Is quick information good information?

Bogue Sound SunsetOne of the big things in real estate these days is instant availability to your clients. Many agents carry smart phones so they can always see their email.

We have been told that clients will move on and seek another agent unless they hear back within 15 minutes of sending an email.

This of course is just the logical extension of the Google search. If you do not find what you want in the first five search results, you move on.

I am a big fan of Google. I have written a couple of posts, Google’s clever daily intelligence and The glue for the modern world.

One of the post laughs a little about the kind of information that you can find with Google and the other talks seriously about how Google somehow replaces much of the information that used to be passed on by family and close neighbors.

While it might be nice to get a quick reply from a smart phone that I will get back to you shortly, I would certainly rather get a real contact from someone.

We have gotten to the point that people prefer quick over accurate, and anonymous over professional.

I have not decided why people have become so jaded that they are not interested in talking to professionals about a subject. Most people place the greatest importance on getting their information quickly. They seem relatively uninterested in making certain that they are getting good information.

As a Realtor®, I have gotten more training and access to useful information than I ever have previously in my sales career. Yet I get the feeling that most people are afraid of the information or power that Realtors® have. We seem to be only slightly above used car salesmen even though we go through a rigorous licensing procedure and take additional training each year.

People believed every word that I said as an Apple sales person. Unfortunately I knew almost nothing because of Apple’s North Korean style secrecy. Still people depended on my best guess as to whether or not to place million dollar computer orders.

My theory on sales does not have anything in it about magically tricking people into buying something that they do not want. Sales is all about finding out what someone wants and helping them find it.

When most people take the time to seek out a dedicated real estate professional, they add a local expert who can fill many of the cracks where the Internet just does not provide complete information.

I often get questions on online forums. I go to great pains to respond accurately to people’s questions. I do it not because people are likely to turn around and buy property from me but because by getting good information on the table, I can hopefully make people see that the quality of the information is more important than the speed of the answer.

We have become a society that does not want to wait. We would rather jump to whatever conclusion we can instead of taking the time to dig deeper and get real answers.

Google is part of my daily life, but I have no intention of trying to beat Google to the punch or supply Google type information. If you do a Google search for “Cape Carteret, NC,” you will come up with a Google map and lots of links.

You might be able to find what you want in those links. If you search for “Local expert Cape Carteret, NC,” I come up number six in the search. If you send me a note, I will likely be able to give you better information than you might get from a Google search. At the most you will wait a few hours.

Even Google has figured that out since they let us create more useful maps using their tools. You can compare my Cape Carteret map to the one you got in the Google search.

It depends on what you want with your Google search. If finding the right place to live the next twenty years is what you want, just maybe you should take the time to evaluate your sources instead of taking whatever Google throws at you.

If you are looking for the location of an ATM machine, Google is probably the right tool.

A friend and I are rolling out a local Internet resource which we expect will create another level of information at a more local level. We hope by involving lots of people we can get good information which is locally based and refreshed on a regular basis. We have the prototype up at CarteretNorthCarolina.us .

We will see whether it makes a difference in the long run.

Catching what drifts by us

Oysters on the beachIt occurred to me this morning that can getting our news and information these days can be a little like being an oyster on the beach.

There is the overwhelming amount of information out there. It is almost a Tsunami of content.

Sometimes it means you get covered with green slime.

You can use something like Google reader and the shared items of friends.

Blogs offer another alternative. Unfortunately like mine, they are all over the place.

You can try to find websites that are about areas that interest you. You can look into forums where people are known by their handles and their online expertise, but they have their own set of problems.

My best advice is to make sure you temper what you read with some of your own research and thought.

The problem is that doing that is easier said than done. It is hard to detach yourself and your interests from the bigger picture.

Sometimes the information we are hearing from all the sources is so overwhelming that people end up paralyzed. That is close to what has happened to the real estate market today.

There is so much negative press and discussion out there, that people are afraid to act or think in their own best interest. I have more people looking for property than I have seen in a long time, but last month Carteret County, NC MLS had a record low number of transactions. This February may be worse.

People seem to be waiting for a signal. I am not sure what the signal is, but I doubt we will know until we are well past it, and prices have started to rise.

As I mentioned in a post on my Reston blog, the huge price gains of the last few years have disappeared. We have more affordable housing at the coast than many urban areas.

I remember when people first start buying computers, you often heard the idea that it was better to wait until prices quit going down. It would have been a long wait.

Of course I didn’t wait. I got my first Apple II+ in August 1982. I ended up working for Apple for nearly twenty years.

Had I waited, I might never have had that opportunity.

Another example is the purchase of coastal property that my wife and I in September 2006. We bought near Cape Carteret, NC at not far from the top of the real estate market. I knew it was close to the top of the market, but we had been looking for three years so we bought, and I even went a step further.

I ended up being so impressed with the real estate firm that I decided to become a Realtor®.

Eighteen months later I have just received a reward from my firm, Bluewater GMAC Real Estate, as the “Up and Coming Star” for 2007.

While real estate is a challenging profession right now, I think it will be a good fit for my third career.

On top of that I have looked at about 250 homes since we bought ours. I still have not found one that I like more or one with the same features at a better price than ours in Bluewater Cove.

If we had waited to buy, I might not be in real estate. I certainly would not be ready for the good times when they eventually get here. There probably won’t be enough real estate agents when the market turns because many are quitting now.

I would have also missed some the great weather and beach living here in Carteret County.

I feel fortunate to have not let myself get caught in the green slime that drifts by these days.

Sometimes you just have to find your own current instead of staying on the beach and taking what drifts by you.