Part One: a Situation
Real estate is morphing. That is the opinion of many, if not most. The extent to which it is morphing is a topic for endless discussion and rancor. One individual who believes the pace of the morphing is quickening is the Founder of e-Partner and CityBlogUSA a market management and economic model that espouses full-on horizontal business models, consumer-centric transparency and paperless transactions.
That’s not all…there’s more. In addition to his passionate, Robin-Hood-like defense of owners, he believes that much of the industry as we know it today is being challenged by new entities he affectionately calls “non-brokers” who are already challenging outmoded concepts of franchising and real estate industry business models that either don’t work, are cumbersome to implement and maintain or, more importantly, aren’t profitable.
He believes these non-brokers and what he calls “neo-brokers” are already emerging and forming technology solutions and alliances that threaten the viability of a large percentage of traditional real estate companies.
Topic: The Quickening Pace of Business Evolution
“We simply don’t have a mature understanding of the pace of evolution within the industry, where it’s been, where it’s going and how to manipulate its business models on the fly,” states Donald Teel, Founder of e-Partner. Teel, a twenty year industry veteran and former owner, approaches our business modeling bluntly but professionally when he states, “We aren’t agile enough to quickly shift course because we are weighted down with an old, tired retail model that consumers find repulsive, arduous, expensive and non-transparent,” he says.
What does Teel want? “It’s a message about owners taking control of the economic forces that are shaping their ROI, rather than being dependent and dangerously reliant upon fickle markets to deliver passive revenue in feast-or-famine cycles…I stopped believing in fairy tales when I was about 5 years old and our industry is largely living on myth…just read the articles about how long the downturn is going to last…where are the articles that talk about the many new, exciting ways we can reinvent our industry during the downturn?”
“What do I want? A true analysis about the reinvention of the industry, its economic models, profitability for owners, market definitions and how we meet the needs of today’s consumers, without all of the inhibiting rhetoric about brands, MLS Associations, NAR, local associations and the whole litany of things that used to make this industry work but now need renovation and clarity with respect to how we do the job of listing and selling real estate,” says Teel.
Topic: “Freedom Summit” for Owners
Teel insists, “Owners need their own economic summit, where they come to the round table with a legal pad and pen or, if your truly geeky, Notepad, and hammer-out what we are up against and how we can take control of the reinvention of the industry before others reinvent it at the expense of owners and franchisors, including independent firms.”
“If 500 owners came together for one week, without speakers, break-out sessions, ancillary service sponsors, cocktail parties disguised as networking sessions, outside interference and influence, I believe we could come up with cutting-edge solutions. This would be a “Freedom Summit” where we forget we are competitors and distinct brands and ask ourselves as owners, are we happy with the industry, its direction, where it is taking us and the profit we produce.”
Although Teel supports brand franchising, NAR and local associations, he believes emphatically that it is time for owners to start taking control of these organizations, the process by which they operate and the outcomes their produce before it is too late. “The historical institutions which once served owners and real estate agents have, to a large degree, become self-serving real estate icons that actually place their own interests above the interests of broker/owners at the expense of owner profitability.” In short, Teel believes that too often, “…the politics of survival and personal gain within the institutions out-weigh owner needs.”
Topic: Replicating Inadequacy, Over-and-Over-and-Over
“We cannot simply keep doing what we do and hope solutions come to us by osmosis because there are too many competing entities within our industry that block innovation and the new definitions of market models, including how owners make and sustain profitability.”
“My partner said it best when he remarked that we are an industry made up of control models…everyone is trying to control someone else in the real estate industry’s national organizational flow chart.”
“Outsiders look at the industry as ill equipped to handle the fundamental changes being thrust upon it and they implement effective models that run counter to us. We should be asking the hard questions about what can be done to dramatically improve how we meet consumer needs, lower operating costs, diminish our numbers, reduce transaction costs and yet, improve our profitability.”
“When you have a major Franchisor, like Prudential, showing the likes of Zillow and Trulia the door, it’s a signal that the industry’s arteries are clogged and we are deeply in need of a bypass,” Teel says (see Rock Solid Meltdown post here).
