ABoR making a slight but powerful tweak
After a one year deliberation, the Austin Board of Realtors (ABoR) will be adopting a measure that changes how listings are syndicated, terminating its agreement with listings syndication provider ListHub as of April 30, 2014 and “intends to cease syndicating members’ listings to non-REALTOR® consumer websites at that time.” Broker members will still be able to upload listings directly to ListHub through their ListHub account.
In a statement, ABoR said, “This decision was made to protect the integrity of Austin-area property information, address concerns about the business practices of non-REALTOR® consumer websites and to mitigate issues caused by inaccurate listing data in the home buying and selling process.”
The current process will change
Currently, when an agent uploads a listing, they see the following:
While each option has a grey question mark, offering more information on each option an agent has when uploading, some members told us they just assumed that all options were in the best interest of their clients and of their data, taking it as a type of endorsement by ABoR.
Sources tell us that behind the scenes, ABoR says they are not making a statement for or against syndication, rather putting the specific decisions into the hands of brokers who, through ListHub, have more granular control. The option to syndicate directly to Realtor.com will remain in tact, according to a member of the committee that ultimately made this decision.
Unique approach to protecting data accuracy
Cathy Coneway, President of ABoR, explained: “Unlike REALTOR® organizations, third-party websites that receive syndicated data are not regulated to provide reliable property information or to protect consumers through the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. This lack of regulation has resulted in outdated, inaccurate property information being displayed online that disappoints homebuyers and frustrates sellers.”
Although Zillow and Trulia have adjusted their strategy to address data accuracy, smaller real estate search sites have largely ignored the issue. Additionally, ownership issues have surfaced in recent years, as some real estate sites take ownership of listing photos. For example, when a listing is syndicated to them, through ListHub or otherwise, their terms of service sometimes allow them to keep images listed on the site long after a home has sold.
The tired argument against real estate search companies using an agent’s listing data to sell leads back to them is not at play with this decision in Austin, rather an attempt to put the decision to syndicate into the agents’ hands, particularly important when agents are concerned with display rules being followed (like the rule that days on market cannot be shown, or third party comments, and automatic home valuations.) While agents must follow IDX display rules, syndication sites do not, so are free to display any information they choose, regardless of whether or not an agent or seller wants that data displayed.
Putting the onus on the agent
Through the ListHub backend, the company actually offers a scorecard on each listing company and gives users detailed filters, allowing them to become more educated on the ecosystem, and only syndicating data to sites that they believe are treating data fairly.
Austin Realtor, Les Sherman tells AGBeat he supports moves of this nature, noting that it is “the responsibility of the agent” to oversee where their client’s data goes, and giving better controls up front curbs the traditional calls from buyers on listings that sold months or even years ago that leave them dejected and disillusioned with the industry.
“The onus is on the agent, not Zillow or Trulia,” Sherman added, asserting that ABoR’s measure could lead to more agents paying attention to the data, a positive outcome of this change.
Others will likely follow suit
ABoR is regarded by many as a leader in the industry and this could very well lead to additional Boards considering their own syndication strategy and what role they play (or do not play), but the true end result of this will be a national discussion on the topic.
The announcement was delayed, with one source telling us some members involved were nervous about how this move would be perceived, but the many people we spoke with indicated they supported the move, and it is going over very well in the Austin market so far, but members have the next several months to contact the Board to air their concerns or ask questions.
In September 2010, Move, Inc. (operator of Realtor.com, Top Producer, and dozens of other websites) acquired property syndication tool ListHub for $13 million in an effort to give brokers more control over their listings through transparency, pushing listings out to third party real estate search sites. In April 2011, Zillow was brought into the fold and later Trulia.
In January of 2012, ListHub launched the “Real Estate Network” designed to allow MLSs and brokers to syndicate to franchisors and large broker networks, an unparalleled move in the syndication world. Months later, the company added detailed filters for brokers, helping brokers to understand the rules of each listing site, helping them to make better decisions, and in July 2012, they adopted the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) Syndication Standard.
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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