Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher

Archive for March, 2009

There’s a paradox in today’s housing industry: The real estate marketplace is showing signs of potential, but the real estate business is still falling apart. Home affordability is the best in decades; mortgage rates the lowest in modern times. Sellers and buyers are starting to get it. Yet after hundreds of thousands of REALTORS have left the industry, the news continues to be about bankruptcies, layoffs and implosions at brokerages nationwide. Agents are demoralized; managers are shaken; brokers sweating. This, even at a time when online operational costs such as marketing have plummeted and technology-driven success stories are soaring. Why,  Read more

Recently we pointed out that the next generation of REALTORS will come from non-traditional sources. As brokers focus more on productivity than body-count, and the recession will ultimately teach them this business lesson. A more rational, performance-based method of building real estate companies will emerge. Traditional “Ponzi” schemes of filling the bottom with as many people with a license-and-heartbeat will fade away. It will become less frequent, not more, than inexperienced sales people will be thrown into the office mix. This positive lesson, while long awaited, will help brokers reconfigure their strategies for the future. But what about salespeople? How  Read more

A recent quote from Walter Percy Chrysler has been stuck in my head lately: Most people never get ahead in life because when opportunity knocks, they are out back looking for four leaf clovers. These days, it seems like Chrysler’s perspective is particularly appropriate to the real estate industry crisis. In addition to merely waiting around for Uncle Sam, Freddie, Fannie and even China to revive the housing industry, most brokers are busy scurrying around looking for lucky charms to help them survive the downturn. In fact, it’s even worse than usual – beyond burying statues and rearranging furniture –  Read more

Months ago, we reported to you that internet marketing was dead. That was August 2008, when MySpace overtook Yahoo in display ads totals for the month. Our argument then was that people prefer to interact with other people, even online, and that the original internet age of “blindly searching” the portals was dead. They just didn’t know it then. And for another seven months the world of SEO, PPC, page ranking and site relevancy made a few valiant attempts to remain relevant themselves. Yet today, David has finally slain Goliath: Advertising Age reports that Facebook has become a bigger source  Read more

For the past few years, one trend in the real estate industry has increasingly worried me. Without hesitation, most REALTORS in our workshops can tell us all about their local market: the number of homes available, listed and sold this month, the average days on market, even the top agents by inventory or revenue. They know the market share by dollar, number of agents and most yard signs. They can rattle off housing statistics like they were a search engine, organized by price, bedrooms and baths. For all appearances, REALTORS seem to know a whole lot about the marketplace. Unless  Read more