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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 - she has 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

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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