Every industry is doing its best to adapt to the new way buyers make purchase decisions. The fact is, we don’t want to deal with salespeople anymore; we want to go online, shop around, figure out what we like, get a comfortable level of education about whatever we’re interested in, and then either buy it then and there or call someone and give them our credit card info. The “sales model” approach to business is quickly becoming obsolete; as the Information Age progresses, a “marketing model” is taking over.
“Every industry” seems to be changing, that is, except real estate. Real estate is still sold by sales people, and you really have to laugh sometimes at the efforts of sales people trying to do “marketing.” Have you ever wondered why real estate is the only industry where a headshot of the agent is the primary focus of branding? Have you ever pulled out a Realtor’s note pad and said to yourself, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about moving — maybe I’ll give her a call.” What about your house-shaped letter opener with an agent’s name on it? I’ve actually seen a fly swatter (no, I’m not kidding…), that’s shaped like a house, with a Realtor’s name on it. That’s real estate marketing for you.
Here is an interesting fact that was published by a National Association of Realtors survey in late 2008: of the buyers who had purchased in the twelve months prior, 87% of them had used the internet in their home search. I submit to you if the percentage is that high on an national scale, it is likely to be pretty close to 100% here in the suburbs of Silicon Valley. What that should mean to you is this: most people are depending less on the advice of a salesperson, and are instead looking at how homes are marketed on the internet.