News on the Zillow front
A Zillow feature that has been several years in the workings launched today as they announce the addition of lease listings to their site. David Gibbons, Customer Relations Specialist said that “the origin of the rentals idea pre-dates our launch in ’06.” According to a third party polling company, Harris Interactive, 25% of consumers will look for both sales and leases in next three years (nearly 2500 people were questioned).
Lease listings will appear in search right alongside homes for sale which is an interesting move and one agents may not hail but information thirsty consumers might. Jim Duncan said, “one aspect that I think is missing the mark is the inability to list a home as both for sale and for rent. In this market with the prevalence of so many homes being listed for sale and for rent, I think that they would be well served to offer this an an option.”
This is going to be a red flag sticking point for several real estate professionals. Gibbons said it was a challenge “to figure out how to present the search results and how to really present the map search in the rent versus buy equation.
The solution to the quandry
Because it was a challenge to map out lease and sales listings simultaneously, Zillow came up with the idea that alter search to be done by monthly rental payment if a consumer so wishes. Lease listings pop up on a search map for a designated area in purple (see the map in the image above) while sale listings pop up in red. Monthly payments for homes for sale is estimated on a 30 year mortgage with 20% down and the current rate pulled from Zillow’s Mortgage Marketplace which is updated hourly.
This doesn’t solve the problem of homes that are both for sale and for lease, but I believe it’s a start and Zillow (because it’s a media company and not a real estate brokerage) usually at a minimum listens to input from agents which they will surely be flooded with come the time everyone reads this news.
The new lease listings will be supported by “advice columns” according to Drew Meyers, Business Development Specialist at Zillow, which will consist of six or seven categories. Will this trump “Trulia’s Voices” and be the go to location for renters to get advice from professionals? I think there’s a good chance. Renters are taken advantage of frequently or simply get confused and have a large array of places to land but Zillow may quietly be looking to get their foot into this door.
Gibbons indicated that feeds will be important most immediately and when asked about presenting lease zestimates which I think would be a terrible mistake that would punish small time landlords. Gibbons said that they are “not launching with rental zestimates, as we don’t have database of rental history unlike public records of sold homes. There needs to build more of a database before estimating but it’s definitely something we’d love to do.” Oh, no.
Kris Berg said, “the one thing that causes me a little indigestion is the possibility that over time and given a reasonable arsenal of historical rental activity data, Zestimates may ooze forth to contaminate the rental space as well. I know firsthand how much real estate agents dig Zestimates; I suspect landlords will be just as giddy with the Zillow pricing assist when they are attempting to rent their properties for fair market value. As an agent, I deal, but then I am not paying $10 a pop for the exposure. Those paying customers who list rentals may not be so forgiving.”
Gibbons said, “Zillow always planned to differentiate itself as “the database of ALL homes.” As such, knowing which homes were for rent were part of the plan all along but as a startup with constrained resources in a volatile, sequencing these things is important.”
“Database of ALL homes” sounds like a move toward being a one stop shop, including lease zestimates but excluding the option to list a home for sale and for lease and it only costs $9.95 per uploaded listing.
To learn the details of the other half of Zillow’s news release, click here.
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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