The “Redpin” spoof that ignited real estate’s blogosphere last week hit my inbox a couple days before Inman posted it. It was sent from someone heavily invested in protecting full-service real estate. She referred to it as a “great” commentary and a must-see video.
Maybe I’m jaded, having actually been in show business, but I’m not convinced making fun of consumers is such a “great” idea.
I’m not going to wade into the “traditional” versus “discount” debate here. I will say, for the record, that I have always and will always use a “full-service” Realtor. What I pay for that service is a private matter.
Beam me up, Scotty
Glenn Kelman may be out in left field. The media may be over the foul line in its bias against “traditional” real estate. Make no mistake, a Realtor’s value is being questioned like never before.
But while these phenomena may not be positive or justified or helpful, they also didn’t materialize out of thin air. They are reflections of something very real out there that we should respect: the needs and opinions of the consumer.
So my problem with the “Redpin” video is the same as my problem with the recent Century 21 ad that tells me what a computer can’t do. They’re arguing with the customer when they should be listening, respecting what they hear and complying.
Phasers on Stun
The industry doth protest too much. If Redfin, et al, are as flawed as real estate critics claim, they’re doomed anyway, right? So why draw phasers each time one of these companies gets airtime?
All the top professionals I know haven’t wasted a second obsessing on discounters, the spoof or “60 Minutes,” a show that is about as low in the ratings as it gets. The reason is that they’re too busy making money and delighting customers all ding dong day to bother.
Likewise, the research from CAR and NAR indicates that despite the misgivings many consumers have about Realtor compensation, when push comes to shove, the vast majority still use one — and end up glad they did.
So why all the fuss? Maybe it’s because for every one Rob Levy, (my amazing agent), there are 10,000 other agents who are undertrained, undereducated and generally lacking in the experience and knowledge I and most other consumers feel obliged to pay 6 percent for. They get a license, join a full-service brokerage, and are let loose on the public feeling entitled to a commission that equates them to a seasoned pro. From a consumer’s point of view, it’s like being operated on by a physician’s assistant and getting billed at the surgeon’s price. The consumer feels the industry, which brands itself as consumer-centric should live up to its message.
As long as there are so many in this business who fail to live up to Allan Dalton’s vision of the expert Realtor, pot shots are going to be taken. If the industry continues to react to these challenges from a place of weakness, not confidence, with spoofs rather than compassion, it will keep chasing phantoms. It will keep trying to rhetorically airbrush those least worthy of the REALTOR name. And it will keep telling its customer they’ve got it all wrong.
The level of hurt this brings to the industry is far worse than one discount shop from the Northwest can ever do.
What to do? Get more aggressive on licensing standards. CAR has taken the lead, but this needs to be a nationwide agenda. Now.
Get consumers into your boardroom. Dig deep into what they like and don’t like about your business. Stop arguing and start listening.
Tell a new story. Real estate needs to reinvent itself. There’s a reason that a large majority of consumers were happy with their Realtors, according to the most recent CAR study. Mine the positive, ditch the negative.
Develop the prototype perfect agent. Require anyone working for your company to live up to that standard. If they can’t, remove them. Your brand will die a slow death if the majority of your firm’s agents aren’t what your brand says they are.
No more trashing discounters. End the war. Now. The fighting spills over into the marketplace.
No more demonizing Internet sites consumers find useful.
This is just me. One guy with a voice who cares enough about the industry to tell it like it is. Tell me what you’d add to this list. I’ll share it with the community. Just don’t send me a spoof.
Marc Davison is a founding partner of 1000watt Consulting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.