What can the Tour de France teach us about real estate? A lot! Being a cyclist, I can tell you that cycling in the 21st Century is not like cycling when I was a child. If you're a serious fitness or performance cyclist you can't walk into Target or Walmart and pull a bike off the rack and have it be the perfect bike for serious riding.
No, cycling has changed. Seat height, crank size, number of crank sprockets, gear cassette ratios, top tube length, saddle shape, tire style, tire inflation pounds, pedal type, cycling shoe type, brake lever design, shifter position, handlebar width, seat post angle, frame material and weight and a host of other issues dominate high end cycling today. When I raced mountain bikes I had a friend ask what a good mountain bike costs now days. I told him, "You can spend $10,000 and not have the bike you really want." That's a big change from my first bike many years ago.
The same is true of real estate. It's a lot different from just a decade ago. Nearly 90% of home-buyers have already found homes they're interested in when they call a Realtor. The Internet has made an agent's job easier in some respects and more challenging in others. Not all data is accurate or up to date. So, you spend time confirming or denying the data your buyer's find.
Smartphones and tablets have given agents the ability to get instant data while in the field with clients. Electronic lockboxes make homes more readily accessible.
Websites and blogs have given agents more visibility throughout the world. A client in Moscow can locate a house in Virginia, find an agent online, and through a web-based translator he can make contact and set up a viewing before he ever boards a plane at Sheremetyevo International Airport . And, that can all happen in just a few minutes.
Scanning files and transfering them over the Internet decreases the time files are received, and does away with illegible fax copies. Scanning and emailing documents has also made it easier for buyers and their agent to be in two different locations but still have a quicker turnaround time with documents. We're in a different time. This is not your parent's Western Auto bicycle.
The Tour de France riders are not your typical athletes either. I talked with with one of Floyd Landis's coaches, Allen Lim, right after the 2006 Tour. Allen told me that they decided that Floyd Landis would win the 2006 Tour de France nearly a year before. How could they be so condifent in that prediction? Technology and training. Landis went into training the year before using a great deal of cycling technology and specific heart-rate information to determine when his body was at its optimum performance level.
When the Tour got into the mountain phase, the team decided that Landis would make a break away from the pack. When he did, his team would block for him while his coaches would monitor his heart-rate and body temperature on the team computer. When his body temperature rose his heart-rate would also increase and his performance would drop. Because of his lead position his team car could ride up next to him and give him water. Lim said they would hand him a bottle of ice cold water which he would pour on his head.
Riders were only allowed to have so many bottles of water per day. Landis used additional bottles to bring his body temperature down. When his body temperature came down his heart-rate also came down and his energy increased and he gained ground. He won the coveted "yellow jersey" that day and the rest is history. He went on to win the Tour. Cycling has entered the world of high-technology. It's not just about pedaling anymore.
As Realtors, we're in a high-tech economy with high expectations from our clients. They expect immediate service with reams of information and multiple possibilities. The technology available to Realtors today gives them the ability to break away from the pack. When things get tough, they've got the tools to increase their performance and meet the demand.
It's a new day in real estate, and those who have adjusted to the new ways of doing the business have the potential to be the pack leaders. The basics are always the same in the Tour and in real estate, but the ability to adjust to "state of the art" technology makes all the difference.