Technology is marvelous. The internet allows you to research the comparable sales in your area and Google will give you 52,000 answers for any question you can ask. Some real estate companies use technology to process a high volume of homes, lowering the cost of each sale and passing the savings along to the consumer.
Win-win, right? Why do you need a human?
But our homes are not commodities. Our homes often represent an intangible set of values for both the seller AND the buyer.
Consider the story of Lisa and then decide. Do you want a robot to sell your home?
Lisa just wanted it over.
Her Mother was in convalescent care and it was anyone’s guess how long she would be there. The family home needed to be sold to pay for everything, but…
Lisa was frozen in a sea of stress and confusion.
She knew a buyer would see a purple bedroom that needed the wallpaper stripped and walls painted, but she just saw her Mother’s favorite color and the peace she felt even as her body started to decline.
The blue carpet was old and dated, but she kept seeing her and her sister lounging on the floor, girlfriends surrounding them, everyone giggling, sharing, and having a great time.
Today’s buyer would hate the quirky island that made the kitchen cramped and dated, but Lisa saw her Mother whipping up one of her delicious home-cooked meals. It’s crazy, but Lisa can smell love every time she is there.
Lisa knew what she had to do to sell the home for top dollar. Her mother needed her to sell it for top dollar.
But Lisa just… couldn’t ….move.
Not everyone is facing such an obviously emotional sales situation, but residential real estate- the purchase or sale of ones’ personal home, is rarely “just business”.
This is an industry worth billions of dollars in annual revenue with no clear and compelling value proposition to its customers.
Real Estate is an industry screaming for disruption.
We brought it on ourselves. For decades our ads have been about how great we are- we are market leaders, number one, luxury, lifestyle, most, global, community, BIG.
We almost never talk about what we actually DO to earn our commissions.
That is why a company offering to do it for a small flat fee can look enticing.
The consumer might believe that one transaction is pretty much the same as another. Parts are parts, and the transaction ain’t rocket science. It seems like it should be a lot easier and that a super smart tech company could deliver the same value for far less.
But, technology can’t replace human-ness
Lisa is all of us. Our homes are not a collection of bricks and mortar. Even the most analytical rocket scientist loses objectivity during the sale or purchase of a home- it’s the place they live, raise a family, entertain friends and create memories. There are a dozen or more people who affect the outcome of each transaction. Each one is playing by their own internal rules and motivations- and while we all might want the same thing we often do not agree on how to get there.
A team needs a leader with skill and empathy, not a computer algorithm.
In this story, Lisa needed our guidance on exactly what she fixed and what she left alone. She leaned on us to get quotes and schedule workers. She seemed to steady during our calls that often started with a frantic note. Our advice surprised her and the entire project cost far less than she expected.
A buyer made an offer before the home even hit the market,
and Lisa was tempted to take it. It was, after all, full price and she wanted this process over!
We did a lot of research on the buyer and her agent. Lisa thought we were crazy when we suggested that she counter $30,000 higher than the list price.
The buyer agreed to a price $30,000 higher than Lisa expected
The transaction was difficult. The buyer bucked and protested along the way, doing everything possible to lower that price. Managing the numerous people involved on both sides was often difficult and tense.
It is easy to assume how you might respond, but the stakes are much higher when the people you love are affected. Do you take a hard no and risk the buyer walking away? Do you give in since you are already netting more money than you expected?
A technology-focused real estate company negotiates by text message.
And that is a rotten way to solve problems. A negotiation over money might be simple, but how do you create a solution that factors in stress, inconvenience and the risk of the unknown?
A skilled agent uses experience, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and empathy to find the best solution. In many situations, the solution is completely different from a purely data-driven solution.
A skilled human beats a text message every time.
Lisa just closed escrow and kept nearly ALL of that extra $30,000. Her mother’s future is secure and Lisa is breathing a sigh of relief.
We feel the same.