NAR Takes Back Its Position
The National Association of Realtors’ new consumer engine is one of the most well thought out concepts in recent or distant memory. HouseLogic seeks to be a Resource not found elsewhere on the web, helping consumers improve and maintain the value of their home, providing resources and cost savings in the process- the “Mint.com for homeowners”, says Jim Duncan.
Partnered with notable names such as the Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, and This Old House, HouseLogic is already populated with articles and resources for consumers to learn and to maintain their investments, as well as set goals, and it has a points and badge rewards section to give weekend warriors a pat on the back, thus marking cost savings and achievement, all sharable on Facebook.
What was clever of the Association was to seek out the designers of mega sites like Target and IKEA, to overcome possible criticism of the user experience, as well as more than ten consumer focus groups on the type of materials that would be most helpful to them. They also sought the opinions of Realtors throughout the process, making it clear in the initial presentation that thousands of consumers and thousands of Realtors were asked their opinions so that the Association could deliver a product with broad appeal.
The Association of Realtors also seeks to be the Library of Congress to both home buyers and sellers with all of the resources imaginable on the subject in an attempt to be “all you need to know to be a smart home buyer and seller.”
The Association also put a lot of research into the Realtor side of the equation, noting that all of the information on the site is “select and sharable” through Microsoft Word, Widgets, Email, thus saving the average Realtor $400.00 a year in the purchase of canned consumer content.
Sounds great, right? There’s more!
We’ve (Agent Genius) been saying for a very long time that the Association needs to get more consumer focused, as have many others within the online space. What makes this most interesting is that in the past, real estate professionals have been reminded time and again that the Association is member centric, and finally that is no longer the case. The Association’s goal is to bridge Realtors with consumers in an attempt to maintain the brand relationship with consumers they’ve enjoyed for over 100 years.
Interestingly enough, there is no doubt in my mind that the Association truly sees an opportunity in meeting the consumer head on because the truth is that with this new engine, the Association can now convert what was 1.1 million members into that plus 10 million consumers to bear on Washington initiatives and projects aimed at furthering the dream of home ownership. The website is equipped to teach you and your consumer how to build grass roots efforts locally as well as equip them with the tools and know-how to lobby congress along side the National Association of Realtors in the name of advocacy.
The website is equipped with mechanisms to build not only membership for consumers, but also collect valuable data points on consumers just like any big media company, and without a doubt, it is a media company with a political arm, and it is clear and transparent about the effort in being a partner with consumers.
The strategy, and position is straight out of the movies, but real enough to take on Wall Street, make no mistake about it. Its initial beta release to the public is November 12, 2009, and the hard launch is set for sometime in February.
Where I think the Association is tied down is to the reality that on paper and point and click, this project has all of the hallmarks of a successful brand, but plagued by antiquated practitioners that do not operate anywhere near the level of its online face, because at the end of the day, the transaction happens on the ground in real time, and in real life.
And then there’s the past
Which brings me to the Realtor’s Property Resouce, also known as the RPR . Can the National Association rise above it’s image of a monopoly? James Hagerty, blogging for the Wall Street Journal points out the stigma the brand has in his recent article “Realtors, Wary of Zillow, Build Their Own Data Tool” in reference to the RPR and HouseLogic, noting:
Realtors are fighting back against the idea that consumers might be able to use the Internet to bypass them.
And he’s right. The National Association of Realtors brought a tank to a knife fight because interest in the RPR is high from heads of Fannie, Freddie and others who have noted that a tool of RPR’s nature would have been useful not only to them, but to consumers in the run up to the housing crisis, putting competitors on notice that the Realtor brand has been here for years, and has no intention of backing down. The Second Century initiative as it’s called plants that flag…
But then there are those pesky consumers:
Real estate agents have less and less to offer with each passing year. They need to find a business model that will let them be profitable on a 1-2% commission basis.
NAR is so incompetent that if I ran Zillow, I would be laughing.
The world will be a better place when they’re all gone. Their entire “profession” is built on nothing. They make 6-7% to take pictures and show people houses. Why is the mortgage industry under such regulation now for the 1-2% they make on a transaction but nobody is questioning the 6-7% realtors make?
I cannot find any realtor with ANY value to add beyond what I can readily do better myself. Listing realtors don’t sell apparently – buyers agents do (what a crock). When asked what justifies the $10,000+ commission I hear pricing advise (not for me but to expedite their commission) and help with paperwork (especially their exclusive listing ball and chain) except that they point out they are not lawyers – so you’ll need one anyway!
The Association has a lot more work to do, but I think they have a credible plan. The ‘Realtors Valuation Model’ as it’s called will absolutely compete in the online space against reportedly failed AVMs that force valuations that are off by 20 to 30% to reside on consumer property websites, often competing with the seller asking price, and in others, propping up the sellers asking price. This pricing inconsistency provides the perfect gap (or seam) for the Association to play, and why not?
Questions we predict will be raised in the coming days:
- What is RPR and HouseLogic costing the NAR? What is the total investment in each project?
- How will revenue from media placement be distributed?
- What is the timeframe for HouseLogic to be sold to a third party or are there guarantees HouseLogic will remain in the control of the Association?
- What is the strategy to bring Realtors up to the level of its online brand?
- What are the short term and long term strategies for overcoming consumer perception?
If you haven’t seen HouseLogic.com yet and would like access, the beta code is 57dearborn.
AgentGenius.com is not affiliated in any way with HouseLogic.com or the National Association of Realtors, nor has AG been approached to review HouseLogic, nor was AG invited to last week’s HouseLogic webinar put on by NAR and although we knew five days in advance of the launch, we have respected the wishes of the embargo.