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Opinion Editorials

Redfin website beats the real estate world to the punch

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Here at AG, we pour over a great deal of data every day regarding brokerages and the real estate sector overall and we feel lucky that we get to see the real estate world from a bird’s eye perspective and have been forecasting trends effectively for several years now. We recently spotted a real estate company taking part in a trend that until now, no one else has.

Growing discount brokerage Redfin has announced that their mapping feature will now offer clusters of listings that when zoomed in on offer other clusters so that search results are based on proximity. This change may seem minor or like simple eye candy, but we see so much more in their announcement- they’re adhering to modern web standards by using HTML5 with CSS transitions and offering up cross browser compatibility.

Redfin’s update will likely go overlooked in the industry and in two years when the self proclaimed tech savvy brokers get around to following suit, they’ll call themselves pioneers. We have been watching the advancement of web standards as the fight between programming languages heats up (and trust us, Flash vs. HTML5 is a whopper of a fight) and we have wondered when a firm would step up and adhere to standards that are forward facing rather than simply use 2005 technologies and call themselves innovative.

Redfin drew a line in the sand this month. It’s a small line and you probably can’t quite see it yet, it’s that faint, but it’s there. We’re hoping that any indie brokerages on the fringe that have started implementing these web standards will step up to bat, because we haven’t heard of any yet. Redfin has separated themselves from the pack and whether you like their model or not, they’re investing in future technologies without worry about the “tech savvy” agents that are still stuck on how to sign up for “the Twitter” while unaware that they are falling behind the tech curve.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Ken Montville

    November 2, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Well, I’m not techno geek but does anyone find it ironic that this “clustering” has a red line around it. I’m not sure Redfin is at the forefront of redlining. If memory serves, it’s a pretty old concept. But, then, I’m sure I’m missing the point.

    • Lani Rosales

      November 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm

      Ken, please read the article (again?); it’s not about clustering or the colors of the lines, it’s about web standards and programming languages…

      • Bob Wilson

        November 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

        Web standards isnt the key here, but it goes hand in hand with new development. The key is increased conversion due to better user experience. Anyone doing this stuff today is going to be using those standards.

      • Ken Montville

        November 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm

        I got that it was about web standards. Like I said, I was sure I was missing the point. Is techno steering more ethical/legal than me telling someone in my car, “You said you like this nice {fill in the criteria} neighborhood. You wouldn’t like that other neighborhood. Let’s not go there.”

        Yeah, this is a wonderful, technical advancement and I know it’s not about the color of the lines. It never was even when banks drew the lines on maps.

        The post isn’t that long. I’m just raising the point that sometimes techies can get so absorbed in their techno stuff that they lose touch with humanity.

        • Ken Montville

          November 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm

          Well, I guess from reading the rest of the comments that it’s ok to steer people into certain clusters to the exclusions of others. I guess it’s consumer choice, right.

  2. Bob Wilson

    November 2, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Redfin isnt the only one working on this, but the first to market.

    As Glenn says, it fixes the biggest issue with map searches.

    What is important here isnt the web standards, but the fact that Glenn understood what his data was telling him and how that relates to increased conversion, which is the real bottom line.

    • Bob Wilson

      November 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm

      Actually, I believe DS has been clustering as well, so my first to market comment may not be correct.

      • Lani Rosales

        November 2, 2010 at 4:12 pm

        Hey Bob, with your unique background, do you agree that their forward thinking is ahead of the real estate tech curve?

        • Bob Wilson

          November 2, 2010 at 7:41 pm

          I dont believe its forward thinking with regard to programming as much as smart business. Few successful companies build tomorrow’s apps with yesterday’s programming.

          What I believe is that Redfin understood their data and picked up on the fact that map based search sucks big time for the consumer, and therefor it sucks for Redfin. While many vendors love to push techno bling for the sake of being able to add the “New & Improved” label, redfin understands that in order to be profitable, you have to convert traffic to leads, and leads to closed sales. Most map based search products are more of a parlor game than tool that adds to the broker or agent’s bottomline, as Redfin alluded to in their post.

          I am impressed with the product, and I have said that about very few map search programs. This is good for them and it raises the bar for others.

          They didnt do this just to have the coolest map search. They did it to make more money. That makes them forward thinkers in this biz.

        • Matt Goulart

          November 3, 2010 at 10:53 am

          Yes, this means Redfin is a head of the real estate tech curve in HTML5. Not entirely sure why the arguement of clusters has started… the article is about web standards. Briefly mentioning the bigger picture of Flash vs HTML5.

          On another note, Microsoft recently entered the web standard to support HTML5 instead of their own silverlight platform.

  3. Jeff

    November 2, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I am pretty sure Diverse Solutions has been clustering for awhile.

    • Lani Rosales

      November 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm

      Diverse Solutions is great! That is awesome!!!

      • Cynthia

        November 2, 2010 at 5:18 pm

        Sawbuck has been clustering for years too.

  4. Sheila Rasak

    November 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    What???

