The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors® and Rei Mesa, NAR’s Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.
Rei Mesa, Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR, and President/CEO, Prudential Florida Real Estate Services
Sherry Chris, CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Parsippany, N.J.
Margaret Kelly, CEO, RE/MAX, LLC, Denver, Colo.
Dick Schlott, CEO, Gloria Nilson, Realtors®, Real Living, Princeton, N.J.
Rei Mesa: Back in the day, MLS listings books were four inches thick and proprietary, face-to-face meetings across the kitchen table were a hallmark of customer service in our industry. That’s a far-fetched scenario for many of today’s agents and customers who are attached at the hip to a battery of instant communication devices. So, have the tweets, blogs, likes and posts enhanced our roles as real estate professionals—or are we all victims of an information overload? Sherry, you’re a dedicated Tweeter with an ear to the ground in this industry. How do we harness the power of all this content?
Sherry Chris: There’s no question that all this tweeting and posting has changed the way we do business. On the plus side, it’s a great way to communicate with groups and make the best use of quick sound bites to get our ideas across—and it can keep you in tune with what others are thinking better than a dozen phone calls. But the downside is that it can become all-consuming. Perhaps the real question is, how do we cut through the clutter so that it isn’t overwhelming?
Dick Schlott: Let me say first that I have no problem with the overload of information. In the pace of life today, buyers and sellers are controlling the real estate transaction. Having good information up front helps to make them more savvy consumers. But this is still a personal relationship business, and a good agent will find the best way and time to move from the online stream of information to some meaningful face-to-face time.
Margaret Kelly: I read a quote recently that I think says it all: “We live in a world cluttered with data, but somehow starved for wisdom.”
RM: That’s a great observation—and maybe a clue as to how and where we draw the line.
MK: I think so. While you or I might choose a movie based on what the critics say, Gen Y consumers—the newest wave of buyers and sellers—are far more into what their peers are saying. All those tweets and posts provide in great measure the standards they will use in decision-making. But the wisdom—the practical market knowledge and local expertise—can only come from the professional real estate agent. The successful agent will blog and tweet with the best of them, but at some point, it’s personal relationship-building that will make or break not just a real estate transaction but customer loyalty.
SC: It’s true that nobody wants to talk until they’re ready, so in that sense, we have to let the customer guide us. But as agents, we can set the stage for this by how and what we communicate. Are we suggesting to the customer what we really stand for, what our experience brings to the table?
DS: It’s a new frontier in communication, and agents today have to exercise a certain judiciousness. It’s critical that they infuse into it the standards and ethics of professionalism that really are the hallmarks of the industry.
RM: As NAR President Moe Veissi noted in highlighting the Home Ownership Matters campaign, we need to spread the word to peers and clients about just how important homeownership is to the U.S. economy. Every tweet, blog, phone call and meeting needs to underline the value of our commitment. Visit www.REALTOR.org/homeownership for more tools from NAR to help keep this message front and center in all our communications.