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The Great Debate

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casting a vote

photo source: Mike Hippie


No, not those debates between donkeys and elephants in red and blue states. The great debate in the Phoenix real estate market, and likely in others, is whether our MLS – the Arizona Regional MLS – should have a public home search available.

The Houston association has become the standard for such things and in time has become the category killer for Houston Real Estate. Other cities’ MLS systems also offer a site where the general public can search for homes.Not so in Phoenix. And according to Bob Bemis, the CEO of ARMLS who on Friday spoke at the monthly luncheon for the Arizona Real Estate Educators Association, there’s an even split on the subject within the MLS.

Those in favor of a public search site see the opportunity for ARMLS to become the category killer for Phoenix real estate, supplanting some of the third-party sites that take brokers’ listings, generate leads and then sell the leads back to the brokers. If successful, ARMLS can generate the leads and send them back to the brokers without the charges from the middle man.

Those against a public search site see ARMLS as attempting to compete against agent sites that already carry an IDX feed, as well as those individual agent sites that already are at the top of the search engines for Phoenix real estate.

Personally, I’d prefer to see the public site if only because ARMLS theoretically has the resources to push the Zillows, Trulias and Roosts to the sidelines. Could it impact my own site’s search? Possibly. But I’m realistic enough to know where my site ranks and what the actual impact might be. I can’t compete with the third-party vendors; if ARMLS wants to step in on my (and everyone else’s) behalf, go for it.

Besides, as we move forward the idea of protecting listing data is becoming increasingly obsolete. Every week brings another real estate search sits relying on data with varying degrees of completeness. The trend is for an increase propagation of the data, not a decline. If ARMLS doesn’t enter the fray, 37 other third-party firms will.

Since “none of the above” (or even Bill the Cat) isn’t an option on this ballot, I’d have to vote with ARMLS.

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Larry Yatkowsky

    February 2, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    This is all good but wouldn’t it be great if the worker bees got a little honey on a click per view basis? After all, everybody else is filling their pot from the hive.

  2. Kelley Koehler

    February 2, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    ARMLS is just weird (like the rest of Phoenix). It’s silly that they don’t provide data feeds to agents, and more silly that there’s no public interface. It all seems very backwards to me. I figure if I’m a member of the MLS, I should get that data in whatever form I want it. It’s mine, and I pay for it. Gimme. Or is my borderline Y-ness showing? The TARMLS public interface is all rather basic. I wouldn’t call it a category-killer in any sense of the word, but I don’t think they’re really trying at that. In my market, the public MLS face exists, but no big whoop. But then, we can all have our own data and make whatever we want of it, we don’t have to deal with “approved providers” of an IDX framed search.

  3. Benn Rosales

    February 2, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    I think I’m with you on this one, not because it sidelines anyone, but we have the public search here in Austin and I’ve found clients can confirm information they get from other sites on it. Just last week a client sent me a list of 12 homes she found online at various search sites- 11 were either sold or pending and one withdrawn, that left the one she actually said in the same email that she hated but fit the criteria- go figure. I pointed her to r.com and austin home search, but I ended up sending her a list that fit and wrote a contract the next day.

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    February 3, 2008 at 11:46 am

    We do get data feeds, Kelley … the IDX feed is part of our membership. But I prefer the packaged version better.

  5. Kelley Koehler

    February 3, 2008 at 11:53 am

    not IDX, raw unpackaged data with ftp access. You get raw data? I’m told only brokers do, and that they can’t let their agents use the raw feeds.

  6. Jay Thompson

    February 4, 2008 at 12:26 am

    No raw data feed from ARMLS, unless you are a broker.

  7. Sue

    June 3, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    What do you mean by raw data feeds? In NJ the public has access to all the listings via the public gsmls…no addresses, but the agency phone number.

  8. Kelley Koehler

    June 4, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Sue – the raw data feeds are usually something like an XML file of all the listings, made available only to agents, so that they can create their own framework of the data. It would be entirely separate from the public interface of an MLS.

  9. Susan

    June 4, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Thanks for the clarification Kelley. I’ve never seen that type of info.

  10. James Boyer

    June 18, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Hmmm, our MLS system has had a public website where people could go and look at what is in the MLS all they wanted. The site does not rank well for much of anything though. In order for it to rank for much they would have to work at it a bit and i don’t think most MLS’s will be willing to do that.

  11. Eugene Oregon Real Estate

    August 30, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    In Oregon, RMLS has a public site that I don’t worry about because I’m confident I offer a more personal experience to consumers. In Oregon every agent is a broker and to obtain the raw data feed you need your principal broker to agree to allow you access to it. Of course you wouldn’t affiliate yourself with a principal broker that wouldn’t allow it would you? 😉

    I don’t know that the public site affects the 3rd party sites what so ever. There are plenty of people searching online that as long as you rank well you will get leads whether there is a public site and 3rd party sites, you just have to set yourself apart.

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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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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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