the future, I will need a lot more video on my blog to compete. In the present, my still photos are like magic, yet I keep experimenting with my video camera because I really do believe it is the future. And even with my photographic skills I will need a lot more practice with the video camera.
The easy way out, of course, is just to turn the camera on myself and talk, rather than creating videos that show off real estate.
In the present, I know for sure that having a for-sale sign in front of my listings, with my phone number on it, gives me a killer advantage. This may not be true in all markets, but it is in mine. I have a sign rider with my name and cell phone number on it, and I actually answer when someone calls.
Maybe in the future I will need a better system, but right now buyers are blown away when they call and I answer or quickly return their call. In the Midwest, we call that "customer service."
Brochures in the brochure box are very important and have been a source of business for years. I put a QR code (short for "quick response" — a form of bar code that can be scanned with a smartphone) on the flier just in case someone wants to use their phone to get more information from my website.
On average, if a home is on the market for six months the QR code brings three visitors to the property page. I would have thought it would be half as many, but I will continue to use the QR code because it will be a big deal in the future. And when I explain to my sellers what a QR code is, it makes me look smart.
I have met with buyers who have brought file folders along with them that were full of fliers that they got out of the brochure boxes in front of homes for sale. I feel sorry for the agents who have decided the humble paper flier is too low-tech, and that it is too much work to keep the flier box full.
In the future, buyers are going to be using mobile apps like crazy. I am seeing some evidence of this trend now.
I am introducing some buyers — who have the right smartphones — to some mobile apps now, and showing them how to use the apps. In the future, we will use a lot more augmented reality, which overlays digital information on a mobile device’s camera view of the world around you, but in the present all I need to do is explain what augmented reality is.
In the future, I will need to be younger so that I can relate better to first-time homebuyers. In the present, the young first-time homebuyers appreciate my experience and wisdom and want to work with me because of it.
In the present, I work with a mix of clients, including older and wealthier move-up buyers, sellers and second-home buyers. They don’t care how smart my phone is, and some of them have cash to spend now.
I am happy to work with them in the present, and I anticipate working with more of them in the future.
In the future, no one will be using print advertising to sell real estate. In the present, there are still newspapers, and with so few agents a newspaper ad really stands out. I have been running an ad in a small neighborhood newspaper and I am the only agent advertising in it.
It wasn’t until I discontinued the advertisement for a few months that I realized in the present that the business I am getting in one neighborhood is coming to me through a single newspaper ad.
I am excited about the future. I read about it, keep abreast of new developments, and plan for it.
But I need to live and work in the present, and I watch today’s trends. There is money to be made right now, and I don’t want to miss out because I am thinking about the future.
I need to stay grounded and focused to make money in today’s market so that I am still in business when the future arrives.