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Struggling Realtors equal a thriving Trulia, but for how long?

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Private company stock trading startup, SecondMarket today named real estate search site Trulia.com among the “fastest growing” in “buyer interest” alongsize Pandora, Groupon and ZipCar.

Pete Flint, CEO and co-founder of Trulia said, “We have built and scaled highly effective local advertising products around a large, highly sought after audience. Our ability to efficiently grow while home sales and home prices remain depressed, gives us great confidence around the long term success and growth prospects of our model.”

Trulia says they have experienced over 50% growth year over year and a doubling of revenues and is the only real estate company among the “fastest growing in buyer interest.” While SecondMarket is an alternative assets site and not trading in the same volume as the traditional stock market, it’s an interesting metric to look at.

Trulia says that despite the suffering economy, they’re doing well as Realtor interest rises, but one could argue that it is precisely because of the suffering economy that they are performing well as agents grasp at any tatic possible to stay afloat, throwing small bills at any and all sites that hint at a chance of success.

Does this SecondMarket report spell long term growth for Trulia as they’ve outlined on their website and does Trulia really improve the chances of getting a home sold, or does it really note that a struggling real estate sector is the exact reason for the growth of the site and highlights a potential long term weakness when the economy recovers?

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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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Ruthmarie Hicks

    October 12, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    I feel sorry for ANY agent dumb enough to pay Trulia so much as a thin dime. I used Trulia Voices for a while – waste of time. I posted to a Trulia blog for a while – waste of time. My own blog actually got more pageviews for my recent listing than Trulia for the last two months. So I’m baffled as to how this translates into helping a home get sold.

    • Aaron Catt

      October 13, 2010 at 11:20 am

      Keep your pity. I’ve been only moderately involved with Trulia both paid and unpaid.

      To date, I can say that it has accounted for 3 closed transactions and a handful of good leads. I’ve been active on it for about 1.5 years or so and to have grossed a little over 6k just from that.

      It’s never helped directly sell a listing from what I can gather, but it certainly has been a small boost to the business, which translates in to more operating funds and marketing funds; both of which certainly play a large part of getting more homes sold.

      I don’t think Trulia is for everyone. If you’re blogging and trying to create an online presence, why wouldn’t you fish where the fish are?

      • Brianna

        October 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm

        “It’s never helped directly sell a listing” This is true of many social media/online sites. So many people think that an online presence sells homes but thats not true, it helps generate leads and start relationships. Your experience, customer service, knowledge and personality sell homes. Another good point in your post is that you mention you’ve been on Trulia for 1.5 years. An online presence takes a while to cultivate, its overnight. Great comment! I’m glad Trulia is working out for you.

  2. FlatFeeRealty.com

    October 12, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Trulia kinda sucks. All they want is to sell agents advertising crap and make a boat load of cash off us. I was a “pro” for a year and it got me nothing. I don’t pay now, but my listings are still on there through ListHub. Free is better 😉

  3. Jeff Belonger

    October 13, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Lani… good article… those that know me know that I am not a fan of Trulia, especially their Q & A forum, section. I think this section is misused and abused and they have to know this… by allowing anyone answer any question, no matter what industry you are in, only helps those people answering the questions… yet could hurt anyone truly looking for the correct answers. But Trulia understands by allowing everyone and anyone.. and awarding those with ribbons and such, makes their site more viral… but at whose cost?

    You hit the nail on the head with this statement… ” because of the suffering economy that they are performing well as agents grasp at any tatic possible to stay afloat, throwing small bills at any and all sites that hint at a chance of success.”

    Yes, people will grasp at anything, especially when free… like their Q & A section.. and to pay for some of their stuff, from what I have heard, is not as good as it leads to be… In any case, good post and this should be thought provoking… Jeff

  4. hermanchan.com

    October 13, 2010 at 5:14 am

    i have a good friend who, up til recently, worked at trulia and he said it’s utterly horrible there. the data is outdated or outright wrong, and whats worse is they dont’ care b/c it is all about driving traffic to the site and increasing their sales. sigh. capitalism at its best.

  5. Jeff Belonger

    October 13, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Lani.. that was my point that I was driving at…. The same point that Herman stated, below me… That it just seems that they want to drive as much traffic as possible, not matter if the information is good or bad… hence my anger about their Q & A section.. and that part irks the hell out of me… because what does that show then?