  5. Bruce Lemieux

    November 2, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    DS has clustering, but Redfin’s implementation is so much more elegant and useful. Redfin’s use of clustering on their iPhone app is even better than their web implementation.

    I don’t know anything about Redfin’s technology, but home buyers in the metro D.C. area love the app. At open houses, I ask buyers “how did you find us”. Redfin is easily the #1 answer.

  6. Daniel Bates

    November 2, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    I saw this being done on google maps a while ago. It improves load time remarkably and should be helpful to some real estate browsers.

  7. Roland Estrada

    November 2, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Maybe I’m not getting it. The map search feature on my search site loads faster and offer the same if not more information than does Redfin. This is not a plug but check it out and judge for yourseslf. My site also renders faster. HTML5 is better suited for for more graphically intensive uses. Check out Apple’s Demo site apple.com/html5/.

    The real Luddites are the real estate vendors such as MarketLinx and SharperAgent. There are others of course. Their big problem is cross-browser compatibility. That could have been achieved years ago but they have no foresight. I’ve complained about the browser issue for years.

    Not to mention cross-platform issues. Zipforms just this year, became Mac compatible. Vendors have been behind for a long, long time. By the time they catch up there something else passing them by.

  8. FlatFeeRealty.com

    November 3, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    HTML5 standards are definitely the way to go. I just upgraded my sites to be W3C HTML5 valid CSS and markup.

  9. BawldGuy

    November 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I’ve thought for quite some time now, that web standards needed a bottom up revamping. 🙂

    What Bob said.

  10. BawldGuy

    November 3, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    As I said before — What Bob said.

  11. White Bear Lake Homes

    November 4, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    I follow Redfin’s blog, and I know how much they were pushing to make this release. I have nothing but respect for Redfin, and they have my support in their expedition to advance the real estate technology landscape.

  12. Rob McCance

    November 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Nice dig Lani….you don’t miss much, do ya?

    Here’s a funny one, our MLS provider here in the ATL, FMLS, just paid major bucks for, and is transitioning to a “all new” interface based 100% on….FLASH.

    I sat in on the training class and had to just keep my mouth shut the entire time.

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Opinion Editorials

9 ways to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive at work

(OPINION EDITORIALS) With more and more people joining the LGBTQIA+ community it’d do one well to think about ways to extend inclusiveness at work.

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LGBTQIA+ people may have won marriage equality in 2015, but this momentous victory didn’t mean that discrimination was over. Queer and LGBTQIA+ identified people still have to deal with discrimination and not being in a work environment that supports their identities.

Workplace inclusivity may sound like the hottest new business jargon term on the block, but it actually just a professional way of making sure that everyone feels like a valued team member at the office. Business psychologists have found when people are happy to go to work, they are 12 percent more productive.

Making your business environment a supportive one for the queer community means you’re respecting employees and improving their workplace experience.

Here’s nine ways you can make your workplace more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ people.

1) Learn the basics.
If you’re wanting to make your workplace more open to LGBTQIA+ people, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. Firstly, the acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual and the plus encompassing other identities not named; there are many variants on the acronym. Sexual orientations (like lesbian, gay, bisexual) are not the same as gender identities.

Transgender means that that person “seeks to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.” Cisgender means a person identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. If you need a more comprehensive rundown about sexual orientation, gender identity, and the like, visit the GLAAD reference guide.

2) Stop using the word “gay” as an insult.
Or insinuating people you don’t like are “gay” together. This is the most basic thing that can be done for workplace inclusivity regarding the queer community. Anything that actively says that LGBTQIA+ people are “lesser” than their straight counterparts can hurt the queer people on your team and make them not feel welcome. It’s not cool.

3) Don’t make jokes that involve the LGBTQIA+ community as a punchline.
It’s not cute to make a “funny quip” about pronouns or to call someone a lesbian because of their outfit. This kind of language makes people feel unwanted in the workplace, but many won’t be able to speak up due to the lack of protections about LGBTQIA+ identities in anti-discrimination statutes. So stop it.

4) Support your colleagues.
If you’re in a situation and hear negative or inappropriate talk regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, stick up for your co-workers. Even if they’re not there, by simply expressing that what was said or done was inappropriate, you’re helping make your workplace more inclusive.

5) Avoid the super probing questions.
It’s okay to talk relationships and life with coworkers, but it can cross a line. If you have a transgender colleague, it’s never going to be appropriate to pry about their choices regarding their gender identity, especially since these questions revolve around their body.

If you have a colleague who has a differing sexual orientation than yours, questions about “how sex works” or any invasive relationship question (“are you the bride or the groom”) is going to hurt the welcomeness of your office space. Just don’t do it.

6) Written pronoun clarity is for everyone!
One thing that many LGBTQIA+ people may do is add their pronouns to their business card, email signature, or name badge for clarity. If you’re cisgender, adding your pronouns to these things can offer support and normalize this practice for the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only does it make sure that you are addressed correctly, you’re validating the fact that it’s an important business practice for everyone to follow.

7) Tokens are for board games, not for people.
LGBTQIA+ people are often proud of who they are and for overcoming adversity regarding their identity. However, it’s never ever going to be okay to just reduce them to the token “transgender colleague” or the “bisexual guy.”

