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Consumers will soon have better ways to vet real estate agents

(Housing News) Consumers have endless market data, but finding information about Realtors is complicated – Realtor.com thinks they’ve untangled the mess and made it easier for you to find relevant info before hiring representation.

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realtor-profiles

New Realtor.com profiles to launch

Consumers already know what neighborhood they want to live in, they’ve obsessed over the school ratings, where the nearest gym or yoga studio is, and they’ve already combed through every real estate market report in the area and dug through real estate sites for data gems for weeks, months, sometimes even years.

When looking for representation, the challenge is that many sites surface agent recommendations based on who paid to be at the top of the results, or agents with large teams, and one person gets credit for 25 agents’ work, so they pop up at the top of the list of “best” agents because they technically have the most closings.

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Realtor.com thinks they’ve solved that with new Realtor profiles that will be launching soon which will be available at https://www.realtor.com/realestateagents/.

Here’s a screenshot of how they’re pitching it to agents:

realtor-profiles

Better consumer connections with agents

Home buyers or sellers typically ask their Facebook friends for Realtor recommendations (and they all tag a bunch of strangers), but with these profiles, anyone can comb through and do their own web stalking of the agents (come on, we all do it). The profile shows a stream of the agent’s activities in the area which gives an idea of what they’re really about – see a bunch of photos of foreclosed properties, but you’re looking to buy a $3M home, you might be in the wrong spot, and conversely, if you see a bunch of images of ultra luxury properties, but you’re looking for a tiny vacation bungalow, this might not be your bungalow expert.

What is most attention-grabbing about the new profiles is the check-in feature that shows you whether or not an agent is legitimately active in the community where they profess to be an expert. If they’ve showed clients 12 houses, checked in to the coffee shop and Pho restaurant, previewed 8 homes for sale, and gone on 3 client appointments in a specific subdivision in the last week, they’re probably more of an expert than the “neighborhood expert” who hasn’t set foot in the area in two years, but they once closed a home there and they run reports on the zip code, so they can say they’re an expert.

Additionally, Realtor.com doesn’t allow any agent to check in to a location unless their GPS says they’re physically on site, and it emails the listing agent that they visited, so it’s self policing and pretty hard to game – much better than reading an agent’s site that promises to be an expert, but with no proof.

The profile shows all of the agent’s designations, which are the fancy letters behind their name that outline what extra education they’ve had beyond licensing and in-house classes their broker offers. Someone who is obsessing over getting an ultra efficient home may want to seek out an agent who is Green Certified and spends time in their desired neighborhood. The company emphasizes that through extensive research, they want to surface relevant information that consumers want to connect with.

The bottom line is that consumers already have data at their fingertips about homes and neighborhoods, but soon, they’ll have some relevant data at their fingertips to better hire representation. It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than throwing spaghetti to a wall and seeing what sticks.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. valeriekeener

    May 16, 2014 at 9:40 am

    I’m in favor of a better system that doesn’t allow agents to pay more to get higher rankings. This seems like a step in the right direction.

  2. karenrice

    May 22, 2014 at 7:30 am

    This looks interesting. I hope the “Check in” is better than the one Trulia offers – more than half the listings I try to Check in via the trulia ap wont’ show up.

  3. Hank Miller

    May 28, 2014 at 9:04 am

    It all boils down to the public demanding that the performance bar be raised. The industry will never truly tackle the issue of incompetent agents; there’s far too much money being made from the national all the way to the broker level. Until clients vet agents by what they know and what they do instead of who they play tennis with, this industry will remain at the bottom of the public perception pile.

  4. Matt Mortensen

    September 16, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I love this! It’s just an extension of the online social media movement. Everyone wants to know everything about everyone they do business with immediately. It just makes real estate agents accountable. Reviews are a huge part of picking your real estate agent and finding them online is becoming extremely simple. Thanks for sharing! Great info!

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Business News

Bay Area co-living startup strands hundreds of renters at dire time

(BUSINESS NEWS) They’re blaming COVID for failing as a co-living space, but it looks like trouble was well established even before now.

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Person packed a bag and walking away from co-living space.

Over the last few years, “co-living” startups have become increasingly common in tech-rich cities like San Francisco. These companies lease large houses, then rent individual bedrooms for as much as $2,000 per month in hopes of attracting the young professionals who make up the tech industry. Many offer food, cleaning services, group activities, and hotel-quality accommodations to do so.

But the true value in co-living companies lies in their role as a third party: Smoothing over relations, providing hassle free income to homeowners and improved accountability to tenants… in theory, anyway. The reality has proved the opposite can just as easily be true.

In a September company email, Bay Area co-living startup HubHaus released a statement that claimed they were “unable to pay October rent” on their leased properties. Hubhaus also claimed to have “no funds available to pay any amounts that may be owed landlords, tenants, trade creditors, or contractors.”

This left hundreds of SF Bay Area renters scrambling to arrange shelter with little notice, with the start of a second major COVID-19 outbreak on the horizon.

