Positive Vibes

I realized that my first few posts on this brand new blog have been… a tad negative.  While I certainly have no interest in joining some echo-chamber gabfest about how wonderful technology X is for real estate, and how if we just learned how to connect, really, really connect, then everything would be hunky dory, re-reading what I’ve written makes me wonder, “Geez, why is this guy even working in real estate industry?”

So some positive vibes.

I really dig this industry.  I’m not a broker, nor a realtor.  I’m a lawyer, entrepreneur, and marketer.  So I look at the real estate industry from with a bit of distance.  What I see is (a) incredible importance and vitality, and (b) unbelievable anachronism and inefficiency.

A lot of it is the result of bad business practices.  And no amount of technology can help with that.

But what the technology can do, and is doing, is disrupting everything.  The whole neat arrangement built up over decades of work by millions of people is having its foundation chopped out from beneath it by the power of the Networked Society.  That, in turn, is forcing conversations about the industry, its practices, those of us who provide products and services to the industry, to the brokers, the agents, the buyers and the sellers.  All of that is extremely healthy, and frankly invigorating.

I could go work at some CPG company, I suppose.  But the marketing there is more or less set; a lot of the practices are pretty well understood, as that industry has adjusted to the disruptive effects of the Networked Society.  Maybe the next enormous disruption will make those industries fun to work in again, but in the meantime, real estate is the place to be if you want to deal with really new, really interesting, really tough issues in marketing and technology.

Here’s the thing: I believe that ultimately, the real estate industry will redefine itself, and re-emerge stronger than ever, more efficient than ever, and more focused on delivering value than ever.  Technology will be only a small part of the story.  The larger part is in redefining the modus operandi of real estate as it exists.  That change is coming; in fact, it’s already here — we just haven’t adjusted to it yet.

And in that work, marketing is a critical part of the conversation, because what real estate professionals do day in and day out is marketing.  That so many do it so badly today doesn’t mean they’re not doing marketing; they’re doing it, just not well.  That too will change.  It’s how business works, and how an industry moves along.

I’m pretty excited to be a part of that tectonic shift.

So yes, I tend to criticize an awful lot at least in blogging.  But it’s because I see a way forward, a way upward, to break through this time of uncertainty and emerge out the other end as a much improved industry overall.  I suspect that many of the people actively reading blogs (like this one) are also engaged in that same work.

I’m quite optimistic actually, that mistakes will be made, but we’ll learn from them and move forward and upward.  But we have to recognize mistakes when they are mistakes, and argue with each other as to whether this or that was the right or wrong step.  Through that creative destruction, I really do believe that we’ll find our way.

As I’ve said, my day job is at OnBoard, a real estate data and technology company.  I’m surrounded by smart passionate people who argue all the time about what is the best solution, or the most realistic, or the most efficient way to solve problems for our clients.  That’s a lot of fun.  But having worked at Realogy, I feel that our work — my work — is important as well.  Alex Periello, the CEO of Realogy Franchise Group, once said at a company meeting that what we (Realogy) do is to help people fulfill their American dream of homeownership.  When you really think about what that means, the work of real estate professionals is really quite profound.

So laziness, hidebound customs, and lack of professional dedication in that important work is just not acceptable to me.  And if I get nasty and negative, I suppose that is the reason why.

All of us involved with the real estate industry need to recognize the vital societal importance of what we do — whether its helping people buy and sell homes, or supplying data to companies, or writing mortgages, or building websites to serve consumers.  And then we all need to step up.

Now, let me return you all to our regularly scheduled programming. 🙂


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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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