The value of expertise -- a.k.a. apartments are not commodities

February 19, 2020 by Ted Bauer

OK, let’s be honest, LinkedIn sucks

Have you ever seen this meme?


This is, unfortunately, absolutely true. We constantly talk about how LinkedIn has 600 million users and Microsoft bought it for $26 billion and this and that and the other thing, but the reality is, LinkedIn typically kind of sucks as a platform. Millennials barely use it, and they’re the largest cohort in the workplace right now. (I actually went to a DFW LinkedIn meetup once and you needed to log into LinkedIn to sign into the event. A lot of people 30 and under just left because they didn’t even know their password. True story.)

Well, listen -- one reason that LinkedIn is not as cool or important as LinkedIn wants to believe it is? It’s because of fake expertise, like the meme above. You log on there and it seems like everyone has a book, is a blockchain expert, has developed real estate in 21 states, etc, etc. In reality, they are probably unemployed, on LinkedIn looking at jobs, and wearing crusty Denver Nuggets gym shorts. (This has been a period of my life, yes.) 

I think we broadly understand that expertise does still exist in society. We think of doctors, lawyers, professors, scientists, and even some CEO types as “experts” in a given field. But the rise of LinkedIn and the fakeness of that rise has called notions of “expertise” into question. Are people really what they say they are? 

There’s some other factors too

Because we love us some Silicon Valley companies, we live in a very product-focused time. Some call it “The Cult of Product.”

A lot of us don’t make that much money, give or take. Wage stagnation is a several decades old concept right now.

A lot of us have a bunch of debt.

The rise of Amazon and other big e-commerce created “The On-Demand Economy,” where we feel like we can get anything we want quickly and cheaply. This has led us to believe more and more things are commodities, and you don’t really need “expertise” to purchase commodities, per se. 

Now, we might spend a bunch of hours researching pointless things to buy online, which is not really productive or “successful” in any way, but hey, maybe there was nothing good to stream that night. 

We’re being cynical, sure, but aside from a handful of professions, there is an increasing dismissal of “expertise.” In fact, some -- like anthropologist David Graeber -- have claimed we’re living in a “bullshit jobs” boom, not a boom where expertise is required. In short: a lot of us are spreadsheet jockeys.

What does this have to do with renting apartments?

Glad you asked. Even though an average DFW resident will spend about $13,920 in a 12-month span on their rent (based on an average unit price of $1,160/month currently), a lot of renters treat the process as, well, a commodity. Because there are so many apartment review sites, and because you can drive around and look at the model apartments each complex has, and because there’s Google and Facebook, we think we can “own” the research and find the maximum output like we would find, say, underwear on Amazon.

The thing is, though -- underwear might cost $99 for a fancy pack. $99 is less than 1% of $13,920. So why would you use the same approach when the purchases are literally 100% different?

What would constitute expertise in apartment rentals?

Well, here’s a thought. What about a crew of people who deal with apartment complexes and potential renters all day? And some of those clients -- a lot, actually! -- seem to like working with them? That would be expertise, because these people know the apartments, they know the areas, they know the price points, they know how the system works, they know when deals come up, and -- most importantly of all -- they know what you want, because we work together to establish that.

Oh yea, that’s why we said “we” in that final sentence. We’re talking about us. 

Bottom line: you do a lot of stuff in your apartment, from the very good and productive to the very unproductive and (hopefully not) nefarious. You spend a bunch of time there and your bed is there, as well as your clothes. Even if you’re only in the renter game for 12 months and then you go buy (which we can help with too), it’s still a big 12-month commitment.

So rather than browsing the same way for socks and apartments, maybe it’s time to use an expert?

And hey, we’ll be honest: we really don’t know that much about blockchain. 

About the Author

Ted Bauer

Ted Bauer is a writer/editor for White Rock Locators focused on as much cool content about the DFW Metroplex rental scene as he can possibly find week-to-week.