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Palo Alto Realtors Dragged Kicking And Screaming Into The Tech Age…And Continue To Do Great Business

Kevin Boer, Broker Owner, 3 Oceans Real Estate, Inc. ()

July 20th, 2007 · 8 Comments

I made it to this morning’s regular Realtor association marketing meeting to hear the speaker expound on “Sites Our Clients Are Using.” More accurately, I went to see the audience’s reaction to the talk.

You would think that, being in the heart of Silicon Valley — with the nearby Sand Hill Road venture capitalists perched conveniently near to the Stanford campus and its never-ending supply of brilliant ideas — the real estate business here would be a lot more tech-savvy.

You would be wrong. Real estate here remains very much of a traditional business, very old-school. Many of the successful local Realtors grew up here and remember when much of the Valley was orchards and fields, and when you could stand on Middlefield and see Bayshore.

Being a bit of a techie, I have a dangerous tendency to over-emphasize technology and to be frustrated at the “old school” way of doing things. For instance:

  • The speaker at this morning’s tech meeting, Matt Rohrbach of Stanford Mortgage, has a namesake in Illinois who’s a rancher — and whose name appears ahead of Matt’s in a Google search. Our local Matt Rohrbach does not appear to have a web site of his own, nor is he mentioned on Stanford Mortgage’s web site. His web presence appears to be limited to newspaper quotes.
  • Local Realtor Nancy MacLeod was held forth as an example of an early adopter. Nonetheless, her name does not appear in the top 100 when you do a Google search for Palo Alto realtor. Or Palo Alto real estate.
  • A telephone line outage in our office recently led to a mad scramble to reroute our fax machines. Fax machines? In 2007?
  • Despite my best efforts to the contrary, nobody here uses electronic signatures. Not even the relatively youthful Realtors in their 20’s and 30’s. Not even though many of their clients are very tech-savvy individuals who would love ‘em for it.
  • Many local Realtors are not familiar with Trulia. Or Zillow. Or Redfin.

But here’s the thing: Despite all this harping from me, the real estate business here continues chugging along quite nicely, thank you very much. The old school Realtors who still predominate — and the younger ones they’re mentoring — are doing just fine. They may not be using Google Adwords. They may not have a blog. They may not place well in Google organic searches. They may have never even heard of Facebook (gasp!) But…They’re continuing to get referrals. They’re continuing to close transactions. They continue to have their fingers on the pulse of the business. They remain shrewd negotiators. They’re respected in the community. They’re making great money. Life is good!

I wonder when the time will come where not being abreast of technology will begin to hurt people’s business? I suspect that time is further off than people like myself might think. If you’re a 55-year old Realtor, doing quite well, and want to just run out the clock till you retire at 60 or 65, you’ll probably make it, and continue to do quite well at it.

What about if you’re 45, however? 35? 25?

P.S. Gregg Swann will be happy to know that one of his iPhone posts was part of the handout from this morning’s meeting!

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