Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Won’t Someone Think of the Consumer?



I attended the Inman Connect Conference in New York City last week and spoke at a workshop. The picture above is from a session called: “Online Real Estate as Media Enterprise“. The panel was moderated by Brad Inman, and the panelists in the picture, from Left to right are: Thomas Evans President and CEO, Bankrate Inc., Pete Flint Co-Founder Trulia, Lloyd Frink, President Zillow, Vikkie Neil, VP Real Estate Scripps Networks Interactive. (HGTV’s Front

After a Panel discussion they always open it up for questions from the audience. Not sure why, but only two questions were asked of this panel and one of them was asked by me. Part of the discussion was about property listings on the internet. Zillow, Trulia and HGTV are doing everything that they can to collect property listings, but they each have only a small percentage of the available listings on their web sites.

I am not the CEO or the owner of a big media, or internet company. I am the CEO of a small business, but I have direct contact with consumers and actually sell real estate. My question to the panel was: “Aren’t we doing consumers a disservice by only having a small percentage of the available homes listed on sites like yours?”

No one could give me an answer, so I will answer it for the panel. Yes we are doing consumers a disservice. We are confusing them, and they may even be missing opportunities by looking at the wrong web sites as they search for homes. They go to a site like Zillow or Trulia and search for properties using all of that nifty wiz bang technology but they are only seeing a very small percentage of the available listings. The real estate industry has all of the listings but uses marginal web sites and technology to deploy them, which is why the media companies web sites have gained traction in the first place. Now consumers have a choice they can look at some of the listings on cutting edge sites or go to marginal hard to navigate, poorly designed sites and get all of the listings.

Here in the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota we have plenty of homes on the market to choose from. When consumers come to my web site, they can search all of the available listings . . . well they can’t find all of the for sale by owner listings, but the vast majority of the available homes are listed on the MLS and available through my site. What is the value of having some of the listings on Zillow or Trulia? Are we doing the consumer a disservice? I will answer yes to that, because I deal directly with consumers every day, and they are confused.

Home shoppers ask a lot of questions and many are confused by the number of web sites where they can search for homes. . . . online real estate as media enterprise? To some companies real estate listings are an enterprise. They don’t sell real estate, they are in the media business. I wish they would spend more time talking to people who do sell real estate and who have direct contact with consumers, or more time talking to consumers.

These companies don’t want our listing data so that they can help consumers they want it so they can make money off of it. People like me go out and get the listing and a bunch of companies repackage the information I obtain and use it to make money. The consumer wants all of the accurate information they can get in a pretty, easy to navigate package. Neither the real estate companies or the other cottage industries that have sprung up because of it are giving the consumer what they want.

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.

Continue Reading


  1. Chris Griffith

    January 13, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Thank you for saying it out loud.

  2. Mariana

    January 13, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Teresa- Thank you for putting into words what I have been trying to wrap my mind around for some time now. I do not have an issue with businesses (like Zillow) as far as “competition” is concerned. (Some agents tell me that they think Zillow is trying to replace RE agents. HA HA!)

    But I DO have an issue with businesses tout that they are all about the consumer, when in fact they are all about the Benjamins. Sure – we all need to make $$, but NOT AT THE CONSUMERS EXPENSE.

    I wonder if there is a way that they could pool their resources and make MORE of their information accurate. I am sure it can be done and I ma also sure that that answer is right around the corner …’

    Until then and actually FOREVER, it just remains OUR job to give the Consumers – OUR CLIENTS what they want, regardless of what the cottage industries are doing (or not doing).

  3. Lisa Dunn

    January 13, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Teresa-I hope you realize that math was required to leave a comment here!

    The real estate industry got it right when we figured out broker reciprocity; a very good things for consumers. Give consumers all the listings no matter who is the listing broker. This industry is confusing enough to consumers. Companies that offer half the information (half truths) hurt both the real estate professionals who fight for transparency, as well as the consumer.

    The only ones that win are the companies whose wallets are getting fatter because of the almighty advertising dollar.

