What should not-so-busy real estate brokers do?
Why not start a local newspaper?
Here’s how I would do it. Assume you’ve got six people in your office. Each person is responsible to do two things each day:
- Interview a local business, a local student or a local political activist. You can do it by phone, it can be very short and it might take you ten minutes.
- Get 20 households to ‘subscribe’ by giving you their email address and asking for a free subscription. You can use direct contact or flyers or speeches to get your list.
Twice a week, send out the ‘newspaper’ by email.
The other problem with Seth’s idea is that unlike newspapers, a realtor has some definite issues with transparency. For example, politics.
You can’t call yourself a local newspaper of any quality if you’re not providing information and news about the going-on’s inside governmental units. Whether it’s the zoning board and its decisions, or some bribery scandal at City Hall, or an alderman’s take on property taxes, I expect a journalist to uncover things that folks might not want uncovered. I expect journalist-types to rail against problems and highlight issues.
How do you do that, while making your living from selling homes in the area that you’ve just called “the hive of crime in Essex county”? Will your sellers be thrilled with your expose on corruption in your county when you’re trying to convince buyers to spend hundreds of thousands on their house?
And if you don’t call things the way they really are, then what kind of newspaper are you? If you never criticize, never talk about negative things, never talk about what’s bad about your town/area, then you’re not a newspaper; you’re propaganda.
Less Market, More Community
Realtors, however, could and should listen to Seth as to the core concept:
Local newspaper is about the local community, not the local market.
I touched on this on this post on the Onblog, but I’ve since had the opportunity to evolve my thinking a bit.
I believe that one concrete change most local realtor blogs (and attendant newsletters and such) can make is to shift the focus from blogging about the local market to blogging about the local community. Rather than thinking of your audience as potential buyers/sellers, think of your audience as existing and future homeowners.
Far too many realtor blogs have only “Local Market Conditions for Town XYZ” as the only substantive post for weeks on end. That tells me pretty clearly that all you’re interested in doing is telling me about the price of housing in the hopes of getting me to buy/sell. Peppering articles/posts about “How to Sell Your Home in 90-days” or “Staging for Success” isn’t giving me any reason to read your stuff if I’m not in the market.
Instead, give me information that I might care about as a resident in your town/neighborhood. Tell me about the water main break on Main St., so I know to go around it on my way home. Tell me about the new town ordinance against dogwalking being discussed. Tell me about the new Home Depot moving into the next town over, since that might impact my favorite local hardware store. Tell me about the new restaurant that’s opening next week.
And so on.
I am far more likely to follow you, read your blog, and sign up for your newsletter.
Would that compete with true local media operations, like a Baristanet? Probably not. But do you need to compete with local media? Probably not.