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Opinion Editorials

Who gets top in the Zillow – Yahoo! real estate – Mint menage a moi?

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Zillow, your data accuracy sucks. I’m sorry, but it does, just ask Forbes Real Estate or any Denver real estate pro. Why in the world Mint would lower its reputation with inaccurate residential valuation tools is beyond me.

Yahoo’s stock is worthless according to anyone in the know, yet we have this three way menage a moi going on between Zillow and its partners Yahoo! real estate and Mint. I’m not sure who’s gaining here, or is this a three way of epic losers? Again, was Mint in trouble? Well it might be now. What may sound like a move up for Mint, reeks of desperation (or ignorance) to anyone in real estate.

Over the past week, we’ve seen a Zillow insider’s life flash before his eyes when his one end all be all to Zillow’s potential problems ending, and that would be if and when Realtor.com could syndicate all listing data. This would end the reality drought at Zillow. But yet another share holder barks at how the revised Realtor.com agreement with the National Association of Realtors must signal fear from Move, Inc (Realtor.com parent company who advertises on AG) about the John picking up the hooker we saw with Zillow and Yahoo! real estate.

Look, something’s got to give. Spencer Rascoff steps up as CEO and replaces the haphazard Barney Fife of a CEO that was Rich Barton. The company’s got a shot now in my opinion with the mortgage market place and fresh vision, but this data situation is a real problem for Zillow going forward- with the new Move, Inc. and NAR operating agreement in place, and its ListHub acquisition, suddenly everyone can overtake Zillow in accuracy (not a difficult feat, imo), including its step brother Trulia. Zillow’s Mortgage Market Place is easily matched by Google already, so what’s left but the bone Mint just tossed Zillow? Nothing, because I’m looking at this from a glass half empty perspective- Mint’s horny (as of the publishing of this article, no mention of the Zillow/Mint agreement had even graced the Mint press page, maybe it is shame?).

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Marilyn Wilson

    September 23, 2010 at 4:52 am

    I agree with your assessment of data quality on Zillow. We at the WAV Group have conducted two data accuracy studies over the past two years comparing the accuracy of Zillow data to broker websites and other third party sites. While Trulia has significantly increases their accuracy over the past couple of years, even though they are also not as accurate as broker or MLS consumer-facing sites, Zillow has remained pretty weak.

    The problem is consumers don’t know that. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard people on airlines talk about how Zestimates are an accurate way to find out what your home is worth. While they may not think of it as the most accurate property search mechanism, consumers definitely see a value in Zillow. The sad part is that the real estate industry had its chance and blew it. We had AVM technologies LONG before Zillow existed yet we were too protectionist to share them with consumers.

    While I agree Zillow’s data is not great, we have to give them credit for the brand franchise they have created.

    My hope is that the Listhub acquisition by REALTOR.com will force third parties like Zillow to step up their game and deliver more legitimate value to consumers, and thus delivering better quality to the real estate pros who advertise there.

    • Paula Henry

      September 23, 2010 at 7:24 am

      The sad part is that the real estate industry had its chance and blew it. We had AVM technologies LONG before Zillow existed yet we were too protectionist to share them with consumers.

      Yes -we blew it! The ListHub acquisition will only provide them with direct feeds of our data. They won’t have to step up their game, we gave them everything they need. I really see no value in advertising there and buying a RealEstatePro badge! Really, does having a PRO badge make one a professional?

  2. Ken Montville

    September 23, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Benn, you are right on the money [sic] with this post. I commented on Lani’s before I read this and mentioned that Zillow’s Zestimate will only create a false impression of net worth and the homes’s value vis a vis the reality of the local marketplace.

    Having said that, it seems that there is a consolidation going on within the Web-based, real estate data providing companies. This guy is buying out that guy, This company is partnering with that company. My guess (and it’s just an observation) is that these various Web-based data providers are having a hard time generating a profit because, let’s face it, data is data and you can only re-package it so many ways before the consumer gets tired of looking.

    So, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a couple of years, there will only be two or three data providers. Just enough to provide “competition” to keep the Department of Justice out of the picture.

  3. Rob McCance

    September 25, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    MLS data should not be allowed out of the MLS jurisdiction that generated it.

    That solves all the problems while giving the business back to the local agents that generated the data in the first place.

