Last one here, please turn off the light!

Technology may be eroding the culture of broker businesses today.  Each day I see fewer and fewer agents in real estate offices.  Most work from home and port into the office and the mls through web interface.

I met with a successful agent who sells 2-3 homes a month in San Francisco.  He joined his current brokerage 4 months ago, and has only been to the office twice – both times to use the copy machine to duplicate some huge documents.  Each time, he had to reintroduce himself to the receptionist and flash his business card to show he worked there.  He has not seen or spoken to his broker since he was hired during a 30 minute interview.

I know that this sounds extreme, but it is real, and should be causing some real concerns for real estate brokers today.

I believe that brokers must stress community value above economic value in the relationships that they have with their agents.

Is the real estate agent a prototype of an electronic communicator – someone who sits in front of a computer, whose written skills are stronger than verbal and social?  Usually not.

Many real estate brokers are trying to build community in their offices by creating educational sessions and weekly meetings – all of which are optional.  As a result of the “opt-in” policy – most agents do not attend.  How do you empower your agents to be part of the team and contribute to the culture if they are not required to show up for the game?

According to research done by Booz Allen Hamilton, 3 out of 10 people believe they work in an unhealthy company culture infested with the inability to execute plans or make any kind of change because of confusion, procrastination, sabotage, and resistance.

Clearly this spells doom for the real estate brokerage today that builds its client base on repeat and referral business from high levels of customer satisfaction represented by the broker brand.

I have been very interested in watching the rapid expansion of Keller Williams.  Their entire model is based upon building culture and community – hence the use of the terms like Team Leader (Manager) in their Market Centers (offices).  They are clearly building a strong business based upon preying on a lack of culture paradigms in their competitors’ real estate offices today.

Technology companies have been using Anthropologists to look that product usability across multiple cultures.  Perhaps we need some Broker Anthropologists to have a look into the changing cultures of our offices and agents.