The Word of the Day
Innovation! The word is ubiquitous. This week, at the Luxury Real Estate conference I attended in Beverly Hills, innovation and technology were the topics of the keynote address and many of the networking conversations around the floor. And several of my online real estate sources – Bisnow, Inman, and the like – press on me continuously the need to innovate. Have I adopted the latest walking, talking CRM feature? Do I have the app which will both submit and negotiate offers for me? I understand that real estate, both residential and commercial, is late to adapt to the technology revolution which has streamlined so many other marketplaces. I am no technophobe. I love the ways in which our markets function more seamlessly today. But do I want to be replaced by a program? No – and I don’t think I can be.
The buzzwords VC funders love – words like “dis-intermediate” and “disruptive” – focus on technologies which alter, and frequently discard, past methodologies for doing business. In the real estate industry, at least to date, most of these technologies have failed, especially at higher price points. While I can easily imagine a day when small rental transactions are managed soup to nuts via an app, the same cannot be said for a home purchase in the multiple millions. Those deals generally require a human touch.
Real estate brokerages have been disrupted by technology, but perhaps not in the way innovators imagined. In an age of ubiquitous and easy access to information, we as agents need to redefine our relationship to the transaction. Many agents have learned the words “value added” but I sometimes wonder if we all know exactly what that means. Here are some of the many ways in which we add value to a transaction.
- Local Expertise. We know in a way Google Maps does not which streets are congested, which blocks are safer, where the best shopping and sushi can be found. We are neighborhood guides.
- Inside Track Financing. We have relationships which can get our clients the best rate in the shortest time frame. If you need that commitment letter in two weeks, we can help fast track it.
- Product Knowledge. We know the good buildings, the good architects, the good maintenance histories. We can steer a buyer towards value in ways unrepresentative by price alone.
- Negotiating Prowess. Few buyers or sellers, regardless of their level of expertise, negotiate skillfully on their own behalf. We bring both experience and sang-froid to the process, assuring our client the best outcome with the least stress.
- Board Package Experience. We know like no one else the requirements and personalities of different co-op Boards and how most effectively to roll out our client advocacy to address specific issues. Each Board package requires the precision planning of a military campaign, complete with considerations of timing, money, social relationships, philanthropies, and special factors.
- Facilitation. With our extensive transactional experience, we agents tend to know the client pain points in each deal. It’s our job to make those points as painless as possible and to interface between the various parties to assure a smooth experience.
There is no app for what a good real estate agent can do to achieve both peace of mind and deal optimization for our clients and customers. Human interaction is the most consistently adaptive and innovative technology out there.