    Also it puts and END to all the national data aggregator VULTURES that add NO value, while also doing a piss poor job with data accuracy and freshness.

    All the MLS info would be available from your local Realtor, or from your local Realtor’s web site. The folks that know and can actually service the territories.

    That’s been my stance for some time now.

    • Paula Henry

      September 25, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      Rob – you are speaking my language 🙂

      Heard it again this week! Client calls, stressed, ” Zillow says my house is worth $50,000 less than what I thought it was”. We completed a market analysis and like Ben stated, Zillow Sucks.

      Who ever really thought an auto generated market evaluation would work anyway? Now, they want our data so they can claim some accuracy.

  4. Rob McCance

    September 26, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Thanks Paula. Nice web site too BTW.

    This whole MLS data subject just makes me sick. Always has. I remember not too many years ago when the individual MLSs were very protective of their data.

    If you wanted to add IDX to your site, your IDX vendor (mistake #1 of the MLSs by the way)(the beginning of the end) was required to have all sorts of approvals and agreements in place. They scrutinized what site the IDX was going on and had all sorts of rules and regs about where the data was going and how. And these rules-n-regs were followed. (until they started violating them themselves)

    Now it seems there are hundreds of IDX vendors and all you do is sign up. Done. From FREE to $100/mo and everything in between. Put it anywhere and do anything you want with it.

    Most even provide, with great pride, the ability to spread the data around via RSS feeds, and other methods. This makes it super easy to move this data anywhere, with virtually no way to control it.

    I don’t profess to understand the MLS/IDX business model but I would like to. I have a 30k foot view from the outside, as a paying customer.

    In GA, every time you close you pay between $300 and $1000 to the FMLS here. That’s a TON of money for them to be hosting a frikkin’ database.

    That’s bad enough, but then they sell (I assume) this feed to all the IDX providers and the more the merrier. They also sell it to the nationals, the more the merrier.

    So us Realtors pay for it, we create it, we populate it and keep it updated….then we PAY for the leads it generates.

    We fund all sides of the war!

    It’s run by people with NO vision what so ever who apparently will sell anything to anyone at any time to make a buck. Nevermind the FORTUNE they already make from the Realtors paying the FMLS fee at every closing. Nobody can convince me the profit margin on this business is not somewhere near 90%.

    See….frustrating…

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Opinion Editorials

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

7 sure-fire ways to carve out alone time when you’re working from home

(EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need downtime, me-time, and self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health but also our productivity at work will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well-rested, and well-treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time while working from home.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keep us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

The one easy job interview question that often trips up applicants

(EDITORIAL) The easiest interview questions can be the hardest to answer, don’t let this one trip you up – come prepared!

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Women sitting nervously representing waiting for a remote job interview.

A job interview is tough, and preparing for them can seem impossible. There are some questions you can expect: what is your experience in this position? How would you handle this situation? And so on.

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But what about this question: what makes you happy? Though it may seem straightforward, getting to the right answer is not such an easy path.

Work engagement

According to research, less and less employees feel like they are truly engaged at work. Some blame the work environment but truth be told, it is not a company’s responsibility to make you happy.

Without a passion for what you are doing, you will never enjoy the job.

It is the best case for everyone. More engaged workers are more productive in addition to feeling like they serve a purpose.

Do your due diligence

So before finding yourself in an interview where you have to take an awkward pause before answering this question, the best thing is to do some research. It all starts with the job search.

When looking for a job it is easy to get caught up in high profile company names and perks.

For instance, although “Social Media Coordinator” may not be your thing, the position is open at the cool advertising agency downtown. Or perhaps the company offers flexible hours and free lunch Fridays. The problem is that these perks aren’t worth it in the long run. Working for a cool company can be exciting at first, but it is not sustainable without passion for the position.

It’s important to pay attention to is the position you are applying for.

Is this work that you are passionate about? Take a look at the job responsibilities and functions. Besides figuring out if those are things that you can do, ask yourself if they are things that you want to do. Is this an opportunity that will match your strengths and give you purpose?

Let your passion protrude

With all things considered, when asked “what makes you happy” at the next interview, you will be able to answer honestly. Your passion will be apparent without having to put on an act.

Even if they don’t ask that question, there is no downside to knowing what makes you happy.

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