I am not a typical real estate shopper.  I am looking for a house, not buying a baby.

I talk about real estate marketing, and using technology to market real estate all the time.

We have a fantastic user base of real estate agents and brokers, and see first hand how new technology – like ours, or competing with ours – can enable more transactions to occur more efficiently.  And you would think that would be one of the primary goals in the industry.

We’re buying a house right now.  With financing.

Right now being the operative, all consuming, time sucking insanity of getting to closing in less than 30 days from the time we started looking seriously at properties.

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If you’re an agent or a broker reading this article, you are most likely laughing your a** off at me (OK, us really, but that’s fine), for even thinking that this can be done.  After all, how many people can even make up their mind on what house to buy in less than 40 days?

We are going to go from zero to keys in hand in less than 30 days.   Or die trying.

When we moved the business from San Francisco to Phoenix last year, we did what sane people who haven’t spent the summer baking in the Phoenix sun (not me but the other half) – we rented a house so he could be sure he wasn’t truly being consigned to the gates of hell, and we got on with our lives.

This spring, we started desultorily looking at patio homes and block ranch houses, thinking we’d get around to finding a cute property that needed work, hadn’t been ruined by flippers, and we’d perhaps get into it by the end of the year.  After all, our lease was set to go month to month in the fall; we are exceptionally good tenants.

[UPDATE: This Inman article about Compass rolling into the SF market full steam ahead and the agents/brokers they poached from places like Sotheby’s, KW and CB is pretty amazing, so I thought I’d throw a link in here since Compass uses tech to the nth degree]

LSS (long story short), our landlord decided on almost no notice that he would sell our house, wanted to show it empty, and we needed to vacate at the end of our lease, no month to month.  WTF?????  I could tell tales about the logical reasoning behind this decision, but I’ll leave that dirty laundry for my personal blog.

The local hotshot team has 351 sales to date this year, according to the dreaded Z.

Crazy, right?  His team functions like a well oiled machine, and I’m absolutely certain that he and his group would never have been able to work with us in our situation (never mind that we LOVE our agent) – we don’t fit the mold that he’s using to close nearly one sale per day (including weekends and holidays) on average.

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He’s making the best use of everything (I have indeed investigated him and scheduled an appointment for the week after we expect to close our purchase lol), and it’s definitely working for him.  But other agents talk about him like he’s the devil himself.   I’m not sure if it’s jealousy, envy, or true disdain for the guy’s methods.

I hear talk about “dodgy listings” and “you never know what you’ll walk into” from other agents – and these tend to be the folks who,

  1. Don’t buy listings or placement on Zillow, Realtor.com or any of the other portals
  2. Don’t do Facebook pages or ads
  3. Aren’t doing single property listing websites
  4. Aren’t working with us

So this is not a rant about people not working with us.

This is a commentary about people closing 4 or 5 deals a year (A YEAR!!!) and complaining about the poor results they are getting by not using real estate marketing technology to get ahead, generate leads, encourage referrals, leverage reviews to draw interest to themselves, or generally use technology to get in front of more people for any number of relevant reasons.

This is a rant about agents and brokers not understanding that real estate marketing depends on technology.

I am absolutely, positively sure that I almost drove our agent to get a big knife and stab me in the heart, the head, the eyes, anywhere possible to make me stop in my tracks.   She is a saint, I firmly believe this, and without her we could not even begin to contemplate getting this done.

I combed through the MLS portal, I scoured Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and the local broker sites, even though I know that they’re all pulling from the same MLS feed and should have the same properties (they don’t, funny that).  Every day we started with a list of houses and did a drive by before we asked our agent to get us in the door.

The ones we didn’t like or wouldn’t work in rapid order, we were in and out in 5 minutes.  Heck, we only spent ten minutes initially in the one that we have under contract at the moment.  We kept moving.

I am a technology person.  I own a technology business.

I used every piece of technology kit that was available to me, even though I had to piece it all together from one place and another and yet another, and then had to double check and verify the accuracy of the info.  And I still ended up sending the agent properties to call for showings on that weren’t even available.

I could not have done this even five years ago.  Four years ago we were on the listing end of the transaction, and while there was Zillow, Trulia, MLS automation (in its infancy compared to today), it would have taken 3 times longer to get the info, confirm the info and get out to see the properties.

Of course, that hateful TRID wouldn’t be in play, so we could still manage a ten day closing ;-}}}

IMO, agents and brokers need to embrace technology.  Understand that it enhances the sales process.

If my agent had to sift through 200 properties to find 35 to view, she would have had zero time for any other clients (and she’s had two closings in the ten days we’ve been at this) besides us.  We had a very loosely defined set of what we would accept (four walls, roof, indoor plumbing), and the rest of our parameters changed to suit what was available, including location, size, style, and age.

Had I not fed her a list of what we’d pre-vetted as best as we could, we would be looking for another rental (with a dreaded year lease – not conducive to getting on the ball and buying) instead of reading mountains of documents and disclosures, packing enough china to feed 30 at a sit down, and trying to figure out what furniture should go on Craigslist and what might work.

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I started out this article by mentioning that I’m not a typical home shopper – I don’t have a preconceived notion of this or that being the only option; as a former designer, I’m able to switch gears rather quickly (and easily) so moving from a mid-century block ranch to a two story townhome and then to a single level, single family tract wasn’t that big of a thing.  I realize that most clients cannot do this, and giving them the opportunity to confuse themselves is maybe not such a good deal for agents and brokers.

But there’s bound to be a happy medium that helps both sides get to the transaction stage more effectively.

Real estate marketing is moving more and more to technology, and choosing not to use it means you – the agent or broker – will be left behind while your competition keeps moving forward.

I am 100% absolutely certain, without a doubt, that agents have a place in the transaction, and trying to complete a sale without an agent is not only reckless but short sighted.   Moving from the selling side to the buying side, we have a zillion questions for our agent about particulars in the paperwork, details in the process, etc – things that we can’t find an answer to online, or at least not in any positive, time efficient manner.

I’m going to have more to say about this experience, and I’ll update the links as we go along.