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Who In Hell Do You Think You Are?

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wolf-in-sheeps-clothing.jpg

Blah blah blah B.S. about aggregators. Transparency, schmasparency. You’ve revolutionized nothing. You are a designer store with no product- that’s what you are. Search is not a product- that’s why you can’t sell it. Consumers aren’t buying it. In fact, you provide so little value, you’re ticking them off.

At best, you are a software designer trying to pimp what you do not own.

So you built a clothing store? A designer of fine clothing you are not- your store shelves are bare. The answer? Pawn off your spin on how Levi’s won’t give you access to their exclusive designers, materials, research, and trade data as the reason for the barren shelves in your failed store.

Your lack of product is no one’s fault but your own. Your oversight and wish is that you had the product the MLS has- data, LISTINGS! You want data? Get it from the store that owns the data- or (here’s a novel idea) get your own product. Prove yourself as the revolutionary you claim to be, or die as what you are- a software pimp trying to make money off of ads, and off the backs of the Realtors you badmouth.

Want us to be transparent? Then show us your numbers. Show us what you’re making per click on ads. What are you getting paid on banner clicks? Show us your wallet, or shut up. While you’re at it, be sure you let the consumer in on trade agreements you’re making with other aggregators. I’ve had about enough of this lopsided conversation. How about you put your money where your mouth is and go non-profit, otherwise transparent public interest- my ass, you have no concern for the public’s interest.

You’ve yet to sell yourself as an alternative, so instead you’ll beat up on those that actually have product- Realtors. You’re preying off of the backs of years of exclusive listing agreement data. How in world do you make the case that the data belongs to the public when it is the product of the MLS? You can’t. Why? Because, it is the equivalent of you shopping my pantry to sell my groceries in your designer store, all while bad mouthing me, and selling them back to me… Groceries you did nothing to acquire- I did.

I’ve about had it, but I’ll offer you a piece of advice- get your hands out of my warehouse and design a product. My advice for local boards- lock your pantries and you’ll find some great new search software on sale at hella discount prices.

I’ll tell you who you really are in case you missed it- you’re a business with no product, and the fault is all your own. I’m all for competing, but beating up on the better player with the talent is what it is- a sore loser. If you are nothing else, you’re better than that.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Brian Brady

    March 4, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    This is one helluva vendor bash/rant. I’m proud of you.

  2. Brian Brady

    March 4, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Now that you’ve got the eyeballs (oh…they’re coming), be prepared to moderate a good discussion.

  3. Teresa Boardman

    March 4, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Not sure who you ar aiming at but if it is the non real estate web sites like Trulia and Zillow that make money off of our listings and our conversations they should be here shortly to leave a comment. They will tell you what a great service they do consumers and how generous they are. I thought they were non profits here to help us all. LOL

  4. Candy Lynn

    March 4, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Benn:
    ok now tell us what you really think!

    Actually great perspective on issues. As an old retailer – no product – no store makes sense.

    As a REALTOR(R) we own the listing but not the actual product that changes hands- the real property. The difference is the bilateral listing contract between the seller & the listing broker. As party to a bilateral contract we own the listing.

    All this makes sense in the old web 1.0 but what about the new web 2.0? How do we as REALTORS (btw – I HATE THE USE OF CAPS FOR realtor) keep pace in web 2.0?

  5. Rob Aubrey

    March 4, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    yeah what he said

  6. Ines

    March 4, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    What I can’t understand is why they talk trash about us if we are the ones that provide their content – we provide the merchandise they need to survive. I say let’s cut them off!

  7. Erion Shehaj

    March 4, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Benn

    What a rant!

    Pardon my being slow, but can you tell us what company you are referring to so we know who to hate? And what do you mean by “badmouthing realtors” … Can you provide a link?

  8. Rob Aubrey

    March 4, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    #8 There are a handful that the shoe fits, don’t be prejudice.

  9. Brad Nix

    March 4, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Solid rant on real issues about Zillow, Trulia, Roost, et al. I say you have to throw Realtor.com into the mix as well. If NAR really wanted to help it’s membership, shouldn’t it roll out a higher level basic service to equal these search alternatives before upcharging us to death? I think the generic rant fits as there are so many companies and associations this could pertain to it would be unfair to single just one out.

  10. Ryan Hukill

    March 5, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Benn, all I can say is ‘BRAVO, my friend, BRAVO!’

