Transparency. What a glorious concept.
In Real Estate, transparency can mean a truly collaborative experience between Brokerage, Agent, and the Consumer. Where the consumer is aware of what they want to be aware of, not what the professionals deem appropriate. I utter this with conviction, strong conviction. Conviction forged in the fire of past experiences. Experience as a professional in the Real Estate vertical. Experience as a repeat Real Estate consumer.
What does this mean?
And it’s time to share. Time to share who we are. What we stand for. What we believe.
And it’s time to understand that our actions, every action, is measured and judged, whether we like it or not, by the crowd. In the cloud.
The poster-child for transparency. The place that consumers can go to read what other consumers think. The digital manifestation of transparency and crowdsourcing. Yelp is the standard; the measuring stick by which all things transparent are measured. Businesses and consumers collaborating together, in a veritable utopia of transparency.
But wait. Yelp has come under fire. Assailed by the crowd. Accused of being the very thing that Yelp says they aren’t.
There were rumblings last year when an animal hospital in California alleged that Yelp refused to remove negative reviews from their site about the practice unless they were paid money. In March of this year, a lawsuit was filed against Yelp by businesses that claimed that the social media site offered to remove negative reviews of a business if that business agreed to participate in paid advertising on Yelp. Yelp maintains, unequivocally, that the lawsuit and allegations are without merit. Jeremy Stoppleman, Yelp’s CEO, even wrote about it in defense of his company. Yelp even took some action yesterday to combat these allegations by tweaking its algorithm and offering to consumers.
To me, however, whether or not Yelp is guilty/not guilty of the accusations is somewhat irrelevant. The mere fact that the accusations exist in the first place tell me that Yelp’s job is not done, that the fight for complete transparency still needs to be fought.
This discussion about transparency and Yelp is very germane to Real Estate, and hinges upon trust. Real Estate is facing a trust issue with consumers, much like Yelp is facing trust issues with its constituency.
Consumers are looking at the past 3+ years and seeing foreclosures. Loan defaults. Short sales. And they blame the industry, companies and individual practitioners, for all of it. Yet these same consumers, as a collective group, are still engaging the industry for their home ownership needs. However they are doing it DIFFERENTLY.
No longer will the consumer be blindly led. No longer will the consumer take assurances from the professionals that everything is in order, that it will be fine, that it is OK that they don’t understand every word, every letter of the fine print. Consumers want to know it all. Every last bit of it. Consumers are engaging professionals associated with companies that get it. Professionals and companies that understand that the most important transaction in the world is THEIRS. Consumers want to be engaged with a professional that understands that it is a collaborative process, not a coercive one.
There’s good news. In fact, there’s GREAT news. The industry has been put through the wringer, laundered and scrubbed, and has emerged brighter and fresher. At least here locally, the industry is smaller. Many who remain understand. Many who remain get it. Many who remain collaborate. Many who remain work together with their clients, their constituency, in order to provide a Real Estate experience that is indeed, magnificently transparent.
There is still work to do. There are still battles to be fought. And there is trust that needs to be regained. But we’re getting there, collectively. Together.
So go ahead, plug in the cord, and flick the switch. Turn on the overhead. We’ve got our lesson plan in hand, and are ready with our figurative Real Estate transparencies.
Find Your Home. Plan Your Life. www.averyhess.com