Can it Actually be Done?
From the viewpoint of the national financial crisis of 2006-2010, it was evident to all industry outsiders that something had to change! Granted the change demanded by many, had to do primarily with mortgage financing, but the internal practices of the real estate industry had to take its licks alongside the mortgage industry and deservedly so.
The real estate industry has long been characterized as, The Ultimate Good-Ole-Boy Network, and its hard to argue against such a characterization. As an outsider from the retail, general services, electronic, and now the software engineering industries; I must admit I have never personally experienced anything like it. For me …a brave new world to say the least!
@Homes Realty – Our Origins
To be honest, I was the culprit that conceived of @Homes Realty Group, yet my thinking was very shallow and revolved around the high fees my lovely wife, Elizabeth Cooper-Golden, was having to pay to just open her business doors each day. Elizabeth loved her then broker (Thelma Dawson) and wanted no part of it. Those of you who actually know Elizabeth, understand clearly that there is no bigger human heart on the planet!
In my stubbornness, I continued to push her. When she finally conceded she blew my mind:
‘If we are going to do this: ” I want to Change the Way Real Estate is Done“
Holy sh*t …What? …’That’s not an achievable goal sweetheart?’ …she responded, ‘Of course its not, its not a goal, its a mission and the only vision I can get behind if we embark upon this crazy idea of yours’. So of course the Engineer in me had to ask, “How will you go about changing the real estate industry?” …her answer was so quick and so simple. I didn’t understand or buy-in until 3 years later when I again had to concede to her superior business knowledge:
“We Put the Consumer First Always!“
Even for those of you that actually know Elizabeth, there are things you don’t know. One of them is that inside the core of this woman is a ‘Granite Mountain of Integrity and Character’. Believe you me, its unmovable and I know because I have tried unsuccessfully on multiple occasions just to budge it a bit. …It don’t budge regardless of consequences. …I have literary seen this woman layoff-dismiss-fire her best friend over business principals and weep for days over it.
The Low Points – Several
Yes there have been several, some brought from external sources, while others we have brought on ourselves. Two stand out among the swarm of candidates:
The primary low point is a really sad external story regarding a local brokerage we thought we were close to.
1) In this case we discovered a local brokerage was putting up spam websites registered in this local brokerage’s name through a foreign contractor to skim various search engine searches to copies of their own website. This was bad enough but the internal meta data of the website pages also reflected back to search engine bots that @HomesHuntsville.com was the originator of such fake content. This is a serious situation regarding a company’s internet authority and can cause unrecoverable harm and injury.
We did not go to the board first even with this clearly substantial harm from a fellow member of the board. No, we contacted the member directly (imagine that) and presented our case and they immediately took down their spam sites.
Sadly our server was then hacked, the very next day. and I mean taken completely down, from a similar foreign location as the brokerage’s contractor. Sure they knew nothing about it, they didn’t even know their contractor was putting up fake content websites registered in their name. …Benefit of the doubt …Ok …This is one really stupid local broker or this industry has its share of snakes. You decide we are incapable.
The internal mistakes are more painful than external attackes. Huntsville is a very progressive area when it comes to education and technology. I mean what can you say about a community that has the highest per-capita population of PHD degrees in the nation. Yet within the local real estate community, it was among the last 2 metro areas in the country to actually allow listing addresses to be displayed publically and didn’t change its stance until late 2009. Can you say ‘disconnected’?
2) A young man and local independent broker set this as one of his business objectives and in the end greatly influenced why Huntsville consumers can now view listed home addresses online. He took a great amount of internal heat for his consumer crusade and we believe it effected his business prospects within: ’The Ultimate Good-Ole-Boy Network’ especially the ultra conservatives who to this date have a large percentage of their listings marked as displaying address not allowed.
The low point for us was, we saw this development coming and reached out to him in warning, yet while we publically agreed with his stance we did not not stand up physically along side him ‘internally’ and take this heat as he did for local consumers. I am telling you the guilt rides us internally to this date, and likely will never subside.
Can We Change the Real Estate Business?
No its not likely. But that doesn’t mean its not worth the effort especially when confronted with such backward practices as described above …why not join in and let’s press on together:
Because we are actually changing the way real estate in Huntsville is done.