As a brokerage executive, it’s your job to know everything about your business: consumers, agents, listings, the market. This intelligence is the life-blood that enables your organization to drive more transactions, recruit more effectively and improve your strategic position.
So let’s test this: How many active listings does your brokerage have today?
You probably answered this supply-side question with precision, maybe to the exact number. At the very least, you know exactly where to look in your system.
Then how about: How many active buyer clients does your brokerage have today?
This demand-side question is a lot harder to answer. You’d be ahead of the curve if you had any guess — most brokerage executives resort to back-of-the-envelope math, or simply estimate. Worse, most brokerages don’t have the ability, or data, to even make an educated guess.
Why is this? Why don’t brokerage executives have information on half of the supply-demand equation? And why does this matter?
Stop throwing away your data!
At the root of this challenge is something we call the Brokerage Data Black Hole. Specifically, this hole exists between the time a consumer connects with your agent (lead-gen), and when a consumer starts the closing process (transaction management). When agents work with clients day in and day out — searching for homes or listing a property — the broker loses sight of what their consumers do online.
This occurs because consumers often choose to, or are encouraged to use, an online platform their agent and broker doesn’t control. Take home search, for example. Even when consumers are locked-in with an agent, they’re searching for homes on public portal sites or on the MLS, and communication with their agents happens exclusively on email or mobile — platforms brokerages have no visibility into.
By allowing this Black Hole to persist, brokerages are throwing away valuable data that belongs to them. At a minimum, this information is lost; at worst, it’s collected by third-parties who leverage it for their own purposes.
Missing data = massive opportunity
The tragedy and opportunity of this missing data is its immense value to brokerages and agents. It is, quite literally, a real-time view into homebuyer demand and listing performance.
This data can provide critical advantages to brokers and their agents:
Listing agents can use demand data to craft real-time data-driven listing presentations fueled by unique insights around a market’s trends and buyer demand, and facilitate a scientific approach to pricing not available without this data. After listing a property, listing performance data can foster productive conversations with sellers not only about pricing and marketing adjustments, but also the listing agent’s performance.
This data also benefits buyer agents as it helps their buyers better understand the market with accurate, real-time data, which gives them an edge when making offers and increases the likelihood they win the home they want. This data also helps agents prioritize their marketing work-flow by enabling them to narrow their focus on the most engaged, high-value leads.
For brokerages, the benefit of demand data is perhaps most transformative. By understanding both supply and demand in real-time, brokerages can proactively match buyer and seller agents and use their unique access to buyers as a differentiator in recruiting. Demand-side data gives brokers the ability to utilize the power of their book-of-business like never before.
The cost of inaction
The Broker Data Black Hole reality creates an urgency for brokerages. Every day that consumers use third-party platforms — which keeps valuable demand-side data out of brokerages’ hands — brokers lose a critical competitive advantage. The earlier and more comprehensively brokers protect their data, the more value they can extract from it.
This missing demand-side data is a massive opportunity cost for brokerages and a missed opportunity at increasing their value proposition, which is an increasingly high price to pay as they face increasing pressure from disintermediating technologies and alternative brokerages.
Consumers demand experiences that work best for them, and agents need the data those experiences generate. Brokers must take control of both the experience and resulting data to thrive in real estate’s competitive digital age.
From black hole to strategic differentiator
Some companies have started to take back control of their data. Several national brands have announced multi-million dollar initiatives to revamp their technology offerings, which include in-house tools to engage consumers and manage their data.
When building an expensive system is not an option, look for broker-controlled software solutions that enable your agents to work closely with consumers and collect relevant data that’s easy for your agents to use and gives them a leg up on the competition. You’ll also want to choose a solution that has a stellar track-record of agent and consumer adoption, because the value of the resulting data is directly proportional to how many agents and consumers use it.
Ultimately, solving the Broker Data Black Hole dilemma comes down to brokers taking control of their own data and empowering their agents and consumers with it. It’s the first step in building a healthy future for real estate, where data and technology dramatically increase the value of brokerages and their agents, not diminish it.
2017 is the year of the broker. The ball is in the broker’s court — it’s time to take control.
RealScout provides technology that enables brokerages to benefit from their buyer data from lead-gen to close. With RealScout, they can capture buyer attention, collect buyer data and close more deals, more profitably. The firm’s listing alert and home search experiences ensure buyers remain on a platform brokerages control, preventing the leakage of valuable buyer data.