Zillow has been a hot topic, not only among home buyers and sellers, but throughout the real estate professional world! Zillow created the ability for potential home buyers and sellers to see all available listings, essentially eliminating the need for real estate agents to be the liaison to the MLS. The company even provides, although arguably inaccurate, algorithmic home value estimates.
Now, Zillow has the audacity to pair their Zestimate with Zillow Offers to actually buy homes directly from sellers! Who do this online company think they are?? They have created a process to include affiliated mortgage, title and escrow services. This effectively makes it a powerhouse of a competing real estate agency.
Or does it?
Yes; Zillow, Redfin, and the likes make the industry a little more competitive, but I believe it will only enhance real estate agents.
We live in a time where people can Google anything and find very accurate answers. If someone wants to list their house For Sale By Owner, they can find a detailed process on the internet. If someone wanted to find a real estate contract, that person can find a pretty darn good template with a quick search.
But, I argue that the vast majority of buyers and sellers will always need expertise and advice. Real estate is often the single most valuable asset someone will ever own in their lifetime. And although they may use Zillow to help guide them in their process (and likely pick up some misinformation), it’s the real estate agent that is there to provide invaluable advice.
All Zillow did was take away the stereotype of being a “professional door opener”. That’s a really good thing! Can we please get rid of that stereotype already?! With the misrepresentation gone, real estate professionals can now shine and show what they really do.
And if real estate professionals embrace the technology that Zillow offers, it might bring more business. Many real estate professionals have successfully received leads from advertising with Zillow directly.
Zillow also creates more supply and demand. As Saturday Night Live recently pointed out, people are oddly attracted to look at other people’s houses. In fact, comically so. The platform allows people to kick the tires without having to commit and all that does is get people even more emotionally charged to buy or sell once they see what other people have.
But here is the kicker. Back to the point that people can now Google anything or Zillow anything. Because answers and inventory are so easily accessible, it requires that real estate agents provide more. There is no such thing as a “jack of all trades” anymore, because thats what Google does. A real estate agent must provide invaluable advice that the buyer or seller cannot get from the internet or the next agent down the street!
Real estate professionals must find a niche
It’s imperative for any service industry professional to become a subject matter expert in a world of general information. When people are paying more for a service, they are expecting to receive more. It is difficult to provide deep value to every type of buyer, seller, or situation out there.
How can a financial planner give advice to real estate professionals? Easy. Financial planners have, and still are, going through this same transition! I’ve made a decision to be a financial planner who only focuses on helping successful real estate agents make the most of their property and investment portfolios. Why? Because I have a spouse who is a realtor, I own real estate investments, and I’m passionate about it. I feel the financial services industry has ignored an extremely valuable asset class for decades. I want to be the one to change that!
What do you find passion in? When you look at your real estate business, who or what situation have you enjoyed the most? If you spend some time thinking about what you really enjoy the most, then you can find your niche. I know that it is scary to narrow down the buyers or sellers that you are taking, but as the saying goes, “the riches are in the niches”! Once you put it out there to the world, you become known as the person that does “X”. And when you only focus on one subject matter, well then you have a knowledge set that no one else can replicate.
Here are some real estate niche ideas:
· Corporate relocation
· 55+ Communities
· Google (insert any large local company) employees
· First-time home buyers
· Millennial money
· Tech-savvy buyers
· Real estate investors
· Multiple door properties (duplex, triplex, etc.)
· 1031 exchanges
· Growing families
This is not an inclusive list, but something to get you thinking. Once you nail down your niche, put it out there to the world via word-of-mouth and website marketing. Then, study up and know that market like no one else can!
….including Zillow, Redfin, or any other generalist company!
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.