Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Real Estate Obsession

There was a time not so long ago when people were content to get their stock quotes from the newspaper. Back then it was good to be a stock broker: brokers held a monopoly over information about public companies and they held a monopoly over the ability to execute a trade.

If you wanted to buy or sell a stock, you had to engage a stockbroker; the low cost competition was Charles Schwabb.

24 hour cable news channels and internet trading changed that forever. Access to information and online trading made the financial markets more egalitarian. Regular people were invading the domain of the three piece suits and tracking their retirement savings in real time.

As a former financial consultant, I lived through this revolution. And I am starting to see it happen again.

For most people, their home is their greatest asset. If people will continue to obsess about the value of a 401(k) from which they cannot even withdraw funds for 15 years, they will just as readily consume information about the value of their homes and the homes in surrounding neighborhoods even though they are not planning to sell in the near term.

Real Estate professionals have been shielded by their monopoly over the local MLS services. But web sites like Zillow and Trulia are providing people with the comparable pricing data that used to be the preserve of the real estate broker.

The difference between real estate and the stock market is that there is not a ticker that tells you the value of your home from minute to minute. But that is coming....

For example, a New York cable outlet runs a television show that displays pictures of homes and lists prices. They are claiming the average viewing time is 20 minutes.

20 Minutes! And no Maria Bartiromo!

Real estate listings as entertainment.

It is just a mater of time before someone is regularly webcasting local real estate information, opinion, and commentary to local real estate markets.

People will always choose more information. A real estate brokerage that wants to continue justifying a 6% real estate commission and establish itself as the thought leader in a given community can leverage the internet to inexpensively deliver valuable educational content to serve its market place and position itself as the dominant brand.

1 comment:

  1. I prefer to sell or to buy property fsbo - it can hepl me to save my time and my money. Last year I sold my house with the help of Fizber - an fsbo website.