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Opinion Editorials

Don’t like the conversation on your performance data? Then change it

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Redfin releases sales data of most Realtors

Redfin, the discount brokerage that some in the industry love and some love to hate, got a lot of press for rolling out a new “Scouting Report” that shows consumers information about agent performance based on MLS statistics. It was initially rolled out in 15 markets, but was quickly yanked from several after concerns about the accuracy of the data being displayed. San Francisco is one of the markets where Redfin has made the data available, so I couldn’t resist pulling up my own scouting report.

Some within the real estate industry are howling that it is unfair to share this data with consumers, and others welcome it with open arms. I work for a brokerage that provides recent sales data (for agents that are a part of our brokerage) on our public facing website (although agents can opt-out if they wish). So I’m definitely in the camp that thinks the more data you share with consumers, the better.

Every change brings plenty of well-intentioned hand-wringing. Is the data accurate? Can it be manipulated? These arguments remind me of when Zillow first rolled out their zestimate. Transparency will do wonders to ensure that data gets more accurate and prevent manipulation. When every brokerage and association embraces the sharing of this information, no one agency would be in a position to manipulate data, and inaccuracies surface more quickly when many people review the data and data feeds.

Why hasn’t this data been available before?

Despite the well-oiled press machine, Redfin isn’t actually the first to ever provide stats like this. The scope of their reach, though, makes their move important. Technical arguments and issues haven’t been the obstacle to sharing agent performance metrics – association politics are. It gets to the core question of who a multiple listing service (MLS) is designed to serve. Is the primary purpose of an MLS to serve real estate agents, or is an MLS for consumers? For better or worse, the answer seems to be that a MLS is for agents. How else would you justify not providing agent performance metrics from consumers?

While I generally welcome Redfin’s actions, I’m not sure I agree that it’s a brokerage’s place to share performance data about agents outside their company. That said, I don’t think most associations would even considering changing their policies without the swift kick recently provided by Redfin. I also think any agent should have the ability to opt-out of any program that shares their performance data with the public.

Start a Conversation, change the conversation

Everyone wins when consumers make informed choices. Regardless of what your scorecard says about you, it’s a great way to start a conversation with a consumer. If you don’t think your MLS stats accurately tell your story or convey your value, be prepared and ready to help potential clients understand the value you bring.

So what if your stats show you’ve only sold 3 houses in the past year? Maybe there’s a reason for that, and maybe if you explained that reason to a potential buyer or seller it would make them want to work with you more, not less.

So what if your stats shows you had a listing that sat on the market for 8 months? If there is a valid reason, and you can help a potential client understand it, that conversation demonstrates your market knowledge and expertise.

The only person who loses when a consumer is more informed are the agents at the bottom of the barrel who don’t belong in this business. So let’s all help consumers understand who those agents might be – instead of relying on one “rebel” brokerage – and help consumers find agents that will do a great job for them.

Agent reviews, performance statistics, and other consumer-oriented service metrics are here to stay. It’s a shame that this data is only being published by Redfin. MLSs across the nation should take this as another wake-up call and challenge themselves to find ways that they can help consumers in their market make smart and informed decisions about hiring an agent. I don’t care how you mark it on the scouting report, I say the future is bright for great agents.

Matt Fuller brings decades of experience and industry leadership as co-founder of San Francisco real estate brokerage Jackson Fuller Real Estate. Matt is a Past President of the San Francisco Association of Realtors. He currently serves as a Director for the California Association of Realtors. He currently co-hosts the San Francisco real estate podcast Escrow Out Loud. A recognized SF real estate expert, Matt has made numerous media appearances and published in a variety of media outlets. He’s a father, husband, dog-lover, and crazy exercise enthusiast. When he’s not at work you’re likely to find him at the gym or with his family.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Micki

    October 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Now, this is transparency I can believe in! Good article — intelligent POV!

  2. Ranee

    October 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Great info for consumers — evaluating data available and how to discuss these benchmarks with potential agents! Thanks!

