First published on Geekestate Blog 4/4
The Art Of The CMA – Greg Robertson w/Charles Warnock
"Win Hearts, Minds, and Loyalty by Mastering Real Estate's Most Versatile Tool"
What is a CMA? For those who think a CMA has to do with songs about lost loves and pick-ups – "A comparative market analysis (CMA) is an estimate of a home's value based on recently sold, similar properties in the immediate area." ~Investopedia
Artistry in Real Estate? Here are a couple of quotes from the book that frames Greg's approach to the book:
"The art is how you apply your unique ideas, creativity, and personal style to engage people and grow your business." "What's the one thing all great artists share? They have no fear."
About The Author I sometimes refer to myself as an O.G. of the Re.net. I've known Greg and his co-founder, Dan Woolley, for a long time, about two decades to be exact. Greg is one of my favorite voices in proptech. Suppose you can remember companies he was involved with like, Homeseekers, eNeighborhoods, and Dwellicious. In that case, you're probably an O.G... "Vendors" serving the real estate industry are voracious readers of Greg's blog, Vendor Alley. Those interested in the real estate industry's goings-on subscribe to one of two podcasts he publishes, first the always entertaining and enlightening podcast he co-hosts with the notorious R.O.B. aka Rob Hahn, Industry Relations and Listing Bits, where he interviews organized real estate movers and shakers. Greg is best known for his role as co-founder of W+R Studios and their software, known as Cloud Agent Suite (recently acquired by Lone Wolf Technologies). The flagship product is Cloud CMA Now; Greg can add the author to his list of accomplishments.
About The Book It's a 242-page read that includes a comprehensive survey of CMA best practices. Ten chapters all have a quick summary at the end of each chapter. There are great checklists, "how-tos," and a plethora of backup data points. If you're going to use the dead tree version, I recommend using a new highlighter; my copy has quite a few neon orange gems that I will be able to quote in my future copywriting endeavors.
Any agent confused about working in the world of Zillow 2.0 and iBuying would do well to pick up a copy right away. Even if you're adept at using CMAs the book will no doubt provide you with some inspiration to use them in a way you probably haven't approached before; even if you don't use CMAs at all, you can glean a great deal of actionable information. Greg does a great job of providing concise guidance in using CMAs as an adjunct to presentations and a content marketing tool. With headings like "Become a Black Belt in Zestimate Judo," Greg puts on a master class in the artistry of using data for the win. I think the primary reason I am a big fan of this book is how Greg approaches the need for real estate pros to harness their abilities to become hyperlocal heroes and how weaving a great CMA into the mix can elevate the chances for success. One of my favorite neon orange highlights:
"No algorithm can capture or quantify the emotions of a family that has found the perfect home—or the satisfaction of the agent that helped them reach that goal."
Q&A With The Author Greg was kind enough to answer a few questions for my book report:
Q / Mike: Let's start with the pachyderm in the parlor, inventory, and pricing. What are your takes on the lack of the former and the result of the latter? When is a correction coming?
A / Greg: It’s a crazy market for sure. I would say that listings are gold right now. So being able to present a good CMA is going to increase your chance of getting more listings. And with the market moving so quickly, it impossible for any algorithm to keep up, so I think in this market, agents have the edge over the “zestimates” of the world. It’s hard to predict any correction, but it's coming; but I think the correction will be more on a social, economic level, not just the housing market.
Q / Mike: What are some of the guidance you provide to agents on the use of C.M.A.'s concerning the pricing issues we see in most markets?
A / Greg: The list to sold price ratios in some markets is just amazing. Days on Market (DOMs) are almost nothing. But I think agents need to make sure they give their seller’s a good starting point in regard to list price, and a good CMA will do that for them.
Q / Mike: You establish upfront that the most important takeaway from the book is that real estate pros should understand how to use their artistry to overcome fear as a mechanism to achieve their best work. I agree; however, I see a problem in surrendering control of their content marketing and branding to third parties. A great deal of lead capture seems to be on expensive, leased hamster wheels. What is your advice regarding taking more control of their branding messages and lead capture platforms? Where do C.M.A.'s have an impact?
A / Greg: I’ll tell you one of the executives at Lone Wolf recently passed around a flyer a Real Estate agent left at his door. It was one page, single-sided paper flyer. It showed all the houses sold in the neighborhood, the list to sell ratio of those listings. The days on market of each listing and the agent’s contact info. Basically a one-page CMA. And I tell you, it was one of the most compelling pieces of marketing I’ve seen in a while. Let the market speak for itself.
Q / Mike: I saw a post in an industry Facebook group where an agent asked what a C.M.A. was because a client requested one. The question has over 1.6K responses, most of them stating the broker failed to give proper training. You say in the book that agents get little or no training when it comes to valuation. I was surprised that something so integral to a transaction was overlooked as it relates to agent education. Do you have some advice for Brokers? What are some examples of companies getting it right when it comes to solving this issue?
A / Greg: Buy my book. www.TheArtoftheCMA.com, quantity discounts are available.
Q / Mike: The statistics on how many clients are never contacted again after closing is staggering to me. How can agents improve their follow-up game using C.M.A.'s?
A / Greg: I’ll do another plug, check out Homebeat, an add-on to Cloud CMA. Staying top of mind is key to a long-lasting real estate career.
Q / Mike: Activity for investment and acquisition in the proptech space is brisk right now. Is there anything new and exciting that you're following?
A / Greg: I think iBuying is here to stay, and as I say in the book, if agents can let go of their fear and look at these models as ways to help their clients, they will find alternative ways of generating income. I’m also tracking Divvy, which is basically a way to partner with a company on the purchase of a how and then share in the equity once it’s sold. It allows more people to gain access to neighborhoods they might not have been able to afford before. And we all know where you live can be a big predictor of a child’s success in life.
Q / Mike: What was the driving factor behind your decision to write The Art of The CMA? What's the best piece of advice you could give someone writing their first book?
A / Greg: Well, I’ve always liked to write. I have a blog I’ve been writing for since 2007. But I’ve always had it in the back of my head that I would like to write a book. I remember talking to Chris Smith after he had written a book called “The Conversion Code,” and he said, nobody ever asked me to autograph my blog. And I thought that was pretty cool. Advice? Just start writing. Also, I’ve always been a collaborative person. I had started writing this book 2 or 3 times before I ran into an old friend, Charles Warnock. Having Charles bounce ideas off and hold some sort of accountability helped get it done.
Q / Mike: Another favorite paragraph in the book for me is where you reference the fact that success with real estate isn't built on guesswork. You speak to the need for a plan, one that keeps us relevant into the future and "find new ways to grow and thrive, and to add value to your community." What are some of the new ways you are going about your path to plan, grow and thrive?
A / Greg: In my new role, I’m using 3 criteria for working on projects. First, am I learning anything? Second, is it challenging me? And lastly, do I enjoy working with the people I’m with?
Conclusion Used correctly, CMAs are fantastic content marketing tools. The Art of The CMA is a well-written, well-researched resource that should be on the desk of any real estate pro interested in adding or improving an ingredient integral to a winning real estate marketing mix.
On Deck: Exactly What To Say: For Real Estate Agents - Phil Jones, Chris Smith, Jimmy Mackin
Hacking Growth: Sean Ellis, Morgan Brown