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Real Estate Technology… A Historical Contradiction in Terms

With nothing blaring in the news today about real estate, I’ve decided to jump on my soap box and talk about something that I’m quite passionate about.  From my earliest days in the business world, I’ve been fascinated with the use of information technology to achieve competitive advantage.  In fact, I probably owe this fascination with technology to the brilliant Michael Porter of Harvard’s business school and author of numerous books on the subject.  I began reading his books when I was Director of AT&T’s Executive Briefing Centers back in the late 1980s, when the business implications of networks were just becoming understood.  My responsibility was to craft and deliver technology briefings in terms that Fortune 500 senior execs could understand.

Fast-forward to today, and that passion still resides within.  Today, networks are spreading ubiquitously and have changed the way we live.  My latest read is Jump Point by Tom Hayes.  In this book, Hayes discusses how “network culture” is revolutionizing business due to the proliferation of networks.  Succinctly, we are rapidly approaching the 3 billionth person attaching to the internet worldwide.  Traditional market boundaries have been broken down, how people evaluate products/services has radically changed, and how companies reach out to consumers is undergoing a radical transformation.  With about 100 million people signing up for Face Book in the last 9 mos, we have become a networked culture.  These aren’t just “kids” signing up, they are adults like you and me. And, the fastest growing segment is women aged 55-65 years of age!

Real estate has always been way behind the tech curve, and once again it finds itself there.  The industry has tried to desperately protect its “listings” with proprietary MLS systems that are confined to certain geographic areas.  It has fought technology, rather than embrace it.  Very few agents understand technology, therefore the overwhelming majority of them still do business and “market” their listings via traditional media.  This isn’t an indictment of these agents, simply a statement of fact.  Listings automatically appear on the internet by virtue of  “feeds” from the MLS.  That hardly qualifies as “marketing”, given the vast jungle that constitutes the internet, and the rapid changes in how consumers find and evaluate information — including real estate!  As an example, real estate searches on traditional real estate websites, such as Realtor.com are in significant decline, while consumer real estate searches on search engines like Google are rapidly increasing.

In order to reach consumers who are now relying on the “new media” of social networking, and making search engines their primary portal for their real estate search, requires a sophisticated understanding of network technology, social media, & search engine optimization.  I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy stuff, and I’m fortunate to have a pretty deep understanding of it.  With that said, I easily spent 6+ hours this weekend doing the tech work necessary to launch a new listing of ours and get it optimized for maximum consumer recognition in the world of “new media”:

  • Check out the search engine optimized new property site for our new Reliez Valley home listing in Lafayette, CA. (Just click on the “Reliez Valley Home” link.)  Be sure and visit the professionally crafted video production of the listing and the additional links to the Lafayette CA City Guide Video and the Lafayette Reliez Valley Video.
  • In fact, if you search for “Reliez Valley Homes” on Google, you’ll likely find the YouTube videos for our new listing and the overall Reliez Valley video!
  • Video is now the richest form of consumer information and YouTube has become the second largest search engine site in the world, second only to Google!

I can’t give out all of the secrets, but weaving all of the piece parts of this technology together is very complicated and takes hours of work, even when you know what you are doing.  Fortunately, my wireless coverage extended to the outdoors this weekend, and I still got to enjoy the sunshine.


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