  6. Marty Hunt

    October 13, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I’m surprised to see the negative comments about Trulia. Like any other thing we can spend our money on, Trulia is an option if we choose to use their advertising platform. If we don’t like it, we don’t have to pay for it (unlike Realtor.com…).

    While I question why Realtors need ANY third parties (Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, etc.) to advertise our listings online when there are one million+ Realtors with web sites and IDX, hundreds of thousands of real estate brokerage sites, and of course our State and local Associations and about 900 MLS’s, I can tell you that the consumers like Trulia A LOT.

    Personally I would prefer that our Associations and MLS’s would have lead the way to putting our listings online many years ago instead of waiting for Zilow, Trulia, Realtor.com and Yahoo! With the real estate industry being the mess it is today, Trulia is one of the better third party sites out there. Sure they have some inaccurate information (homes that are under contract or sold, for example) and of course they get only the listings they are authorized to get so the data is not complete. But remember when we placed monthly newspaper ads and some of our listings sold before the magazine hit the street? We were advertising properties that were no longer for sale and it was to “get the phone to ring”. I suggest the purpose of advertising is still to find interested buyers and sellers, albeit online and the data should be up to date.

    Like any other third party (Zillow, Realtor.com, etc.) Trulia came in and monetized our intellectual work product, our listings. If Realtors were indeed “The Voice for Real Estate” as NAR’s slogan proclaims, we wouldn’t have needed these third parties to come in and sell us advertising using our listings as bait.

    I pay for results. As an individual agent, I spend almost $5000 a year on Realtor.com products with LITTLE results but I feel the pressure to be there. I get almost NOTHING when it comes to inquiries, leads or sales from Realtor.com but it’s a great listing tool. I spend about $5000 a year between Trulia and Zillow and my inbox is filled with leads. I haven’t counted but it’s running something like 100 to 1 with leads from Trulia and Zillow over Realtor.com.

    We all choose where we write our checks. I don’t mind the checks to Trulia and Zillow but the Realtor.com expense feels like a complete waste. I’m a fan of Trulia for what it is and for fillng a void left by Realtors who were (and still are?) paranoid to share the listing and sold data online.

    Marty Hunt
    Florida Home Team Realty

    • Ken Brand

      October 13, 2010 at 9:24 am

      I’m with you Marty. The idea that our Associations give these very smart 3rd party companies the bullets/ data they need to create an even better product than the Associations or their broker/agent members can (financial and intellectual limitations) or will (burning desire) offer.

      The 3rd party companies take the/our agent produced listing data and then use it to attract buyers and sellers away from Association and member web sites.

      Next, after they’ve used the agent/broker listing data to create a better mousetrap, they turn to the agent/broker (association members) and charge them/offer-an-opportunity to highlight their own listing data, given to the 3rd party companies by their Associations.

      I’m not knocking the 3rd party vendors, they’re smart and opportunistic, kudos to them. I’m disappointed in our Associations for empowering them, diminishing their/our role in providing true value (opportunities to attract buyer and seller prospects), and putting the agent (who actually does all the work to take the listing) in a spot where they now have to pay to enhance or benefit from their own work.

      Broker’s did the same bonehead move with Relocation, in mass, agreeing to pay always escalating referral fees to 3rd party companies, instead of telling them to jump in a lake, and meeting the needs of corporations themselves. But that’s a whole other story.

      Bottom line, our associations, apparently being slow, are becoming and behaving more like Share Croppers than Owners, Opportunists, Creators or Innovators.

      Nice article.

  7. Anna Altic

    October 13, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I have never paid Trulia a dime and have gotten a number of buyers from some blog posts I have put on there as well as the Q&A. I agree with some of the posts that the info is outdated at times and that some of the answers on the Q&A are outrageously bad or redundant. However, it’s been my experience that a well crafted, transparent, and useful blog or answer is well received in the forum and will pay dividends to the person who posted it. I am coming to understand that with Trulia’s awesome SEO and brand awareness that in the Q&A is not about “capturing” the person that originally asked the question, it’s about putting out quality information that will be found by others over time. That has indeed been my experience.

