Kelowna realtors go dark during the busiest month of the year
Kelowna, BC – Vantage West Realty in Kelowna is going dark for the month of June, turning off all technology during the busiest month for home sales. Opting for in-person service, the “Vantage Goes Vintage” changeover is having the young realtors pledge dollars to a local charity if caught texting, tweeting or emailing.
A few weeks ago Vantage West’s founder A. J. Hazzi hand delivered an offer sheet to a gentlemen in his fifties instead of faxing it or e-mailing it. He was shocked at the impact of doing it personally and not relying on the expediency of technology. “He couldn’t get over how nice it was that I took the time to deliver it personally and that when the idea to go dark for June hit me, ” says Hazzi.
Last June, the Central Okanagan saw 391 residential properties sold at a value of $154.3 million. June 2012 sales by Vantage West topped out at $5 million. With the medium price of a Kelowna home at $393,000 and June listings averaging around 850, any agency knows the time for sales is now.
“Are we taking a risk here?” asks Hazzi. “Sure we are. June is the largest month in real estate, we have a young, tech-savvy team at Vantage West and we’re seeing growing trends of web searching with homebuyers. But we’re betting that personal service will win over; that when homebuyers are ready to talk to an agent, they want to do that in person. You’re making one of the most important decisions in your life – where your home is.”
Real estate-related searches on Google.com rose 253 per cent over the past four years, according to internal Google data. Nine out of 10 house hunters searched online during the homebuying process with 52 per cent choosing that as their first step in the process. The Google Digital House Hunt Report saw more than 60 per cent of buyers search online for their new home for more than two month before ever picking up the phone.
Hazzi is hoping his timing is right and a pool of potential buyers is now ready to give him a call. While the realtors will keep their phones, they have swapped out their sleek smartphones for vintage cells with no texting capacity. The realtors are also making a personal pledge of $300 to Kelowna Gospel Mission for each text, tweet or email they are caught sending. Web and social media sites will remain dark for the month, with an exception to a link to a video and a donate button.
Part of Generation Y, the young realtors at Vantage West are part of the “always-connected” generation. They have also been using computers, mobile phones, the Internet, social media tools and other technologies since childhood. In the recent Cisco Connected World Technology Report, 90 per cent of Gen Y surveyed worldwide said they check their smartphones for updates in email, texts and social media sites, often before they get out of bed. Globally, one in five checks for updates at least every 10 minutes.
“Honestly, I do feel a little anxious; I’m never without my smartphone,” says Nick Hazzi, who at age 24 is the youngest agent. “This challenge forces us to focus on the personal relationship and that’s the foundation of real estate selling. It’s also an opportunity to giveback to our community and remind everyone that many don’t even have the basics in life – much less a smartphone.”
Vantage West will donate $300 to the Kelowna Gospel Mission for every home sale in the month of June. The public is also encouraged to donate in support of the campaign at vantagegoesvintage.com.
The Kelowna Gospel Mission is celebrating their 35th anniversary in transforming lives, offering food, shelter and support for those most in need.
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PHOTO CAPTION: Vantage West Realty choose a West Kelowna 1950s bungalow listed for sale in Lakeview Heights as the location to kick off their Vantage Goes Vintage campaign.
“This challenge forces us to focus on the personal relationship and that’s the foundation of real estate selling. It’s also an opportunity to giveback to our community and remind everyone that many don’t even have the basics in life – much less a smartphone.” — Nick Hazzi, who at age 24 is the youngest agent at Vantage West