Moving from Sales to Home Health

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As the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against NAR continues to rage on, the rats aren’t happy about it.  If you follow the real estate industry, I am sure you have noticed a serious shift in the tone of messaging.  The war with NAR is dividing people.  Even NAR fan-boy sites like Inman News are finally stating the obvious.   A change is gonna come.  Yeah, but to what?

Over the last few blogs we have introduced the concept of a real estate agent becoming a sales channel for all things home related.  Real estate agents are uniquely positioned to be caretakers of property from the technical aspects of home maintenance and ongoing investment.  Theoretically this concept is pretty easy to understand, but what does this logistically look like?

Ever notice the filing cabinets in a Doctor’s office?  An ancient manilla tab folder for every patient.  But what if every file folder was a street address?  Instead of a Doctor’s office it was a realtor’s office.  And like a Doctor/patient relationship that is specific and unique to each patient, so is the realtor’s relationship with every home they oversee.  House, “doctors”, like the medical kind, take an oath to “do no harm” and always do what is best for the house.   Developing a holistic home health approach to real estate will help move realtors from being simply salespeople to becoming professional home advisors.  

Ever notice how many financial advisor ads you see during football game broadcasts?  Makes sense, financial advisors are important to everyone with a savings account.  Ever see a home advisor ad?  Home ownership is often cited as an individual’s largest investment.  Given that, does your home have an advisor?  Why not? 

“I trust my financial advisor to be looking out for my best interests”.  Can the same be said for realtors?  Historically, …it’s iffy?  But, going forward, it’s the goal. 

One of the biggest challenges facing agents is getting the phone to ring.  And, more specifically, getting the phone to ring when there isn’t a sale involved.  There needs to be a reason why a consumer would call a realtor?  For example, what if a homeowner wanted a deck upgrade?  They could run through the gauntlet of construction contractors and hope to get lucky.  Or, like going to their DR, they could call their Home Advisor for options, costs and ramifications specific to their home. 

People who believe in homeownership are, for the most part, the type of people who are also believe in developing “life plans”.    Agents hear comments like; “we plan to be here till the kids go school”.  “We move a lot because of work, so we need to be flexible”.  “We plan on downsizing after the kids leave”, etc, etc.   There is a reason why people buy the houses they do.  They have a plan. 

Agents can go far with clients when they are in sync with their client’s life plans.  The Client plans on only being in the home for a couple years; no need to recommend new roof.  The Client is retiring in the home next year, might want to recommend a new roof.    If your Client is only going to stay in the home a few years, why wouldn’t they want to see a plan to maximize their investment over that time?   

People who own a home, probably have some sort of savings plan or portfolio for their future.  For the most part, these people rely on professionals to manage their affairs and strategy.   Oddly, these are often the same people who let decisions regarding their largest investment, being their home, go to low-bid contractors with a CraigsList workforce.  But to date, where would a homeowner go to find unbiased long term real estate advice.  If you thought, realtor, you’d be wrong.  No one in the world, today, thinks realtors are unbiased.  It would probably be the last place a consumer would go.  Agents need to change that perception.

Here is a common question: how much will it cost to maintain my home over the next 5 – 10 years?  There are dozens of websites that will give you national average data.  But, what about a specific house on a specific street.  Who does that homeowner call? 

House Calls

If you go to a Doctor on a regular basis you are probably familiar with some sort of online application meant for patient/Doctor communications, appointments, and test results.  The same type of application/communication can be established by realtors for homeowners.  You know those annoying Dr reminders about upcoming procedures or tests?  Same email, different topics; “you are due for a gutter cleaning”. 

Is this a stupid idea?  I am sure we will get plenty of comments saying so.  But I am not seeing a lot of alternate ideas being discussed.  Everyone says change is coming, but they never complete the sentence.    At least not without the word “fiduciary”. 

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