Out with the old...
Modern real estate agents and clients should not be held hostage by outdated business practices
By Jenny Liu 11/26/2012
I know what outdated real estate practices are. I’ve lived them.
I grew up in a real estate family. My parents, my siblings and many in my extended family are realtors.
I remember my parents bringing home the “MLS book,” which was the size of a phone book and contained all the local listings. They would often drive over to a house and find out it was sold. As a young child, I would cross out all the listings for my parents. This is how we used to update inventory, and the book would become a valuable commodity as more updates were added.
Real estate practices have obviously changed enormously since then. No doubt, the most dramatic change in the industry is the way agents have been forced to embrace technology.
One of the most exciting things about starting up a new business is being able to implement these technological developments.
I admit I seized a franchise opportunity in Pasadena. As a business owner, Pasadena’s diverse demographic excited me and I knew we would fit in. I always think of Pasadena as a modern town, but I saw that real estate practice was a little outdated and could see the potential to modernize the market.
I was also excited about developing a new business model where in-house services and support give agents all they need to help consumers make informed decisions and smart investments.
Today, our focus is on a modern, dynamic business model. It’s one in which agents are not focused on protecting commissions and buyers are not held ransom by old practices.
Our new office is modern in every sense.
Moreover, we are technology driven and hire younger staff so our approach and solutions are new, effective and designed to benefit the consumer.
Traditional agents drive buyers around and show houses, often withholding information to protect commissions.
We frequently give buyers an online account with a real-time search function, so the process is easier and, more importantly, transparent.
Traditional agents also keep information in their pockets. I feel our role is to help clients see the investment potential and, with all information on hand, this should be easy to do. We don’t strive to protect a commission. We strive to earn it.
Many agents insist on working with buyers exclusively and will often drop clients who work with other agents. We don’t mind buyers working with other agents. We have the market data and that’s what gives us an edge.
As a business, we feel strongly that consumers should not be held hostage to these old practices and we are committed to changing them.
Access to the newest market data is just a way we are modernizing the industry. The latest research and analysis is available to agents in-house to help them give consumers current, accurate information. Other unique approaches to our business include:
* Title software is provided to agents in-house and at no cost. This is an expense we incur because we see how it helps streamline operations and helps agents gather information for their client without outsourcing the request to a title officer.
* Closing services are not provided in-house. This really frees agents up and allows them to assemble the team that works best for them and their clients. There are many types of real estate transactions and a single escrow officer cannot be fluent in all of them. By not requiring our agents to work with a specific officer, we free them to work with the strongest officer for individual transactions.
* Design and printing services are provided in house. Providing in-house design and printing for high-quality marketing and direct mail is certainly unique and is proving cost-effective. It also takes pressure off agents to produce marketing material.
* The latest market research and analysis is provided. Our research shows where the market has been and where it might go. Data is updated each month so our agents and clients always have the latest market information. This results in informed decisions.
As with any full-service brokerage, our first goal was to attract good agents, and we have done so by offering these in-house services. We are also keeping our agents by offering business coaching and weekly training sessions. Technology is always at the top of the agenda.
As a business, we are driven by technology and we use it to help consumers make informed decisions. It’s not enough to talk. It’s important to give buyers the most current facts.
Jenny Liu is co-owner of RE/MAX Premier Properties, 913 E. Walnut St., Pasadena. Call (626) 316-6800.