My e-mail is filled with spam from vendors trying to sell me products or services for my real estate business that will make me rich. They often include testimonials from agents who use the product or service and are now rich.
The real estate companies are almost as bad. The notes come through about the training classes, often on how to use a product or service that will make us rich yet I don’t see my peers taking the classes and becoming rich. The agents who were successful before they took the classes are still successful, and the agents who were not doing so well don’t suddenly become superstars.
When it comes to marketing and technology I am not seeing any new products or services that wow me, or that I even want to try. I keep seeing the same kind of get-rich-quick advertising. I might be missing some good products because I can’t get past the spam that contains a lot of red and yellow and looks like it was designed by Ronald McDonald, or the fact that salespeople find me on the Internet and "cold call" while I am in my car.
I get an invite from a vendor that tells me that I need its new Web site to grow my business. Someone is making money from the sites but it isn’t the agents who are providing all the free content or the listings. Do we need more Web sites that have some of the listings on them for the entire country? Where is my white paper? Is there a study I can read on how consumers feel about navigating a zillion Web sites to find a local listing or local Realtor?
Vendors sell their ideas to real estate companies that in turn recommend them to us. There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. The top coaches in our industry are influenced by vendors, especially when it comes to technology, and they go out and teach agents how to use products that are cumbersome and expensive and that create more problems than they solve.
The agents who can’t sell real estate are told it is because they are not using "XYZ" product or they are not using it correctly. There is no evidence that several of the highly touted real estate technology products increase sales or actually help us sell homes. Yet we buy them.
There are products and services we could use. Like an easier way to put one listing on a zillion Web sites. Or better yet, take our listings down from those sites that confuse consumers but that we are forced to use "because they exist and someone may find them."
Less complex client and transaction management software for those of us who don’t "drip" or create mass mailing campaigns would be nice.
It should be a lean, mean, inexpensive and easy-to-use client and transaction management system that can be synchronized with our handheld devices. I dumped my high-end, high-maintenance client management system and went back to MS Outlook. I have not seen any negative impact on my business and have one less bill to pay each month.
It would be nice to have more products that use RSS (really simple syndication) to distribute information. Just a heads up: E-mail for business is doomed. People are forced to use spam blockers, making it increasingly difficult to communicate with people who want the communication. It isn’t good enough to have some of the listings available via RSS — I want them all. I want the ability to set up searches and send my clients an RSS link as an alternative to e-mail, and my clients should have the ability to set it up themselves with the greatest of ease.
Every agent should have a GPS (global positioning system) device. No one talks about that, and there isn’t any special software for Realtors. I would love to be able to load my destinations into my GPS directly from the MLS. I can get both GPS and MLS on my phone — maybe that is where the two applications could be synchronized. Why not? My GPS saves time and gasoline and gives me more time to delete my spam e-mail from vendors.
I am tired of being sold to, cold-called, spammed and even preached to. It would be nice to be listened to. Don’t tell me what to use — ask me what I need.
But not while I am in my car.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog. Boardman will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. Register today.
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