Real Estate, Technology and Transparency

[photopress:transparent.jpg,thumb,alignright]I’ve been running two experiments, trying to find the true meaning and value of transparency in the real estate transaction. I’ve taken all of the things I have known forever, and added the things I’ve learned in recent months, and combined them into a Transparency Model using email.

For as long as I can remember, agents will tell each other things that they would never say to a consumer. Same with most ancillary service providers. We can talk to each other point blank and in short hand and with a clarity that has pinpoint precision. But when talking with the consumer everyone starts being guarded, balancing telling the truth with trying to get their business, and saying what they “know” the consumer wants to hear. Falling into what I call (and hate) “script mode”.

I’ve been having some conversations with agents, while copying “the outsider”…the owner. The other agent didn’t realize I was copying the owner at first, and was responding directly to me without hitting “reply to all”. That was a good thing, because it was quick, it was spot on info, and it was very good and valuable info.

Sometimes the consumer doesn’t know the right questions to ask, or they are just not in the same conversation with us. So we end up “communicating” with the consumer out in left field on some irrelevant tangent, while trying to focus on the real issues all at the same time. Owners tend to fall back into the past, remembering when and why they painted that wall bright purple when their daughter was 10. She is now grown, married and has children of her own. We’re trying very hard to say get rid of that purple, but they’ve lapsed back in the time machine and are standing in the room with their ten year old daughter. When they finally come back and realize you are in the room, you end up saying “yeah, love that purple!”.

By letting the owner watch two agents email back and forth quickly about their home, they “see” the real issues at hand. Very much like that photo up there, it’s as if they are looking through a two sided mirror where they can see us and we don’t see them. If they can’t comprehend it at the moment or if they just can’t take the mental picture of their ten year old out of their head, they can come back later and read it again and again. They absorb the information in small doses, and eventually “get it”.

I remember one owner way back when, who came up with a brilliant idea “in a dream” nine months later, that was exactly what I told him to do, on the first day I met him. He just wasn’t ready to hear it at the time. Too much going on that night. By using email, he can revisit and address all of the ideas in smaller doses.

Email is scary sometimes, because you are putting some hard facts “on paper” that we, in the past, would only say, but not write down. But it introduces a higher level of transparency, because the consumer can go back later and read it again and again. Different people absorb different things each time they read it. I just received an email from a seller in answer to an email I sent maybe ten days ago. She read it ten times before coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Then she emailed me…she’s about 80 years old 🙂

I am going to try, with my “Ardell & Oxford” real estate talks, to bring this “transparency” to RCG. To talk to an agent, woman to woman, pretending no one is watching us talk. NOT about the industry at large. NOT about how agents feel about the industry. I want to talk to an agent about a house and what the seller needs to do to get it sold. I want to talk about a buyer, and why they are or are not being successful in their quest. I want to talk to another agent the way we talk to each other, while everyone else is watching and learning.

Contrary to what Dustin said, it really wasn’t hard for me to find someone who will do this with me, as agents do this with me every day, always have. Now finding someone willing to do it with me live and in your face on RCG, well yes, I have found someone. But that was pure happenstance. Let’s run with it and see what happens. I should have her set up by the end of the week, if not sooner.

We are the “innovators”. Let’s kick transparency up a notch. Instead of asking others what that means, let’s create what it REALLY means…as only we can. Not because we are smarter…just because for some reason, we seem to have the cajunes to make fools of ourselves in open view 🙂 Speaking for myself, of course.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: cell: 206-910-1000

3 thoughts on “Real Estate, Technology and Transparency

  1. Started in Cherry Hill, NJ on June 1, 1990.

    My greatest achievement was the year half my business was sent to me by local agents. They said, “Go see ARDELL with that, if she can’t do it, no one can.

    One day a guy walks in and says Joe Agent down the street sent him. He wants to buy x house, which is not for sale, and he has no money. We ended up getting the house at less than $.50 on the dollar, and 22 people called me the first hour after the fact asking “How the hell did you DO that?”. I also got the tax authorities to reduce the taxes to $.50 on a dollar temporarily and I had the PMI waived because the house didn’t qualify for PMI.

    The local paper wanted to write an article on the whole thing, but I moved. So my “greatest achievement” was helping some guy with no money buy a house worth $375,000 for $165,000. All I needed him to do was sell his truck…which he did.

    I may have made peanuts on it, and it did take nine months, but still my greatest achievement. I think that was 1995 or so.

  2. Natasha,

    My greatest recent achievements have been utilizing non referral fees, to create added value for Buyer Clients. Still an experiment, but with much success so far. Sitting down with a buyer, deciding if we should work together and agreeing on a price for that up front, that is generally less than they expected, has been a fabulous experience.

    Transparency for the buyer from day one and treating them like a client from day one, instead of someone who is going to buy a house with me, has been a very rewarding experience. My clients agree.

    I have even renegotiated when the original criteria changed, with great success for all involved.

    It’s not as hard as people think. In fact its quite easy with a little practice.

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