I was listening to a chat between James Bell of LinkLearn and Kevin Turner of Real Estate Talk & Property TV. They discussed the topic of the complacent real estate agent, the one that hasn't realised the change in process and new industry players beside them. They are operating like they always have and their complacency has blinded them.
This got me thinking about the entire property industry and how as a collective, the industry is becoming complacent, even arrogant. In New York City at the Inman Connect conference, I spoke with a few leading franchise groups, it was interesting to hear their view on the changes that are impacting the industry. Statements like "it's not a problem" and "we have nothing to worry about", really took me by surprise. Not all I spoke with had that mindset, but I must say, an unusually high number were not worried or concerned.
This either means that they either have the right winning strategy or are so blind & complacent that they do not see it coming.
I really do hope it is the first option, but in all honesty, I feel it is the second option, complacency. The property industry has become accustomed to threats and lacklustre responses from external players. Talk of the next big thing and disruptors on the horizon might have caused some scare at the beginning, but nothing really changed and it's business as usual. I like the analogy of an arriving tsunami or tidal wave, warning the population of a dangerous and deadly flood. No flood occurs, as the mechanisms in place helped avoid disaster. Then on the second or third warning, the population ignores the threat based on the previous none response and then it hits them, bigger than anyone ever expected.
From a global standpoint, this is exactly what the industry and more specifically the existing franchise groups are doing. They have received multiple warnings of an impending disruptor and no change happens. After all, the groups have already survived a major disruption and that is the arrival of the Internet and birth of the Property Portal. The groups continue to act exactly the same way as they once did, more offices, more sign boards and more branding.
Image: The original Apple Inc. Webpage.
From the property industry's perspective, the arrival of the Internet really only disrupted how consumers find property for sale, lease and research agents and local areas. What most of the industry is not considering is the cultural disruption the Internet has caused, it changed the way in which people live their lives and communicate with one another.
Not too long ago, the ideal real estate franchise model was the multiple real estate office strategies. The more offices the better. Multiple offices served as part of the marketing strategy, acting as the main touchpoint for the consumer. An office on every corner, or at least, in every suburb. This model is very expensive and not a good use of a companies resources, specifically when you consider what technology can now achieve and the shift in co-working environments and living behaviours.
Not only did the Internet culturally shift the lives of many and help find property easier, but it also introduced a cheaper means of procuring the latest technology offering, SaaS (Software as a Service), which is now a common way to purchase technology & services. Companies like SalesForce came to market offering an inexpensive, per person, monthly licence for a solution that once cost millions of dollars to procure, install, implement and train. This meant that the average real estate agent could now receive exactly the same marketing solution as a large enterprise, for much less than one per cent of the cost.
Right now there is a replacement for every single function in a real estate office. So what could a real estate office of tomorrow look like, how will it work and who will be part of it?
In my opinion, the office of 2025+ will most certainly be a mix of performing technologies, marketing systems and improved processes that backs a superstar agent and underpinned by a single brand or technology provider.
The following list is an example that represents a replacement of existing functions in an office:
- Physical Real Estate Office: WeWork
- Admin Staffing: Beepo
- Rental Ledger: Palace, Property Tree (Rockend), Console
- Client Management, Lead Gen. + AI: Salesforce, AgentBright, Top Producer, AIRE, RestB.ai
- Photography + Styling: Meero, Matterport, Diakrit
- Marketing & Online Profile Management: Coicio, Property TV, EyeSpy 360, Canva, Marketing Cloud
- Website: Squarespace, WIX, Property Base or many CRM's provide a version
- Training/Coaching/Mentoring: RealEstateCoach.com, Property TV, Industry groups (REI, NAR... )
Given this growing list of ancillary services, are multi-office franchise groups the way of the future? Or is there a better, more cost-effective model for tomorrows real estate groups? Technology, marketing, systems and well trained real estate agents seem to be the direction the industry is taking. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the future real estate franchise group is a lean vehicle, with a large supported team and leading proprietary solutions.
Change will happen, that's a fact. It might be disruptive or it might be initially accommodating, but either way, the industry has to adopt, regardless.
This article first appears on LinkedIn.