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What We Should be Discussing

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Perspective by Walt Baczkowski

RISMEDIA, Nov. 6, 2008-Having read several real estate publications during the past month, it is surprising to see the same predictions being made over and over again. 

“There will be more consolidations.”
“Realtors need to be in the center of the transaction.”
“Brokers need to enhance the consumer experience.”

Let’s all accept that these are givens and do not need to be repeated in any articles for at least a year. Here are three new comments heard in the halls that, in my opinion, should be discussion topics:

1. “Change does not happen in an up-market.”

Does this really need any explanation? The economic mess and meltdown in the financial markets affects-or will affect-everyone. Credit limits are being reduced, mortgages require some buyer equity and major purchases are being deferred. Frankly, if the credit card providers would have maintained sound practices prior to issuing cards (one application came to my neighbor in their 6-month-old daughter’s name), if the mortgage lenders would have checked to see if a buyer could actually afford to make the payments, and if consumers would have saved for major purchases rather than incurring more debt they could not afford, we would not have the disaster we are experiencing today.

If, if, if, if…

The mortgage industry must change, credit card providers must change and consumers must change their habits to survive and establish some plan for the future. Obviously, this does not occur during an “up” market.

2. “Don’t let someone else’s bad idea become your problem.”

Here is a lesson straight out of childhood that has been ignored for too long. It doesn’t matter if everyone else is doing it or if it seems very profitable at the moment. Bad ideas have a way of lingering around and eventually circling back. No-doc loans, name-your-payment mortgages, and banking on the continued increase in home values are several quick examples. Consider this statement as you incorporate ideas into your business or company.

3. “Interpretation of the data is more critical than the data itself.”

The volume of data or information available at the touch of a finger is astounding. We won’t even get into the pace at which it is increasing as you probably have all seen “Shift Happens” (thefischbowl.blogspot.com) or some other related study regarding the growth of information on the Internet. All this has done, in many cases, is create the artificially empowered consumer. This is the customer that shows up with reams of printouts, and wants you to believe they are in the know about the real estate market.

Many times, what you come to find out they are really in the know about is how to hit the “print” button. This is the most critical issue here. Your ability to interpret the available information and provide it in a format or manner conducive to a consumer in their decision making process is, in and of itself, key to your future success. This ability can also be key to placing yourself in front of consumers before the transaction. If you wait until the middle, you are probably out of the transaction. But that is another story.

The choice is yours…and your competitors.

Walt Baczkowski is president of the Metropolitan Consolidated Association of REALTORS®. To contact him, please e-mail walt@mcaronline.com.

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