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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Postcards From Second Life: Coldwell Banker, The First Real Estate Firm "In-World"

A recent Fortune magazine article revealed that Coldwell Banker, one of the largest real estate firms in the country, began selling real estate in SL on Friday March 30th. According to Charlie Young, SVP of marketing, the company isn't planning to make money in SL.

Rather, the plan is to drive sales of real estate in the real world. Hoping to use SL as a means to understand this "new consumer", actively engaged in social media, virtual worlds, and interacting with brands and each other in ways most marketers are still struggling (and often failing) to understand.

The Coldwell offices will be staffed with "real people" there to answer questions-- and, the company hopes, offset the lonliness may SLers feel wandering aimlessly in the often baren virtual world. Additionally, the company hopes to bring some order to real estate sale, currently controlled by random barrons who buy/sell and operate much like a black market.

It's an interesting play to me. Recently it seems we're seeing more and more companies taking some time to think about how they will actually add value in SL beyond just having a physical presence.

I decided to visit the offices, and see what Coldwell's deal really was.

Just like you'd expect in real life, I was immediately approached by a sales agents avatar, and for the next few minutes he proceeded to rattle off the services offered up in SL.

I found out I had to be of "qualifying age" (30-150 days as a SL resident), along with certain amounts of virtual currency (sadly I'm still clinging to the $250 Linden I got for signing up). There are "kiosks" set up around the HQ, and the units that are white mean they're available for sale/rent.

Actually quite the unique setup and an interesting idea, I was impressed at how well done it is. Not that I'm going to be forking up my real world dough anytime soon for a SL house, but I'll stand by and praise the move.

Whether or not this translates into people running to Coldwell for the real-life property needs, its interesting to see the company admit that this is just as much an experiment in learning how to approach/sell to the people in today's new media world as it is an exercise in making $$. I'd venture to say this is probably one of the smartest ways any big company has entered and set up shop in SL. There's clear value they bring (order to the land buying process), value in it for them (find out how to sell to people who are not buying a house because of a :60 TV spot), and translate those learnings back to real life.

1 comment:

Tiago said...

We can find real estate agents everywhere, there are thousands of them. So is very important learn how to get in touch with new tendency to keep on the market. It may be tiring but it is the only way that works.