    I will say this. I don’t think the economy is the danger to Trulia. The danger to me is if it get’s bogged down with a bunch of worthless information posted by people who have invested no time in understanding social networking. Many in the comments are saying this is already happening. If the consumers have to spend time wading through crap then they will go somewhere else and it’s game over.

    • Aaron Catt

      October 13, 2010 at 11:25 am

      Very good comment!

      You’ve captured, to a large degree, my same thoughts and success.

  8. markbrian

    October 13, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I see Trulia and any other website like it as both competition and a necessary evil. It is competition for web traffic versus my website and evil because of the Q&A section, incorrect listing info and their business model of charging for what was, in my opinion, very dismal results.

  9. Rudy

    October 13, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Hi guys!

    In a down market or not, a company like ours offers real estate pro’s, buyers, sellers and renters another way to connect with each other. Those that take advantage of our site, give themselves an opportunity to grow their business. Some grow their business for free by being proactive on Trulia Voices while other use our enhanced features.

    For those that knock some of the conversations on Voices, well, I can only suggest that you do better. When you do better and offer advice that’s a higher level of quality than the next guy, guess who will notice – the consumer…..they are quite savvy. And that’s how some folks are getting noticed by consumers – by helping folks as best they can and not worrying what the next guy says…

    Good luck to all….

    Best,

    Rudy from Trulia

    • Bruce Lemieux

      October 13, 2010 at 2:09 pm

      Agree – most consumers can sort through the knuckleheads on Trulia Voices. On balance, I believe Trulia Voices is a good way for consumers to reach out for help.

      I really hope you guys can get MLS-sourced listing data with the Move/NAR syndication agreement. Doing so would clean up your listing data make you a real value-add to home buyers.

  10. Intown Elite

    October 13, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Trulia truly is the wild, wild west, where anything goes. It’s a place where rogue agents can go to put on a facade of legitimacy in front of an unsuspecting public. One of the most despicable practices is that Trulia allows any agent to claim any listing as their own. Unscrupulous agents know that if a listing hasn’t been “claimed” on Trulia fairly soon after it was listed, most likely the listing agent doesn’t participate in Trulia, so they are safe to claim it as their own. There’s no cyber-police (or state Real Estate Commission) on Trulia. So these unethical agents appear to Joe Public as top-producers, complete with a huge inventory of listings. Sham! For those of you who don’t use Trulia, go check it out to make sure your listings “claimed” by one of these deceitful agents.

  11. BawldGuy

    October 13, 2010 at 11:44 am

    As usual, Lani, your question produces solid responses.

    I agree with Marty and Ken.

    Also, in the end, Trulia will be graded by results. This isn’t an epiphany, but it seems they must be doing something right, as some fairly successful agents are makin’ some hay there.

  12. Anthony Rueda

    October 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I’ve used Trulia and found it to be cost effective. Trulia’s listings and blogging does generate leads at a reasonable price.

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Opinion Editorials

Idea: Color-coded face masks as the new social contract to combat COVID-19

(BUSINESS NEWS) Americans must come together on a new social contract if we have any hope of permanently reopening the economy and saving lives.

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A church in Texas used a stoplight color-coded wristlet system to help churchgoers navigate the new social awkwardness of closeness. Those with green bands are comfortable with contact including high fives, yellow bands indicate someone who wants to talk but not touch, and red is for someone interested in keeping their distance altogether.

In pre-pandemic America, basic social cues were sufficient to communicate these feelings, and most violations of them were annoying but not harmful. We now live in a world where daily banalities like grocery shopping and shaking hands with a new acquaintance are now potentially dangerous – for you and those you care about.

So what is the way forward?

Humans are social beings, and much of our survival is reliant on our relationships to, and interactions with, other humans. A way forward is critical. But our brains are trained to find and read faces in an instant to assess emotion and whether that emotion indicates a presence of a threat.

Not only has this pandemic challenged our innate notions of community and safety, the scientifically healthy way forward is to cover most of our faces, which is staggeringly counter to our understanding of a threat. It is now impossible to tell whether a sunglassed-masked stranger walking into a restaurant is a robber or just a person who was walking in the sun.

But because we are humans with large brains, we are able to adapt. We are inherently compassionate and able to emotionally understand fear in others and ourselves. We are able to understand both science and social grace. In this case, the science is straightforward but the social grace is not.

