When you are in it you don’t really feel it, but times change. Industries change and people change too.
I’ve been a realtor now for almost a decade and I’m always going on about how the real estate industry is in a major need of a disruption, a change in other words. But it has changed and most of those changes are for the better.
I’ve had lots of jobs in my working career. Some were brief and some not, but none I had as long as I’ve been a licensed real estate agent.
Technology is the source of most changes in most businesses currently. It has been changing how we do things, making them more comfortable, more efficient and more transparent.
I don’t spend much time hosting or attending open houses anymore. I usually do just one when the listing is brand new and then one or maybe two more if the listing hasn’t sold in the first 30 or 40 days. I do them to get feedback from the general public and to prove to the home seller that I am doing everything I can to sell their house.
Open houses are becoming less and less effective. They are outdated, inefficient and will eventually become extinct. There are many obvious reasons for this:
1) The internet.
Whereas in the old days, open houses were often the first chance potential home buyers had to view properties, now the first showing is online. That’s efficient.
Cases of robbery, kidnapping and murder are enough cause for good-looking, young, female agents to be wary. I’m not a good-looking, young, female agent, but why take the chance.
Most first-time homebuyers have grown up with technology. They want answers and they want them now. They aren’t going to waste their weekend driving around to a dozen open houses.
4) Home sellers.
Statistics show that yard signs and open houses lead to fewer than 10% of home sales. And, most of those would have happened irregardless of the yard signs and the open houses. Just like balloons on used car lots, they are simply not needed to sell houses. They are superfluous.
Facebook and advertising
I don’t spend much time on facebook anymore, just a quick check in the morning. That’s it. I guess my feeling about facebook is that the rest of the internet caught up with it.
I noticed when I was on the other day that one of my former real estate colleagues was advertising there, on facebook. So I clicked on the ad and it took me to his real estate facebook page – one that he hadn’t updated for six months. What a waste.
What a waste of his money and our time.
Of course he is the same guy that put QR codes on all of his magazine advertising, QR codes that did not lead to information about the houses he was selling, but instead lead back to his boring and never updated website.
I don’t spend anytime in the office anymore. In fact, my brokerage is in Toronto and I work exclusively out of my home office in UpTown Waterloo.
I don’t feel isolated or disengaged. I get emails, phone calls and/or texts everyday from several different departments in the office. I make it a point to go in every 3 or 4 months just to show my face. We have bi-weekly online meetings with the other remote realtors.
This works for me and should for most realtors because:
1) Realtors don’t collaborate.
We are independent contractors who hang our licenses at brokerages, nothing more. The brokerage provides us with back office support. Other realtors, even if they are “on our team”, are our competitors.
2) Increased productivity
I used to say that my job was a series of interruptions. An office environment is like that. You never know when you might get called into a meeting, receive a phone call, or have a potential client walk in the front door. The office environment is also too social with colleagues hanging around, killing time, waiting for a client to arrive, a fax (yes a fax) to come in, or some other time wasting activity to kill your day.
3) Wrong model
When I first became a real estate agent, I was still in the 9 to 5 mode of thinking. I would almost always be the first to the office and I treated real estate as an office job. “Structure”, I thought, “is what most realtors lack and lack of structure might be the reason for the high failure rate within the industry.”
But then I noticed that the most successful agents only came to the office to file paperwork and pick up their commission cheques. The realtors hanging around the office were bunch of newbies like me.
Real estate is the kind of job that you have to be available when your clients need you. It does not make sense to spend time in the office when you can be more comfortable and productive at home or in your favourite coffee shop. Why be in when you can be out and about?
It also means that you can spend time with your family or do household chores and take a much needed nap if so the need arises.
5) Stress relief
I have a standing desk and a treadmill. I have some dumbbells and a yoga mat. I can exercise and work at the same time.
I try to drink eight glasses of water a day and walk 8000 steps.
I am much healthier since I gave up the office life. I am mellow and stress free, like a chicken raised on a boneless chicken ranch.
6) Time saving
I don’t commute. That saves time.
It also saves energy.