  4. Larry Yatkowsky

    January 13, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    to my knowledge the math never gets higher than 20. if the answer is more than 10 it gets tricky as I have to remove my shoes to engage the toes.:)

    to the topic at hand:
    Vis a vis the web the consumer demanded our industry to release RE information. We did. Now as opposed to Realtors being the conduit it has fallen to Truilia et al. Access they got – now they suffer until the arrival of a new all encompassing tech-messiah. Wasn’t much different for us trying to sort out how we were going to share information. It took about 15+ years and still isn’t perfect. I chuckle at the irony of them wanting us to carry the load for their decision. Somehow this too became our problem. The quesitions are why are the consumers not taking a run at the Trulia’s – they are the suppliers of the service. Why have we assumed the position of fixers.

  5. Scott

    January 13, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    >> “The real estate industry has all of the listings but uses marginal web sites and technology to deploy them, which is why the media companies web sites have gained traction in the first place. Now consumers have a choice they can look at some of the listings on cutting edge sites or go to marginal hard to navigate, poorly designed sites and get all of the listings.”

    Teresa — I concur! Do you know of any data available that would help us understand what consumers end up doing? Do they search on slick, national sites with limited listings, or on antiquated local sites with almost all listings? Or perhaps both? I’d love to know how the traffic at some of the largest sites (, for example), compares with the sum traffic to all broker and agent web sites. If anyone knows where I can find this information, please let me know!

  6. Teresa Boardman

    January 14, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Scott – not hard to know how much traffic a site gets, try, not very accurate but will give a clue. I think you helped me make the point too. The consumer is just not in this conversations. As agents we are closer to the consumer so we observe.

    The math here isn’t that bad. I think my math skills are improving. . . nayone know what 5 + 9 is? 😉

  7. Frances Flynn Thorsen

    January 14, 2008 at 11:45 am


    I think that someone on the panel did answer the question, albeit with another question: “Are real estate agents doing consumers a disservice restricting the exposure of their listings?” Additionally, they made the point that they are all actively seeking to grow their property listing inventories.

    Different portals offer different “feels” and different ways to showcase properties and mapping interface. I think it is much about offering a variety of flavors … some consumers gravitate to Trulia for the taste of neighborhood and the RealtyTrac data integration, others flock to Zillow for the taste of Zestimate valuation, and others want to play with wall colors at OBEO.

    Trulia, Zillow, and OBEO have business models that are geared to make money via advertising … and since consumers spend so much time on the Internet, there will be more companies doing the same. In the meantime, they are drawing a solid demographic of consumers who are buying and selling properties, and they are delivering increasing numbers of leads to real estate professionals at NO COST to the realty pros.

    These companies do not profess to be in the real estate business. They are in the media business. I think that the advent of this genre Web player is the best thing to happen in the real estate industry in many years. The tide is changing. I write about some of those changes recently in greater depth based on a session at NAR in Las Vegas.

  8. Scott Rogers

    January 14, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Teresa — I don’t want to know about traffic to one web site, I want to know how traffic to or or compares to the total of all traffic to all broker and agent web sites. Those national sites have the most single-site traffic, but I hypothesize that they may have less than the sum of all broker and agent web sites.

    I agree that we are definitely closer to the consumer, and know what they really want. So . . . we just need to (as agents and brokers) be able to offer great online search experiences to consumers.

    I believe I have done so with my web site (see this, for example, though I welcome any feedback.

  9. Teresa Boardman

    January 14, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Frances Flynn Thorsen – when I talked to them after the panel they admitted that my question was not answered. Yes they are trying to get all the listings and who knows maybe they will suceed. I do have all the listings and the traffic directly to my web site is best for me. I don’t need an outside site to generate leads or traffic.

    Scott, I would guess, that the company web sites combined get more traffic. I am going to see if there is a way to find out. Personally I think the national web sites take traffic from us that would come to us and I don’t have much use for them.

  10. Brad Nix

    January 14, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Amen. I would like to point out some of these statistical short-comings by directing everyone to Kris Berg’s post:

    She does a great job of breaking the quantity of listings available at different real estate search portals. The local agent ‘should’ always win this competition – aren’t we the ones who did the work for the sellers?

  11. Scott Rogers

    January 14, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Teresa – let me know if you find any research on the sum of company sites versus the large national sites. I have contemplated doing some research in my local market (phone survey?) to find out which sites consumers are using to search. If you (or anyone) knows of any such research in other markets, let me know…

  12. ines

    January 15, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I just cringed at the comment added by Frances Flynn Thorsen – “Are real estate agents doing consumers a disservice restricting the exposure of their listings?”… now we’re the ones doing the consumer a disservice? GEESH!

