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Redfin launches interactive home price estimate tool for consumers

Redfins “Home Price Tool” seeks to empower consumers by giving them more than an automated home value and offering interactivity so homeowners are better equipped to discuss their home with an agent.

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Redfin’s bold move

No stranger to self-perpetuated controversy, real estate brokerage, Redfin has just launched an interactive online tool to help homeowners “determine a fair price range for their home, using the same process and up-to-the-minute data that professional agents use.”

The company says their goals is to empower consumers to put accurate home pricing in their hands with their “Home Price Tool” which allows customers to see, choose and edit the homes that make up a comparable market analysis (CMA) like agents do. As a result, Redfin says “a home owner can then have a true dialog with her agent about pricing of the home for the market.”

The Home Price Tool has a transparent formula which the company says differs from other online CMA tools, and along the way, they educate homeowners on the pricing process so they have an estimate before entering discussions with an agent.

“More art than science.”

Users begin with a price range based on similar, recently sold homes in the neighborhood, then eliminates comparable homes that are dissimilar (new constructions, abandoned foreclosures, too big, too old, or unimproved, for example). Redfin says this results in a fair, competitive price range to guide users as to what their home is worth or how it should be priced.

“Estimating a home price is more art than science. When the home owner and her real estate agent both have access to the same information, it becomes a productive conversation and it paints a much more accurate picture of the home’s value,” said Jim Lamb, lead product manager for Redfin. “The Home Price Tool is a kind of freedom for home owners. They no longer have to accept what their agent or some website’s mystery formula tells them their home should be worth.”

Leaning toward art over science is fascinating given Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman calling the team “scientists” on a 60 Minutes interview several years ago, but the company has certainly undergone several makeovers as they have expanded not only their size but their offering and price model. Under Kelman’s leadership, Redfin has attempted other controversial moves like the recent four day stint attempting to offer consumers transparent ratings on all real estate professionals through “Scouting Reports” and the recent launch of “Open Book” which offers consumers a local directory of reviews and rankings of title agencies, inspectors and lenders with more to come.

CMA, AVM, and transparency

While Redfin is not pioneering the CMA, nor the AVM (automated valuation model where a price is electronically generated), they are making strides toward what they call transparency by allowing consumers to interact with the data. This move will ruffle real estate professionals’ feathers, but could also be advantageous to Realtors whose listing clients refuse to budge on pricing, and for homeowners who feel the need to verify what their agent says. It’s not a revolutionary move, it’s an attempt to improve an existing technology and an existing concept in a transparent way.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Dyana

    March 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Interesting article Tara! I think this proves even more that as technology grows and buyers and sellers gain more access to information agents job will continue to transform.

  2. Tina Powers

    March 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Hopefully their new home price tool will be a little more accurate than the competition.

  3. Steve Crossland

    March 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    There is no automated valuation method that can account for the intuitive and subjective adjustments that an experienced Realtor, who knows the market and neighborhoods, can make.

    This is just further “dumbing down” of the consumer in the guise of “consumer empowerment”. It empowers them to be misinformed most of all.

    Steve

  4. Laura

    March 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I plugged in my own address and got a range between $150K and $330K. Not very helpful. This in no way replaces the advice of a knowledgable, professional Realtor.

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Business News

You should apply to be on a board – why and how

(BUSINESS NEWS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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board of directors

What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Everyone should have an interview escape plan

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but sometimes things can go south – here’s how to escape when they do.

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interview from hell

“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45 minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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Business News

Australia vs Facebook: A conflict of news distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Following a contentious battle for news aggregation, Australia works to find agreement with Facebook.

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News open on laptop, which Australia argues Facebook is taking away from.

Australia has been locked in a legal war against technology giants Google and Facebook with regard to how news content can be consumed by either entity’s platforms.

At its core, the law states that news content being posted on social media is – in effect – stealing away the ability for news outlets to monetize their delivery and aggregate systems. A news organization may see their content shared on Facebook, which means users no longer have to visit their site to access that information. This harms the ability for news production companies – especially smaller ones – from being able to maintain revenue and profit, while also giving power to corporations such as Facebook by allowing them to capitalize on their substantial infrastructure.

This is a complex subject that can be viewed from a number of angles, but it essentially asks the question of who should be in control of information on a potentially global scale, and how the ability to share such data should be handled when it passes through a variety of mediums and avenues. Put shortly: Australia thinks royalties should be paid to those who supply the news.

Australia has maintained that under the proposed laws, corporations must reach content distribution deals in order to allow news to be spread through – as one example – posts on Facebook. In retaliation, Facebook completely removed the ability for users to post news articles and stories. This in turn led to a proliferation of false and misleading information to fill the void, magnifying the considerable confusion that Australian citizens were confronted with once the change had been made.

“In just a few days, we saw the damage that taking news out can cause,” said Sree Sreenivasan, a professor at the Stony Brook School of Communication and Journalism. “Misinformation and disinformation, already a problem on the platform, rushed to fill the vacuum.”

Facebook’s stance is that it provides value to the publishers because shared news content will drive users to their sites, thereby allowing them to provide advertising and thus leading to revenue.

Australia has been working on this bill since last year, and has said that it is meant to equalize the potential imbalance of content and who can display and benefit from it. This is meant to try and create conditions between publishers and the large technology platforms so that there is a clearer understanding of how payment should be done in exchange for news and information.

Google was initially defiant (threatening to go as far as to shut off their service entirely), but began to make deals recently in order to restore its own access. Facebook has been the strongest holdout, and has shown that it can leverage its considerable audience and reach to force a more amenable deal. Australia has since provided some amendments to give Facebook time to seek similar deals obtained by Google.

One large portion of the law is that Australia is reserving the right to allow final arbitration, which it says would allow a mediator to set prices if no deal could be reached. This might be considered the strongest piece of the law, as it means that Facebook cannot freely exercise its considerable weight with impunity. Facebook’s position is that this allows government interference between private companies.

In the last week – with the new agreements on the table – it’s difficult to say who blinked first. There is also the question of how this might have a ripple effect through the tech industry and between governments who might try to follow suit.

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