“Prudential owners understood what was happening,” Teel states. The bottom line on this, according to Teel is simple that “…industry organizations cannot be allowed to provide Prudential owners with free services if Prudential Real Estate Affiliates provides similar services for a fee.” Teel views the Prudential debacle in San Diego as a symptom of the larger economic problem facing owners, i.e., finding new ways to create efficiency models that can produce higher profitability on fewer transactions.
REALonomics , Teel’s blog, estimates that up to 65% of all traditional brokerage firms on the precipice of financial disaster…”more owners are profitless than ever before,” Teel believes. “Our risky ROI models are catching with us as the tsunami of change batters us relentlessly.” “Your franchisor can’t help you,” Teel says, “they have the same issues.”
Topic: The Third Economic Wave – Consumer Centricity
Teel, a student of the industry’s evolution, has divided the history of brokerage into three eras or, what he calls, economic waves, each of which is characterized by technology. “Technology has always been the alchemy that produced ROI, even our old MLS books were the technology model of their day,” says Teel. “We would do ourselves a favor if we understood the First, Second and especially the Third Economic Eras of our own industry.”
Teel’s outline of the industry recognizes three overlapping eras with each new economic era supplanting the former with new technology while diminishing owner profitability. “As the industry has inched forward, owner profitability has steadily declined to its current negligible amount and operating complexity has increased,” Teel believes.
“We have entered a Third Economic Wave, the Consumer-Centric Era, with entirely new operating rules or worse, no operating rules at all, where owner agility will be the greatest asset they possess,” Teel believes and he is emphatic when he says, “Owners are running out of options for profitability because they continue to cling to a tattered security blanket of a bygone model that is clearly dead on arrival…bricks and mortar, retail operations that rely too heavily on space allocation and manual labor to service consumers and provide transaction management.”
“Consumers,” according to Teel, “have their hand on the economic joystick as they increasingly reject our service models that contain too many control-barbs in favor of open, free-wheeling, transparent real estate that allows them cost-effective choices without notions such as buyer-brokerage, please sign here so I can control you.” Teel says, “its just time to buck-up and admit it, consumers don’t like our model…they tolerate our model…there aren’t many options…and that’s my point, why aren’t owners creating the options internally; shouldn’t we be partnering with the consumer?”
Next Week: Part Two – The Interview
This relationship creates a national tie-in to the vast community-based relocation network known as e-Partner and will include resident blogging, aggregations up and down the e-Partner Network from United States WebPage to the largest and smallest communities in all 50 States.
ePartner USA, Inc. developed one of the largest privately operated national networks several years ago and began delivering it to existing Broker/Owners in 2006. The CityBlogUSA Network is its second level strategy for the development of e-Partner’s transparent real estate platform that empowers residents and consumers to blog about their favorite cities or home town by posting information in categories known as a Park Bench.
Most importantly, the model positions Broker/Owner in the middle of the communication channels in both the e-Partner community-based network and the CityBlogUSA blogging platform.
We’re the Talk of the Town!
The blogs recently recognized the CityBlogUSA strategy as unique in its incorporation of each State blogging Network under a common URL nomenclature, such as ArizonaBlogPage, FloridaBlogPage, NebraskaBlogPage, etc. Each community in all 50 States is cross-hatched into the State Blog Page and with the National site www.CityBlogUSA.com.
www.CityBlogUSA.com affords any consumer the opportunity to post information about any local topic of interest to others within uniquely defined State and community-centric blogging networks.
In fact, www.CityBlogUSA.com has gone a step further, offering its users the opportunity to blog with words, using images to tell the story about life in a city. Known as PhotoBlogUSA, users can upload images that tell pictorial stories about a community.
Community-Based Blogging for Everyone!
The entire blogging platform operates under the premise espoused by REALonomics; that we have entered a new real estate economy that will become increasingly dominated by consumer-centric models. Again, e-Partner and CityBlogUSA are positioning Brokerage firms for involvement in the stream of communications that will inevitably result from a network that provides community-based blogging for everyone.