Queer people do not exist to earn you a pat on the back for being inclusive, nor do they exist to give the final word on marketing campaigns for “their demographic.” They’re people just like you who have unique perspectives and feelings. Don’t reduce them just to a token.

8) Bathroom usage is about the person using the bathroom, not you.
An individual will make the choice of what bathroom to use, it does not need commentary. If you feel like they “don’t belong” in the bathroom you’re in due to their gender presentation, don’t worry about it and move on. They made the right choice for them.

An easy way to make restroom worries go away is creating gender neutral restrooms. Not only can they shorten lines, they can offer support for transgender, nonbinary, or other LGBTQIA+ people who just need to go as much as you do.

9) Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone will slip up during their journey to make their workplace more inclusive. If you didn’t use the correct pronouns for your non-binary colleague or misgender someone during a presentation, apologize to them, correct yourself, and do better next time. The worst thing to do is if someone corrects you is for you to shut down or get angry. An open ear and an open heart is the best way to make your work environment supportive for all.

The workplace can be a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ people, or it could be a hurtful one, depending on the specific culture of the institution. But with some easy changes, it can be a space in which queer and LGBTQIA+ people can feel respected and appreciated.

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Opinion Editorials

“Starting a business is easy,” said only one guy ever

(OPNION EDITORIAL) Between following rules, finding funding, and gathering research, no business succeeds without lifting a finger.

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While browsing business articles this week, I came across this one, “Top 10 Business Ideas You Can Start for Free With Barely Lifting a Finger.” These types of articles make me mad. I can’t think of many successful freelancers or entrepreneurs who don’t put in hours of blood, sweat and tears to get a business going.

The author of the article is Murray Newlands, a “VIP Contributor.” Essentially, he’s a freelancer because he also contributes to Forbes, HuffPro and others. He’s the founder of ChattyPeople.com, which is important, because it’s the first business idea he promotes in the article.

But when I pull up his other articles on Entrepreneur.com, I see others like “How to Get Famous and Make Money on YouTube,” “Win Like A Targaryen: 10 Businesses You Can Start for Free,” and “10 Ventures Young Entrepreneurs Can Start for Cheap or Free.”

I seriously cannot believe that Entrepreneur.com keeps paying for the same ideas over and over.

The business ideas that are suggested are pretty varied. One suggestion is to offer online classes. I wonder if Newlands considered how long it takes to put together a worthy curriculum and how much effort goes into marketing said course.

Then, you have to work out the bugs, because users will have problems. How do you keep someone from stealing your work? What happens when you have a dispute?

Newlands suggests that you could start a blog. It’s pretty competitive these days. The most successful bloggers are ones that really work on their blog, every day. The bloggers have a brand, offer relevant content and are ethical in how they get traffic.

Think it’s easy? Better try again.

I could go on. Every idea he puts up there is a decent idea, but if he thinks it will increase your bottom line without a lot of hard work and effort, he’s delusional.

Today’s entrepreneurs need a plan. They need to work that plan, rethink it and keep working. They have to worry about liability, marketing and keeping up with technologies.

Being an entrepreneur is rewarding, but it’s hard work. It is incredibly inappropriate and grossly negligent to encourage someone to risk everything they have and are on the premise of not lifting a finger.

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Opinion Editorials

Why freelancers should know their worth

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Money is always an awkward talking point and can be difficult for freelancers to state their worth.

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Recently, I delved into what I’ve learned since becoming a freelancer. However, I neglected to mention one of the most difficult lessons to learn, which was something that presented itself to me rather quickly.

“What is your fee for services?” was not a question I had prepared myself for. When it came to hourly rates, I was accustomed to being told what I would make and accepting that as my worth.

This is a concept that needs multiple components to be taken into consideration. You need to evaluate the services you’re providing, the timeliness in which you can accomplish said services, and your level of expertise.

Dorie Clark of the Harvard Business Review believes that freelancers should be charging clients more than what they think they’re worth. The price you give to your clients is worth quite a bit, itself.

Underpricing can send a bad message to your potential clients. If they’re in the market for your services, odds are they are comparing prices from a few other places.

Having too low of a number can put up a red flag to clients that you may be under-experienced. What you’re pricing should correlate with quality and value; set a number that shows you do good work and value that work.

Clark suggests developing a network of trustworthy confidants that you can bounce ideas off of, including price points. Having an idea of what other people in your shoes are doing can help you feel more comfortable when it comes to increasing prices.

And, for increasing prices, it is not something that is going to just happen on its own. It’s highly unlikely for a client to say, “you know what, I think I’ll give you a raise!”

It’s important to never take advantage of any client, but it’s especially important to show loyalty to the ones that have always been loyal to you. Test the waters of price increasing by keeping your prices lower for clients that have always been there, but then try raising prices as you take on new clients.

At the end of the day, keep in mind that you are doing this work to support yourself and, theoretically, because you’re good at it. Make sure you’re putting an appropriate price tag on that value.

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