Why Are we Here?

By Stephen Phillips

Existentialism: a philosophical system emphasizing the existence of the individual as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

I heard someone say recently that every business owner needs to ask why their company exists. What need is the business filling? What value is the business creating? Who would miss the business if it suddenly went away? That bit about creating value piqued my interest, because I spend a great deal of time thinking about, and working to increase, the value that HSF Affiliates and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices create for affiliates, agents and consumers. I also think about why real estate networks and brokers and agents exist in the first place. What value does our industry create, and for whom?

Of course, value means different things to different people. I think of creating value as moving a person from one condition or state of being to another, more desirable condition. For example, when a restaurant serves a meal the customer is moved from a condition of hunger to a state of satisfaction, creating a sort of physical value for them. If an investment advisor helps increase a client’s net worth, economic value is created for the investor in the process. And when a music fan hears their favorite band on the radio, their mood may be improved, creating a kind of emotional value.

In that framework, the real estate industry creates substantial value for home buyers and sellers in many ways. People buy and sell homes for countless reasons; more space, less space, space in a different place, more luxurious space, weekend space, space for Mom and Dad, and any number of variations. All of these changes create a new physical condition for the consumer that is preferable to their previous one. As well, we know that owning a home can be an important contributor to a consumer’s financial condition, whether as a primary residence or as a rental investment. And most uniquely, owning a home can have a very powerful emotional impact. There really is nothing like the feeling of controlling your own destiny in the space where much of your life is lived.

Selling real estate isn’t easy, and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Try as we might, we all may wonder from time to time what we’re doing in this crazy, up-and-down business. But with over 75 million homes owned by their occupants in the United States, and more than 80% of existing homes being bought and sold through a real estate agent, there’s no question that our industry creates real and lasting value for millions of families all across this country every day.

So the next time you have a moment of existential angst and find yourself asking “Why am I here?” just remember: Together we create value; what we do has meaning; our industry serves a real purpose. We make dreams come true. And that’s why there’s no place I’d rather be.

Stephen Phillips is COO for HSF Affiliates LLC, responsible for the daily operations of the company. He also serves as president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Find him on Twitter @sphillipstweets.

One response to Why Are we Here?

  1. Thanks for the insightful post, Stephen.

    In looking across industries and reading the last two posts, one parallel that comes to mind is the hospitality industry.

    In the last decade, hoteliers were besotted by technology and abbreviations galore – CRM, CMS, CRS! They found themselves surrendering their identity to those who boasted of greater technological capabilities – aggregators like Expedia, Kayak etc. Then, came the realization that to truly win the battle they would have make a difference within – revisit the value they provided, refocus on service and realign with customer experience.

    The real estate industry is undergoing a similar phase of evolution with technology advancements, some of which threaten to disintermediate the most critical value-driver – the human being who also happens to the realtor.

    I personally found 29 homes online that matched my wishlist, the home I bought was the one I alerted my realtor about. BUT…we got our dream home because the realtor had the human intelligence to help convince the sellers about us as the best fit for their home.

    So as we log in to another day, let’s pat ourselves in the back and remind ourselves that the value we create – we make dreams come true.


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