  11. Greg Cremia

    March 5, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Sounds like somebody got a rude phone call from a telemarketer selling leads.

    One thing the web has shown is that consumers typically are not looking for agents. They are looking for real estate and they want it now. They don’t want to fill out a form and wait to be contacted.

    Lead generators provide agents. This is not what consumers are looking for. Without listings their value will continue to diminish in the consumer’s eyes.

  12. Rick Grant

    March 5, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Passion. That’s a good thing.

    Part of the problem is that this is a really confusing issue to consumers. I know it shouldn’t be, but the truth is they think that either real estate agents own the listings, aggregating websites own them or that they are just public record data. Real estate brokers own real estate listings and agents are the workers that basically do what these websites you’re bashing do, wave the listings under a prospect’s nose and hope for a piece of the action. Sure some agents are great, but the vast majority are pretty awful.

    Brokers have been wrestling with this issue for many years, both with their own boards, the NAR and other online information providers. The feature I just finished for Mortgage Banking Magazine talks about Bank on Real Estate, yet another information provider that is working with RE Brokers to put their listings on bank websites. Prepare for more ranting. But as the CEO of one of the nation’s largest brokerages told me for the story, a database that isn’t used is worthless. That data will be leveraged. It’s a fact of life.

    If you’re a broker and you don’t want anyone using your listings, don’t allow it. If you’re an agent and you’re angry that someone else is out there getting paid on information your broker is also making available to you, fight back. Power up your website. Write a blog. Do some marketing. Be one of the great agents and leave the competition to the Devil. I guarantee you it will do more for your business than writing this post has done for mine. 🙂

    Good luck out there.

  13. Trevor Smith

    March 5, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    I think it may be unfair to direct your hate in such general manner…. It’s like taking a shotgun to all of Real Estate 2.0.

    Directing your hate more precisely would probably carry more weight, substance, and meaning.

  14. Benn Rosales

    March 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Yeah, generalizing is a bitch, and so is disruption used to steal product. Everything I’ve said is truth, if the shoe fits, wear it with caution.

  15. Matt Scoggins

    March 5, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    One of the best posts I’ve read in a while! Great job, Benn.

  16. Teresa Boardman

    March 5, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Benn, I just have to ask, it has been bothering me ever since I saw this post. Did you draw the picture yourself or was it done by a pro?

  17. Benn Rosales

    March 6, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Teresa, a child prodigy drew this work of art…

  18. Sue

    July 4, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Benn, I admire your candor. I agree that realtor.com should be thrown in there. They are way out of line with their prices and where would be be without our listings…

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Housing News

Avoid Blah-Blah Conversation With This Voicemail Cloaking Device

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Please Dear Lord, Don’t Let Them Pick Up, So I Can Leave A Voice Mail and Make A Quick Get Away.

You know those times when you have to return a phone call, share an update, remind someone about something?  And those times where there’s no getting around it, you have to make the call and deliver your message, but you’re short on time, patience, courage, or ___________?

Guess What? I Have Good News For You.

There’s an App. for that, and it’s called SlyDial.  At the Inman Reboot event in HoustonChris with TechSavvyAgent dropped this cloaking device on us.  Basically, SlyDial is a clever smart phone tool.

SlyDial allows you to make a call from your cell phone to their cell phone, but their cell phone won’t ring. Instead of their phone ringing, SlyDial lets you dial directly into their voice mail, and leave a message. Yeah, that’s right, call directly into their voice mail, and their phone doesn’t ring. Check it out, it probably works on your smart phone.

You can get more details and info here.  The App. is free and straight forward.  It looks like the picture below when it’s launched on the iPhone4.

It’s that simple.  Good luck with it.  I was wondering in which situations you’d use something like this?

Thanks for reading.  Cheers.

Photo Credit

PS.  fyi, I don’t work for, nor am I in any way associated with, employed by, or even know anyone at SlyDial.  In other words, there’s nothing in for me by saying nice things about SlyDial, except the pleasure of telling you about a tool you might find handy.

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Product Review

New Realtor.com iPhone App

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Realtor.com launched their new iPhone application and gave a few of us the chance to play with it and tear it to pieces before the launch (maybe they didn’t quite put it that way, but it’s the way I’m approaching it).

