Let’s get down to some serious industry transformation discussions regarding the “Four Bs.” The Four Bs are the fundamental building blocks that heretofore drove the real estate industry’s models with respect to consumer relationships and Broker/Owner profitability.
Brokers, Boards, Books and Buildings remain the economic blocks that continue to drive our brokerage profit models. Three of the four are still alive and kicking. What are the Four Bs, how do they function and what, if anything, do they mean to us now? More importantly, how do they meet contemporary consumer expectations?
Broker/Owners are literally the financial backbone of the real estate industry. e-Partner and this blog, REALonomics, support the importance of sustaining the roll Broker/Owners play in perpetuating real estate transactions and indeed propping up the industry at large. It is Broker/Owners who literally guarantee the financial stability of the industry. They are real estate’s preeminent risk-takers.
They are almost always the sole guarantors of market presence and it is they who take most of the personal financial risk for the real estate organizations operating within thousands of communities.
Fact: Broker/Owners are losing their ability to produce and sustain profit for their local brokerage firms. The risks now out weigh the rewards, as many are discovering. TWe are facing the financial collapse of many Broker/Owners.
Unlocking Franchise Economics: Pt 3
Have we ever wondered how the consumer views our real estate industry franchises? If we are going to unlock franchise economics and truly understand the value propositions inherent in franchising we must also see them (franchises) as the consumer sees them and we must ONLY value them as does the consumer.
If you were to create a list of distinctions…real ones…dynamic ones…that separate one franchise brand from another in the eyes of the only true client, the consumer, what would those distinctions be and how are they manifest in the process of transacting business?
Enjoy the PhotoBlog below. Read it carefully and ask yourself what might happen if the consumer could place all franchises into one blender and extract the best. What would the “best” be? What are the clear distinctions between franchise A, B and C?
If franchises have any value, and REALonomics believes they do, what is the empirical value to the consumer? Is franchise value a black-and-white proposition or, will we see living color coming out of the recession in 2009 and beyond? What changes do franchisors need to make to create distinction in local markets? Can distinction even be created and sustained? Do we need to blend the franchises? Do we need fewer franchises? Will franchises be blended out of economic necessity and through mergers and acquisitions?
If a Broker/Owner adopts a franchise model what is the set of “measureable” distinctions derrived from the relationship that will impact the consumer? Specifically, how do franchise distinctions create revenue for Broker/Owners in the crowded marketplace?
The question for the real estate industry to grapple with in the midst of the credit crunch is how can we help struggling homeowners in severely depressed markets such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco?
According to a recent Standard&Poors/Case-Shiller home price index of the top twenty metropolitan area home values, we are seeing record declines. Get a copy of the report.
Here’s the breakdown synopsis (source: Standard&Poors/Case-Shiller) (arrow highlights by REALonomics):
In these and hundreds of other markets, home value declines are taking a toll on individuals and families whose financial security is predicated almost entirely on home ownership.
There are at least three things local real estate companies in partnership with mortgage and title service providers could do for struggling homeowners.
- Set up financial support workshops led by experienced brokers/agents designed to coach homeowners with respect to their property values, the current trends, their specific mortgage situation and how to take positive steps to stay in their homes unless they absolutely must sell at this time. Such workshops should utilize skilled mortgage service counselors (not loan officers) who can give them answers;
- Real estate agents in troubled markets should be literally returning to the old practice of knocking on doors, not to get listings but to meet homeowners as “Property Consultants” to discuss specific home values within their neighborhoods and offer advice. In addition, brokerage firms should deliver resource information to homeowners that will advise them about market conditions, refinancing and other information they need;
- Brokerage firms should turn a portion of their print media budget and Internet costs toward creating blogs that are specifically administered by trained “Property Consultants” who can interact with property owners and deliver solid advice in real time.
During the next 24-36 months brokerage firms who want to build and retain consumer loyalty and predisposition should take a serious look at engaging in the creation of a group of “Property Consultants” who engage homeowners who are facing uncomfortable times.
Such an emphasis sends a powerful signal to consumers that we are serious, skilled, well trained, competent and knowledgeable professionals who can and will assist them with any property question they have, including financial counseling.
Once in a while REALonomics will post a comment to great articles found in Inman News. Such was the case this morning, Tuesday, September 23, 2008. The comment created some interesting communication…all good, by the way. But the comment to this post seemed to touch a pent-up industry nerve regarding where our industry is headed and what our industry focus should be as move into the Third Economic Wave in the industry’s development.
There seem to be two camps developing within the real estate industry. The first camp believes the media and negative language is the culprit that is creating a lot of the market decline and lack of buyer confidence. The other camp is the group saying, “We need to look within the industry and raise our standards making them more consumer-centric and us less susceptible to repeating the errors of the past.” REALonomics falls into the later group.
As a result of feedback here is the comment from the Inman article posted here for our readership:
The notion that positive thinking and misplaced hype can move us away from a faulty and failing economic model is more dangerous than the crisis itself because it demonstrates the lack of depth in our thinking. This crisis cannot be repaired by “making people believe the worst is over…” This is the logical result and outcome of poor economic modeling in the mortgage industry that loaned billions to buyers who didn’t qualify and the real estate industry’s fickle pretense that it exercises ultimate fiduciary in its dealings with clients.
Rather than whining, what we should be doing as an industry is recreating ourselves in terms of standards-based brokerage practices, revamping our national and state networks into consumer-centric, transparent operations and utilizing the power of NAR to send a positive signal to consumers that we “get it” and that they are going to see a new side to the professional real estate industry they deserve and one that will refuse to close a transaction where the buyer does not qualify.
A standards-based model should include heavy fines for brokerage firms that (1) hire under qualified agents who lack the academic training and counseling skills we need for consumer protection; (2) refuse to fulfill maximum (not minimum) financial training in economics and real estate investments and fiduciary training courses and finally, (3) much higher costs to enter the industry and stay in it.
A standards-based industry would include national performance reviews and ratings of brokerage firms with financial and recognition incentives for creating and maintain standards of excellence that protect consumers and their investments in real estate.
In addition, we need to look at the role of NAR and how NAR services the industry and consider refocusing its mission and resources on a newly profiled industry that really understands and accepts responsibility for its actions when counseling consumers to invest in real estate.
One thing we believe with certainty, we are never returning to what we once knew. Having said that, what is it we would like to become as an industry after the dust settles?
While the Feds scramble to resolve issues, we should be scrambling as an industry to reinvent ourselves. Such a reinvention involves painful analysis and truth-telling about where we have been and how we have operated. Only then can we begin the process of rebuilding a tattered industry that is increasingly viewed with skepticism by most consumers.
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