When I was in residential AV, real estate agents were some of my best allies. I made alliances with agents who worked directly for the builder to assure that all the spec homes they started had security, home theater, and whole house audio pre-wires in place. I also relied on them to introduce me to the buyers who bought these properties later in order to have the opportunity to complete these pre-wires with speakers and electronics at move-in.
I also had alliances with the resale realtors in the local area realtor groups. They allowed me to do technology assessments on their custom home listings so they could sell all the AV features they may not have understood were installed. I did these reports in return for an introduction to the new homeowner to help them update their systems after move-in.
At the time it was a great arrangement for all involved. I was the tech expert and they were the home experts. But what if the home expert IS the tech expert?
I ran across an interesting marketing campaign by Coldwell Banker the other day that asks this question:
Who is the Only Real Estate Brand with Smart Home Specialists?
They have been working with CNET and the CEA and have even developed a Smart Home Staging Kit with August, Lutron and Nest to help their clients sell their homes in a competitive market. They also tout smart home certified agents and listings, although clicking through ironically yields this page as of today.
Where does all this leave us as AV professionals, especially those in the residential CEDIA crowd?
In a good place actually. Coldwell Banker is doing a great job of communicating the smart home message to buyers, and if you dig a little deeper, they use a service called Pro.com to link professional AV companies to their buyers to install staging kits. If you’re a residential integrator, you may want to sign up as odds are, the home owner will continue to expand their system to include more systems and areas of the home over time.
With agents being encouraged to talk tech with buyers, they will definitely want/need some tech experts in their back pocket to help more tech savvy buyers with extended advice and trickier technology challenges that go beyond the “out of the box” capabilities.
This means networking with Coldwell Banker is an obvious must, but perhaps less intuitively, networking with agents of other real estate brokerages may be even more important. Agents at other firms most likely will be MORE motivated to develop their own technology resources to assure they don’t lose clients to their more technologically astute counterparts.
At the end of the day, technology is always a changing marketplace and new challenges arise all the time. It may seem that on the surface Coldwell Banker is creating competition. However, in reality they are really creating opportunity through increased consumer awareness and their need for a well versed labor pool to install the staging kits they are promoting, as well as the peripheral services that surround them.
A rising tide raises all boats. Float baby, float.