From Brian’s most recent post at 1000Watt:

This week I sat in a conference room with a bunch of really smart people who showed me a future without online real estate leads.

It was a transcendent experience.

The “online lead” has been dangled over the head of the real estate industry like a talisman since the early 2000s. It has held us in its thrall even as we saw its falsehood : 2% conversion rates, scattershot lead forms, the brutal verbs – capture, route, drip, close.

The modern lead is the product of an online real estate world based on IDX, listing portals and Google Adwords. It feeds people who fill out forms on listing pages or landing pages to buy-side agents who then mostly don’t respond.

Maybe these responding agents don’t suck.

Maybe the customer acquisition paradigm they’ve been sold for the past 15 years sucks.

The paradigm is showing signs of strain. Would Zillow be forced to hire “first responders” to jump on inquiries from its site and apps on behalf of agent advertisers if they were generating something other than what we have become resigned to accept as a lead? Would all the portals be hustling to generate seller inquiries if buyer leads were a big, sustainable business?

I was not in that same conference room as Brian, but it’s a topic I’ve been thinking about as well. On a long enough timeline, the consumer always wins when it comes to consumer technology.

What does the consumer want? Definitely NOT the current slate of lead forms they face today.

Who is going to give them what they want, on their terms?

That’s the question. (here’s a related idea to ponder)

But I am increasingly impressed by the idea that the future belongs to agents who leverage technology to farm their own clients and keep them forever. A small group of companies are forming around this paradigm.

Me, too. That’s good old fashioned community building; the best play in the playbook, but also the hardest. The best things in life are never easy.