It's Time to Change the Context of Real Estate

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By Conrad Zurini | Broker of Record, Manager | | 905-719-3033

If I told you November was one of my favourite months would you believe me? It may not be my favourite month, but I will say it seems like it is the fastest month. I’m not sure why that is - is it because of the holiday season in December, and we try so hard to pack so much into the month of November? It’s like December comes and workflows fall off a cliff, and we get into the ‘season’ so to speak. November is my month to plan for the next year and that is exciting for me, but this November is more than just planning for the next year. It is the time to re-think, re-jig, and re-write our business. What? Why now? What is so pivotal about 2024?

Next year denotes a theme of promise for me. The last 4 years have been a roller coaster of events that dramatically shaped our lives and our businesses. Some for the better and some for the worse. I dare say that most of our uncertainties are behind us. Yes, there are some major events happening on a geopolitical level which we have no control over, but when it comes to our businesses
and creating efficiencies and wonder, we are entering an era which was only imagined a short time ago.

I recently attended a technology conference (T360 Tech) in Fort Worth Texas. The keynote was Luke Williams who has forever changed my perspective. His live demonstrations which appeared to be simple and generic, re-calibrated my brain. He spoke to me on a level which opened up a pathway for me intellectually. Luke also used an analogy, which if you know me is near and dear to my I love to prepare a meal; I enjoy the chemistry of it; I love the creativity of it; I love to put my own twist on it; I love planning it; I love the logistics of putting on a meal, but more importantly it is the way I show my love for the people around me.

The Real Estate Industry Has New Ingredients

Williams described the world of ideas around abundance. If I had to describe Luke, he’s is definitely not glass half empty, not glass half full, but he is the cupis overflowing. A successful business is all ‘about better recipes’. Two things he pointed out was that growth will come from better recipes. And we, as humans, like watching other people cook. Your revenue model, your brand, your resources.

These are all the ingredients. What you do with these ingredients is the magic so to speak...... Back in May I attended a wedding in the Amalfi Coast, and I discovered a Michelin star restaurant in Amalfi called La Caravella (translation - the sailing vessel, made famous by Andy Warhol). I had the tasting menu, and the owner/chef Antonio Dipino, took me on a culinary journey with every course. He recreated a dish which was a deconstructed bruschetta, which his mother created in 1967, and was awarded the first Michelin star for a female chef in Italy. We all know what bruschetta looks like, it’s probably second to the pizza as one of the most recognized snack foods in Italian cuisine. But she created a most elegant dish, with all the ingredients re-arranged, and elevated the dish, as if she was creating a work of art.

Our interpretations go through a frame of reference - a crusty slice of bread with chopped tomato and cheese. Our frame of reference tells us what to look for, so when someone re-arranges something that comes out completely differently we see it at another level so to speak. Most ideas are incremental and often follow a pattern, but have you ever thought of writing your ideas down on cue cards, placing them in a bag, and shaking them up and pulling them out randomly? Now place these cards in some sort of sequence or pattern, like you would with scrabble tiles. Like with scrabble you will probably, through luck or coincidence, begin to fashion (a word) a sequence of ideas which can be formulated into a system, but eventually you will draw out a ‘Q’ or a ‘Z’ and your linear sequence will be ruined. This exercise forces us to ‘think out of the box’, and reshuffle the deck, and begin to reconstruct your business.

We Need to Avoid Becoming Blockbuster and Kodak

Williams points out that we are quick to poke fun at companies like Blockbuster and Kodak, by saying “did they not see their demise coming?” We are so brilliant in hindsight, but the leadership at these two iconic companies were looking at information (data), in the framework of an old idea. If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything around you looks like a nail. This is known as the dominant frame, and the dominant frame is the silent killer to all of us in business. Most whiteboard ideas are incremental ideas, they tend to track with your previous experience or success, and inevitably those ideas are the ones you go with.

More ingredients are making their way to our industry every day, and it is up to us to integrate these ingredients into an entirely new recipe. 

Many of you reading this blog might ask, what has changed that has made Conrad so hung up on this need to re-create our business model? As far as I can see there are two galaxies colliding - one, the class action suits in North America around publishing the co-operating commission and the other around the rise of AI. Our industry was alway about adding things to our existing model/arrangement, and the notion of this galactic collision will have a seismic result on the current way we operate.

The Wonderful World Of AI

I believe this is the only time in tech history where we can be asked, “what do you want to be better?” What do you want to be better in all of your aspects of your life, work, and play? There are 52,000 companies doing AI. They will touch almost every aspect of our lives. Remember we used to say “there’s an app for that”? Well, now there is AI for that!!!!

Let’s examine one real estate agent pain point. Like lead nurture, there are smart CRM’s which will segment your database and communicate to each person when they want to be communicated to, and how they want to be communicated with, and more importantly, the precise moment that your communication will have the most impact. It will bring your sphere back in front of you over and over, and prompt you to precisely step in when their life moments lead to a real estate transaction. It will be infinitely scalable, and search out other potential prospects who are sharing similar mindsets and milestones. And it is getting so good, according to Ylopo’s founder, Howard Tager during a presentation on his chat bot platform, that “less than a quarter of 1 percent ask if it’s a bot.”

AI can create software from a screenshot. Can you imagine what it could do with home search? Upload an exterior photo of a home you like, or a kitchen design you are planning to do to a home search platform, and AI will serve you up listings that match. Generative AI, which is a series of models and algorithms from vast amounts of data, will rank properties by their condition, and create property scores to encourage REALTORS® and their clients to perform proactive activities (buying, selling, offering). With all of this in the palm of your hand, these efficiencies will enable us as real estate practitioners to foster better human relationships.

The Real Estate Sky is not Falling

So why not get in front of this? As a self proclaimed futurist I cannot sit back and watch without putting forth my opinion. This is not a piece about the sky is falling. We are a traditional business that is decades old, and change is a-comin’. On January 1st, 2024 the Manhattan Association of REALTORS® ( has decided to proactively, after 2 years of so called discussions, stop publishing the compensation for the buyer representative. Something that has been a cornerstone of Multiple Listing Services (MLS®) for well over a century. We are a complex, yet adaptive business, and on December 1st, 2023, Ontario is adopting TRESA, the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, which is an update to an act which was created in 2002. There are 2 major changes as
I see it: (1) the ability to present open offers, and (2) the clear definition of an unrepresented party (buyer). This will change the way we talk, the way we think, and the way we serve our clients. This is your opportunity to throw out your old ideas and embrace new ones to create a better customer experience and reduce their uncertainty.

The Future Of Real Estate Is Bright

Bad news alert - Artificial Intelligence won’t do the thinking for
you. What it will do is augment your skills. Kind of good news! AI will not replace what you do, but those who adopt AI will replace those who do not. Our old playbook has become obsolete, and we can’t make progress by simply moving forward, and adding tools and services in a linear fashion. We have to break up the original arrangement. Like a traditional recipe (bruschetta) you are locking down ingredients, and arranging them in a recognizable format. Now we must pull the ingredients apart, and re-arrange them in
a way that improves your client’s experience, by increasing your client’s confidence in you as their REALTOR®, and in the real estate market as a whole.

If you are not out there distributing great content, be it by video or some other medium, and if you do not have an incredible on- boarding system for client acquisition, then it may be too late. It is not about the access to AI to help generate content, or nurture your prospects, and your client base, AI has that covered. You need to perfect that last mile where human interaction is paramount by pricing properties with precision, by creating a bespoke marketing plan, and by negotiating a sale price which satisfies all facets of human behaviours and needs.