July 2, 2009

The real estate brokerage of the future is coming.
It may in fact already be here.

“In the blink of an eye Hawaii Life Real Estate Services launched and became the No. 1 real estate site in Kauai. Soon after, they went from a pretty for-sale-by-owner site and search portal to a full-fledged real estate brokerage. Their lava has now spread to the Big Island, destroying some of the old growth that lay in their path.”

The above is an example by Marc Davison of 1000Watt Consulting of a real estate brokerage transcending into a brokerage of the future. The above mentioned brokerage’s website gives a partial idea of what makes them so special.

Marc Davison writes that there are three simple steps that future brokerages will need to embrace:

1. Determine the frame of reference of customers. In other words future brokerages must understand the basics of what consumers expect of them and then fulfill this expectation. Marc cites the example of Volkswagen, the “people’s car” company, marketing it’s $94,000 Phaeton W12 which failed because it ventured far outside the frame of reference the marketplace has with VW.

Future real estate brokerages must reposition their brand to thoroughly “nail the basics of what its consumers expect from them as opposed to abandoning those critical elements in wake of introducing gimmicky new ones.” Meaning, as long as a brokerages service’s response times and websites remain second rate, and as long as a brokerage continues to not offer market data, local insight or tools to help users make better decisions, their efforts to reposition will fail.

2. Connect the brokerage’s vision to the consumers’ frame of reference. The transcending brokerage must build connectors – or bridges – that help carry their customers from where the brand is to where it intends on going.

As an example, Marc cites Zappos and Apple. Zappos, he says, successfully built those connectors through their accelerated service proposition that allowed the brand to move beyond being just an online shoe retailer. Apple “nailed it” by taking its users into the music world through iTunes, then sequencing them into hardware with the Ipod, which created the frenzy for the Iphone. Quite arguably, as a result of this successful repositioning, if Apple wanted to release an iCar, it could.

3. Keep promises. The future brokerage must create a brand promise that helps locate the brilliance within the company and turns it on. The promise is then to be delivered on every day, for every client, or the promise/brand will die.

Mark describes the premise of keeping promises as follows, “Real estate makes too many promises and claims it doesn’t keep. You can’t guarantee you will deliver dreams. You can’t assure me that all your agents are the best in the market. So stop trying.

The future brokerage will make one promise. With great precision it will hitch every available brand touch point to that promise. And ride it from dust till dawn, delivering on its every word.

For your brokerage of today to be the brokerage of tomorrow, you will have to remove every agent who can’t support that promise — and probably every managing broker who can’t assist in drilling your brand ideals down through the ranks.

The brokerage of the future will no longer license products from vendors of the past whose products and services don’t help your client walk your talk.

The brokerage model of the future will become deft at the art of removing and replacing everyone in its marketing department who cannot find 50 new ways to push its commitments out to the marketplace and steward their brand.

The brokerage of the future will be profitable. Nimble. And its general manager will don a five-pointed star on her lapel next to her Realtor pin, clearly expressing to the consumer that when it comes to the most important purchase in their lives, there’s a new sheriff in town looking out for their best interests.

That’s how the brokerage model of the future will roll.”

A simple perusal through the website does not provide a thorough enough
analysis as to whether this brokerage is a true “brokerage of the future” as per Mark’s definition. However, at a glance, it appears Hawaii Life is making serious headway. The site is engaging, well branded, functional, and informative. From it’s easy Latest real estate articles, MLS Sales Stats, innovative promises such as ‘We list properly’, and it’s highlighting of ‘Personal Service’, Hawaiilife is fulfilling many of the points outlined by Mark.

Personally, I think the site is excellent, especially considering the multitude of sub par brokerage sites it competes with. And, I agree with mark, the brokerage of the future is coming – and the many that don’t adjust will simply be left far far behind.

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