    I always wonder why the consumer thinks they will get more information from bigger sites instead of individual agent sites – could it be that they feel the information in agent sites could be biased?

  13. Marlow Harris

    January 17, 2008 at 3:21 am

    The fact that these websites are inadequate only emphasizes a Buyers need for a professional real estate agent to assist them to negotiate the homebuying process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

Apprenticeships: How focused training can jumpstart your career

(EDITORIAL) Apprenticeships have been a buzzword recently, but if you haven’t looked into it, we asked the experts to tell us all about them.




When President Trump announced he’d be opening up more federal dollars for apprenticeship programs to improve the economy, business owners’ ears perked up. That interest is now trickling down to employees, especially people considering a new career or a pivot.

I had a meaningful conversation last year with the folks behind Digital Creative Institute (an apprenticeship program that seeks to bridge the gap between higher education and job experience in the digital marketing field) not only to learn about their plans to impact the central Texas market, but how apprenticeships could alter the workforce in years to come. Will the model supplant internships? What of coding schools or hell, even higher education? If you ask Europeans, they’ll probably say yes, while Americans are new to this old term.

To dig into how apprenticeships could speed up a career move, we reached back out to the folks at DCI and asked them to spell it out. Alexis Bonilla from their leadership team penned the following:

Maybe you graduated with a B.A. in theater, started a blog, and found a great love for marketing. It could’ve been that you had a passion for video, but instead of finding yourself creating films, you found yourself telling a brand’s story. Or, by some stretch of the imagination, you went from scientist, to teacher, to social media strategist. All of these are real stories that belong to real people. The two things they have in common:

  1. They all started somewhere completely different from where they would end up.
  2. They all used apprenticeships to transform their careers.

The key is to find that one thing you love to do and run after it full force – because the truth is – you’re probably going to spend over 90,000 hours of your life working at it. Only about 30 percent of adults are actually engaged or excited about their work. You can either spend that huge portion of your life doing something out of “because you have to” or learn how you can invest in a career that will keep you on your toes – constantly learning and actively growing.

Digital platforms are always changing, and lifelong learning is becoming absolutely necessary. If you think about it, most Chief Marketing Officers among companies today didn’t start out by being formally trained in automation software, paid search, Google Analytics, or other digital tools. That’s because much of it didn’t exist when they started their careers. They most likely engaged in a very intentional learning process or self-styled apprenticeship. Their willingness to learn turned them into the best in their field, and the same can happen for you.

We’ve identified a few myths that might be holding you back from standing out among your peers and how you can come out on top!

Myth: You can only find a position in the field you majored in.
Truth: Your major doesn’t determine your career path.

Only 27 percent of college grads actually have a job related to what they studied in college. The fact of the matter is this – a lot of people don’t want to continue their learning once they have their Bachelor’s degree. Typically, if they do, they pursue graduate school, whose students often face challenges that are similar to what undergraduate students experience upon graduation.

This whole idea of “once and done” is over, to the extent that leaders in our government are recognizing it and working on implementing new, innovative ways of learning in the United States.

A few ways you might work on reinventing yourself as you establish or change your career:

  • Start freelancing – We know that working for free doesn’t sound great on paper, but the portfolio you’ll come out with is all the ROI you’ll need. When you have a variety of experience, whether it be a branding project you pick up, a video you edit, or a logo you make for a friend, employers recognize that as experience. Just be sure to pick up projects that are relevant to the direction you’re looking to take your career.
  • Perfect your resume.
  • Turn your work into an awesome portfolio – It’s one thing to do the work and another thing to organize it in a way that is visually appealing to an employer. Around 53 percent of employers say that your resume is not enough. You’re going to need that extra differentiator, so invest in crafting the perfect portfolio to have a place for all of that hard work. We recommend Pathbrite for an easy digital portfolio experience.
  • Connect with a learning community – Whether it be early post-grad or a drastic career change, apprenticeships are a perfect way to engage with a community that pushes you and challenges you. And what if we told you apprenticeships can take the place of graduate school?

So you’ve probably been asking yourself: “What is apprenticeship?”

