Marc Davison’s excellent article on Inman “Time for Elvis to pass the torch” caught my attention because how often can a writer include Elvis and real estate in one sentence? I got a contact high just scanning his commentary.
His article was about Inman’s Connect technology conference. He starts with relating a story about an old-timey broker calling him, but he just couldn’t drop the doobie and take the call.
“His point of view was irrelevant now. His words are bubble gum music and I’d just seen Hendrix. I turned my cell off, opened the window and let the wind cry Mary.”
He was hung over. His head throbbed. His body ached. “Conjure up the day after Woodstock.” So he opens up the newspaper.
“…. Page after page I searched for signs of the award-winning brands, innovators and progressive people I partied with for three days inside the Inmansphere. Something that would deliver me a new and exciting experience. With each turn of the page my post-conference high diminished. Midway through I imagined an announcement over the Starbucks speaker system: “Attention. Testing one, two, three. Hey man, don’t eat the brown acid. It’s bad! I repeat the brown acid is bad, man.”
I ignored the warning. My page turning pace increased as if I had lost something and was frantic to find it. Things like virtual tours, videos, mapping, digital signatures, online estimates, neighborhood data – ideas and services witnessed during the Worlds Fair of real estate. My bad trip included giant agent heads dwarfing tiny shots of homes that all looked exactly alike and carried the same message. One ad freaked me out completely: The Realtor in the picture claimed she “IS the changing face of real estate. She IS the eyes in my community. She IS the ears listening to my needs. She WILL sell my home.” With what? I thought. There IS no link to a Web site, there IS no e-mail address.
Was Connect real or did I hallucinate it? Didn’t I brush up against innovators? Had I not held meetings with the rock stars of our business? If so, how did I end up back here at home surrounded by personalities rather than a real estate reality that doesn’t include Redfin, Trulia, HomePoint, digital signatures, paperless processes, Neighborhood data, TMS, or an Oodle of LocaModa â€“ services as opposed to individuals. It’s wrong, it’s antiquated and it’s whole-heartedly unfair to consumers.”
The Rock Stars of real estate? Man, them are pretty powerful words. They brought me back to earth. I was trippin’ but I crashed and came back from my own contact high.
So who is this Marc Davison who writes so eloquently, and the only other guy who can write about real estate and Elvis in the same article?
His point was that it was time to pass the torch from the traditional ways of doing real estate to this new way envisioned by the CEO’s, venture capitalists and technical writers.
“Two thousand Beatles appeared at Inman’s event last week. These people â€“ the attendees, speakers, vendors and visionaries- are the most important people in this business.
It’s a new era now. The old real estate business, with its million-plus Elvises might be able to find some work in Vegas but as of now, the torch has been passed. There’s no going back”
So, I’ve been thinking about this more and more. Are real estate agents outdated and obsolete? Will they be replaced by the mash-ups and data sites and the do-it-yourself searches and the electronic signatures? Is it just a business of software writers and venture capitalists now?
Marc Davison is vice president of OnBoard, a real estate data provider based in New York. Davison previously served as vice president of VREO, a provider of electronic signature and Web site software for the real estate industry. OnBoard supplies data to companies such as Coldwell Banker and J.L. Scott.
So, I’m thinking…… if he’s one of the rock stars of real estate, are the agents just lounge singers?
His attitude is similar to many other CEO’s of technical and software companies who supply a product to an industry, but this one just happens to be real estate. They seem to get confused about who actually does the work. Rather than seeing themselves as a useful business tool or partner, these guys lose sight of who their client is and what role they perform. Just like coke gives those with low self-esteem delusions of grandeur, the software designer’s high he gets from creating the business’s webpage or supplying some data somehow makes them think that they now are more powerful than the business they were hired to make the webpage for…..
So many CEO’s of these brave new software companies are frustrated that business, not just real estate, remain in what they consider the stone age. They get inpatient with the fact that many people still depend on print advertising as a major source of revenue. From reading interviews with these guys, I get the feeling that they’re frustrated with agents and brokers for continuing to advertise and for buyers and sellers continuing to read that damn newspaper!
“Don’t you see? We’re the wave of the future! We software designers, CEO’s, venture capitalists, technical writers and paperless signature processors, WE are the true rock stars of real estate and all you real estate salespeople are just the, uh…. groupies.” Or something. Not sure. Oh, maybe we’re just supposed to be their clients and pay them to create products they design to “disintermediate” us…. Again, not sure. Many things remain unsaid by these guys.
One thing I do know is that if agents and brokers quit doing what we do, then many guys like Marc Davison and his company OnBoard, could lose much of their client base. If traditional agents and brokers are forced out of the business, then who will be left to purchase his product?
Picture yourself in a boat on a river. With tangerine trees and marmalade skies. Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly, A girl with kaleidoscope eyes…..