The biggest challenge of a startup
One of the most difficult things I face as a start-up in real estate is not keeping up with the Joneses, but keeping up with the pace of technology advancement. As recently as five years ago, it seemed like there was no innovation (or very little) in real estate technology. Now, I feel like there is something new everyday and the new releases are coming at a blistering pace.
As an entrepreneur with a small dev team and a shoestring budget, this can cause anxiety-filled days and sleepless nights.
As Realtors, we have to account for iOS, iPhones, iPads and Android. We now have tools like Docusign, DotLoop and CloudCMA. And you better be pulling out all the stops and all of your technology during a listing presentation because consumers want it!
Recently, 1000watt Consulting in partnership with W&R Studios released Nudge, an application to help move clients and prospects to action and I’m in love with the user interface.
Recent tech innovations transform the industry
Zillow, Trulia, Realtor, Redfin, Zip and Sawbuck are all names that we are quite familiar with and that seem to be at the forefront of this technology explosion. Even though several started as early as 2005, it seems that lately there have been tremendous strides in terms of new features and ideas to hit the real estate technology space and I certainly don’t expect it to slowdown.
What are the coolest new tools in use? The real estate industry has leveraged a wide spectrum of technologies. Geo-location, geo-fencing, augmented reality, cloud syncing, social, collaboration and advanced mapping technologies. All are great examples of where we are today.
Redfin just launched native apps for both the iPhone and iPad. They had a good marketing blitz to create something out of nothing when they announced real-time updates, and while their map clusters are not new or even unique at this point, I still think they are cool.
An identity crisis
When I think of Redfin, one thing that I can’t help but think about every time is a comment Glenn Kelman made once, where he declared Redfin as a real estate company with an identity crisis, because they were so focused on technology at the time.
Traditionally, real estate brokerages have not been considered technology guru’s. Is just being a brokerage good enough today? Or do you need to be a technology company as well?
Redfin is a Seattle start-up. One of their early investors is Vulcan Capital, for crying out loud. That’s Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft!
Let’s not forget Spencer Rascoff of Zillow. He was the founder of Hotwire.com and then also a top executive at Expedia.com. Trulia is a San Francisco company founded by a Stanford grad.
It is my understanding that the two guys who started Sawbuck were coders who wanted to make the best map search in the industry. Now, they have created the equivalent of facial recognition for homes with their new app, HomeSnap. What’s it going to take in the future? A PhD in computer science? It might.
The big question is: what’s next?
Individual brokerages (I already know a few) will begin to explore predictive technologies, algorithmic modeling, and artificial intelligence.
I saw first hand and played a part in the financial industry from the late 80’s to today as I watched it move from showing consumers one bid and one offer to now seeing the entire “book” or Level II quote. A client can now open an account online and basically have access to the same tools traders use on trading desks at the largest investment banks. Their only disadvantage is not having the order flow.
I am not comparing the real estate industry to the financial industry, but I am saying there is a lot of room left to further the advancement of technology in real estate.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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