Stop Whining About Zillow

Lots of chatter over the past few weeks about Zillow’s Instant Offers and lawsuits related to automated valuation models (AVMs). Some of this conversation is interesting and productive but a lot of it sounds like whining to me. I even find myself shaking my head after reading comments and posts from some well respected industry leaders. 

Redefining Real Relationships

“Real estate sales is a relationship business.” This has been said for decades yet most real estate agents don’t run their businesses this way. In fact, there are some top performing agents out there who do not run their businesses this way. The transaction has become key to many agents which is why technology scares the hell out of them. If you build your business on relationships and are still scared by things like Opendoor and Zillow, let’s talk about those relationships.

First, how are you looking at the relationship you have with your clients? Are you looking at it through your eyes or your clients’ eyes? Be honest here. If a relationship to you means making sure you simply take the action of staying in touch with phone calls, emails and postcards (all great methods of communication by the way), you don’t have a relationship based business and that’s why new technologies scare you.

Without the right intentions behind your communication strategy, you are just another advertisement your clients are receiving. Sure you are staying top of mind, but where’s the real value? Where is the care? If you are calling a client on their birthday because you genuinely want to brighten their day with a happy sentiment instead of thinking, “Yes! Another reason to communicate!” then bravo, you’re building a relationship based business. You don’t have to be best friends with your clients but you need to care about them over and beyond the real estate they buy or sell.

Social “Media”

This topic relates to similar complaints within the industry surrounding social media. So reaching out to someone on a social media to have a conversation about real estate is stupid but calling them on the phone to “check in” on their real estate needs is not? Relationships are strengthened through value-added conversations and content via any and all communication methods. Social media is actually a poor identifier for platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. These are social networking platforms that connect people around the globe every second.

I’m not going to get into how to use these platforms properly in this article but I do want you to think differently about how these platforms should be used. For example, I had lunch with a college student the other day and instead of my business card, he just wanted my Snapcode so we could connect on Snapchat. Another example; my friend who I see at the gym on a daily basis, I don’t even have is cell phone number, we chat exclusively on Facebook Messenger.

Proactive Trusted Advisors Never Die

It’s about them, not us. Only a small percentage of real estate professionals understand this and that is why they are the true advisors that clients love. It’s unfortunate that our industry is filled with so many underperforming salespeople but it’s not entirely their fault as to why consumers have turned their attention elsewhere. The complacency of multiple listing services, real estate brokerages and yes the National Association of Realtors is why companies like Zillow and others exist. While we paid attention to ourselves, Zillow was listening to the consumer and developed the experience they were craving.

The great news is that proactive trusted real estate advisors with strong relationships will never lose business to technology. In fact, they will use technology to enhance the customer experience within their business. New tools and platforms can certainly speed up a process but they cannot express empathy. While we gripe about leads being “sold back to us” and complain about our competitors marketing, the proactive trusted advisors are connecting and caring and selling real estate.

Care Your Ass Off

It’s up to you. There is a simple way to win in this industry but it’s hard work and requires a tremendous amount of self-awareness. Ask yourself if your intentions are in the right place, do your clients matter more than the transaction? Use every tool available to your advantage to help your clients succeed. Care your ass off and the Zillows of the world will not be able to touch you.