What's next for real estate brands? Ask Joel Burslem

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Joel Burslem

Joel Burslem

Since he launched the Future of Real Estate Marketing blog in 2006, Joel Burslem has been prognosticating about the intersection of technology and real estate.

Now, as a member of the 1000watt team, he works to find opportunities for his clients to leverage technology and changing tech and consumer trends.

We asked Joel via email to share where he sees the industry going in 2016 and what technology and trends brokers need to pay attention to in order to thrive in the coming year.

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What’s next for real estate brands? Where do they have to go to remain or create value and relevance?

I think the next big thing for brokers and brands is that they are going to turn their attention inwards. So much of their time over the last few years has been consumed reacting to external factors — responding to a rapidly changing consumer landscape and navigating tricky relationships with the portals — that I think the needs of the agents, both from technology and culture side, could now use some more focus.

The smart companies are investing heavily in this right now. They need to get their story straight and their services lined up to serve their agents at a higher standard.

What’s the one piece of technology brokers and franchises should be focused on right now?

I’ve kind of come full circle on this. I believe it’s still their website. Apps are useful tools and clearly a preferred means of working for many, but they are also expensive and come with a ton of overhead — in training and support, for example. If you can shoulder that burden — I totally believe it’s worth the investment.

But a brand website is still a place where brokers can have a meaningful, immediate impact — both in telling their story more clearly to consumers and also in motivating and inspiring their agents.

What’s the thing on the top of your clients’ minds as we head into 2016?

I think the whole IDX and syndication debate — particularly in the context of Upstream and the ongoing tension with the portals — is going to come to the forefront for brokers in 2016.

It’s not about pulling the plug all together, but re-establishing a balance that I think has been lost over the last few years.

For our technology clients — I think it’s going to be more of the same; I don’t see radical innovation on the horizon but rather a steady iteration of their products, message and marketing.

What’s next for the mobile Web and broker digital marketing?

Contextual relevance. Websites today still, in 2015, assume every user is the same — when clearly, they’re not.

Most real estate websites show no awareness at all of the user’s environment, where they came from and where they might be going.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean by contextual relevance: With the Partners Trust website that we recently launched, we commissioned both daytime and nighttime photography for the homepage and then worked with their vendor to show the correct image depending on the time of day. It’s a subtle thing but shows that the website is “responsive” in more ways than just reacting to screen dimensions.

There’s so much more we could be doing here.

What’s the one thing you wish the industry would focus on in 2016 (but maybe it won’t)?

I think with the new AppleTV, we’re seeing the emergence of a new playing field for real estate — the re-emergence of the first screen as a legitimate marketing platform for properties. There’s a wide world of opportunity to establish a beachhead onto connected screens in millions of living rooms or in real estate offices around the country.

Email Morgan Brown.