Investment Strategies: Real Estate Gets Hyperlocal

Real estate is moving from local to hyperlocal as big names in the industry team up with local investors and brokers for their sales expertise. Leadkit’s JJ Imbeaux discusses the trend of “small batch” and “craft” culture and what it means for the real estate industry.
JJ Imbeaux, Leadkit

JJ Imbeaux, Leadkit

Greystone recently welcomed Commercial Property Advisors of West Bloomfield, Mich., to its network. Greystone Bel Real Estate Advisors, the new joint venture, will focus on providing multifamily advisory services to clients in Michigan, leveraging Greystone’s comprehensive financial platform and Commercial Property Advisors’ multifamily sales expertise in the area. This is just one example on how craft culture works in real estate. Leadkit’s JJ Imbeaux discussed the trend and why this is a way for smaller or emerging real estate companies to stand out.

MHN: Tell us more about the importance of a hyperlocal focus in real estate? Is this a trend or a challenge? Does it apply nationally?

JJ Imbeaux: Real estate has always been a hyperlocal business. Customers want to live near the best school districts, restaurants and other institutions that match their lifestyles, and it’s not easy to find the perfect fit without help. We’re seeing this need become even more pronounced now because as big real estate companies get bigger, it becomes difficult to provide the level of local expertise that customers in individual markets value so much.

Agents need to prove to customers that they understand the local market—that’s why Leadkit exists. It provides data to agents on what their customers are looking for, from their price range and neighborhood preferences to the individual listings they view again and again. We’re primarily in Atlanta and Orlando now, but hyperlocal is important in every market.

MHN: Does “small-batch” and “craft” culture mean luxury services? What is this trend exactly and how is it impacting real estate?

Imbeaux: Small-batch and craft culture implies exclusivity, but that doesn’t necessarily mean luxury. It’s all about helping consumers feel more connected to the products they’re buying and the community they’re buying from. More and more consumers want to have a personal relationship with the companies they interact with. Buying a unique piece of furniture that was made locally or chicken from a nearby farm makes a buyer feel like an authentic part of the community and it’s no different when it comes to buying real estate. Customers are interested in things that are hard to find and uniquely theirs, and real estate professionals have to make that happen, even in crowded markets. 

MHN: Is this trend an opportunity for smaller or emerging real estate companies to stand out, since local investors are thought to have a better knowledge of the market they operate in?

Imbeaux: It absolutely is. Knowing what future developments are planned in terms of dining options, nightlife and social activities will assist smaller firms in standing out and competing with larger companies. It also helps them close transactions faster, another advantage that regional and national outfits will struggle to compete with.

MHN: How can agents and brokers use smart branding, in addition to market intel, as a tool to demonstrate local expertise?

Imbeaux: Smart branding is a crucial part of demonstrating local expertise. Now, they need to take that expertise and transfer it to a digital (and mobile) platform. While word of mouth is still integral to agent success, modern agents need a professional digital presence to validate referrals and recommendations, prove their local expertise and move transactions forward. In the next five to ten years, every agent nationwide will have to think about branding and digital presence—or risk becoming obsolete.

MHN: In what ways is real estate a mobile business? How is technology changing the game in the industry?

Imbeaux: In real estate, big decisions aren’t made sitting in the office looking at floorplans—they are made in living rooms and in person. Agents must manage a massive amount of information while on the road, especially with inventory that is constantly shifting and each day bringing new clients and listings. New opportunities can call an agent out of the office at a moment’s notice, but they still have to manage and grow other leads, complete other activities within their sales funnel and reach their financial goals.

MHN: Will technology be requisite for real estate companies in the future?

Imbeaux: Definitely. Classifieds ruled the human resources space for a long time until Monster.com and CareerBuilder came along. In turn, those companies were completely displaced by LinkedIn in less than 10 years. Real estate today is on the precipice of that major shift—it’s begging for a technological revolution that builds a network to bring agents together and make things easier for the entire industry, especially buyers. We built Leadkit to move agents, brokerages, and buyers into the “LinkedIn age.” One thing is for sure: the next decade is going to be a busy one for real estate.

Image courtesy of Leadkit