The topic of real estate not being a relationship business has come up twice now in the past week — in the comments on Ines’ post about social objects and it was also the subject of Chris Smith’s post on Inman Next (and Rob Hahn’s rebuttal). I wanted to address it here in more detail since it’s a topic I feel strongly about.
Before we dive into this topic, the thing we all must absolutely understand is that it takes all types to make the world go round. Boy, would the world be a simple place from a sales perspective (though very boring overall) if everyone wanted exactly the same thing. But they don’t.
Some people want a friendly, meet in the morning for coffee, relationship with their agent. Some want to be BFF’s. And some want absolutely nothing to do with their agent beyond a smooth & quick transaction.
All mindsets, and everything in between, are out there and need to be served by someone. As many comments on Chris’ post alluded to, whether or not real estate is a relationship business comes down to your personal definition of what constitutes a “relationship.” However, regardless of what that definition does or does not include, there is a “relationship” between client and agent. As an agent, it’s up to you to figure out how to market to the specific type of client you relate to best — and blow away their expectations with the best experience or maximum profit/savings possible.
Use of Social Media to Build Business
One excerpt from Chris’ post that stood out to me was this:
When I leave the doctors office I certainly don’t expect to have him join me for a latte and follow me on Twitter.
Chris is right.
5 years from now?
Not so much. My hunch is doctors WILL be doing exactly that (at least the Twitter part) within a few years. At least the ones who understand the notion that they (largely) gain clients by attracting referrals and understand that if they remain top of mind with their clients on social media, those clients will be more likely to recommend their services to their own networks. Obviously there is a bit more to it, but it’s a fairly simple strategy of relationship building (just one of many).
Make no mistake about it — the real estate industry is ahead of the game when it comes to social media. Most industries were not blogging at all in 2006. I’d say, with the exception of the tech industry, real estate is leading the charge into the social media realm.
Because it IS a relationship business (which makes social media a natural fit since it’s built upon the notion of human-to-human interactions) and the margins are high per client (meaning there is a strong incentive to find new clients anyway possible).
My Personal Opinion
As a Gen Y, I ABSOLUTELY will want a friendly and deep relationship with my real estate agent whenever I end up being ready to buy property. As Matt Dollinger mentioned in his comment on Rob’s post, in addition to being a major financial transaction, a real estate transaction is also one of the most personal decisions you can make; it is influenced by just about every aspect of your life. In order for an agent to make the best possible decisions during the buying/selling process, they need to know just about everything about their client.
Maybe it’s just me, but I ‘m not comfortable telling just anyone exactly how much money I make, how much I have invested, what my debt is, where my best friends live, what exact bars I frequent regularly etc. I need to trust someone before they will ever get that information out of me. I lead a fairly public life, so maybe my hesitancy to share everything surprises you — but trust is absolutely the most critical component to deciding whom I work with. You may be the best darn lawyer or banker in the entire United States. But if I question your ethics or otherwise don’t trust you? I’m not going to work with you — even if I think you may save/make me money. Life is about more than money. It’s about people.
Where do you stand?