HubHaus exhibited plenty of red flags leading up to this revelation. Employees complained of insufficient or late payment. The company stopped paying utilities during the spring, and they quietly discontinued cleaning services while tenants continued to pay for them.

Businesses like HubHaus charge prices that could rent a private home in most of the rest of the country, in exchange for a room in a house of 10 or more people. PodShare is a similar example: Another Bay Area-based co-living startup, whose offerings include “$1,200 bunk beds” in a shared, hostel-like environment.

As a former Bay Area resident, it’s hard not to be angry about these stories. But they have been the unfortunate reality since long before the pandemic. Many urbanites across the country cannot afford to opt out of a shared living situation, and these business models only exacerbate the race to the bottom of city living standards.

HubHaus capitalized on this situation and took advantage of their tenants, who were simply looking for an affordable place to live in a market where that’s increasingly hard to find.

They’ve tried to place the blame for their failure on COVID-19 — but all signs seem to indicate that they had it coming.

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Business News

Las Vegas’ largest dispensary gets massive Infinity Wall expansion

(BUSINESS NEWS) Las Vegas’s largest dispensary is getting a big, expensive makeover, thriving while other brick-and-mortar shops are struggling.

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Planet 13, Las Vegas's largest dispensary, set to get a huge expansion.

Have you ever heard of an Infinity Wall? If I were you, I’d check it out right now because it’s utterly mesmerizing.

An 80-foot version of this wall is just one of the new features that Planet 13 (or The Company) announced it will be implementing in Las Vegas’ largest dispensary, The SuperStore, this past Monday. In addition to the futuristic entertainment feature (I honestly can’t get over that thing), they will be doubling the sales floor and expanding the dispensary to ~23,000 sq. ft. For reference, the entire Planet 13 SuperStore complex is 112,000 sq.ft.

Why expand an already massive dispensary during a pandemic, when most brick and mortar stores are suffering? Well, according to Larry Scheffler, Co-CEO of Planet 13, The Superstore is actually thriving beyond belief.

“We are achieving record sales even with Las Vegas at ~50% tourist occupancy. As Las Vegas returns to normal and this industry continues to grow, we anticipate that this will be first of many expansions we will undertake to keep up with demand.”

The expansion adds 40 points of sale to uphold the outstanding customer service reputation Planet 13 has. If you do have to wait, you have a state-of-the-art entertainment system to enjoy. It’s win-win for any and all visitors.

The CapEx cost of the expansion between is $1.5 – $2.5 million. The project is expected come to completion by the end of Q1 2021.

Las Vegas has become a sort of cannabis mecca. After all, it’s home to MJBizCon, the industry’s largest networking event attended by thousands from around the world. And the popularity and overall acceptance makes it an easy choice for any cannabis aficionados. The SuperStore, like most things in Las Vegas, is huge, glamorous, and caters to tourists.

I have no doubt that when the city bounces back from the pandemic, this new-and-improved dispensary will be a must-visit destination.

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Business News

The future of work from home will be a hybrid, says Google CEO

(BUSINESS NEWS) Google is looking to adapt a more flexible, long-term hybrid work model for their employees, which includes partially working from home and partially being on-site.

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Work from home woman at a laptop.

Google, the world’s largest search engine company (yes I know they do other things), is positing that the corporate office will look completely different post-COVID-19.

In September Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai said that the organization was making changes to its offices that would better support employees in the future. This includes “reconfiguring” office spaces to accommodate “on-sites”, days when employees who regularly work from home will come into the workplace. The move comes after Google was one of the first major tech companies to announce that employees could possibly work from home through next summer.

“I see the future as definitely being more flexible,” Pichai said during a video interview for Time 100, “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having that sense of community, is super important for whenever you have to solve hard problems, you have to create something new,” he said. “So we don’t see that changing, so we don’t think the future is just 100% remote or something.”

It was reported that Google’s decision to work remotely into mid-2021 was originally in part to help employees whose children might be learning remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Pichai said that several factors went into the decision, stating that improving productivity was a major concern.

“Early on as this started, I realized it was going to be a period of tremendous uncertainty, so we wanted to lean in and give certainty where we could,” Pichai said. “The reason we made the decision to do work from home until mid of next year is we realized people were trying hard to plan… and it was affecting productivity.”

Pichai also mentioned that the decision would help the firm embrace the reality that remote working wasn’t going anywhere once things returned to normal. A recent survey at Google found that 62% of employees felt they only need to be in the office on occasion, while 20% felt they didn’t need to be in the office whatsoever. While the work from home trend had already been growing over the past several years, the pandemic accelerated that movement greatly.

With housing costs surging in the San Francisco area, where Google headquarters resides, many employees have been forced to move outside of the city to afford a mortgage. This caused many to commute long hours into the office, something Pichai realized was a problem.

“It’s always made me wonder, when I see people commuting two hours and away from their families and friends, on a Friday, you realize they can’t have plans,” Pichai said. “So I think we can do better.”

It’s too early to tell whether or not Pichai’s vision of a “hybrid model” will be adopted by other companies when the pandemic ends. One thing is for certain though—work will never be what is pre-COVID-19.

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