Ask the People who Live There!
REALonomics contends that consumers have deviated to some degree from utilizing real estate professionals as a first point of contact for community information when contemplating relocation and real estate investment, opting rather to “go-it-alone” in the cyber world and now in the vast corners of the blogosphere.
Consumers, according to everything analyzed by REALonomics, will still need and prefer the services of the millions of real estate professionals and that’s where e-Partner is positioning itself and Broker/Owners.
But when it comes to information about communities, CityBlogUSA encourages consumer to simply “Ask the People who Live There” for information about their favorite cities or home town. After all, who would know more?
The watershed between blogging in general and the CityBlogUSA and e-Partner Network marriage is the dedication on both parts to the empowerment of owners to reinvent how they interact with consumers and to providing owners with the ability to manage the transformation taking place within the real estate industry.
Local residents and those contemplating relocation can exchange information via posting. In the past, when a person or family decided from Sacramento to Sarasota, most of the information about their destination city came from real estate agents, local newspapers and the local Chamber of Commerce.
CityBlogUSA enables residents to post the qualities that make their community unique and for others to comment about the good, the bad and perhaps the ugly. After all, who knows more about a city than the people who live there?
Suggest a “Park Bench” for you City
The CityBlogUSA Network is a national, state and local city blogging network that allows residents to suggest topics known as a “Park Bench” such as jobs, health care, real estate, schools, lifestyles, politics and more. The blog topics can be unique to a city, allowing the residents and others to talk about local issues in a city-specific manner.
CityBlogUSA is all about the creation of a personality profile of a particular city coming into focus over time. As residents post information other consumers can access the information and get an upfront, close and personal feel for what it might be like to live in Seattle, Chicago, Joplin, Atlanta or any other city in the USA.
The CityBlogUSA Network is truly a work of transparency. CityBlogUSA is consumer-centric and consumer-driven, empowering real people, in real cities, to post blogs about what they deem are real issues.
One resident of Kingman, Arizona posted the following comment under the Health Care Park Bench:
have been here 1 year this June and have yet to find a doctor that will accept new patients. I am very discouraged that there is no avenue for new residents to find out who is available without a lot of labor intensive efforts.
Since health care is an important subject to any resident or person or family contemplating relocation, such information becomes highly relevant, exposing a situation that is unique to Kingman, Arizona.
Another resident posted a comment about great recreation activities that exist for individuals and families who enjoy water sports, as follows:
Kingman is about 30-40 minutes to Laughlin. A very easy drive. There are many boat and jet ski rental shops in Bullhead City (directly across the river on AZ side). Some casinos offer rentals also, but they are more expensive. Lake Mead can be accessed two ways; north to Meadview or over the damn to Boulder City. Houseboat rentals are available in Boulder City. You can also rent houseboats on Lake Mohave which is closer but not as big.
On the humorous side, someone commented, “You better not get injured jet skiing unless you have a doctor!”
All of the authorships, comments and participation on the part of residents is FREE to all residents who want to participate in the CityBlogUSA Network.
RE Agents May Stake a Claim to their Market
For a nominal annual fee, Real estate agents can stake a claim to their local market(s) and be featured as relocation specialists. Businesses may also promote their product or service through either display ads or a Business Directory ad for every city in the CityBlogUSA Network. Sponsors can be tied directly to Park Bench topics in a particular city, making targeted marketing very pinpointed.
Every State a Bloggin Network
The CityBlogUSA Network is even more powerful. It contains fity integrated State blogging networks operating automonously but in cooperation with every other State and city.
The State blogging networks are easily accessed by pointing one’s browser to:
Well, you get the idea! Enter the state name followed by blogpage.com and you are in your state, ready to blog about your favority city or home town.
Truly, The CityBlogUSA Network represents a cutting edge movement toward consumer-centric real estate models that allow the free-flow of information from resident to consumer.
Jump to CityBlogUSA.
Read the CityBlogUSA Frequently Asked Questions.