Realtor.com goes global
In the last 90 days, roughly 2.6 million international visitors searched for U.S. real estate on Realtor.com with the highest concentrations in Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia and India. Janet Branton, Senior Vice President of Global Business and Alliances at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says that most NAR members are unaware of the large number of visitors to Realtor.com from other countries, and the NAR 2011 Profile of International Home Buying Activity says that international buyers spent $82 billion on American real estate last year, split evenly between non-resident foreigners and recent immigrants.
For these reasons, Realtor.com/International has launched to serve the global real estate search needs, starting with Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Spain. Announced a year ago, the site is finally live and being promoted by NAR as well as Realtor.com.
Features and design
The look of the website is quite different from Realtor.com, especially with regards to the chosen colors. Realtor.com told AGBeat that the departure from Realtor.com is on purpose so that visitors do not confuse the sites because U.S. listings are found on both sites. The new site is built using HTML5 which is a coding language that makes a site compatible across devices and browsers so it will work equally well on an a brand new iPad as an old PC using Internet Explorer.
The first iteration of the site is very streamlined and simple and has several unique features. When a user tells the site what country they want to search and indicates which of the 20 currencies and 11 languages they want, it follows them throughout the site and remembers their preferences in between visits so that they don’t have to start from scratch. Once they’ve set these preferences, search shows U.S. dollars and underneath reveals the amount in the currency the user has indicated which is converted automatically based on current conversion rates. The site uses predictive text alongside drop down menus and they have reduced the number of clicks so that users can quickly access listings.
Where the listings come from
Errol Samuelson, President of Realtor.com told AGBeat that there are three primary sources of data syndicating to the international site. First is through NAR bi-lateral partners in countries abroad, each of which have signed separate operating and licensing agreements with Realtor.com. Second is local brokers (frequently partners of U.S. franchises) and lastly, data also comes from international portals.
NAR & Realtor.com weigh in
“Increasingly, more and more Realtors are working with international clients who want to buy property in the U.S. and the new Realtor.com International web site will not only allow Realtors to offer their expertise and knowledge to a broader audience, but will also bring buyers and sellers together across the globe,” said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty. “Foreign buyers understand the value of owning a home in the U.S. and can rely on a Realtor because of their global perspective and understanding of different cultures and real estate practices. This collaboration with Move is just one of many ways Realtors can expand and grow their business globally.”
“The U.S. continues to be a top destination for international buyers from all over the world, and Realtor.com remains a natural choice for international buyers because we offer the largest, freshest and most accurate collection of property listings available online,” Samuelson said in a statement. “In recent years, foreign buyers have increasingly become interested in owning real estate in the United States. Like millions of U.S. consumers, they trust the Realtor.com brand to help them connect with Realtors and find the property that’s right for their needs. Opening up the world of real estate on Realtor.com to include an international search experience is a natural evolution of our offerings at Move. We’re very excited to help hundreds of thousands of Realtors grow their businesses beyond U.S. borders as they connect with international buyers.”
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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