Want to be a Best Realtor? Stefan Swanepoel is Coming to Dallas and You Really, Really Need to Listen

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Talk about consumers wanting a “best” Realtor, how about the “most informed” Realtor? That’s who I’d pick to sell my home. The one who knows the top digital trends shaping our way of thinking, doing business and buying a house. Buyers are bombarded with all this technology like drones, Artificial Intelligence and Apple Pay, and they want an agent who is up on it all, including the latest in marketing strategies and commissions.

“Our industry is very blessed with a huge amount of continuous innovation,” says Stefan Swanepoel,” I consider myself one of the industry’s leading caretakers. We are the people who analyze what is occurring on a non-stop basis and bring that info to agents or anyone in a fun, easy to understand, bite-sized way.”

Stefan Swanepoel really IS one of the Real Estate industry’s top industry visionaries. Guy knows his stuff forwards and backwards. He doesn’t get this designation by buying ad space in a magazine, or even selling it, he gets it through hard work and tons of research. TONS! His Swanepoel Trends Report is an annual analysis (published 4 times a year) of how societal and economic changes impact the real estate business and affect real estate brokers, agents and home buyers. Every home buyer should read his books, and every agent in this country should read and hear him speak at least once a year.

I’ve had the pleasure at Inman Real Estate Connect several times.

Champions School of Real Estate is going to make it real easy. You don’t have to go farther than the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson on December 2, 2014 — next week. Stefan is coming to town on behalf of Champions School of Real Estate, where the smartest agents in town have obtained their real estate licenses and continuing education credits. The breakfast and networking begins at 8:30 am, Stefan’s keynote address starts at 9 am and lasts until 12 noon. For ticket information, click here.

This is a morning you won’t want to miss. Honestly, I’m surprised that agents who attend are not receiving continuing education credit: Stefan is such a visionary, if you want to know what will happen to your industry over the next ten years, come!

Are Realtors going to be put out to pasture? Will Zillow steal their commissions? Come!

According to his Wikopedia biography, in 1998 Swanepoel predicted in one of his many books, Real Estate Confronts Reality: Computers, Consumers, Confusion, that technology will be the single biggest change catalyst the real estate industry will experience.

Technology has transformed many components of the home buying transaction, and buyers now seek realtors in entirely different ways, and for different reasons, than they did 10 years previously. The role of agents has changed:  agents are now more consultant like, helping consumers interpret the abundance of online information that consumers are devouring at their ever-so-confused fingertips.

In 2003, Swanepoel listed the growing shift towards broker consolidation as a game changer in the real estate industry. It happened.

In 2006, Swanepoel warned that large numbers of agents were entering the real estate industry. They were: there are now about 1.5 million agents in the USA.  In 2009 he wrote that far too many agents were licensed and that this was dragging down overall productivity, quality standards and the image of real estate agents in general. Research in two markets found that more than half of all licensed agents had no listings or sales during the previous year. Every year, hundreds of thousands of agents never even sell one house. Some keep a license to handle their own real estate transactions, some just like to look at House Porn.

Swanepoel is gently critical of the industry: he has called the real estate brokerage industry a merry-go-round approach because he believes it is too easy to get a real estate agent license. Which is why you really need to listen to what he says.

Here’s another reason why I love him:  Swanepoel has forecasted that newspapers and other print media will be the biggest casualty of reduced advertising dollars and the growth of the Internet. Home buyers are thirsty for real-time real estate information and are finding new Web portals, with comprehensive portfolios of photographs, video and mapping to be great alternative resources to outdated print media. Examples include a little blog called CandysDirt.com, SecondShelters.com, Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com

In 2007, Swanepoel detailed new business models and warned that real estate brokers clinging to the traditional model with old compensation plans, large infrastructure and many physical locations were going to see their market share erode. Overhead — it’s a killer.  

“There are a large number of new business models, all testing the boundaries of the 1970’s broker model,” he told me. “Lots of varieties out there, and no clear indication yet who is going to be a winner. There are virtual broker models with 500 agents, Starbucks models, boutique stores,  executive rooms and discount models. There’s the agent- as- an- employee model.”

But none of these have taken off. The reality is that those are fairly small boutique agencies, he says. Is there a pressure to change models? Yes, he says, but to which one? Redfin, the big disruptor, changed its  plan from 8 years ago. Redfin now has 1000 agents on an employee model. The company has promised to re-engineer the real estate industry, been funded three times and burned through 150 million.

But don’t forget: the top 5 U.S. Real Estate companies have 105,000 agents each!

“Why would Redfin be more successful tomorrow than today? ” asks Stefan? “Growing an employee model real estate business is very, very hard.”

Here’s what Stefan will talk about next week:  Ten Dynamic Digital Trends That will Affect Buyers and Sellers.

“I’m fascinated by the world of tech and its continued growth of it in our lives,” he says.

– Mobile technology and the advancement of personal devices

– Data explosion and so much information — most of us are completely overwhelmed by data

– The growing popularity of video in real estate marketing.

– How to grab people’s imagination: ” We don’t want to read manuals anymore,” says Stefan… (um, I never did…)… and most of us naturally take the path of least resistance

– The huge growth of wearable technology:  Google glasses and the wrist revolution

– More on mobile

– The growth of augmented reality — its jumped from Hollywood and video games to Main street. Can it help us understand our data overload problem?

– Artificial intelligence… what does AI mean and how can it help us find a better house in the right neighborhood?  “AI helps you sift through data points, it doesn’t replace us as humans,” says Stefan. “We need to change our philosophy of how we react.”

“The difference between scary and exciting,” says Stefan, “is 25 years of age.”

Technology  is gradually evolving who we are as humans and how we act, no where more so than in Real Estate. Those of you who know me well know my personal epiphany came when I went to San Francisco the summer of 2007, accidentally sat next to a guy named Richard Barton, and thought oh my God! The real estate world is changing so rapidly I felt like I was on another planet, or at least in a foreign country. What was a Zillow? A Tweet? A disruptor? Sky blue or blue sky?

I saw, too, the erosion of traditional print media as they taught Realtors to become journalists!  At first I clenched and thought, how dare they. Then I opened my mind and started thinking that most Realtors make pretty damn good reporters!

There are some of us who like to be cutting edge. Because we know that life is a constant state of adaption, nowhere more so than in real estate.

“Constantly be at leadership edge,” says Stefan. “It’s really good to know what’s coming down the pike,  what’s out there, and how you can use it to your benefit for your business or personal life.”

Couldn’t agree more. That’s why, God and grand-baby willing (Dec. 2 is my daughter’s due date!) I will see the Most Informed Realtors in Dallas at the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson next Tuesday!




Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

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