April 2, 2020

Competition Vs. Collaboration: To Share or Protect?

I was talking with another real estate colleague yesterday and our discussion revolved around the use of technology to increase productivity, improve sales, and increase revenues.  Throughout the discussion we were citing examples of tools that helped increase property exposure through syndication or lead generation applications.  The question came up in our discussion; do real estate professionals protect their competitive edge or do they share it?

This is difficult to answer and probably depends on in what manner one is competing with another real estate professional(and geography).  If you were present at the most recent Real Estate BarCamp in New York, you would have noticed a very collaborative environment with regards to productivity tools such as Google Voice, using Quora to become more credible, and improving search rank through video and blogging.  All of the people presenting (and those in the audience adding value) may have had little to gain by sharing their competitive edges.  Though many of these are widely known tools and applications, learning how to use the application from an industry peer is of significant value.What was missing from the conversation was any form of protectionism or secrecy.  So what is the point of teaching one’s competitors how to do business at his or her level?  In theory you’ve spent quality time learning a product or process, making the mistakes, spending the money, and more importantly the time.  So why give someone a shortcut? I think the complicated answer is that society is headed more towards a wide level of collaboration.  Further, the credibility built is often worth the trade-off of the time and money invested.  I also think sharing forges long-lasting relationships.   What do you think?

When it comes to a competitive edge using technology as a real estate professional, there’s little one can’t glean from looking at the source code on your website, or seeing what tool syndicated your message out on Twitter or Facebook.  With your technology secrets literally being public knowledge, what cards does one still keep close?  Lead generation? Relationships?

A couple parting questions:

“What motivates you to share?”

or inversely,

“What prevents you from sharing?

“What business aspects don’t you share?”


  1. Malcolm Carter says

    Almost better than everything I learned from LuckyStrikers, my own REwrite meet-ups and events such as the excellent REBarCampNY is the unselfish sharing of information that occurs. Thanks, Ryan, for highlighting its importance.

  2. Good observation Ryan. After it is all said and done I prefer coopetition. Everyone you meet is a potential competitor AND partner.