History Repeats

Remember when Netflix was a little quirky company with a mail-order CD delivery business.   They were asking the consumer to completely change the way they receive, watch and order movie entertainment.  That was a HUGE ask for some “nobody” to make.  Plus, it seemed a little weird at the time, a bit cumbersome.  BUT, the universal hatred of the then current system, i.e., Blockbuster, was so great consumers jumped at the chance to free themselves.

Customers found the old method dated and out of touch.  The general public felt a universal consensus of an off-putting attitude of superiority.   They felt cheated.  Ripped off.  And they felt  helpless as there were NO alternatives available.   My way or the highway simply doesn’t work anymore.   And if you think this paragraph is about CD rentals, you’d be wrong.

Parallels between national franchises like KW and Compass and the old-time CD stores of Blockbuster and Hollywood are easy to draw.  Both had their day.  Both took their customers for granted.  And both took advantage of a near monopoly-like situation.  Both were disliked.  No one ever said, “I love Blockbuster”.  Just as no one has ever said, “Pay Compass 6%, they’re so worth it”.    

Both business models fester resentment.  “I hate that I am waiting in line to pay for my late fees”.   “I hate that I am paying my Buyers agent’s commission from my home equity”.   In both cases the consumer was screaming, “there must be another way”! 

Blockbuster grew like a rocket, burned through money and died a quick and sudden death.  Real estate franchises grew slowly; generationally slow.  They too burned through money, but their death will be a long and drawn-out affair.   Too many people making too much money will temporarily pay for the status quo to continue.  But eventually, it will lose out to time. 

Netflix ended the need for Blockbuster.  Who will end the need for national real estate franchises? 

Blockbuster was a brick-and-mortar business.  Netflix was online.   In that case the generational change was obvious.  All real estate is local.  So why do consumers don’t need national brands?  The answer will be different depending on one’s generation.   But the changing shift in the consumer mindset is just as obvious today as it was for Blockbuster back then. 

The ending of a year is always cause for reflection on the year ahead.  2023 is over so what will 2024 look like?

If you are currently affiliated with a “traditional” national franchise, we hope you look at 2024 as a year for change.  Atlanta just happens to be, or is pretty damn close to, being ground-zero in terms of the changing real estate landscape.  While agents in other markets sit on the sidelines worrying about whatever NAR situation they face.  Atlanta agents can do whatever they want now.  Whether they know it or not, the Atlanta consumer sits on the cutting edge of change because of the freedoms the Atlanta agent community has fought for. 

The superstars of the real estate world five years from now will all cite 2024 and the recent DOJ commission rulings as a time when things began to change. 

Agents must ask themselves where they see their place in all this change?  Do they keep their Blockbuster cards or do they create an online account at Netflix?  Do they stay at the franchise and get new “glamour” shots, or do they go independent and get real?  Either way, it’s going to be fun. 

To all of our agents, and to those who read this; we wish you all a very warm, safe, and loving holiday season.  Be safe, enjoy others and as always, be kind, rewind!

Happy New Year!

See you in 2024!     

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