The historical or traditional definition for an apprentice is a person legally bound to a master craftsman in order to learn a trade.

Think professions such as carpenter, electrician or welder. But those were the old days – apprenticeship is now applied to all professions and modern skills.

Apprenticeship has evolved into more of a partnership: where one person learns a trade or skill by working with someone more experienced. Think of an internship, where you’re at a company to accelerate your learning while you’re still in school, but more advanced, long-term, and with deeper levels of commitment. Instead of being at a school, you’re at a full-time paid position, applying your learning hands-on with the support of a learning coach, mentors, and instructors.

Myth: Between my Bachelor’s degree and staying up to date with online articles, I’m already set to advance my career.
Truth: Coaching and mentoring are two of the best investments you can make for your career after professors are out of the picture.

I’m willing to bet that a lot of you have had a coach of some type in your lifetime. Whether it be a sports coach, a choir instructor, an invested teacher, or even a driven parent, you’ve had someone in your circle of trust that pushed you toward your goals. Well, a career coach isn’t much different.

It’s easy to come up with reasons as to why you don’t need one. “I’m too old for a coach”, “it costs time and money that I don’t have”, “I’ve been through college and got all the help I needed”. You can make all of the excuses you can think of, but it’s pretty hard to argue with the results.

What does the development process look like with a career coach?

You define tangible goals, your coach guides you through practical ways to achieve those goals, and after a defined period of time you evaluate your progress. The retention rate is extremely high. Generally, people are extremely happy with what they gain from having a career coach. Fully 96 percent of people who were coached say they would repeat the process and 86 percent said they at least made their investment back.

What’s holding you back from identifying a coach or mentor and reaching out for support?

Myth: Post-college education isn’t necessary to be successful in my career.
Truth: Rigorous self education, graduate school, and innovative learning like digital apprenticeships are essential.

Continued learning and specialized training are valuable to your career. They are so valuable, in fact, that multiple governments are either investing, or beginning to invest, in new, innovative models.

For example, if you’ve been to the UK, you’ll know that apprenticeships are a big deal. A huge percentage of workers develop their skills through an apprentice-like experience. Since 2004, the U.K. has been actively creating more apprenticeships through supporting employers. The huge success of apprenticeship programs led to the creation of a National Apprenticeship Levy that requires almost all employers to offer apprenticeships.

AAA Apprenticeships has successfully scaled their digital apprenticeships to serve 6,000 apprentices in 22 locations across the country – now it’s time to apply that to the U.S.

Why don’t we have a similar model in the U.S.? It’s harder for businesses to start apprenticeships on their own when it isn’t their core competency – but apprenticeship programs are popping up to fill that gap.

The Obama Administration earmarked $100 million to create more examples of modern apprenticeships. The intention is to fuel more success stories through individual programs around the country; creating positive momentum for a larger movement and scaled strategy.

President Trump recently announced a $200 million plan, nearly doubling what was invested last term, to create more apprenticeships.

This is just the beginning of a major movement to make marketplace aligned learning more accessible. But don’t wait for some new national program to support your learning path, start owning your learning today by outlining a strategy to continuously develop yourself into a highly sought after digital expert.

So don’t wait. This is for anyone that finds themselves in a place to pursue a new job or launch their career. Ask yourself, “What’s next?” Take that step – it’s worth it.

If it’s something you’re interested in, the first digital marketing specific apprenticeship in the U.S. has launched – and right here in Austin, TX. Digital Creative Institute’s next Austin cohort launches in January 2018.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Is working less the key to productivity?

(EDITORIAL) It’s that time of year where we obsess about our habits and productivity, but maybe we’re overthinking the whole thing…



productivity minimalism entrepreneurs freelancer-desk-work

The “work smarter, not harder” mantra has for a long time been, in consensus, about a simple truth: the massive amount of work that we have is kicking your productivity in a few ways, for example:

  • Our never ending work load is further exacerbated from technology that removes the boundary of work and home.
  • The addiction of multi-tasking makes us feel good, but for the most part leads to massive inefficiencies because our brains aren’t designed to do that – they just switch rapidly (and clumsily) between different activities. A little primer is here.
  • We have competing roles and priorities – spouses, caretakers, gig economy participants, careers, business owners, realtors, clients, professionals, friends, dog owners, cat servants – that engage us and that give us more and more to do.