Governor Abbott of Texas announced the second closure of bars and reduction of capacity in restaurants last Friday in response to the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases statewide. During the press conference he said: “Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can.”

It is this shared responsibility that we must first embrace before any meaningful reopening can proceed.

We must accept that for the indefinite future, we have a new normal. We have to adapt to these new social codes in order to protect ourselves and our neighbors. Color-coded bracelets, masks, hats, choose your accessory – this could be a way forward.

First, we must agree these measures are necessary. And we shouldn’t take them because a politician told us to or told us not to – many people feel that our government has failed to provide us with coherent guidance and leadership considering a broad social contract.

We should adapt them because if you are not free, I am not free. We can do this together.

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Opinion Editorials

What to do when you can’t find your passion and you’re feeling lost

(EDITORIAL) Global Pandemic or not, people struggle to search for job opportunities, their career, and find their purpose. Knowing yourself is the most important part.

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career choices

Feeling lost? Can you relate to this Reddit post in the Career Guidance forum?

Careers that aren’t boring?

I’m really lost right now. I just graduated high school and I really don’t know what I want to do with my life.

At the moment my only idea is to join the military (United States) and see how it goes. I really want to go to college on the side but I don’t know what I want to get into. I tried coding in high school and it didn’t make sense, making me feel like i won’t be successful in the technology field. Medical field costs too much+ time in school. Only other career field that’s on my mind is engineering but I don’t know if I’ll be successful?

Is it okay to feel like I’ll fail? Will college actually teach you unlike in high school? I feel like high school didn’t really prep me and I’ll be behind”

And then you have to love this response:

Is the grass really not greener on the other side?

I’ve been a trucker since I left school 10 years ago. Every post I come across are full of people dreading the office culture, politics, environment etc. and saying how they’d love to be outdoors.

I work outdoors and it’s shit, -5°C in winter and 40+°C in summer. Slogging 12-15 hour days behind the wheel, micro-sleeping and hallucinating just to make delivery times. Getting filthy and soaking wet when working outside.

The idea of being in a nice cooled office, not having to put my life on the line and actually working on a project with a team sounds so stimulating to me instead of being a monkey behind a wheel. But then I see so many people call themselves monkeys in other professions and hate the office.”

It’s alluring how the ego is meant to ensure our security and survival, and unless we learn how to work with it and the messages we tell ourselves, we can often feel alone, isolated and the only one with these feelings. It is when you start exploring others’ stories that you may feel an a-ha moment, or things may seem like they click.

One would venture to argue that many people are sometimes lost in a fog, and not sure what to do. Above was an example of a high schooler who is feeling like the military might be his only option, but if you read through the thread, it does appear that he has other ideas but just doesn’t know enough about them or doesn’t trust himself enough to look further in to them. And if the military is the right option for him, that is okay too.

“The ego is the human consciousness part of you. It was designed to ensure your security and survival. Unfortunately for many of us it has never relinquished its initial purpose. Instead, for many the ego became the master script writer and because of it, everything becomes a drama based on past happenings.” Beverly Blanchard

If you’re feeling in a fog, people may ask you:

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. What do you love doing that you can make money from?
  3. What company do you want to work for?
  4. Where do you want to live?
  5. Are you living for your resume, or for your obituary?

If there’s a screaming feeling inside that literally feels like you are going to BURST with all caps of “I DON’T KNOW”, then let’s take a breath and see what we can do to work with that. Here are some ideas that may be great activities for you to help move forward.

Kindly note, the first thing is to allow yourself TIME. You need some time to figure it out, do some research, look in to options, have conversations, possibly work experiences, maybe some inner soul searching and spiritual work. If you think you have to have this figured out right away, you may have already put a limit on yourself (sorry to be a buzzkill but you might need YEARS to figure out your purpose). You ideally need to figure out how to get from A to B, not A to Z right now.

