What does the real estate company of the future look like? Everyone wants to know but most would prefer to ignore the early signs. Picture an frightened ostrich with his head in a hole.
What we do know is this: it will be lean, it will cost less, it will make sense, it will use technology to create efficiencies, it will run on systems, not personalities, it will look more like E-Trade than Merrill Lynch, more like Amazon than Sears.
In short, it won’t be based on the old Broker/Agent model where the broker delegates responsibility for building and marketing his/her company to the agents and attempts to grow through endless recruiting. That’s a stupid model and really: except for a few magical years in the sixties and seventies, has always been a stupid model. And it’s already disappearing. How many 500 agent offices are still open in your marketplace? Many have transitioned to a more ‘virtual’ concept, which is code for agents working from home with little real supervision.
No. I think the future will feature a real estate practitioner (Broker or Agent – and maybe in the future there won’t be a difference) who is a connector. He or she will be competent, capable and personable – someone a consumer can like and trust who will connect the seller with marketing (mostly electronic), the buyer with home search tools, both with quality representation and transaction processing. The practitioner (ok, let’s call it a Broker) would stand at the center of a team of professionals each managing predictable and efficient systems to accomplish the various tasks involved in the process.
If it sounds like I just described Help-U-Sell, that’s partially correct. I think we are closer to the future than anything else out there. We have the technology – that we actually own and control – and it continues to morph and evolve every week, adapting to changing markets and needs. We already have the Broker-at-the-center model and the strong consumer focus. Still we’re not there . . . we’re close but there are a few more bits of innovation that need to happen before we arrive . . . that’s why it’s the real estate company of the future. What does your crystal ball tell you about how you’ll work tomorrow? What do you see as important moving forward and what as irrelevant?