  3. Kelly

    October 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    It's always nice to be informed before you deal with or purchase things. Get to know who your dealing with.

  4. Mike O'Hara

    October 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    "Regardless of what your scorecard says about you, it’s a great way to start a conversation with a consumer."

    There is one of the problems that I have with this Matt. Often you will not get the chance to have that conversation.
    Redspin is using your (incorrect and incomplete) data to drive eyes to their site and their agents, AND AWAY FROM YOU, using your own name. They have monster google juice. Juice that you or I could never get. What happens when an agent actually googles Matt Fuller and the first thing they see is your Redspin profile? I'll answer my own question. Many consumers will contact the RF agent either because they don't know any better, thinking that perhaps he or she is one of your team members. Better yet, a consumer may actually compare you and your intentionally poor RF profile and choose a RF agent who claims, "30 closed sales in 2011", when in reality that agent may have closed 4. RF is playing very dirty pool. They are a member of NAR and breaking a COE. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
    BTW, I list REOs and they often get many showings and as many as 20 offers. In 3 years I cannot remember 1 offer coming from a RF agent. They are desperate. Give backs to make up for alledged awfull customer service will only get them so far.

  5. Mike O'Hara

    October 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Poof, and now it's gone. A nice publicity stunt.

  6. Joe

    October 5, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Great article Matt. I especially agree with how agents should have the choice to participate in such a program. This type of data, even more comprehensive data, is still being published however, just not on a national level. Agentaquarium.com provides an application to the Austin, TX market where agents can opt in or out and are kept anonymous. Although the application is only currently available for the Austin market, the company has plans to expand to several other markets in the near future.

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Opinion Editorials

Online dating is evolving and maybe networking will too

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has the online dating industry been disrupted during the pandemic? And can we apply a few pointers from this evolved model to networking?

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Woman networking through Zoom video call with two other women.

We are often reminded that hindsight is 20/20 – a proverb that means “it is easy to understand something after it has already happened”, and how ironic that is since we are in the year 2020 and not sure we can fully comprehend all we are learning and what hindsight this will bring.

Reflecting back to six months ago, there were many of us that didn’t have much of a clue about what the rest of 2020 would look like and how we would have to adjust to a more virtual world. We’ve updated our ways of working, connecting with colleagues, socializing with friends, networking with those in our industry, or looking for a new job.

Microsoft suggested that we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in about five months. For example: MS Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet have become the new way to host networking sessions, work meetings, and “chats” with colleagues; Tele-med appointments became the norm for routine or non-911 emergency doctor appointments; curbside pickup at grocery stores and food to-go orders via online ordering became the new normal (they existed before but saw tremendous growth in number of users).

We also had to learn how to create engaging and interactive ways to connect solely through a screen. We are already Zoom fatigued and wondering how online meetings have zapped our energy so differently than in person. It turns out, looking at ourselves and trying to talk to a group is a lot for our brains to process.

The Atlantic shares a great article about why the Zoom social life might feel so draining, saying that “Attempting to translate your old social habits to Zoom or FaceTime is like going vegetarian and proceeding to glumly eat a diet of just tofurkey”. No offense to vegetarians, of course.

You could argue though, that we’ve all been interacting via screens for years with the dominance of social media channels – whether it was posting our thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter, or sharing photos and videos of our artisanal sandwiches/cute kid/pet pictures on Facebook. But this seems different. Times are different and we will not be going back soon.

In this interim, many people are trying to make the best of the situation and are figuring out ways to connect. We will always need human connection (and without the germs, even better).

What about our single friends? If they don’t have anyone in the house to already drive them crazy, then where can they go to meet new people and/or possibly love interests?

While many experts are trying to predict the outcomes of this global shift, it may be hard to know what will change permanently. We know many industries are experiencing major disruptions – online dating apps being one of them.

According to Digital Trends, Tinder still ranks as one of the top dating apps. However, now that people are sheltering in place and/or social distancing, there’s a new app taking over as a way to “meet” someone a little faster, while also allowing you to stay behind the screen, sans mask.

