SkyWest Magazine

The Solution for Real Estate Information Anxiety

Edward R. Haberton

As Seen in Sky West / Delta Connection Magazine

Sitting here in my mid-town office, 87 floors above the drone of sirens and car horns, somewhere between the roar of airplanes on approach and the occasional fire alarm test, I sense just how noisy my world really is. Add to that the constant interruptions of co-workers and the incessant ringing of my cell phone where, supposedly, every intrusion is information I need to know. I’m struck with the realization that I’m inundated with “informational noise.” Blaring, chronic, political noise saturates my life and seems so hard to escape. How do we sort through it all? Too much information, particularly if its not relevant, is mere noise. Noise doesn’t add to one’s understanding, and only subtracts from ultimate clarity. According to Richard Saul Wurman in his book Information Anxiety, our society suffers from information overload. He points out that a “weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a life time in seventeenth century England.”


My mind drifts off to memories of my college years when I worked on a Montana ranch for a few summers. I reflect on those fulfilling times working with the animals and equipment, in my free time seeking solitude in the woods exploring new trails and all the while drinking in the grandeur of my environment. What made those experiences so rewarding, so renewing and, in a sense, so spiritual? It was the lack of modern day noise that let my inner restoration occur in the peace and simplicity that I was experiencing.

My urge to return to that healing environment of my Montana youth convinced me I had to do something about it…so I decided to buy a ranch. However, Googling “Montana ranch for sale” resulted in 1.1 million hits. “Montana ranch broker” garnered more than 600,000 hits. How could I put properties in a meaningful and relevant context of geography, productivity, value, broker qualifications, and other important considerations? It seemed this resulted in more questions than answers. Turning to the respective Multi-Listing Service I found my efforts further frustrated by a lack of standardization and information which seemed incomplete. I wondered if a broker from Livingston would really tell me, or even know, about a more suitable property in Kalispell. I was experiencing real estate anxiety.

I started asking myself, isn't there some sort of Jim Cramer of Real Estate? Only instead of the CNBC Stock Market expert, this version of Cramer would be a Montana property guru who could guide and advise me with no agenda behind moving his own listing first or steering me to a particular region for convenience? There had to be a better way.

A Modern Day Scout Gary J. Kauffman, broker of Rocky Mountain Habitats Real Estate just may be the expert you are looking for. Kauffman has developed an innovative and refreshing approach to address this growing need for broad specialty in real estate. The new methodology in his real estate business provides solutions for today's buyers and sellers in the recreational, investment, and natural resource sectors of the real estate market. Upon meeting Kauffman, it is apparent he has similar Crameresque characteristics. His passion for what he does is evident. His straight-talking approach builds trust. And his knowledge base of the Northern Rocky Mountains is encyclopedic. His life long involvement in the real estate industry has covered everything from building to brokering, excavating to exploring, ranching to recreation. Kauffman is a broker in both Montana and Wyoming. This territorial approach to real estate is a valuable resource to RMHRE clients because it saves them time trying to locate the best suited properties. Reminiscent of the charges of early history, and not unlike Lewis and Clark, Kauffman relishes the opportunity to 'scout' the land for his clients. The RMHRE trademark expression ‘Real Estate Scout’ has become part of the new lexicon. Scouting is more than some virtual interpretation of databases and road maps. In fact, its meaning is more specific to exploration: Smelling the air, surveying the views, and experiencing the actual land with the expectation of discovering intrinsic and subjective value that is not easily filed into some database. This discovery process yields substantial benefit to RMHRE clients by providing a unique perspective that instantly becomes a competitive advantage. This advantage is critically important in today’s real estate market. For every buyer looking for the perfect piece of Paradise there are a hundred others looking for the same thing.

So the ability to make decisions with timely, clear and relevant information can be key in getting the perfect property.

When representing a buyer, Kauffman uses very specific client-driven criteria to filter out the noise of false hits and directing what Wurman calls 'relevant' information to the client. Kauffman says, “Much of this process is science, but the critical interpretive skills are an intuitive art that comes from experience.” While some of the steps are proprietary and some are public domain, much is just plain legwork. Kauffman uses his passion for the outdoors and his background in GIS, web development and photography to present feedback and input to his clients that is specifically targeted to their goals with all the noise filtered out.

Informational Clarity

RMHRE gives clients unconventional information, along with the means to access it. Earth-referenced photos, for example. Using downloadable freeware and Google Earth, clients can click on an RMHRE photo and 'fly' into the location where the photo was taken. Using other field applications, clients can see their exact location while previewing a property on a high resolution aerial map. They can even view 3-D video of a property to get a new perspective. Kauffman feels that well-informed clients result in more confident decisions. “Empowering our clients will not replace us,” he says, “but will only serve to strengthen our relationships.”

Perhaps one of the most outstanding client assets the technologically-adept RMHRE employs is the FLIR HD Ultra-Media video camera system. This RMHRE capability is unprecedented in the real estate industry and produces jaw-dropping high definition video of Planet Earth caliper. RMHRE’s exclusive adaptation to market their clients’ property in HD is a first, according to FLIR Systems of Portland, Oregon.

In a world full of informational noise, saying less is more. Particularly when it is in HD. Four minutes of high-definition video exceeds even the most impressive brochure. Higher sale prices and shorter marketing times are big benefits to sellers when this capability is employed. The ability to communicate in this format translates to real gains to buyers as well because they perceive additional value in properties.

To facilitate the clients’ experience RMHRE creates a web-based personal client portal that allows the client to consider properties in a format that’s easy to understand, yet very powerful. This customized personal portfolio might include interactive maps, geo-photo albums, calendars, transaction documents and other relevant information. This broad presentation helps a client fully understand the comparisons of properties under consideration, regardless of location, cost, size or whose offering it is. Many folks coming to the West don't really know whether they want a ranch, a wilderness retreat, or a cabin on a riverbank. At times they aren’t sure if they want to be in Big Timber or Big Fork. This helps them frame the options The RMHRE approach allows clients to deal with one expert in the entire region, regardless of what part of Montana or Wyoming they eventually settle.