John L. Scott, a leading broker in the Pacific Northwest, has carved out a niche for itself as a major implementator of technology, even as it sticks to a full-service model. Speaking at Inman’s Real Estate Connect last week, Chairman and CEO Lennox Scott said “the game plan is real-time real estate.”
Along those lines, Scott said the firm has been rigorously adopting all the various phases of Internet adoption. “We’ve been going through the ‘lifestyle phase,’ ” which he says is video-centric. “We’ve been going through the ‘social phase,’ which is centered on blogging. We’re going through a mash up phase,” with school information, etc. “Everyone is doing that.”
Scott says additional attention is to be paid to mapping. “We’re going through the ‘individual information phase,’ ” which mostly provides customized, hyper-local maps in partnership with Microsoft Virtual Earth and Real Tek. “That provides us with a real psychological advantage. Once people choose the neighborhood” they are going to live in, they are more committed to making a buy.
Scott also says he is excited by super high-speed networks that will make it easier to download multimedia information, such as the mesh network that has been set up in Richardson, Texas. He is also excited about wireless services, such as the GPS service being rolled out by Realtor.com. “That lets you get information right in front of a house,” he marvels.
While Scott is a big advocate of using technology to facilitate demand for housing, he flat out rejects the appeal of cut-rate brokerages like ZipRealty, which are using the Web to automate a high percentage of search and transactions. “It isn’t just one transaction,” he says. “It is a relationship for life. Eight-seven percent of leads come from a trusted referral,” says Scott.