Look, if you’ve been a regular reader, you know that I don’t do “blogging for clients” type of junk you’ll find elsewhere on the real estate web. My clients are my clients, I don’t talk about them, what I do talk to them about is between me and them, and this blog here is my personal thing where I get smart or ridiculous or whatever. But in this case, I think you can forgive me for writing about a client.
I’ve been working with TREPAC (Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee) for a while now on their consumer-facing efforts, and one of the concepts that the team came up with (credit to SGS) was to run a contest showcasing why Texans love their Texas homes. I must confess that I had very high expectations, but… some of these videos have exceeded all of them.
Let me share some of my personal favorites (I’m not a judge, so my opinion doesn’t mean jack diddly squat) and then make a couple of observations for the industry folks to think about.
These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things
In no particular order, here are some of my favorite videos.
I can’t believe this is an amateur production. Maybe it’s not. Maybe Chris Kaspar is a professional videographer, but if he’s not, he should consider it as a career. This is simply gorgeous, and heartwarming, and… man….
This video is all sorts of gorgeous. It doesn’t speak directly to the home itself, but to the great state of Texas (which I call home as well) as the larger “home”. But man, if the Texas Chamber of Commerce, or Gov. Rick Perry’s office (he’s been busy selling Texas to corporations everywhere), can’t use this video to tell the story… I don’t know what the hell they’re doing.
This one is similar to the one right above, but the young woman here is a very talented artist as well as a video editor. Wow is the only word.
In some way, this is my favorite. Because it clearly is NOT a professional or even a semi-professional production. But… when the husband is talking about what makes a house a home… it resonated with me. There is a truth and an authenticity to the couple that can’t be engineered, can’t be scripted, can’t be planned. Their story is everyone’s story — or at least what everyone wants to be the story.
I probably have other thoughts once I’ve spent more time on them, but… here are three initial observations.
The American Dream
My first thought is… this contest may very well be the single most effective set of promotion of the American Dream. NAR has spent tens of millions on commercials and advertising — all very professionally done — and not one comes close to evoking the feeling that Our Denton Home video evokes. I mean… this is fine:
But tell me you feel the same way watching that as you do watching some of the videos from the My Texas Home Contest. (Yeah, I know, that commercial is for Realtor.com and REALTORS, but still….)
Other big companies, like Zillow, Trulia, and Coldwell Banker have produced great commercials… but none of them speak to what a house, a home, family, community, pride in one’s town… all of the things that undergird the American Dream the way these home-made videos do.
This Is the Future of the Association
My second thought is… this is the future of Association activism. Other REALTOR Associations have made some great videos and commercials on homeownership. This one, from Missouri Association of REALTORS, may be the best I’ve seen:
But again, there’s something missing here. This is still some voiceover actor telling people what home means to them, and it does have that slight touch of the self-serving in it. (Have to expect it, I guess, when the Association is producing it.) As great as that video is, though, the big difference is that the Texas videos are homeowners telling us why home matters to them, instead of REALTORS telling homeowners why homeownership matters. There’s a difference, and I think people can tell.
You cannot watch the Kaspar video, where the young couple talks about five generations in that small town, shows the hard work they personally put in while renovating their great-grandfather’s house, and not want to defend homeownership. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if you’re a dues-paying, RPAC-donatin’ REALTOR, or if you’re a random “civilian”. You could be 90 years old, remembering your own life journey and your own memories of house, home and hearth, or be 19 years old and want the life that the Kaspars and others have built. You cannot help but be touched by these stories.
For organized real estate to move forward, to go into the next 100 years, it has to get in touch with homeowners — the people your members all work for — and start telling their stories. No one in the 21st century cares about what the REALTOR’s needs or wants. They care about what they need and want, and it’s high time that Associations start realizing that they need to stop talking about themselves, about REALTORS, and start talking about homeowners and aspiring homeowners.
Beyond Ordinary Commerce
Third thing that occurs to me… this is the way back from the brink for the entire real estate industry. The Preamble to the NAR Code of Ethics talks about going “beyond ordinary commerce”. Over the years, it seems we’ve forgotten what that means, and why what REALTORS do is beyond ordinary commerce.
Today, all the yammering in the industry is about lead generation, lead cultivation, conversion rates, Zillow, Trulia, brokerage business models, and so on and so forth. All of those things are important of course, but at the end of the day, what all y’all do is make the Kaspars and the Taylors and the Nichole Meyer and all of the rest of them live a good life.
If real estate is all about dollars and cents, and technology platforms and mobile advertising, and drones and virtual tours and HUD-1 statements and the like… it will be devoured by the forces of modernity. But real estate is not about those things, at the end of the day. In fact, real estate isn’t even about real estate at the end of the day.
It’s about these people, their children, their families, their friends, their jobs, their pride, their communities… it’s about their very lives.
High time that the industry find its way back to the Big Why, in order to find the way forward. These videos do that for me. Because it’s so easy to lose sight of what all this is about: human beings living their lives. If REALTORS realize, as the original framers of the Code knew, that their jobs must go beyond ordinary commerce, because what they’re “selling” is not land, not a bunch of bricks, but a family’s hopes and dreams and aspirations… then yeah, who cares about a website or disruption or whatever.
The human heart will never be disrupted or disintermediated or discarded.
I’ve done a lot of things over the years, but in all honesty, this might be one of the things I am most proud to be involved with. Kudos to TREPAC for doing this. Kudos to the staff and to the consultants and to the vendors for doing this. And most of all, kudos and a very large Thank You to the people who made the videos, submitted them, and told us their stories.
God, I love this!