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Chris Fyvie, Savvy Social Media Real Estate Agent of Colliers International (INTERVIEW)

— November 1, 2011 — Business
Chris Fyvie of Colliers International is not your typical real estate agent. Specializing in selling downtown Toronto spaces, Fyvie makes use of social media and the web to take real estate to the next level.

Running both OfficeZilla, Office Search Toronto and engaging with the public via Twitter (having over 2,600 loyal followers), Fyvie has upped the game when it comes to the next generation of real estate agents and even helped Trend Hunter to find our very own place to call home.

8 Questions with Chris Fyvie

1. How did you become interested in pairing social media and real estate?

When I first got into the real estate industry over 12 years ago I found a passion and then I saw an opportunity. The commercial real estate industry is full of amazing people, but the demographics show an aging population who typically have an established client base and don’t see the need for social media or change. I’m ok with that because it leaves more room for me to stretch my legs. What I saw was an opportunity that others didn’t, to put my name in front of thousands of people 24/7 through social media.

2. How significant is the topic of trend spotting in the world of real estate?

I’m always on the lookout for new trends in technology, which is ultimately the next tool or angle to help my business create an edge. The real estate industry overall is slower moving and the popular trends right now are 3dD floor plans, virtual tours and the cloud, which to me, aren’t the trends that I’m seeking to really propel my business.

Overall, trend spotting in real estate or as we often refer to it, “forecasting” is very significant. For example, the current trending conversation online is about the lack of new office developments in Toronto’s Financial Core because of all the condo developments. If you know the market and the players, you know there are four major developers inches away from announcing significant developments. All of these developments will have a significant impact on the real estate market.  There is always conversation about the trends or uncommon knowledge, which also acts as a sales tool for agents.

3. What is the best way to create an infectious idea, product or service?

Other than significant financial incentives to buy potential interest, I use video, photography and social media to create infectious ideas. I have a YouTube channel that focuses on creating videos on my clients business and their new real estate. It is difficult to make real estate entertaining to the public (particularly office space) unless you are the one looking for the space. I have found the public does have an interest in what strong brands are doing. Video tours of great companies and their great spaces like Mozilla, MTV and Trend Hunter can engage a client for more than the typical 20 second attention span – a real win in today’s internet culture (by the way, if you have read this far – thank you!).

As it relates to my services, I provide a visually appealing way to help clients save time and money in their search for new office space – and then they usually tell their friends. A recent example is a company based out of California that I successfully helped find office space. The principle was in Toronto for a few meetings but did not have the time to see the actual office space. On their behalf, I went on tour and shot HD video and took pictures of the various spaces. When the client came back a month later we had our short list of three spaces based on the virtual tours of the ten opportunities. Talk about a timesaver.

4. How have your views about real estate changed since the rise in popularity of social media platforms?

It’s not just about the real estate anymore. It is about the clients brand, employee retention and corporate culture. My advice is think outside the box, take the opportunity to use your office relocation and growth to spin a positive message about a company. Imagine the extra mileage you get by creating a video about your relocation, the company’s growth and how cool your new office space is! Why are people still sending an email notice announcing the change of address when they can send a video and make it engaging?! Check out the featured video concept we created for Trend Hunter’s as an example.

5. What are your ambitions for Colliers?

The people at Colliers are amazing and as a company, we have always been at the leading edge of technology. I hope to see us continue to reach for new ways to make the real estate process better for our clients, be it with technology or through revolutionizing the standard process. It’s always about making changes and improving things for the client and hopefully the broker at the same time.

6. How do you reset yourself to be creative?

I go to my beach. My beach doesn’t have to be made of real sand, it is the mental state I can achieve at a coffee shop, patio or a trip to a far off country. I have learned how to disconnect, although I rarely do. My creativity usually comes when I stop multitasking and I’ve spent enough time resetting on my beach. Turn it all off and enjoy the silence, even ten minutes thinking things through will inspire and invigorate.

7. What are your most important hobbies?

Technology, marketing, and sports. Having a passion for technology and marketing fit very well as a real estate broker – the fact the industry is mad about hockey and golf is just a bonus. Many agents are still experimenting with technologies like blogs, YouTube and Facebook, but I’m already a user. Also, having an established social media presence means that I can get listings out to more potential clients quickly and easily. More eyes means more opportunity and I feel my social media and marketing work puts me well ahead of the curve. My hobbies make me be a better broker and also my career a lot of fun.

8. Where to you see the Real Estate business in 10 years?

I see the real estate business downsizing and simplifying in the next ten years. MLS will get their act together and change their business model to service both the public and the brokers. Tenants will be able to search product online and find accurate information, not the expired listings that dominate the Internet like a graveyard today. Because of this, the real estate agent will no longer be able to hold listings for ransom as a widget or a commodity. Hiring a real estate broker will be based on value add service. Does the agent really understand your company? Do you feel the agent is trying to sell you something or are they acting like a consultant with the best interests of your company in mind? Does your agent have the experience to provide out of the box thinking on terms like termination, renewal and relocation options? The successful agents of the future will not only expose you to all the listings available, but will take the time to understand, educate and even improve you and the company on a much larger scale – like I do.
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