Friday, December 30, 2005
Tinkering with Cognition
'Collective intelligence' for real estate professionals.
Any time I step into a lawyer’s office, I feel guilty.
I do not know whether it has anything at all to do with my profession, or if it is the series of books that lawyers are so fond to prominently display behind them. Those old, conspicuous textbooks with ominous titles written in gold Gothic characters on yellowish or greenish hardbound covers, barely readable, much less understandable. I noticed that no matter if the law office is located in Canada or in the United States, those textbooks look exactly alike. I still have to see a single lawyer actually reading one of them, however, so my personal theory is that those books are hollow inside and used to conceal who knows whatever arcane secret items or, perhaps, just unsavory culinary recipes. In real estate too we are fast approaching the time when our shelves are going to be filled with all sorts of books. Yellow, red and blue, with manuals covering all sorts of topics from Ethics in Real Estate to How to Write a Contract And Not Go To Jail. I have been tinkering with the idea of writing a manual myself – just a small pocketbook entitled “Top 10 Successful Strategies To Defuse Sellers Armed With Pitchforks”, which I figure would be an instant hit with many of us.
With the ever-advancing technology of our times fields of expertise that are crowd-oriented, such as the legal and real estate professions, are poised to experience dramatic changes in the forthcoming years. As it relates specifically to real estate, to be sure, technology has had already a great impact but innovation is not over yet and it is not confined merely to the use of sophisticated hardware. There is on the horizon a new conceptualization of professionalism, an absolutely novel way to harness individual resources for the common good of all. It is called ‘collective intelligence’, a techno-jargon concept that will revolutionize the way we – the professionals – think, act and interact among ourselves as well as with the communities we serve. Collective intelligence tinkers with the way cognition and information processing are structured and relayed to consumers, especially when they involve knowledge, expertise and learning. It also delves into methods of gathering and sharing information and resources that bind different groups, or associations, or disciplines. Real estate is, of course, intertwined with banking, law, economics, marketing and urban sciences and collective intelligence links and bind together different networks or resources to coordinate a more efficient and comprehensive response to ever- sophisticated demands.
Real estate professionals are called more and more to field questions that go over and beyond the mere act of selling. In fact, it can be said that selling in real estate already represents the last stage when the professional is finally compensated. But before that there is an array of issues that must be confronted and answered, ranging from understanding regional economics such as local job environments and trades to proficiency in specific areas such as cultural orientation and demographic diversity to acquaintance with well-defined facets of disciplines the likes of architectural styles, land-assembly and development, and contract law. This radicalization of the real estate business to come is in response to the evolution of choices of market participants. Although singular consumers do not have more power over market events than before, they certainly have improved their chances of getting what they want because they have a greater variety of choices. We are, in essence, entering an era where the professional learns and stores information gathered from a group or organization and is ready to deliver it to a consumer, or another group or organization, on demand for the purpose of enhancing choices through expertise.
Sharing information is of paramount importance in real estate, since there is not a ‘national’ market per se. Real estate is made of a compilation of local economies, each abiding to a set or sets of local inputs and variables. What is happening in Toronto does not directly affect what is happening in Vancouver. And yet, there is a common thread shared in the needs of individual expression of market participants, no matter where they are located. The Realtor, as an integral part of his function and purpose, is going to be required to contribute to the building of a consensus decision-making process that involves meeting everyone’s needs and which is intended to promote and enhance the decision-making process of each individual consumer, whether a person, a group of persons or an organization.
Real Estate Chronicle