Housingstorm.com was a project of mine with ambitious goals, that ended up failing.
Or, maybe it just ran out of time. I still believe that something like Housingstorm should exist. However, due to a host of personal developments, I deeply regret that I can no longer keep the project moving forward.
For those who didn’t know about it, Housingstorm.com was an online community of bloggers, real estate industry pros and consumers. The concept was to create a marketplace of ideas, where local pros would share their expertise with local consumers. By bringing everyone together, it would have been the best, central resource for learning about local housing markets. Through open debate and discussion, consumers could engage, challenge, and debate local pros.
It isn’t easy for consumers to really understand what is happening in their local real estate markets. Google any local housing market and you are confronted with a random patchwork of news stories, press releases, and regurgitated industry spin. No wonder most consumers are so misinformed about the housing market.
Real, honest, intelligent voices are out there. They are just hard to find. Housingstorm.com tried to bring these voices together and make them louder.
Why Did Housingtorm.com Fail?
No doubt there were some missteps and execution errors along the way, but the real problem – the real reason why Housingstorm died was that it was attempting to solve a problem that, apparently, not many people wanted to solve.
Success required both the real estate community to embrace the concept, and consumers to reward them for their efforts. Neither happened enough.
The Agents Didn’t Get It
There certainly were some great agents who made lots of valuable contributions. And I received quite a few emails from members who gained new clients from their participation in Housingstorm.com. For those of you to gave your energy to this project, sincerely, thank you.
In the end, we had nearly 1,000 members, many of which contributed on a fairly regular basis. But that just isn’t anywhere close to enough. I talked to countless agents over the last couple of years, and very few of them grasped the concept of creating a valuable resource for their community where they could earn business by sharing their expertise. Generally-speaking, they didn’t like the concept of debate and being challenged. They were only interested in spreading positive, good news, even though what the public really needs is truth.
They weren’t happy to be affiliated with a site that acknowledged that the doom-and-gloom “bubble bloggers” were actually right. Denial runs deep in the real estate industry. The Kool-Aid is intoxicating. Many still insist that the Emperor is wearing clothes.
And, more significantly, the agents I talked with weren’t excited about having to actually be experts – because, frankly, they weren’t and they knew it.
I can’t understand how someone can give “expert” advice to a client about real estate, when they themselves have absolutely no clue what is happening in their local real estate economy. I don’t understand how so many of my peers don’t bother to learn about their own field.
Consumers Didn’t Demand More
In the end, the culture of the real estate industry was just not ready to change. Rather than give our clients accurate information, we insist on only happy, positive spin, because we think that is what people want to hear.
It’s all about telling people what they want to hear so they will hire us, rather than telling them what they need to know so they can make correct financial decisions. On this point, perhaps it is fair to blame consumers as much as agents because they tolerate it.
Consumers aren’t demanding better information. This is, in part of course, because most consumers already think they know exactly what is happening in their local market and they intend to hire the agent who most enthusiastically tells them they are right.
In this sense, even though the information is crap and the “system” is clearly broken, consumers are actually getting the information and expertise they are asking for. It’s not what the need, but it is what they want.
By building Housingstorm.com, I fought to fix the system – to show consumers what they were missing and to reward the agents who show knowledge and integrity. This is how the real estate business should be, but it’s not the business that either the agents or the consumers want right now.
It’s been a rough last year or so for me personally. If I didn’t have so many other challenges before me, perhaps I would fight on for a while longer. But the time has come for me to walk away from this battle, at least for now.
Today, I am refocusing my energy on Bay Area Real Estate Trends, working to make it the best housing resource for consumers it the San Francisco Bay Area. All of those extra hours I would have spent working on Housingstorm, will now rightly be with my kids, my friends, and working for my clients.
Thank you again to all of you who participated and supported what Housingstorm.com tried to be. Especially, I would like to thank Andrew Jeffery, Patrick Killelea (for all of his links and support), and Pamela Cendejas.
Maybe someday we’ll take another crack at it.