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Redfin calls for transparency in real estate industry but not for themselves – story updated

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Regarding his statement to GeekWire, he notes that “Obviously that statement accounts for the fact that we had considered ad campaigns, but reflected my view then that advertising wasn’t part of our strategy. I have been opposed for a long time to spending money on advertising rather than customer service. Because of the refund and the cost of our service, our margins are modest, which leaves us very little money to spend on marketing. I may be wrong, but I think this will always be true. I was sincerely sincere when I made the statement.”

Kelman said, “Now when I was talking more recently to ActiveRain, I was mindful of our AdWords experiment, which obviously can’t and shouldn’t be conducted in secret. An advertisement is the opposite of a secret, so there is no intent to deceive. The goal of the experiment isn’t, incidentally, to buy general-purpose traffic but to bring customers directly to a section of the website that immediately introduces them to a Redfin agent. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. Right now, it still isn’t cost-effective, but I hope in the future we find a way to make it so.”

If we have to pay for introductions to all or most of our customers, our industry will suffer. Spencer disagrees with that, but that is how I feel. When I spoke to agents on ActiveRain extemporaneously, I tried to emphasize that most or virtually all of our customers would come to us via unpaid channels, but I may have made more extreme statements than I should have – I am actually trying to find a transcript or video — and at some point I’ll write a blog post if that helps to clarify our position. You can call that stupid, but it’s not unethical.”

Kelman said, “if Zillow or Trulia perform better than Google, we will try advertising on those sites too. I don’t harbor a grudge against them; we just don’t have much money to give them. Maybe ads will work this time ‘round, maybe not. I hope they do, or we wouldn’t even try. But that doesn’t change the point we were making on the ActiveRain call, which is this:

Redfin and other brokerages have to generate the overwhelming majority of our business via our own website or our current business models won’t work. It is a threat to all of our businesses that in some cases MLS rules are more restrictive than the data-sharing agreements brokers have with media sites, because it limits brokers’ ability to communicate directly with the customers we want to meet. We as brokers have to think about the future, and we have to own the future.

All brokers, not just Redfin, have to compete aggressively on the web, not by blogging about one another, but by giving consumers the information they want, in a more reliable and responsible way than anyone else can. We can ask for access to the same information that media sites have, and say that we want to prosper as much as we can without paying those sites, and still have no malice toward these sites.

We haven’t flip-flopped on this position.”

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. niki.scevak

    November 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    It's worth noting that if they bid on the term 'Seattle Homes' and had it broad matched then their ad would be shown on 'Seattle Dream Homes'.

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Austin

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?

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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.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

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.

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aging housing inventory

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.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

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.

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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

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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