Aliso Viejo, CA November 10, 2008 In the months ahead you are going to be hearing an emerging message in
our industry and it will be coming from a lot of different sources. It isn’t a message that’s new as the subject
has been brought up many times over the past few years. The difference now is that “its” time has
arrived and the survival of the real estate professional may well be hanging in
I will stick my neck out far enough
on this issue to say that it’s not hype or an exaggeration but rather it’s a
critical issue the industry has been slow to address and now is the time. We can no longer just talk about being
customer-centric; we have to define it and commit to it.
It seems as though everyone in the
industry loosely agrees on what the term means; after all we’ve been discussing
it constantly since the bubble burst.
But how we effect a true change of direction has many
interpretations. And we can be sure that
not only will we be hearing about it more and more, we are going to see the
serious players in the industry begin to “tout” their specific solution – to
the industry and the consumer.
For just a moment let’s consider
what I think is the real focal point of customer-centricity and what it means
to the folks out there on the front lines.
It’s really about becoming extremely flexible in an industry that has historically
been quite inflexible. We have to adopt
a completely new mindset that will forever change how we look at the “business”
of real estate that, perhaps, will finally result in elevating the “industry”
into a “profession.”
Bringing the customer to where you
are is no longer an option.
Tomorrow’s real estate professional
is going to have to be ready to meet the customers “exactly” where “they” are
in the process. More importantly that
means being prepared to quickly determine exactly what their goals are, find
out how much they know and then accurately establish their needs. But you say that’s what we have always been
doing. That may be true, but not with
the emerging customer of tomorrow. You
are going to be required to not only determine what they want and what they
have but interpret that information for them and be prepared to counsel them on
every aspect of the process in the manner and way they prefer to
communicate. And that isn’t as simple as
maybe it used to be when the customers weren’t as sophisticated or as well
prepared as they are becoming today.
Let’s just use one example to make the point.
Customers are increasingly relying
on real estate professionals to provide, verify or validate information and
that has become more important to them than the act of showing property. In
most cases today the customer has already done 90% of that on the Internet
before contacting you – and most likely has a property or two in hand. Today your challenge is all about understanding
what information you should supply, determining what information clients should
research themselves and where to source quality information. And one of the most important issues, even
more important than price in many cases, is where that house is located. For that reason, one area in which every
professional needs to be “the” expert is the neighborhood. That’s where your familiarity and expertise
will help to make that all important first step in establishing a “personal relationship”
– and that’s what tomorrow’s real estate professional is all about. It’s no longer just a transactional
relationship – it’s all about the long term.
As a Neighborhood Specialist you
will be better equipped and empowered to provide and interpret the information
they need, quickly and from reliable sources.
However, just understanding a specific neighborhood isn’t enough. To be
a true “Knowledgeable and Professional Agent” you must be able to relate to
consumers’ experiences and perceptions, and be able to explain how a particular
neighborhood is similar or different from their past experiences. A simple
example would be a potential buyer from the Midwest asking about basements in Florida or frost lines in Southern
California. As a Neighborhood Specialist you must possess
enough knowledge to be able to relate to the person and inform them of the
local housing environment and specifics about your particular neighborhood.
There is a whole lot more about the
neighborhood than just relating where the schools and parks are or how far it
is to the main shopping area. There is a
wealth of information pertaining to that area and it is critical that you
ensure your customer is aware of it as it’s critical to the decision they are
about to make. As a professional it’s
your job to make sure “all” the questions get answered – especially those they
don’t even know enough about to ask.
There are a lot of areas in the real
estate business that require special attention if you are working in a niche
market. But understanding the volumes of
information available concerning a specific neighborhood and being able to
interpret that for the customer is something every true professional should be
able to do. It goes way beyond a drive
through sales pitch.
RealtyU has developed an interactive
online course – Certified Neighborhood
Specialist (CNS) – that will walk you through aspects of neighborhood specialization that
you my not even know existed. You will learn
how to develop a complete history of your neighborhood and where to gain a
wealth of free information to assist your customer in determining if that
neighborhood and community will satisfy their needs. You will learn how to make sure that they are
aware of and take into consideration key pieces of information that they
haven’t even considered.
Much of the Neighborhood
Specialist course is comprised of information to enable you to develop a
greater grasp of the vast amount of differences in housing that is available.
Understanding these differences will allow you to better relate to potential
buyers from both your area(s) or from out of state. As you navigate through
this course, you will put yourself in the mindset of a customer with no
knowledge of the area, the local housing market or even construction
specifications or requirements. You will
learn how to determine be able to explain the nuances and features that make
your particular neighborhood(s) special.
At the present time, in honor of NAR’s
100 year anniversary, RealtyU® is offering the first 100 people who take any of
its online professional designation courses a $100 mail-in rebate and that
applies to the CNS course. To get the
details on a designation that “every” real estate professional should hold just
– change is coming – be ready.