A new type of neighborhood website is emerging in Houston, Texas that could set the tone for a radical shift in the local real estate industry.
Diane Moss, an experienced REALTOR® with Better Homes & Garden Real Estate Gary Greene, TX, is building a reputation as the ‘Local Leader’ of her neighborhood, Gleannloch Farms. Her neighborhood website is steadily gaining recognition and support from local business owners as a great way to connect local residents and local businesses.
Her goal is to share the stories of the many amazing small business owners, organizations, and entrepreneurs who serve the neighborhood:
“I am utilizing Parkbench.com to get my face out there so people recognize my face AND I am providing them a website…full of information…news, events, local business videos where residents can watch (local business owners) and decide who they would like to do business with before they call them.”
Visit her Gleannloch Farms neighborhood website and you’ll find much more than articles and interviews. You’ll also find a local business directory, local deals and news coverage for Gleannloch residents, along with a section for her listings.
And she does all this for free.
So, why is she doing this, you ask?
Building Relationships And A Community
There is a strong correlation between building viable communities and real estate development. Real estate, however, is more than a transaction. At least for Diane, who considers herself a community advocate as well as an agent.
Some 30 years, ago Diane Moss never imagined she would still be selling real estate. Her first exposure to the real estate industry was serving as a secretary for a small realty and appraisal office called Josephson’s Real Estate in Massachusetts.
As the devoted wife of a US Navy Master Chief for over 25 years, she traveled the country, relocating often with her husband to different bases.
Earning special designations for senior citizens, the military, and as a relocation specialist, Diane is able to help seniors and military personnel overcome the challenges she herself knows intimately:
“I could have stayed in the administrative field but when employers asked me what my husband did and I’d say ‘Navy’, they knew we would be transferred out at some point. A small hurdle, but it was there. So, I have always started from scratch and build up my center of influence and then we’d get transferred.”
Gleannloch Farms: A Suburban Oasis
After relocating in 8 different states, Diane and her husband moved to Texas in 2012 to be around their two rather charming granddaughters in Gleannloch Farms, in the Spring area.
Gleannloch Farms, described as one of Houston’s finest master-planned communities, began as a horse breeding farm and morphed into a master planned community in the 90’s. Today, it continues to preserve much of its original ranch charm, including the horse stables and equestrian center still on the community grounds.
Diane quickly fell in love with the community’s warm and welcoming residents. The idyllic landscape, exquisite luxury homes, and tropical-like weather enticed her to plant permanent roots:
“We have a great neighborhood (with a) friendly attitude… Some of that is what is bred in Texas. People here are so cordial and want to sincerely help. It’s great! I’ve lived a lot of places. It surprised us at how generous people were with their time truly wanted to help you.”
Trouble In Paradise
Over the course of its rich 70-year history, however, Moss’ small but close-knit suburb of Gleannloch, TX has experienced both prosperity and economic setbacks.
Recent years have seen a sluggish development in real estate as well as local business. Average home prices have risen 23.5% over the previous year (2017).
There are signs of improvement, however. Just 2 years ago, the median days on market peaked at 132. In May 2018, that number fell as low as 11 days.
Still, Gleannloch relies heavily on the success of small businesses and local entrepreneurs. Local retailers, in particular, have struggled to keep afloat as severe flooding, heavy rainfall, and an economic downturn in the oil and gas industry have created significant challenges.
Parkbench: A Community Resource
In 2016, Diane discovered Parkbench.com, which specializes in building neighborhood websites – sponsored exclusively by community-minded agents.
Diane, whose brokerage regularly collaborates with local sponsors through their Gary Greene Realtor Foundation to support causes throughout Houston, quickly recognized Parkbench as the ideal platform to showcase the neighborhood businesses and owners she has come to know and value.
Since launching her Parkbench neighborhood website in 2017, Diane has slowly but steadily been interviewing entrepreneurs and businesses, including Mary Kay, The Moo House Cafe, Salon Spaulding, M-POW-R, and Happier At Home.
“I put the Interview button on my FB business page and community page. I got 14 responses in two days! I have talked with people and they are very excited about the interview…I send them an email and a video of me (I had a professional video done last year). Then they can see who I am. I call them within the next day or two. I have 4 interviews done from it.”
A Spotlight On Local Business
In addition to her listings, Diane is also promoting local entrepreneurs and small business owners in need of greater exposure. She publishes their interviews on her neighborhood website and shares their stories on social media as well to attract interest from local residents online.
While she is the first to admit that she isn’t quite internet-savvy, coaching and training from her Parkbench Success Coach has helped her reconnect with the personal values that motivate her business:
“I stumbled around without learning all of the things (my Parkbench) website can do for me for 6 months. Now that I have more of it figured out I am going to utilize it to become a free resource for businesses to send me their events, coupons, sales, etc.”
Through her Parkbench coaching, Diane has learned how to leverage her neighborhood website to help local business owners offer valuable savings to local Gleannloch residents and beyond. Her weekly newsletter is free to join, and subscribers receive updates on the most recent local deals being offered.
And, in addition to helping her fellow business owners, Diane has attracted both new clients and new friends:
“I’ve sold more homes this year already than this time last year, and I’m on track to exceed last year’s volume. I’ve been so busy with my interviews but I’m on a mission to do at least five every month so I had to hire an assistant to help me with it all!
With over 30 years of experience in real estate, Diane continues to put her expertise to good use, helping to ease the sometimes difficult transition of moving or relocating for whatever direction life takes one.
Whether it be first-time home buyers, military personnel, senior citizens, relocation locally or long distance, her multifaceted experiences help all of her customers.
Her neighborhood website is bringing additional exposure to the businesses in her community, connecting local residents with valuable savings, local news, and more each day. By taking the initiative to support entrepreneurs like herself, Diane has earned the right to be called a local leader.
Are you a community-minded real estate agent? Claim your neighborhood with Parkbench today, and become the go-to agent of your area!