It is easier to say no than to say yes.
When you say no, nothing changes. No is safe. No is easy. Yes is harder. Yes is a step outside your comfort zone. Yes is interesting. Yes is hard.
Change is tough. Most people don’t like change. I’m no different. But I made a change last week. I left Royal LePage and joined the RedPin Brokerage. It had to be done. I was ready for a change, past ready really, but it was still tough. Since 2007, when I first became a licensed real estate agent, I’ve been working in the same office. When I joined, the office was called Prudential Grand Valley Realty but it became Royal LePage Grand Valley Realty a few years later. It’s a good place with ethical agents and free coffee. The broker is always available to answer questions. The staff is efficient and friendly. It is centrally located, with lots of free parking.
As a brokerage, I like Royal LePage. I like that it is over 100 years old. I like that it is Canadian. I like it’s marketing materials and media spokesman – Phil Soper.
The problem is that I don’t like brokerages. I don’t like the traditional brokerage model. It is outdated and expensive – expensive for the realtor and for the consumer. It’s a broken model. Real estate is an industry that is waiting for a major disruption. I’ve been complaining about a lot. The RedPin isn’t a major disruption, but it is a step in the right direction.
What is the RedPin?
The RedPin is a new kind of brokerage
It is web-based, offering a new way for people to buy and sell homes. The fact that it has such a strong online platform is very attractive to me. I’ve never advertised in real estate magazines, or on bus benches… When I first became a Realtor, I was in the print media business (advertising sales rep for The Record’s Grand magazine). I witnessed firsthand the disintegrating and disappearance of traditional media. I knew then that the future of real estate was online. I started blogging and getting involved in social media. More than 60% of my real estate business comes to me either directly or indirectly from my online efforts.
A full-service real estate data portal
The best thing about a web-based brokerage is the data. Data on schools, interactive maps, information on grocery stores, services and restaurants are all readily available. In the old days, real estate agents were the gatekeepers to the information that is now free and easy to find online.
The end of traditional prospecting
Most real estate sales trainers tell you that you should spend two hours everyday prospecting for new business. They tell you to mine your “sphere of influence” for business and referrals. Call them. Send them cards and letters. One brokerage says that there should be 31 “touch points” with your future clients throughout the year. You have to be top of mind when people need a realtor. Sales trainers used to tell salespeople to interrupt people at their homes with phone calls, but “cold calling” got outlawed thankfully. “Get your feet on the street”, they tell you. “Sales happen where the rubber hits the road, go knock on doors…” and all that ol’ timey sales tactics stuff.
It’s not rewarding.
That’s pre-internet thinking.
That might have once worked, or worked for them. But it didn’t work for me.
At The RedPin, just like with my blogs and social media, clients come to the me. I’d much rather spend two hours a day answering questions by email or to the chat widget than interrupt people who are not looking for my services. I’d rather be out showing houses and helping people decide what’s right for them than bothering other people with marketing material that they don’t care to see at the moment.
Starbucks not Re/Max
Just because the RedPin is a web-based brokerage doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an office. In fact, it has a space-age tech hub of an office that is more like NORAD than a traditional real estate brokerage, say Re/Max. It’s hip, not stodgy. It is not your parents real estate brokerage. The RedPin brokerage looks and feels more like a Starbucks than a Re/Max.
The RedPin is not a discount brokerage either. With discount brokerages, they are stripped down of staff and amenities. The RedPin is the opposite. The office staff is much larger than traditional brokerages with “angels” at the front line of business, taking care of incoming clients, assessing their needs and matching them with the right agent. In short, RedPin agents spend their time helping clients not bothering potential future clients.
The RedPin is a new brokerage. It began in 2010 as a real estate information site focusing on pre-construction condominiums. That quickly changed in 2011 with the Competition Bureau’s decision to open up the MLS to everyone. With that decision, the RedPin was uniquely positioned to take advantage of this real estate information and became the largest holder of real estate information – homes for sale. The site is big. It is made up of MLS information plus about 60%, which pre-construction condos.
The RedPin now has 120 employees, of which about 50 are real estate agents and brokers. I think that is interesting. When I was with Royal Lepage Grand Valley Realty, we had about 120 employees of which about 100 were real estate agents and brokers. Why the difference? The RedPin has in-house customer service agents called “angels” helping clients and agents online and on the telephone. They also have a room full of techies doing whatever it is that techies do.
With 97% of Canadians starting their new home search online it’s no wonder these techies are trying to bring an outdated industry online, and in sync to what homebuyers and home sellers want.