Category Archives: Marketing

My God, I Love These Videos…

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Look, if you’ve been a regular reader, you know that I don’t do “blogging for clients” type of junk you’ll find elsewhere on the real estate web. My clients are my clients, I don’t talk about them, what I do talk to them about is between me and them, and this blog here is my personal thing where I get smart or ridiculous or whatever. But in this case, I think you can forgive me for writing about a client.

I’ve been working with TREPAC (Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee) for a while now on their consumer-facing efforts, and one of the concepts that the team came up with (credit to SGS) was to run a contest showcasing why Texans love their Texas homes. I must confess that I had very high expectations, but… some of these videos have exceeded all of them.

Let me share some of my personal favorites (I’m not a judge, so my opinion doesn’t mean jack diddly squat) and then make a couple of observations for the industry folks to think about.

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The Five Unspeakables from the California Association of REALTORS Event

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The above is my view right now, as I’m in the Lakes of the Ozarks for an event tomorrow and Friday, so this post is heavily influenced by the fact that I’m sitting at a bar with a tropical drink, listening to Jimmy Buffet. So if it seems a bit of a disconnected ramble… blame Margaritaville.

But I did get some requests to discuss the event on Monday in San Jose for the California Association of REALTORS. I love this event, because it brings together leadership of organized real estate to look at serious strategic issues in the industry. CAR likes to push the thinking beyond business as usual, and I’m honored to participate.

Steve Murray of REALTrends was spectacular. If you’ve never heard him speak, make arrangements to do so. If you haven’t read his new book Gamechangers, make arrangements to do so. He’s far more radical than you might think for a stalwart of the industry, and he sees almost all of the big issues confronting us. I’m not going to go into much detail of his presentation, since you can get most of it from the book, and I don’t want to misrepresent inadvertently. Instead, let’s talk briefly about my presentation.

I actually went into the event with a different presentation in mind, but based on what I had heard that morning, made the command decision to talk about the five things that we in the industry talk about privately, acknowledge as problems, but don’t really discuss in polite company. So here’s the gist of the Five Unspeakables.

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NAR General Counsel Warns About Dangers of Failing to Syndicate

Katie Johnson

Katie Johnson, General Counsel of NAR

In case you haven’t seen this yet, Katie Johnson, the General Counsel of NAR, has written an article that comes as close to a formal legal opinion on dangers of failing to syndicate listings.

Well, actually, she warns about the practice of pre-marketing, also known as “Coming Soon” but the logic that she uses applies with full force to the practice of not syndicating listings to major portals.

The full article is here.

Since I’ve had fun with Sam DeBord’s Inman article in the past in which I draw parallels between “pocket listings” and syndication, I find the paragraph below super interesting:

For most sellers, getting the highest possible price on the best terms is their “best interest,” and maximizing exposure of their property to potential buyers advances that interest…. Restricting the marketing of a seller’s property to only small networks, private clubs, or even to national websites without also making it available to other area brokers and agents and their buyer-clients through the MLS results in the property not being exposed to the widest group of potential willing and able buyers, and may not provide the seller the best opportunity to attract offers at the highest price. [Emphasis added]

If we take for granted that best interest = highest possible price, and that highest possible price results from maximizing exposure… the above paragraph could be rewritten this way:

For most sellers, getting the highest possible price on the best terms is their “best interest,” and maximizing exposure of their property to potential buyers advances that interest…. Restricting the marketing of a seller’s property to only small networks, private clubs, or even to the MLS without also making it available to national websites with their tens of millions of buyer visitors results in the property not being exposed to the widest group of potential willing and able buyers, and may not provide the seller the best opportunity to attract offers at the highest price. [Emphasis added]

Yes, yes, I know — the MLS is different from national portals, because shut up. Just like how it’s a terrible evil when an agent can pay to be advertised next to a listing about which she knows nothing located in an area 30 miles away she has never worked, but if she pays an IDX vendor to setup a website on which she can put listings about which she knows nothing located in an area 30 miles away she has never worked, why, that’s completely different, because shut up.

But hey, Katie Johnson writes:

It’s important that sellers understand the implications of various ways of marketing the property so that they can knowingly determine the choice that best serves their interests.

Yeah. Well, let’s hope there aren’t any trial lawyers reading this blog who might become super interested in just how much a seller was briefed about the implications of not sending listings to some of the highest trafficked websites in real estate, and knowingly determined the choice that best served his interests.

As an industry, we could continue going down this path, of course, and we’re likely to do that, because… well.. masochism, I guess. Or we might ask why these pre-marketing tactics and private clubs and so on are happening and take a hard look at underlying causes.

Heh, I know. I know.

A Few Random Thoughts on Zillow’s Coming Soon

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I’m gearing up for another all-day meeting for a project that I think will actually make a difference in the industry, but… I’m getting a lot of emails and messages asking me what I think about Zillow’s new Coming Soon feature. So here are a few random thoughts and questions.

As reported by Paul Hagey over at Inman:

Zillow has rolled out a new “coming soon” feature that allows agents, brokers and multiple listing services to market homes on its site up to 30 days before they hit the MLS.

The feature is restricted to agents who advertise with the portal and the brokerages and MLSs who provide Zillow their listings in a direct feed. “Coming soon” listings do not feature ads for agents other than the listing agent.

There are a couple other juicy facts in the article, such as:

In addition to driving up the number of agents who advertise with the portal and the number of brokerages and MLSs who send it their listings directly, Zillow added the new feature because it saw a need for a premarket category in its ecosystem, Schwartz said.

Zillow frequently sees listings posted to Zillow’s site before they hit the MLS, and this feature puts a framework around the practice on Zillow, he said. (Emphasis mine)

We all sort of knew that this was happening, but now we have confirmation.

In any event, some of the comments on that post — as well as comments from elsewhere in the RE chatosphere — are simply amusing. Since I’ve written a fair amount on pocket listings on this blog, and since I have to be at a meeting in a half hour, I’ll limit today’s thoughts/questions to some of those comments.

Ethics Disclosure: Since I am blogging specifically about Zillow, and about portals/MLS/industry, I should note that I have a business relationship with Trulia on the consulting side of my activities.

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A Tale of Two Listings: Foreshadowing of the Future

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I recently came across two different listings online, and the difference between the two was striking.

One listing had 16 photos, with good descriptions of each, and the listing detail was 18 paragraphs long and filled with great detail like:

The building is a walk-up and is not handicapped-accesible. There is a flight of stairs to get from the ground to the front door, and then there is another two flights to reach the apartment. Stairs are annoying, but it’s worth it.

The building was gutted to the facade and rebuilt from scratch in 2006 so everything inside the building is pretty new.

The other listing had precisely one photo, which was an amateur shot of the front of the property. No interior photos at all. The description was one paragraph:

OH Sat, 5/10 & Sun 5/11 1-4pm (Photos 5/09). Offers Tues, 5/13, 6 pm. Don’t miss this complete TEN on the scale of desirability! Do the #’s & know you’ll have it all @ a low monthly cost — huge, elegant, endless spaces on 3 levels, plus fantastic 2BR lgl. lower unit at $2200 rent; plus lots of outside spaces; plus FOUR secure pkg. spaces! All in heart of vibrant upcoming Bloomingdale.

That second listing was for a short-term rental, and it’s obvious that the agent didn’t want to bother too much given how little she was going to earn from that deal.

Oh wait, my mistake. That second listing was for a $1.3 million 6BR/5.5BA townhouse in Washington DC. The first was for a $165/night AirBnB listing.

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