Slide is a video dating app that changes your first-date frustrations into real connections and instant chemistry. Explore video profiles, go on first dates via Video Calls at your fingertips, and find that chemistry before dating IRL.”

So, while Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge play quarantine catch-up, Slide is stealing their market share.

How? With video.

Slide recognized the massive success of short-form video platforms like TikTok, and have translated it to dating. They focus on features like:

  • “Vibe Check”, which gives you the option to video chat immediately after matching with someone to see if there’s chemistry. This will save you from long or misinterpreted text conversations and money you may have spent on that first date.
  • A video-first approach that lets you see the real people behind the profiles so you can pass if they aren’t really who they say they are.
  • AI-assisted creation of “future bae” profiles that help suggest your best matches and spare you extra swipes. If Netflix can find similar suggestions…

As of August 2020, the Department of Labor and Statistics estimates about 13.6 million people are currently unemployed and searching for a new j-o-b. Is it possible that some of these newer ways of connecting online could be included in how we network for a new job/career opportunity?

For example, instead of sending a connection or networking request on LinkedIn, what if we could send a quick video about our story, or what we’d love to learn from that person, or how we’d like to connect?

Would that create a faster, better, possibly more genuine connection?

This would seem worth exploring as many job connections are created by in-person networking or reaching real people vs. solely online applications, behind a screen. Some other formats that have seen increased use are Marco Polo for video chats (you don’t have to both be available at the same time) and FaceTime group calls.

It might be worth exploring how short-form video platforms could assist job seekers in networking, outreach, and connecting with others. These are just some ideas as we continue to watch this digital transformation unfold.

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Opinion Editorials

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen overnight

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Minimalism doesn’t have to mean throwing out everything this instant – you can get similar benefits from starting on smaller spaces.

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Minimal desk with laptop, cup, books, and plant.

Minimalism. This trend has reared its head in many forms, from Instagram-worthy shots of near empty homes to Marie Kondo making a splash on Netflix with Tidying Up with Marie Kondo in 2019. If you’re anything like me, the concept of minimalism is tempting, but the execution seems out of reach. Paring down a closet to fit into a single basket or getting rid of beloved objects can sometimes seem too difficult, and I get it! Luckily, minimalism doesn’t have to be quite so extreme.

#1. Digitally

Not ready to purge your home yet? That’s fine! Start on your digital devices. Chances are, there are plenty of easy ways to clean up the storage space on your computer or phone. When it comes to low stakes minimalism, try clearing out your email inbox or deleting apps you no longer use. It’ll increase your storage space and make upkeep much more manageable on a daily basis.

It’s also worth taking a look through your photos. With our phones so readily available, plenty of us have pictures that we don’t really need. Clearing out the excess and subpar pictures will also have the added bonus of making your good pictures easily accessible!

Now, if this task seems more daunting, consider starting by simply deleting duplicate photos. You know the ones, where someone snaps a dozen pics of the same group pose? Pick your favorite (whittle it down if you have to) and delete the rest! It’s an easy way to get started with minimizing your digital photo collection.

#2. Slowly

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen all at once. If you’re hesitant about taking the plunge, try dipping your toe in the water first. There’s no shame in taking your time with this process. For instance, rather than immediately emptying your wardrobe, start small by just removing articles of clothing that are not wearable anymore. Things that are damaged, for instance, or just don’t fit.

Another way to start slow is to set a number. Take a look at your bookshelf and resolve to get rid of just two books. This way, you can hold yourself accountable for minimizing while not pushing too far. Besides, chances are, you do have two books on your shelf that are just collecting dust.

Finally, it’s also possible to take things slow by doing them over time. Observe your closet over the course of six months, for instance, to see if there are articles of clothing that remain unworn. Keep an eye on your kitchen supplies to get a feel for what you’re using and what you’re not. Sure, that egg separator you got for your wedding looks useful, but if you haven’t picked it up, it probably has to go.

