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Hey Man, Want to Buy a Picture of My Sister Listing?

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I just finished a search for a potential client.

They are looking for a 3 bedroom, 1 bath home that is pet friendly and have a wide geographic scope of where they would live and a fairly high price ceiling for the marketplace.

So, I started in my legacy, local, required MLS service on the space windows computer that I keep at my desk. (Note: I am a Mac user with an iPhone and I don’t do windows.  And yes, I do have Fusion with XP but why slow my Mac down. My MLS is still a server with an active-X link, so only available on an IE browser).

After pulling up 29 properties that fit the criteria, I was astonished to see (or for that matter not see) listings of over 90 days with NO PICTURES.  You think that’s a good one, how about the listing with NO DESCRIPTION.

Now, let me start with my usual skeptical side.  These agents know that they don’t have pictures because they want potential renters to call.  They think that way, they can block out other agents and do a double bubble!

My nice side would say that they forgot or their camera is broken or the seller won’t let them take pictures.  Yea right!  I don’t think my nice side wins this argument!

The MLS in the Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern new Jersey, Northern Delaware (https://www.trendmls.com) does not have a rule that makes a picture within 24-48 a necessity.

I think getting that changed would be harder than passing ObamaCare through an all-Tea party Republican Congress.

But, it must.  It’s all about being on a level playing field. This is just a business trick (to quote a current commercial) and if we real estate agents really want to get our public image out of the gutter, we have to petition our MLS (and yours if they do the same) to get this as a rule.

Yes, there are 20,000 other things that need to get done, but this can be a good start.

Above is the transcript to the video below. Enjoy:

Realty Reality! That describes Fred, a sharp witted and outspoken realist for the mortgage and real estate world who has appeared on CNBC and NPR's Marketplace along with being quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets. Fred is the CEO of U S Spaces, Inc/Arrivva (a real estate brokerage firm in PA, NJ, DE and CA) and U S Loans Mortgage Inc (mortgage brokerage in PA, CA, FL and VA), and serves on the Board of Directors and is the Federal Legislative Director for the UpFront Mortgage Brokers. Fred is also the co-creator of real estate startup Rentscoper.com, a mathematically driven rental search engine. See everything Fred at fredglick.com.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    February 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    lol dude, you had me at space windows!

  2. Craig Frooninckx

    February 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Hey Fred, we were able to pass a rule at ARMLS that there must exist at least one exterior picture of the home within 72 hours. It’s a start, next time I will go for a requirement of at least 5 interior photos. Good luck.

  3. Matt Wilkins

    February 3, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Craig:

    I too am in favor orf requiring interior photos in all MLS listings. However, I know there is going to be opposition from both sellers who don’t want the inside of thei home on public display 24/7 (and others just too embarrassed to show of their home) and RE professionals who still feel that a home will sell itsself without the need (and extra work involved) in taking/upoading photos both exterior and interior.

  4. Aaron Charlton

    February 3, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    We have a huge lack of photos and description, too. It’s mainly caused by a glut of bank-owned properties on the market. It seems like you don’t really have to do a good job of marketing foreclosures because they just sort of sell themselves.

  5. John Badalamenti, Prudential Fox & Roach

    February 3, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    My personal favorite is pics with snow on the lawn – and its now July…makes we want to put on my ski boots, yippie!

  6. Ross Therrien, Prudential Verani

    February 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    The Northern New England Real Estate Network-www.nnern,com, regulates our mls and we are required to submit at least 1 photo within 48hours, or else we can be fined. We’re allowed 24 photos to really highlight the properties “best” features. Best is often in the eye of the beholder though! Then you have the listings with 6 pictures of the front of the house, perhaps one of the backyard–focusing in on the 20′ drop off the nowhere……..and yes snow pictures in July, we need reminder of that magical time of year. When I don’t see interior photos my imagination fills in the blanks and it often isn’t pretty. Works for bank properties though, expect the worst and be surprised. A lack of description just reflects the lack of interest the listing agent has in marketing the property.
    Thanks for letting me vent on an issue thats been an itch for years. Happy Selling.

  7. MIssy Caulk

    February 3, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I think getting that changed would be harder than passing ObamaCare through an all-Tea party Republican Congress.

    I needed a good laugh…thanks.

    Who is on the MLS Committee? Well not who but that is a good place to start in getting involved to see the rule change. Our MLS committee brings up new rules and then they go the board to get ratified.

  8. Ken Montville

    February 3, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    This is a great post because I have a questions around this issue. My camera works, I can get in the house, there is no impediment…..except the interior of the house is trashed. I’m talking gutted kitchen with no cabinet doors, no cooktop where one should be, peeling wallpaper, seriously damaged hardwood floors, plumbing issues too numerous to mention and more, more, more.

    Now. Would it be OK if I just put as detailed description as possible within the character count limit of my MLS and do a couple of exterior shots? Or should I really put the trashed house photos on the MLS and, by extension, the entire Internet? I mean, I really don’t want the pictures to show up on someone’s “worst of” blog post somewhere. Or create any liability exposure for me or my Broker.

    Whaddya think?

  9. Fred Glick

    February 3, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Put yourself in the shoes of the other agent.

    If the description says it’s trashed and they don’t read it, shame on them.

    As long as you describe it in detail, you’re good.

    I have actually posted an MLS heading “Buy Your Very Own POS”. It was a total shell and the pictures (even from the outside) showed that. It gets attention!

  10. Mike

    February 4, 2010 at 6:02 am

    I posted something a week or so ago about just this topic. A rep from our local MLS came out to our office to demonstrate some new features, as well as some description of what is coming soon. When she was done, I asked her why the MLS does not MANDATE a minimum of 6 interior photos. I even said that an “opt out” could be included in the one page MLS listing addednum that already exists, if there were sellers that actually did not want interior photos. I told her that, not only is there a huge marketing benefit, of multiple photos, but the MLS is creating a historical archive for agents, appraisers and the public alike. Hey, it’s their MLS, they can mandate photos if they want.
    I received the response yesterday. The upper management of the MLS responded that, SOME buyers don’t want interior photos, (Hello, my “opt out” idea!?) so we only mandate one. (Which they don’t). I guess I need to take it to the top myself.
    Nothing irritates me more than lazy 1 photo agents. If they won’t add photos to a listing, what else won’t they do?

  11. Fred Glick

    February 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    What if I were to charge the agent for my time because their description was not in any way related to the property and there were no pictures.

    Is this fraud? Misrepresentation and a NAR ethics violation?

    mmmmmmmmmmm……

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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