I was fortunate to have an article published in REM recently; and even more fortunate to receive positive feedback and some challenging comments.
The intent of the article was to inspire those who hold leadership positions in the organized real estate arena to think creatively and not be constrained by the “way we’ve always done it” attitude. The intent was not to provide an answer to that challenge.
With that though, I was asked for a solution. What was my “creative thinking”?
When I began my role as EO at the Kamloops and District Real Estate Association (KADREA), something happened that set the stage for our little organization to do what was thought to be impractical and, in the process, had me eating my words. Initially preaching that KADREA was too small to be a leader in the profession and lacking the resources to create new technology, I was proven entirely wrong.
When I began my tenure, I was repeatedly asked the question, “Where are buyers coming from?”
Having an incredible amount of data at my fingertips, yet being unable to answer the question, created the need for a solution that, I have to think, has been contemplated before. Maybe somebody has done it.
In May 2018 we introduced the buyer postal code (zip code) field in the data entry that KADREA Realtors provide when they enter sales data into the MLS. Shortly after we turned it red (made it mandatory). Then we began the work of building the app.
Buyer Path provides Realtors the ability to see, at a glance, where buyers are coming from based on filters such as price, date range, location and property type. So, the example I give to illustrate the power of the application is: if a Realtor is listing an apartment condominium at $500,000, they can visit Buyer Path and determine exactly where buyers have originated for that type of property over the past six months and then target all of their digital marketing to that specific area. We can see trends, with the few months of data we have, that show buyers originating from different areas of the world at different times of the year for particular areas and property types.
Though it’s proving to be a powerful tool for our Realtors, it was realized as a result of a question from external stakeholders. Everything we do, we ask the question, “How does this positively impact the Realtor brand?” We are creating a process to share this information as a “snapshot” to municipalities, tourism groups, economic development authorities and others. All this static information will be branded with the Realtor mark to show that, as a community stakeholder, we continue to add value.
I have been extremely proud to show off Buyer Path to EOs and directors across the country (including presenting at CREA’s Technical Peer Group and, more recently, to the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors), but the platform, in and of itself, is not anything profound. When I demonstrate the app to someone with any level of technological savoir faire, they are unimpressed with the complexity of the application. However, no matter the individual’s coding competency, if they understand a Realtor advantage when they see one, their eyes (quite literally) light up.
My motivation to promote the app is not to get buy-in for the app itself. It’s to share the story of how a small organization can think differently to provide another resource for our Realtors, while continuing to create an environment for their success and the elevation of the brand.
When presenting the app to a group recently, I was approached after by a young, vibrant leader in organized real estate. He informed me that this won’t work in his board because the way they process sales won’t accommodate the collection of buyer postal codes. He also reminded me of how hard it is to get Realtors to change their ways.
Admittedly, I was disappointed, but I also understood because we are becoming victims of our own environment. If the first reaction is going to continue to be reflective of “the way it has always been”, change will be slow and the challenge for success will be greater.
By collecting, collating and leveraging just six characters of data, we have been able to put another proverbial arrow in the quiver of our Realtors. Going back to the original challenge for leaders in organized real estate to think differently, I’ll ask, what “six characters” are out there that could create the same result for your members?