Scientia Potentia Est! (This is Not a Typo)
As many of you know, it’s the most popular four words in real estate.
Here’s another term you’ve likely heard, one that I’ve always personally struggled with…
What does that really mean?
According to Wikipedia, “hyperlocal connotes information oriented around a well defined community with its primary focus directed toward the concerns of its residents.”
I’m not sure how that is any different from “local,” but it is what it is, and hyperlocal is the buzzword that won’t seem to die. I guess “hyperlocal” is just more… localized… than local.
Whatever, we’ll just deal with it.
But, how does a real estate professional display “hyperlocal” knowledge?
Is just knowing, for example, that in your market the median sale price is $194,400 and that price has increased 12.8 percent over the last year? What, you don’t have that info? You can find that data for many metro areas on the Zillow Real Estate Research market overviews page.
I think maybe that is considered “local information.” Hyperlocal goes deeper, and it may be what separates the average agent from the stellar agent.
Maybe hyperlocal is the sort of information that you just can’t find on a website.
Things like this…
“Yes, Mr. Buyer, this is a lovely neighborhood. But you should probably be aware that during the winter, when the wind blows from the southeast, the smell of the dairy farm two miles down the road is quite noticeable.”
And maybe this…
“It IS a gorgeous home. And while I agree that new windows would be more energy efficient, keep in mind this home is in a historic district, and the types of external improvements you can make are limited by deed restrictions and homeowner association guidelines.”
Perhaps this, too…
“You’re correct, Ms. Buyer that the commute from this home to where you work might be a little rough in the mornings. But the city planning department just last week approved widening this road from two lanes to four. That, combined with the freeway extension scheduled for next year could very well fix that problem.”
“Clearly I am not a structural engineer. But having sold several homes south of the river I can tell you that you’re really going to want to hire one during your inspections as many homes in this area have settling issues. Most are no big deal, but some homes will require extensive, and expensive, foundation repairs.”
THAT is “hyperlocal” knowledge. It’s important, and is a HUGE value-add to your clients.
Where does one pick up on this hyperlocal type of knowledge?
It’s going to take time, and work. You need to drive your neighborhoods at different times of the day, week, and year. Better yet, walk your neighborhoods. Stop and chat with the neighbors. That will serve two purposes — one, people like to talk about where they live. They’ll tell you more than you really want to know. And two, you will get your face, and your personality, in front of neighborhood home owners — you know, the ones that may need a listing agent some day.
Go to your city / town planning meetings. Yes, they can be horrifically boring, but they can also be the definitive source for up and coming projects in your areas — new roads, zoning and rezoning requests, applications for business licenses. Town planning meetings offer a wealth of hyperlocal information. Ditto for other local governmental things like redevelopment commissions, culture committees, and zoning information sessions. Even in very large metro areas, a lot of planning and development issues are discussed, refined and approved at small meetings and public opinion sessions.
Finally, tour and view listed homes. As a real estate professional, you are (somewhat) like a local merchant, and your inventory is homes for sale. There is no substitute for walking inside a home. Sure, you may know a certain subdivision’s floor plans like the back of your hand, but until you step inside the home, and look at the painted walls, walk on the flooring, and even smell the home, you don’t really know it.
Sites like Zillow can be a huge help in gathering local data.
Want school info? We have it.
Interested in demographic data for your area? Yep, we have that too.
Local market stats and trends? Yes, we even have that. And you can download it to create your own charts, or embed it right on your website.
But no website is going to provide or replace the truly hyperlocal knowledge you gain as a real estate professional. Scientia potentia est. I can’t pronounce it either, it’s Latin for, “Knowledge is power” (and generally attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, though it may well have first been said by Thomas Hobbes, who was secretary to Bacon as a young man).
Regardless of who first said it, it is true. Go out there and gain that local, and hyperlocal knowledge. It’s worth the effort. You’ll impress your prospects, you’ll scare your competition and you’ll better serve your clients.
Photo credit: Aaron Harmon on Flickr. CC Licensed.
Hat tip to Greg Fischer for the idea / initial conversation that sparked this post!