Today, if you have the data, you own the consumer! We live in a world where transparency is expected, and consumers will follow the path that leads them to the data they need to make decisions. Who buys anything substantial today without checking out online reviews and doing research?
In North America, thankfully, real estate professionals have the data! Every real estate agent belongs to an MLS that provides them up-to-the-minute data on all of the property information they need to help buyers and sellers make informed decisions, from current listing data to off-market data. For properties that don’t sell through the MLS agents have access to public record information.
Outside of North America this is rarely the case. While there are some exceptions, most countries outside of North America do not have an MLS and also do not have centralized databases that real estate agents can access. On top of this, real estate companies do not share data, so it is up to each company, broker and agent to manage their own data. When you consider that few companies have major market share you can see this presents a real issue in terms of having a clear picture of the market.
What these countries do have is real estate portals, which most agents and many selling their own homes participate in, and while portals have data, they are not anything close to our MLSs. Portals often have the same non-exclusive listings for sale by several agents and they may have many listings that show for sale but are no long available. There is no MLS or association above the portal managing compliance and insuring data accuracy, no off-market or sold data, so again, they have listing data, but not what is truly needed to properly evaluate and price property.
The opportunity then is to ensure your company is creating and managing data of the highest quality for use by your agents and having a system that allows access to this data. That system has to have the ability to collect and curate all of the data that comes through your company. That data and system will ensure your agents have the ability to differentiate themselves from the competition in terms of market knowledge giving them the tools they need to effectively guide buyers and sellers effectively. The company with the best data is where consumers will go as we have seen in many other industries. Real estate is no different and accurate data in real estate is more important than most since a home purchase is most likely the largest purchase a consumer makes in their lifetime.
There are some encouraging signs that international real estate companies are beginning to work together as cooperative sales are increasing. This means a listing agent from one company will work with a buyer agent from another company to complete a sale. Will there actually come a day when companies don’t just cooperate on sales but also cooperate in terms of sharing data as they do in North America? Maybe, when these companies realize that controlling the data means controlling their industry, but that is definitely off in the future!
In the meantime, companies need to make sure they have a rock-solid listing management system in place to support their agents and brokers. The more reliable market data a company has the more they can position themselves as the market authority.
Consumers want transparency and data is the key!