Author Archives: Rob Hahn

In Which I Point Out the Obvious, With Numbers

James Dwiggins, CEO of Nexthome, has become one of my favorite commentators on the state of the industry. He’s extremely smart, has years and years of experience as a broker and now as a franchise operator, and is without question one of the tallest men in the real estate industry. (Maybe Walt Baczkowski, CEO of San Francisco Association, and Curt Beardsley of Zillow might give James a run for the height award… but that’s about it.)

realtyworld_group_IMG_9147

Notice that James is sitting down, because if he were standing, his head would be out of the frame of the photograph. Anyhoo….

His most recent article for Inman is entitled “Zillow Group’s Game of Chicken” (Inman Select only) and lays out a few things. The most interesting of them is his recommendation for how Realtor.com, now under new management, could “get competitive with Zillow Group”:

  • Start a national Realtor advertising campaign called: “It’s your data, and, therefore, those are your leads.”
  • Showcase all listings on the site immediately — or, to put it another way, remove all competing agents from each listing. Make Zillow Group’s business model more contentious than it’s ever been. Send all buyer inquiries directly to the listing agent. Display the listing agent’s photo, contact information, social media links and brokerage information, and make it all extremely Realtor-friendly.
  • Advertise these benefits extensively to the Realtor membership. Sure, Realtors will need to pay for additional products and advertising opportunities to make up for lost revenue, but not when it comes to inquiries on their listings. The Realtor community would start to rally around realtor.com if everyone were receiving these benefits. (And Realtors would consider pulling their data from other sites that don’t follow suit.)
  • Provide the traffic data on every listing back to the agent, brokerage and franchisor. Give it to them in different formats and make it easy for the agents to provide this information to the seller in traffic reports. Use ListHub to your advantage — you already have the product.
  • Put a home value estimation tool on the site. Make it extremely Realtor-friendly — in other words, make sure the consumer truly understands that it is an automated tool and simply a starting point in determining a home’s value. Show a percentage range of expected accuracy by ZIP code.
  • Ask the consumer to create an account on realtor.com to receive an actual CMA (comparative market analysis) from a local Realtor to help balance the automated valuation. Realtors can pay for this service to receive exclusive seller leads. Realtors need to be the focal point of home valuations, so give the consumer an estimate and follow it up with a real CMA or multiple. By giving consumers an actual CMA, Realtors increase their value proposition, and they will love you for it.

Go read the whole thing if your’e an Inman subscriber. Become one if you’re not. (Go go gadget subscription model!)

I suppose it’s up to curmudgeons like me to point out the obvious. Well, it’s obvious to me at least.

Continue reading

Don’t Brokerages Compete With Each Other?

032-muhammad-ali-theredlist

Over on Facebook, an interesting and intelligent discussion broke out — which is news in and of itself, I realize. We weren’t discussing The Dress or llamas. Amazing.

What we were discussing is MLS taking over syndication, something that Kipp Cooper at North Alabama pioneered. Here’s how it began:

_2__Listing_Syndication__Portals____IDX_for_REALTORS

The responses were really interesting, and raised an issue that I think is worth talking about further. So let’s do that.

Continue reading

On NRT’s New HomesForSale.com (Which Most Folks Are Misunderstanding)

Making Sense I know some folks think I’m a Realogy homer. Well, given that’s where I got my start in the industry, maybe I’m a little bit guilty of that whole “cut me and I bleed blue” thing. But I think I’m actually calling things as I see them; I’ve been plenty critical of Realogy when they’ve done something deserving of criticism, and I’m complimentary when they’ve done something right.

The newest Realogy initiative that’s making waves is HomesForSale.com, a “national” portal for the NRT, Realogy’s company-owned brokerage operations. I mentioned it and some screenshots yesterday, when I was really talking about some issues that the MLS probably needs to address. Since then I’ve seen all sorts of discussion about HomesForSale, about NRT, etc. etc. both publicly and privately.

Almost all of the commentary thus far has been negative. The main thrust of such criticism is something like this:

If this is the best that Realogy can do to compete against Zillow and Trulia and Realtor.com, it’s farcical. There’s nothing innovative or new here, and the site isn’t even mobile responsive, and the color scheme sucks too!

Or something along those lines.

Thing is, I think this line of criticism is almost wholly unwarranted, because it is based on a misunderstanding of the strategy behind HomesForSale. I actually think HomesForSale is a nice move, one that could fail of course like any initiative, but it’s solidly grounded in strategy.

Let’s get into it.

Continue reading

Tell Me Again How the MLS is the “Gold Standard” of Data Accuracy?

Homes_For_Sale__Real_Estate_Listings____MLS_Search___HomesForSale_com

I’ll have some thoughts on Realogy/NRT’s new HomesForSale.com later, but I couldn’t resist this brief observation.

I kinda knew the problem existed, but until this splashy website came along, we did not have the visual impact/evidence. If HomesForSale.com accomplishes nothing else, it really ought to wake up the industry (particularly the MLS) about the problem with data in the MLS.

Let me explain, with pictures.

Continue reading

We Need To Talk About Fannie Mae A Bit

front-of-fannie-mae-company

A couple of weeks ago, I learned about a new Fannie Mae program that was rolled out to lenders called Collateral Underwriter, or CU. From the press release:

Fannie Mae created the online tool in 2013 to analyze appraisal data it had been receiving from lenders electronically since 2012. With the rollout in early 2015, mortgage lenders will have access to the same information that Fannie Mae uses to evaluate property appraisals. It will enable lenders to review appraisals and address issues before delivering the loans to Fannie Mae.

It’s got the appraiser community in an uproar:

Only a few days into the release of the Fannie MaeCollateral Underwriter and my prediction of this being the biggest process change in the appraisal industry since the HVCC is becoming a reality for the field appraiser.

Appraisers and lenders are flabbergasted about what to do with the recent findings and feedback that CU has provided regarding appraisers’ work.

The appraisal community blogs and forums are packed full of questions regarding how to handle CU and how to properly defend appraisal reports as well as who’s responsible for review this information.

Fannie Mae’s guidance that the lenders are responsible for reviewing and interpreting the CU findings has turned into some lenders sending all the findings to the appraiser to comment on with no interpretation or guidance.

Granted, the program is new, there’s a lot of confusion, and a lot of unknowns. But while the industry’s been obsessed with Zillow and drones and such, something like Collateral Underwriter is likely to impact the real estate agent on the ground far more than any of those things. If you’re in the industry, I think it’s worthwhile to at least learn about it at a high level. Let me get the conversation started.

I’d like to thank Rick Lifferth, Founder and CEO of Data Master and a still-active appraiser with 40+ years of experience, and Bill Garber, Director of Government and External Relations for the Appraisal Institute, for taking the time to educate me on the topic as best as they could. Any errors or mistakes in this post are because I’m a poor student, not because they haven’t tried.

Continue reading