Person to person or person to pixel?

Disruption. Almost daily we hear about a new technology aiming to “disrupt” the way things have always been done. In real estate, Zillow and others have been touting disruptive technology for years. And realtors hear about new, more disruptive, concepts all the time. Superior technology will finally overcome the realtor-client relationship altogether and render realtors obsolete!
 
Or not.
 
There’s nothing wrong with technology. Like much of the rest of life, it makes the practice of real estate easier and more efficient than it used to be. But tech is only a tool. And a tool is only as good as the person using it.
 
So, how do we look at real estate tech disruption? The past is instructive. Thirty years ago, when Macs were new and I was in the marketing business, an amazing new thing called “desktop publishing” hit the industry like a tidal wave. It enabled graphic designers to create everything from spot ads to multipage publications on their computer screens rather than on paper, saving hours of tedious labor and enabling an unprecedented level of precision.
 
Many marketing creatives were certain we’d all be ruined. “Now, anybodycan be a graphic designer,” they said. Well, yeah, sorta. As it turned out, good designers were still good, only faster. And lousy designers were still lousy, only faster. Excellent creative chops were, and still are, essential.

So, how does all this apply? A few thoughts:

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Houses and shoes aren’t the same thing
I sometimes buy shoes on Zappos. The process is usually satisfactory, but the real key to Zappos is selection, not process. They offer astounding variety. Why else would you buy something as fit-sensitive as a shoe without the chance to try one on? But houses are not shoes, and selection isn’t really the issue. Anybody can find a house online these days. But, if it doesn’t “fit” you can’t send a house back (free shipping, anyone?) to the seller once you’ve bought it.
 
Think about online dating
Online dating absolutely works. I know several happily married (or permanently attached) couples who met online. But the tech connection is only a start – like finding a shoe on Zappos. Or a house on Zillow. After the connection is made the couple has to go through the dating/mating dance to get to a long-term relationship. And tech can’t do that for you.
 
It’s the human connection
Realtors love tech! It makes marketing and/or finding a house so much more efficient than it used to be. But working the deal once a buyer and seller have connected is a different thing altogether. Tech can’t replace a human being when it comes to thinking through needs and wants, negotiating a sale price, avoiding potholes on the road to closing, and soothing jangled nerves and/or wounded feelings. That’s what human beings do for each other.
 
So, bring on the disruptors! Keep those new algorithms coming! As long as human beings need to relate to one another – need a steady hand, or a creative idea to get around a roadblock, or a good laugh, or a cup of coffee and a good cry – realtors will be here. 

And this realtor just might make you a nice cocktail …

Peace on earth. And in real estate, too. Of course.

Peace  – it’s a message we hear a lot this time of year. Worth working toward, but it often eludes us. And that’s a shame. 
 
We have no control – not even much influence, really – over much of the chaos and dysfunction all around us, but there are things we can do that make a difference closer to home.
 
There are two things I do that make my life more peaceful. I focus on letting go, and on being grateful. It works in my life and – here’s the cool thing – it works in real estate, too.

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Letting go 
Beating your head against a wall doesn’t help. It doesn’t damage the wall, but it can really damage your head – especially if you keep at it. If you can’t change it, let it go. There’s a lot out there we can’t change, so the letting go – at least for me – is an unending project. But it really makes life better.
 
Gratitude
When we let the negative go, we open a door to gratitude for good things. This year I’ve made a habit of writing down three things I’m grateful for every morning – before I do anythingelse. Which has had the effect of giving me more to be grateful for. Cool how that works!
 
So, in real estate … ?
Yep. It works in real estate, too. A real estate transaction – whether you are buying or selling, or both – can be fraught with uncertainty, unexpected twists, and occasional setbacks. And it usually involves tons of money – always a stressor!
 
But I try to maintain perspective and help my clients do the same. 
 
As far as I know, no real estate transaction has ever been a matter of life and death. Frustrations, sure. Disappointments, sometimes, yes. But, if you miss getting that perfect house, another will turn up. That promising all-cash buyer wandered away? Another buyer will come along. We can’t change what has happened, but we canlet go, take a deep breath, and move on to the next deal.
 
And there is so muchto be grateful for! A seller has real property to sell. A buyer gets to go out shopping for a new house. There are millions and millions of people  – right here in Nashville and all around the world – who don’t have this good fortune! Let’s celebrate and enjoy this!
 
And what am I grateful for this year?
So many things! My sons. My sisters. My friends. My neighbors. My car that hasn’t needed a visit to the mechanic for two years, three months, and counting. My broker team and colleagues at Village. And, of course, my wonderful, amazing clients.