When I first open these new apps, I always think of the intent and this one is pretty obvious.  The Realtor.com iphone app iss totally and completely designed with the end consumer in mind (sorry Realtors if you thought it could be about you).  It’s about providing the latest property information in the quickest, easiest and most user friendly fashion possible.

When you open the app, a home screen gives you several options, including searching for nearby homes for sale, nearby open houses or perform a new search by location or MLS ID.  You can allow for the app to use your current location and it actually gives you nearby listings currently for sale (also giving you the option to narrow down your criteria).  This can be really cool if you are driving in a neighborhood and just want to get property information without having to even get out of the car or make a phone call.  (Bad for agents that rely on the client to actually make that call to capture their business).

Realtor.com iphone app screen shot

You can view a map option or a list option of properties and are able to actually click on any given one and get detailed information, not only on the property, but also the listing agent and the brokerage (very similar to what you see on Realtor.com).  You can scroll through photos of the listing and turn the phone to get bigger photos and you can save the property and include notes to go with it.

Realtor.com iPhone app screenshot

What’s even more fascinating is the option to contact the listing agent on the spot.  You can call them by clicking on their telephone number, you can email them,  visit their site and add them to your contacts.  (I know I’m an over achiever, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could tweet or facebook them as well?).

Realtor.com iphone application
My favorite feature is the “drive around and use your location” to find listings – but you can also enter an address for a particular listing and/or its surrounding competitors and even enter the MLS number.

Great move on Realtor.com to empower the consumer.  Personally, an educated consumer is the best one in my book, but here’s the beef many will have…You can now say “Buh Bye” to Buyers’ Agents, with this app, listing agents will have the upper hand – this will give quick and easy information to the local consumer (not the end for those buyers agents that work with absentee and relocating clients).

Problem?

I can now see me getting bombarded by calls from people who “forget” to tell me they are working with another agent and just wanted quick info.  I can also see my clients calling other agents just because their information was handy.  We’ll just have to see how this extra communication tool will evolve….it could be detrimental for many.

The question of who does Realtor.com work for will inevitably come up.  Many will criticize this as a tool of disintermediation, but if we are smart, we will not only know how to use this information in our favor, but we will welcome it with open arms.  I do wonder if it could be possible to personalize this particular iphone app for a fee so that Realtors can offer it to their clients (of course I would try to come up with a win-win for everyone).

For now it’s time for everyone to make sure their contact information is correct on their listings, and especially Realtor.com.  Listing agents will have the ability to answer inquiries on the spot, staying above the competition with customer service always at the top of the priority list.

And for the record, I’m not associated with Realtor.com, so feel free to kill it if you have the itch.

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Product Review

Desktop Analytics – Polaris

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Keeping Track

polaris2 I’m a big fan of keeping a pulse on the health of my blogs and sites.  Polaris has released a desktop application that allows you to keep track of your Google Analytics, on your desktop. 

The free version only allows monitoring from one account, while the $15/year version will allow multiple accounts.

The system features are very easy to setup and it works on the AIR installation system, which most of us already have with the Twitter apps.  It was quick to download and install. 

 

Polaris shows total visits, pageviews, activities by date, visits statistics and tons more.  Essentially anything that you would benefit from in Google Analytics, but on the desktop.

newpolaris

The current product is cool, but the company is also advertising some interesting upcoming products.

    • Dopac
      • Dopac is our flagship web analytics solution that brings Google Analytics to your desktop with a host of new features and possibilities. Based on the success and experience of our previously released beta product, the “Google Analytics Reporting Suite”, Dopac takes the original experience to the next level and brings a lot of new concepts to the table.
    • Rayet
      • Rayet is our strange kid on the block. It’s experimental, funky and fun!
        With Rayet we are aiming to make web analytics reporting smarter. Instead of generating a lot of good looking graphs and charts Rayet will cut to the chase and analyze your data for you. Rayet will give you suggestions on how to improve your website experience based on the analytical data available. By comparing different time samples it will tell what works and what doesn’t. Being in very early development there’s currently no release date planned yet.
    • Phobia
      • Phobia is made for one single purpose; impress your boss, client or anyone else you need to suck up to. It gives you data ownership by allowing you to export or synchronize your data in any given format. Anything from smart looking spreadsheets, pretty PDF’s or entertaining presentations is entirely possible! More info on features and release will be up here soon.

       

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