#3. Somewhat

Sometimes, minimalism is pitched as all or nothing (pun intended), but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because I want to purge my closet doesn’t mean I’m beholden to purging my kitchen too. And that’s okay!

Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything that needs to be reduced, just pick one aspect of your life to declutter. Clear out your wardrobe and hang onto your books. Cut down on decorations but keep your clothes. Maybe even minimize a few aspects of your life while holding onto one or two.

Or, don’t go too extreme in any direction and work to cut down on the stuff in your life in general. Minimizing doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything – it can mean simply stepping back. For instance, you can minimize just by avoiding buying more things. Or maybe you set a maximum number of clothes you want, which means purchasing a new shirt might mean getting rid of an old one.

The point is, there are plenty of ways to start on the minimalist lifestyle without pushing yourself too far outside your comfort zone. So, what are you waiting for? Try decluttering your life soon!

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Opinion Editorials

Your goals are more complicated than generalized platitudes, and that’s okay

(OPINION / EDITORIALS) When the tough times get going, “one size fits all” advice just won’t cut it. Your goals are more specific than the cookie cutter platitudes.

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Split paths in the forest like goals - general advice just doesn't fit.

‘Saw.’ – “Vulgar, uneducated wisdom based in superstition”, according to the good volunteer compilers at Wikipedia. See also: ‘aphorism’, ‘platitude’, and ‘entrepreneurial advice’. I’m not saying there’s no good advice for anyone anymore, that’s plain not true. SMART Goals are still relevant, there’s a plethora of cheaper, freeer, more easily accessible tutorials online, and consensus in April-ville is that Made to Stick is STILL a very helpful book.

But when I hear the same ‘pat on the head’ kind of counsel that I got as a kid presented by a serious institution and/or someone intending on being taken seriously by someone who isn’t their grade school-aged nephew, I roll my eyes. A lot.

“Each failure is an opportunity!” “Never give up!” “It’s not how many times you fall!”, yeah, okay, that’s all lovely. And it IS all very true. My issue is… These sunshiney saws? They’re not very specific. And just like a newspaper horoscope, they’re not meant to be (not that I’ll stop reading them).

Example: You’ve been jiggling the rabbit ears of your SEO for months, to no avail. No one’s visiting your site, there’ve been no calls, and the angel investor cash is starting to dip closer to falling from heaven with each passing day.

Does ‘don’t give up’ mean that you use your last bit of cash to take on an expert?

Or does ‘don’t give up’ mean that you go back to R&D and find out that no one actually WANTED your corncob scented perfume to begin with; algorithm tweaking and Demeter Fragrances be damned?

This is the thing about both your goals you make and the guidance you take—they have to be specific. I’m not saying your parents can put a sock in it or anything. I’m thrilled that I’m part of a family that’ll tell me to keep on keeping on. But as far as serious, practical input goes… One size fits all just leaves too much room for interpretation.

When you’re stuck, behind, or otherwise at odds with your growth, are you asking the right questions? Are you sure of what the problem actually is? Do you know whether it’s time to give up a failure of a business and ‘keep pushing’ in the sense of starting another one, or whether you’ve got a good thing on hand that needs you to ‘never say die’ in the sense of giving it more tweaking and time?

No one should have stagnant goals. A pool of gross sitting water is only attractive to mosquitoes and mold. ‘I wanna be rich’ as your business’s raison d’être is a setup for a story about the horrors of literal-minded genies, not an intention you can actually move upon. But that doesn’t mean you need to go hard the other way and get lost in a nebulous fog of easily-published aphorisms.

To be fair, it’s not as if saying ‘Ask the right questions’ is exponentially more helpful than your average feel-good refreshment article, since… This editorial column doesn’t know you or what pies you have your fingers in. But if I can at least steer you away from always running towards the overly general and into an attempt at narrowing down what your real problems are, I’ll consider this a job well done.

Save saws for building community tables.

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