The Inspiration for Mobile Buyer’s Broker
My inspiration for “Mobile Buyer’s Broker” came from two sources. My experience in creating an online source of information for home buyers and my frustration with the typical Real Estate website.
It all started with a community website. A website I helped develop between 2000 and 2001 to answer home buyer’s questions about the housing, neighborhoods, schools, shopping, and the lifestyle available in the community of Valencia. At the time I was Director of Corporate Marketing for Newhall Land and Farming, the developer of the master planned community of Valencia.
Valencia was founded in 1965. Today it comprises some 20,000 homes, 60,000 residents and an equal number of jobs. The photo above is one I used to present the shopping opportunities in the community. Local residents, not professional models, gave home shoppers a feel for the lifestyle and “Vibe” of Valencia.
Master planned community developers plan and develop communities but the housing is built on land sold to homebuilders. Each of these homebuilders is required to contribute towards an “Umbrella Marketing Plan” that not only helps them sell their homes but also provides home buyers with answers to their many other questions. As a master planned community developer we had found that while sales agents for the homebuilders did an excellent job of selling homes, their effort in providing information on the community fell far short of our goals. The community website met this need. An excellent local example of a similar website is The Villages of Irvine.
As Director of Corporate Marketing I worked with a multi-million dollar budget that allowed me to do extensive consumer research that allowed the company to learn about home buyers, what they wanted in a home, what they wanted in a community. Research with the residents of Valencia brought to light what they loved about Valencia, what they wanted to see in the future. Combined the research became the criteria for the future home and neighborhood design and the community web site.
Our focus in the community website was not on selling individual homes but rather on providing home buyers with the knowledge they needed to make and informed decision about home, neighborhood, community and lifestyle. The information was set into five categories Live, Learn, Work, Shop, Play, covering all the major questions about the community,
You don’t keep a large marketing budget for very long if you don’t show a Return on Investment (ROI). The Valencia Website brought more qualified home shoppers to our homebuilder’s models. Shoppers, that because they had the information they needed prior to a trip to Valencia, converted into buyers in larger numbers than was possible with print media (the full page newspaper advertisement) or even our community information center.
I found some 14-years ago what some people are only finding out now; that home buyers want to search independently without hassle. That they want the information they need, when they want it, how they want it. And they want it all in one place.
My Frustration with Real Estate Websites
Listings are what makes the phone ring and put money in the bank for a Real Estate Broker. Once a Broker has a home listed for sale it is placed on the Multiple Listing Service where any of hundreds of other Brokerages and thousands of Agents can sell it; the Broker and listing Agent will get paid half the commission regardless of who sells the home.
If you “follow the money” it is not surprising that the leading Brokerages and Agents focus almost exclusively on listings.
It also explains why the websites of the leading brokerages are often seriously lacking in information. Their goal is to have you call an agent and start selling you a home; not to provide you with the information you need to make a decision on your own.
More time is spent in “selling the Brokerage and agent” and claiming success than providing proof of their commitment to service. Reminds me of the sea gulls in Finding Nemo.