Editor’s note: You can comment on this perspective at the blog post on the Inman News Blog. Just go to today’s entry, “Bring back the gold coats,” on the Inman blog and click on the comments link just below the entry.

I remember when real estate was colorful and even a little nutty.

That era symbolically ended in 1996 when Century 21 CEO Robert Pitman abolished the gold coats that every C21 agent wore for more than 30 years.

Editor’s note: You can comment on this perspective at the blog post on the Inman News Blog. Just go to today’s entry, “Bring back the gold coats,” on the Inman blog and click on the comments link just below the entry.

I remember when real estate was colorful and even a little nutty.

That era symbolically ended in 1996 when Century 21 CEO Robert Pitman abolished the gold coats that every C21 agent wore for more than 30 years. The big shot New Yorker media exec left the franchise soon after, but the gold coats were gone for good.

Brand police overwhelmed the industry, and its personality was washed out.

For the last decade, industry trade groups and national franchises became obsessed with the “professionalism” of the industry. Ironically, they did not raise the professional standards of Realtors, such as supporting higher licensing requirements or lobbying for stiffer penalties for wayward agents. Instead they worked around the edges, teaching sameness and a standard look and feel. And they ran mounds of advertising, bragging about how professional the industry is.

What was lost in this strategy? Individuality, originality and authenticity were trumped by looking and acting professional.

Being colorful is not considered professional. Too bad, particularly today with the Internet. It is a raucous medium where getting down and dirty with local color works. That is why blogs are so popular – they are real, not fake, and they are not about looking good, only about having fun and telling the truth.

Consider Internet search giant Google, which puts corny holiday animation on its home page and is always a tad off beat. It reminds me of old-fashioned Realtor marketing.

Or check out blogs like Curbed.com or Brownstoner.com, where snarky is the norm. Their entertaining approach to real estate draws tens of thousands of returning readers who love the quirky voice of these two blogs. They do not pay for their traffic – the fun content pulls people back.

The old real estate industry was known for its lively texture — it engaged and had fun.

Realtors need to put the gold jackets back on, show off pictures of their dogs and kids, sport off-the-wall cars and mix it up a little more. And they should blog with abandon, putting their funny faces, clever tricks and market insight out there on the Web.

The old Realtor ways would work well on the Internet today, where the mood is more daring, more honest and much more local. The monotone national brands — the sameness trend — does not play with the Internet.

So get with it, go back to being Pollyannaish and get a little snarky.

Snarky Definition: (adjective) describes a witty mannerism, personality, or behavior that is a combination of sarcasm and cynicism. Usually accepted as a complimentary term. Snarky is sometimes mistaken for a snotty or arrogant attitude.

Editor’s note: You can comment on this perspective at the blog post on the Inman News Blog. Just go to today’s entry, “Bring back the gold coats,” on the Inman blog and click on the comments link just below the entry.

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