Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher

All posts tagged Real Estate

Can you feel it? Maybe it's the change of seasons, the political campaigns or robo-signers who are to blame, but what the housing industry needs right now is just a little peace and quiet.  Read more

“Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” So quipped Mark Twain after hearing his demise had been published in the New York Times. The same might be said today about the real estate industry. A lot of hullabaloo has been making its way through the web these days – the end of brands, numbered days for independent agents, consumers ready to do it on their own. Trouble is, it’s mostly punditry that supports these assertions. Certainly, real estate brokerage is under a lot of pressure to produce profits, cut costs and improve customer satisfaction these days. Even more likely is  Read more

Let's help sellers make better decisions by leveraging their emotional intelligence. Not market intelligence, but emotional. For the first half of the listing presentation, let's take sellers for a ride. Drive them around the neighborhood to see the other homes they are competing against. Get them inside, to see with their own eyes, smell with their own nose and feel with their own emotions what they are up against. Let them experience the newer, older, better, worse - firsthand. Almost like a buyer again.  Read more

Fans of Spencer Johnson’s book will recognize the theme in today’s column: Something has definitely moved in today’s real estate industry. For decades, the industry built by Baby Boomers for Baby Boomers has essentially run the same race through the maze, finding the cheese almost every time. Periodically, the cheese was moved or a wrong turn was taken, but never very far and never a dead end. Usually, within months, the industry figured out how to navigate new turns and once fattened themselves again on the rediscovered cheese. Yet could a recession have pose a different problem to this “re-routing  Read more

Real estate is a tricky business. At some point, you’d expect things to “mean” what they say. Yet we’re an industry that can’t even decide what exactly constitutes a “bedroom.”¬† In some markets, it’s a broom closet; others extend the definition to unfinished attics. Of course, small dens and breakfast nooks in big-city condos qualify as bedrooms as long as a curtain divides them from the next room. Funny stuff, but it gets more serious when you try to apply these definitions to market data. If we can’t decide what certain market data means, how can we plan a business  Read more

Recently I participated on a panel where the audience could ask literally anything. After a few softball questions to get started, the pink elephant entered the room: What do you think the real estate brokerage company of the future will look like? The room was suddenly still. Everyone leaned forward in their seats. All eyes were on the panelists. And after three other great answers – about companies focused on leadership, treating customers like guests, and practicing the fine art of salesmanship – the microphone came to me. What would be my answer? What will the real estate brokerage of  Read more

Every year at this time, most of us are making “resolutions” of how to improve ourselves for the upcoming year. We resolve to go on a diet, save more money, take time off with the kids, and so on. Business people usually take it one step further, resolving to do all the things they “put off” in the last year because they ran out of money, or opportunity knocked, or they just forgot. We all do this – while conveniently forgetting the most common thing about New Year’s Resolutions is that we usually forget about them by the end of  Read more

Recently, some readers of my blog have commented that I continue to take the mickey out of the REALTOR industry for its marketing use of postcards. No mention that I’ve offered alternatives to the postcard marketing option for twenty years. Oh, let’s see. EMail. Blogs. Websites. Phone calls. Maybe it’s just time for a collective postcard scream?

If you think it’s hard to sell real estate in America today, take a lesson from the Continent. After spending four days with the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World in Rome, it’s become pretty clear that most American real estate agents have it “too easy.” Just try running your business when selling homes with “verbal commitments that are binding but broken without cause or recourse” and “you have six months to close” is the norm. It’s about time American REALTORS figured out just how good they really have it.

For some months, REALTORS have been fretting that buyers are “sitting on the sidelines” waiting for the market to “hit the bottom.” We constantly hear news reports with interviews of “savvy” sellers who are trying to “time the market just right” to get the most for their home’s sale while getting a “bargain” for their next home. Timing the market – to sell high, and buy cheap – is a strategy for buying and selling stocks or bonds. But when it comes to housing, it’s the entirely wrong market model. It’s time REALTORS started saying so.

Why do some agents make more sales than others? What makes some agents capable of creating sales when others struggle for a single lead? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a cool web tool or a more expensive marketing plan. Almost always it comes down to a single, consistent factor, no matter what company or place in the country: A great manager.

Here’s an idea to make any agent’s day: If you’re finally fed up with the poor results and high costs of postcard mailings, newspaper ads and cold calls, and you’ve come to the conclusion that blind mass-email marketing makes you more annoying than maybe it’s time to get LinkedIn. Or MySpaced. Or RealTowned. Or Facebooked. Or a member of just about any of the hundred or so major social networking sites. No matter how you look at it, the opportunities just add up. First, look at the research. No, not the online web blather: of course the social network sites  Read more

When an industry suffers from a problem for decades and still hasn’t figured it out, it’s likely focusing on the wrong issue. ¬†Real estate’s “recruiting and retention” problem has consumed millions, perhaps billions of dollars in wasted time, energy and effort. It’s apparent that all of the “symptom” solutions and snake oil in the universe won’t solve it. So let’s try something else: Challenge the premise. What if there wasn’t a recruiting or retention problem in the future?

I feel bad for REALTOR.COM. Let me start by saying that I like REALTOR.COM – I really do. They’re a hard working bunch that puts lots of time, energy and effort into promoting other people’s products. They aren’t always perfect – yet they keep trying, and trying, and trying. And they do have the number one real estate destination on the web – so they are doing something right. But for long? This week they announced their their latest round of new features for the website. Too bad it’s still fairly clear that REALTOR.COM is destined to fail. Why? Because  Read more

What will it take to get REALTORS to modernize their skills? NAR’s 2008 Member Profile indicates only 11% of REALTORS use text messaging (cell phone) with current clients; 4% said they used SMS with past clients; and 5% with prospects. In a report with an “adjusted response rate” of 7.7%, you have to wonder if any REALTORS use text messaging at all. Considering one of our recent postings covered the use of Medieval technology, when I came across this next piece, I thought, maybe someone whose average audience is (only) slightly larger than mine might be able to motivate REALTORS  Read more