Pacific Union CEO Mark McLaughlin is used to seeing some of his top agents approached by other brokerages. In a bid to give his agents a competitive edge, the CEO and his chief technology advisor, Alexander Paine, are aiming to equip agents with more detailed information about buyers in their markets so they can compete more effectively for listings in low-inventory markets.

  • Pacific Union is using new real-time demographic technology to enable its agents to better compete for listings.
  • The company's "Best Buyer" report enables agents to show sellers which types of people are most likely to buy their property given recent market activity.
  • The initiative also includes a C-suite product, which gives the broker useful demographic information to help with forecasts.
  • The data helps agents stage the home best for the likely buyer.

Pacific Union CEO Mark McLaughlin is used to seeing some of his top real estate agents approached by other brokerages.

The expansive tech-led company, Compass — currently recruiting for a base in San Francisco — is one of the more persistent ones at the moment.

“Our people, real estate professionals and leadership team, are approached daily by competitors, including Compass,” said McLaughlin. “My role is to ensure Pacific Union provides not only the most compelling platform to work from but also the most engaging culture for people to thrive in this competitive yet cooperative industry.”

In a bid to give his agents a competitive edge, the CEO and his chief technology advisor, Alexander Paine, have recently teamed up with Chris Foley, chair of Bay Area tech company Totomic, whose insight engine matches people to properties in real time.

The collective aim has been to equip agents with more detailed information about buyers in their markets so they can compete more effectively for listings in low-inventory markets.

Finding the ‘Best Buyer’

Seven weeks ago, the Bay Area brokerage began rolling out a predictive analytic product targeted to identify the “Best Buyer” for any given home based on demographic categories as defined by Axiom’s Personicx.

Pacific Union agents are now able to target their marketing and advertising to specific segments — such as the “Corporate Connected,” well-traveled executives in their 40s to 60s who are savvy investors and in smaller households, or the “Established Elite,” the 45-plus demographic that often includes those in managerial positions or entrepreneurs with high disposable incomes.

As well as the “Best Buyer” report helping agents with buyer information for their listing presentations and marketing, the initiative has a C-suite product that will help top management — such as McLaughlin — monitor shifts in demographics and which segments are growing in certain areas, for instance.

While the predictive analytic product may be close to what an agent’s gut feel is, “it adds science to a business that has been all art,” McLaughlin said.

Targeted marketing + staging

As well as helping agents target their marketing, the data will tell agents how best to stage the home, said Paine.

Rather than putting PC equipment in a house when on the market, the analytics may say the likely homebuyer will get turned off by that — that they are Mac people, he said.

It may advise against staging a room as a fourth bedroom, but rather setting it up as a home gym, he said.

“It’s very, very specific information about how to market,” said Paine.

“The agent can say to the homeseller: ‘Because I know who your consumers are empirically, I will be able to do a much better job, sell the home faster, create more leads and sell it for more money,'” he added.

Automating targeted campaigns

A visit to Facebook is scheduled this week to speed up the process. McLaughlin said the “holy grail” will be automating the advertising purchase of digital media based on the demographic categories.

“Our marketing team has specified targeted campaigns for each demographic sector. At present, we are executing this manually. Our visit this week with Facebook will focus on automating the process to not only focus the spending but increase the velocity of execution,” said McLaughlin.

“We want to use a ‘buy advertising’ button that buys against these categories — it will ‘Uber-proof’ the process,” he said.

Response from agents

The response from Pacific Union agents has been very positive since the tool has been put on their desktops, said Paine.

“The ‘Best Buyer’ report has had fast adoption — which to me says, one, it’s easy to use, and two, agents are seeing it has real value.”

In each office, a staff person has been trained to create the report — the agent puts in seller information on the property, and the “Best Buyer” report can be finished in five minutes.

Tammra Borrall and Sheela Hodes

Tammra Borrall and Sheela Hodes

“We are more excited about this tool then any other tool that been rolled out to us — it’s so unique,” said Tammra Borrall, who is on a Pacific Union and Christie’s International real estate team in Santa Rosa with Sheela Hodes. “Everybody has a listing presentation, but I really think this is a standout.”

“We’ve worked in our area for 10 years; we know from experience the buyer profile might be parents of school-age children, or they are retiring and want the single-level home and have a lot of disposable income, but we know it anecdotally. The ‘Best Buyer’ report really gives us hard data and breaks down the segments much more completely than we would be able to.

“Instead of a one-size-fits-all, it gives us a tailored approach to staging,” she added. It is very concrete and actionable, she said.

While Borrall agreed the facts and figures of the report will appeal a lot to millennials, they also appeal to her executive-level clients.

“It really speaks to them,” she said.

It will help with staging, too, for the “Corporate Connected” segment, for instance, she said.

“It might not be essential to put away things like your iPhone charging station because internet connectivity is important to them,” she said.

For this tech-savvy segment, it’s about highlighting all the new monitoring systems — being able to turn on a heater or lock their home remotely.

McLaughlin also sees the tools helping his recruiting as Pacific Union expands in the Bay Area — Santa Clara county is his next focus.

“It’s a bit of a game changer,” said the CEO.

Pacific Union was last week recognized in Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for a growth rate of over 100 percent. It ranked number 3,285 on the list, with $185.9 million in 2015 revenue.

The luxury real estate brokerage was first named to the Inc. 5000 list in 2013 and has appeared every year since.

Email Gill South.

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