REALonomics is the business of analyzing business models, in the ever illusive Quest for Model Perfect and of course, providing broker/owners with input and opportunities for creating consumer-centric business models.
We have decided to implement “shops” as a part of our offering to real estate owners and the industry. Shops are nothing more than inquiries designed to ascertain the accuracy of claims and the level of service given consumers by various organizations. Shopping the quality of an organization is not done to embarrass or discredit them. In fact, REALonomics will not post negative information gathered from its shops wherein organizations are named or derided. We will post the positive qualities of organizations, however, and name them.
REALonomics decided to shop organizations that position themselves on the Internet as “International Real Estate Companies” and providers of International Real Estate services to consumers. We went at this with only one criteria, which of the companies found on the Internet by casual organic search provides a consumer with the easiest access to international properties and direct contact with local real estate professionals in well, France.
We wanted a direct French Connection in a specific community in France that could provide us, not with US representation but French representation for a potential real estate investment.
Cracking Open a Google Search for a French Connection
A Google search of “international real estate” yields 109,000,000 opportunities for the user! Switching the search terms to a more broad set of descriptors designed to highlight international companies, “international real estate companies,” yields 172,000,000 results.
But what captured the attention of REALonomics was the list of well known companies identified by Google as being “international real estate companies” that appeared in the organic search on the first page. Here’s the list in order of appearance:
- Leading Real Estate Companies of the World
- RE/MAX Residential and Commercial Real Estate
- Keller Williams
- Sotheby’s International Realty
- IRED – International Real Estate Digest
- Realty Executives
- Coldwell Banker
This is truly an impressive list, dominated by well known, highly respected and successful US real estate franchisors (pages 2+ of the Google search lists more!). Let’s get to work, shopping.
Where in the World is Pascal Chevaux?
Three of the companies on the Google list are NOT traditional real estate brokerage companies, these are, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Sotheby’s International and IRED. Rather, they are listing services for real estate companies claiming to be international. We tapped into these websites as a consumer might. We wanted to see if we could find what we were looking for, a brokerage firm and property in a specific European country, France. This proved a frustrating experience as we attempted to actually find the cyber path that would lead us to the “International Real Estate” brokers and properties.
So, REALonomics shopped three of the traditional US franchise companies on the list via email (they will remain anonymous) and asked specifically if their International Relocation Department could put us in touch with a broker in a specific city/area of France, our French Connection.
The results were interesting. We received auto replies from two of the three companies we selected. Essentially, the auto responses said they would be in touch soon. One has not replied to the email request at all. Of the two that auto-responded, one of them did get back to us with a great link to their franchise’s French real estate website…a great site and helpful but not the total solution. Because REALonomics was impressed with this company’s truly International Real Estate presence we will name them and show you the link.
ERA was the company with a very impressive online International Real Estate presence. ERA has an excellent web presence that is professional and pleasant to the user. The other interesting thing about ERA’s French website was the ability of the user to view the site in multiple languages. The link sent to us by ERA for French real estate directed us to ERAFRANCE. One thing ERA could do on their company web page is place direct text links to the countries that are a part of their International Real Estate Network.
The second company sent an auto response that included links to agent information within their franchise and a statement that they would try to respond within 24 hours because our request was “their number 1 priority.” As of this post, no response.
Where in the World is Pascal Chevaux?
Of the sites listed by Google as “International Real Estate Companies” we believe the best consumer-centric international real estate website was Sotheby’s International. Why, because it actually demonstrated three important features. First, a vast array of international properties in multiple property types is available for viewing.
Secondly, it was not a mash-up (collection of companies aggregated to one location) that simply serves as another search engine that must be endured by the consumer who is required to mindlessly click through hundreds of links to find a French Connection. The consumer could actually plunge right in with property previews anywhere in the world.
Finally, perhaps more importantly, real brokerage firms, addresses, international telephone numbers and properties in foreign countries that users can access WITHOUT being required to register. Truly consumer friendly. Here’s our French Connection.
Contact: Chevaux, Pascal
1, rue du Mont Baret
Veyrier Du Lac
Veyrier, Rhone-Alpes 74290, France
Tel: + 33 – (0)4 – 50 68 19 38
Fax: + 33 – (0)4 – 50 69 13 58
Languages: English, French
Our industry has come a long way with its Internet technologies. We still have a long way to go with respect to consumer access, ease of use and prompt human interaction to email requests…please, turn off the auto responders. Please, eliminate the requirement to register. Let’s move toward a more transparent real estate industry.