Thought leaders in the “intention economy” are careful to distinguish between user-centric sites and user-driven sites, but that’s not been the case in real estate. If you are a tech-savvy, do-it-yourself home buyer, you should be careful to identify whether the real estate site you are using is (1) consumer-centric, (2) buyer-centric, (3) user-driven, (4) savings-focused or some combination of the four.
Home buyers are increasingly using sites that enable them to do their own work, but a self-directed house hunt is not the same as a user-driven process where buyers manage their own data and use it to create new money-savings opportunities. Because so many tech-savvy internet users are capable of doing much of the real estate transaction themselves, fee-for-service consultants will prosper as user-driven sites enable buyers to issue Personal Requests for Proposals or Personal RFPs.
Meanwhile mega-giant Realogy is trying to reposition itself as being “consumer-centric” through their innovative franchise, Better Homes & Gardens. But buyer beware: “consumer-centric” does not necessarily translate to buyer-centric, user-driven, or savings-focused. While they are wisely introducing tools and functionality to let buyers direct their own house hunt online, they are NOT passing the savings on to consumers.
As others begin using “consumer-centric” marketing language, agents who work at traditional listing agencies, like Realogy’s family of nearly 15,000 franchise offices will continue to have two obvious obstacles that prevent them from really being buyer-centric, user-driven, or savings-focused:
1. Traditional real estate agencies cannot simultaneously be “seller-centric” and “buyer-centric,” which is why buyers should refuse to give their consent to designated agency (a.k.a. counterfeit buyer agency); and
2. Traditional real estate agencies cannot maximize savings if they maintain their one-size-fits-all commission structure, when tech-savvy, do-it-yourself home buyers want to drive their own process and chose to pay for services “a la carte.”
In contrast, as one of the nation’s first fee-for-service business models, The Real Estate Cafe’s “savings-focused” business model has been featured in Wall Street Journal and we’re always looking for ways to expand our Menu of Savings. We’re eager to serve tech-savvy buyers who are open to experimenting with, benefiting from, and maybe even co-creating new “user-driven” tools. Are you one of them?