And the never ending work spiral leads to a number of troubles – inferior work, emotional breakdowns, inappropriate Netflix procrastination, sleep deprivation, burnout, relationship troubles, and more. Basically – it sucks for your health.

Having too much to do, sadly, for many of us is a fact of life. There are a few ways to help get around it by working less (aka streamline your efforts):

  • Have a to-do list – they are awesome. Put it in a planner, use outlook or Google Calendar, etc.
  • Use a science driven list like an Eisenhower Matrix! What’s that you say? Glad you asked: an Eisenhower matrix pulls from the wisdom of Dwight Eisenhower and encourages you consider what is Urgent (as in what requires urgency, immediate attention), and what is Important (tasks that contribute to our long term). It’s a simple 2*2 Grid. Basically it helps move away from the idea that we conflate urgent with important, and we are basically always in a highly reactive and “shocked mode.” I like this tool because it’s a great way to prioritize – lean more about it from our buddies at Trello.
  • Engage delegation and love it. Can you pass it on to someone else? Can you use it as an educational or teaching tool? Does it have to be your mess?
  • Eliminate things that don’t bring value – in one of my favorite books “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life,” Mark Manson puts it brilliantly: What problems do you want to have? What things can we get rid of? We do things out of obligation or a feeling of “I must” that doesn’t correspond to reality.
  • Embrace automation. Whether it’s auto-bill pay or automatic deletion or automatic lists, if you can automate it and it gets the quality you want – engage it. If you use social media a lot – can you schedule your posts? Can you automatically reblog content? Or go crazy, get a Roomba.
  • Practice self-care, dude. Eat better. Go workout. Walk in the middle of the day. Get on your workplace wellness plan. Sleep. Repeat healthy behaviors.

In general, the assertion that we do too much is very true.

Most of that comes from the overwhelming sense of “now” that we experience. Take a breath and explore what you can do to either eliminate, delegate, or prioritize effectively so you can spend more time doing what’s important, and maybe eventually, we can marathon TV shows guilt free more often.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

If Reddit goes IPO, will it have to shed its soul?

(EDITORIAL) Reddit is known as a firebrand, a bastion of free speech, but if they go public, will they be able to remain as they are now?




Reddit, the eighth-most popular website on the Internet, is reportedly considering an IPO. As a site valued at over 1.8 billion dollars, this is great news for the company itself – but how much of Reddit will remain if the IPO goes through?

Reddit’s history is steeped in controversy, from minor incidents such as invasion of privacy and a few creepily quirky community members to allegations of child pornography and egregious hate speech. While Reddit’s policy has allowed it to tighten posting restrictions regarding the latter two, the fact remains that Reddit – for all its usefulness – is viewed by many as a ticking time bomb.

An IPO would certainly lend back to Reddit a degree of credibility not seen since its inception, but the problem is that Reddit itself (the haven of free speech and original content that made it so popular in the first place) might not survive the offering. Given the platform’s controversial past, many believe it likely that stakeholders would move to tighten further the restrictions on the platform, ultimately ending a significant era in Reddit’s history.

Admittedly, Reddit has come a long way since its early days of supporting user-created content regardless of persuasion: this past year saw entire subreddits shut down for violating the terms of use regarding hate speech, and the platform certainly has cracked down on illegal and abusive content. Unfortunately, the history might be too much to shake off going forward, which is why we think that Reddit’s branding won’t be a part of the final IPO.

The platform’s developers’ dedication to free speech and truth-seeking is what makes Reddit so fantastic, and that’s not liable to change – it’s the most marketable aspect of the site, after all – but perhaps the rationale behind going public lies in a sense of duty rather than routine. 2017 has seen some of the most reprehensible instances of false reporting and deliberate misguidance in recent history; maybe Reddit’s team feels that they can provide a stable news platform at the cost of some personality.

At any rate, the IPO itself isn’t set in stone, and is unlikely to take place for quite some time. As the situation develops, it will be interesting to see if Reddit embraces its past, or sheds it altogether.

Continue Reading

American Genius
News neatly in your inbox

Join thousands of AG fans and SUBSCRIBE to get business and tech news updates, breaking stories, and MORE!

Emerging Stories