Author of Your Success

Avoid so-called technology solutions from vendors who don’t understand your business. They should be rolling up their sleeves and asking tough questions.

September 12, 2012

As real estate professionals, it isn’t our job to discover the latest social media platform. Our job is to help our clients buy and sell houses. But somewhere in the last few years, for some in our industry, it has become a race to be on the bleeding edge, creating professional casualties out of formerly successful agents.

Why is this happening? Practitioners are losing ground and business by putting their dwindling money and time into new technology products and services that ultimately will not help them. Many opportunistic individuals and companies out there recognize this and grab the money while they can.

In a weak economy, should real estate pros be spending their resources on services like social media, lead generation systems, and search-engine optimization when those can be done for free?

Each day, it seems, new companies are created to target the earning opportunities that result from marketing to the natural vulnerability of many real estate practitioners—the fear of impending irrelevance and the urgency for more leads, more sales, and more closes. These companies promise technology solutions that will help us close more sales more quickly and with less effort.

At real estate events, we see “thought leaders” touting tools and techniques while simultaneously selling themselves and the companies they represent. Corporate marketers may be among the best qualified people to speak to the usefulness of a product, but are they telling you who they are? Or are they allowing you to make your own assumptions?

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act prohibits real estate practitioners from accepting or offering kickbacks to companies involved with transactions, but by contrast, there are few financial restrictions on those standing on the stage in front of an audience of real estate practitioners who are hanging on their every word and downloading every app they mention. Here’s my recommendation: Stop buying without thinking, and start asking questions of these purveyors—the first of which should be, “Have you personally ever sold a house by using [this product or service]?” If the answer is no, either press them on their real estate knowledge or move on.

Let me be clear: I am not condemning all real estate products, services, or events. There are a great many individuals and vendors I would credit with providing valuable services. Some are long established and spend time trying to better understand the needs of their customers.

What I’m suggesting you do is take back your business. Understand: You can’t buy success; you must build it. That starts with you, not with some vendor’s magic bullet. The classics—FSBO calls, expired calls, door knocking, and otherwise working your sphere of influence—all produce results when done regularly over time. Social networking is no different: It may not bring you business immediately, but with understanding and perseverance, as well as a touch of creativity, you may see amazing benefits.

I started creating my online networks in 2008. Real estate pros such as Mariana Wagner (@mizzle on Twitter) and Kim Wood (@KimWood) had such a great online presence already, I felt as if I was playing catch-up. But I wanted to be just like them, so I did it. I studied their online behaviors and investigated their followers and friends. I spent ridiculous amounts of time studying how other practitioners did it well before I even tried.

Today I can support my team on the leads I generate via a variety of social networks and Web sites. My SEO is organic, not bought through some random company but a result of the focused expansion of my local social networks.

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Maya J. Paveza (@mayaREguru) is the Wilmington, Del.–based managing partner of The Maya Paveza Group, Coldwell Banker Preferred, which focuses on real estate sales in Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania. She blogs at