  • Do some research on Design Thinking.
    Spend some time with a journal getting out some of your thoughts so you can move them from the emotional part of your brain to a more logical and rational place (usually once you’ve put something on paper or even said it out loud). You may like this Design Your Life workbook based on a Career Exploration class at Stanford where you explore your interests, and how they can align with work and your purpose. The workbook is great because it gives you writing prompts that help guide you (they also give ideas on how long to spend on an activity so it could be 10 minutes or 30 and you can decide if that is something you can do at that point in time). They also just released a book, Designing Your Work Life. How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work.
  • Make a simple list.
    Spend 5-10 minutes just writing out things you really like or love (no explanation, just the name of the item). There is no judgement to this list and nothing is too silly (Iced coffee, video games, tennis, music, dogs, photography, favorite subject(s) in school, friends, family, reading…) Walk away. Come back to it. Do any of these things give you clues on what type(s) of professions fascinate you? Then make a list of what you need to do from here (more school, internship, volunteering, pro-bono projects, part-time or full-time job). Stop and ask yourself how you can get more of these things in your day to day.
  • Consider yourself an Investigative Reporter, and talk to people about how they chose their areas of study and/or careers.
    The hope is that you are pleasantly surprised to hear many people have had this feeling and they moved forward anyway. They made decisions with the information they had, and their career and projects grew from there. This could help you recognize what is that next step you need to take.
    I would tell that high schooler to go meet with military recruiting offices and see what they have to say. I’d also suggest they reach out to mechanical engineers and learn about what they work on and what they had to do to get there. If they are unsure of how to find any, check out LinkedIn to start. Many people look at those that they consider to be successful and see where they ended up – often we miss the part of the story about what they had to do to get there. This is what we should be looking to uncover, and that may give us insights on what our next steps can be.
    In job searching, a great tool is conducting Informational Interviews and speaking with people that are in jobs that you think may interest you and they can tell you more real details. Whatever you find to be really intriguing and makes you want to know more about, that could be a good sign of a career/job you’re interested in. Ask them about education and skills requirements and take notes.
  • Consider your life like a flight of stairs.
    Each step is leading to the next one. You don’t have to know or see the entire staircase, and you may not even know what’s on the second floor.
  • Write your Eulogy.
    This sounds really morbid and maybe slightly is, but a plane doesn’t just take off on a flight plan without knowing where it’s going and landing. If you write out your eulogy, you may discover what you want to be remembered for, and start living a life that includes those types of efforts, endeavors, and projects. This also may take a little bit of pressure off of you that everything in your life will not be solely based on your job or career. Then, maybe hide it so your family doesn’t think you’ve lost your mind.

Whatever you do, please know you are not alone and the more you think everyone else has it all figured out, the better acting you are witnessing. Yes, there are people that have known what they wanted to do since they were little but even their job/career has had it’s twists and turns.

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Opinion Editorials

I was laid off, but then my position was filled, what can I do?

(EDITORIAL) Is it good form for your position to be replaced in the middle of a pandemic? No. Is it legal? Well, usually, but what can you do about it?

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If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being laid off, you might have found yourself revisiting your work place’s job posting to see what kind of ship they’re running in your absence–only to find that, instead of downsizing, your employer has filled your old position.

You would be well within your rights to question whether or not your employer screwed with you, and you might even consider contacting legal representation. Before you do, though, keep in mind that being laid off from a position due to budget cuts, and having that position cut entirely are two different things–and you might just be looking for a problem where there isn’t one.

After all, according to Evil HR Lady, this kind of process isn’t just legal–it’s actually pretty normal.

Yes, it’s normal to assume something sinister when you find yourself without a job that someone younger (and let’s not forget cheaper) than you is now doing.

But Evil HR Lady (a personality who, despite the title, seems absolutely benign) points out that seniority often plays a role in who stays and who pays: “[Imagine] there are five team leads, and the company decides to lay off one of the team leaders. This person has seniority over the people below him, so he takes the top remaining position and bumps that person out of their job…The position eliminated is Team Leader, but the person who loses his job is junior trainee.”

The above process is legitimate on paper, but the true take-away here should be that such a “replacement” might not be a replacement at all; downsizing is still downsizing, even if your position isn’t the one that is actually cut.

It is worth noting that the sheer volume of layoffs due to COVID-19 does leave some potential for system abuse. Under the cover of a global pandemic, it wouldn’t be unfeasible for a company to sneakily replace older employees with younger talent under the guise of downsizing, and even though the former employees would have a case for age-based discrimination, they might not think to make that case given the obvious context.

If nothing else, this phenomenon is a functional reminder to keep an eye on your workplace after you leave for a trial period–if for no other reason than to ensure that your employer isn’t trying to pull a fast one.

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