For centuries, the notion of turning lead into gold has captured the imagination of countless Alchemists, all of whom were doomed to failure.
The real estate industry’s economic model has been for decades akin to conjuring concoctions that claim to convert the weight of our tarnished enterprise models into shining bars of profitability.
We have not always understood the true alchemy of our industry and the relationship between the decline of profitability with the introduction and application of new technologies to our industry.
Each of the two great historical shifts (economic eras) in our industry have occurred with the rise of new technology, the independence of agents and the empowerment of the consumer. Consider the following diagram and then listen to the accompanying presentation.
The shift from the Broker-Centric era to the Agent-Centric era was created largely as a result of the introduction of a technology known as the Personal Computer (PC) to the daily work habits of agents, empowering them to globalize their reach. From that point on, Broker-Owners were not able to fully contain the spillage of property information into the streets of their marketplace.
The loss of the MLS Book coupled with PC access to MLS data created a decline in the control of property information (always a key contributor to loss of profit) and the empowerment of the consumer who no longer had to enter a real estate office in order to see the Holy Grail.
Nor have we fully appreciated how technology has always defined each of the three economic eras of our history and most importantly how each increase in technology within the industry reduces profitability.
In 1994, along came the Information Super Highway and property data began to find its way to the Internet, where a hungry consumer was waiting. The Internet created a bridge from MLS sources to consumers who were also empowered with PCs. This was the beginning of a shift from the agent-centric model to the current new real estate economy where the consumer is now the central character.
“Pb” (lead) can become “Au” (gold). The alchemetrics (not sure that is a word but I’ll run with it) are simply undeniable. Technology creates the shift and transition from one real estate economic era to the next. With each transition three things always occur:
- Technology always defines the shift, the model and the wealth in our economic models
- Owner profitability declines as control over property information control diminishes
- Information control is distributed over time to an increasing number of people thus, democratizing real estate
What does all of this mean? Simply, and yet rather profoundly, this means that ours is a history made up of transitions created primarily by the introduction of new technologies and a fundamental shift in economic control from us to consumers. It also means that the principle of alchemy is real.
Our lead-based model (forget lead-based paint for a moment!) is in the process of being turned into gold. However, in the alchemic (not sure that is a word either but I’ll run with it as well) process, we will not necessarily become the benefactors of the creation of new wealth being created by the introduction of new consumer-centric technologies. We could be but we are not, it appears, equipped to transition with the consumer into The New Real Estate Economy.
Watch the presentation and please, comment.
Owners are engaged in the delicate balancing act; walking on the razor’s edge, barefoot.
Slicing into Profit
The razor upon which owners must balance themselves is now slicing so deeply into revenues that profitability is now proving more and more illusive. Today’s Broker/Owners are confronted with an economy that is not rebounding fast enough to enable them to survive.
e-Partner has long held that Broker/Owners are the financial backbone of the real estate industry and that their survival should be one of the top priorities of our industry through 2010.
Our Bleeding Feet
The razor’s edge takes no prisoners and yields no concessions to owners who are struggling to meet their ever increasing general operating expenses. Trapped by the same economic factors faced by other businesses, owners are looking for ways to decrease fixed and personally guaranteed obligations.
e-Partner talks to owners from every brand and those who are independent and the story is generally the same. There are simply too few closing and too much bricks-and-mortar operating expenses. “There is just not enough transaction commission to meet the monthly demands we have,” one broker/owner told us.
Agility, created and sustained, is the first of the Ten Commandments of the New Real Estate Economy.
Although we are not quick on our feet, the razor’s edge is sensitizing us to perils of standing still for too long in one place. Our bloated organization body weight presses down on the sharp stainless steel edge and this slices away large chunks of capital required to sustain retail models.
New principle: the razor’s edge is now an owner’s continuing reality and he/she/all of us will learn to walk on this edge nimbly and quickly or, we will be cut to pieces.
Hungry? Read more and comment…
Syndicated from REALonomics
During the First Economic Wave, the broker-centric era, and for most of the Second Economic Wave, the agent-centric era, business models were predicated on old, predictable model math, where 2+2 produced four. In the current climate, where the consumer has control over the “economic joystick,” we are forced to pose the question; what if 2+2 no longer equates to four?
The Profitability Joystick
Let’s first discuss the “profitability joystick” I have mentioned, then the terms and conditions that now exist for a New Model Math.