Yesterday, I attended Digital Media Summercamp – A sold-out one day social media conference organized by the Houston Association of Realtors. Among other speakers and panelists, they had invited Jay Thompson, Paul Chaney, Jeff Turner, Rudy Bachraty and fellow genius Ken Brand. For the curious ones, here’s how the event went down on Twitter. In between presentations, the association’s chair and other officials took time to let their members know that when it came to technology we “didn’t know how good we have it” compared to other associations. Not only that, but Jay Thompson mentioned something to that effect in his presentation and our very own Lani confirmed it in a Twitter conversation.
There are some undeniable truths that put HAR at the forefront of most REALTOR™ associations. For starters, the fact that they threw a social media conference in an of itself puts them ahead of the pack. But there are some tools they provide to their members for free or close to it, that solidify their position:
- Light IDX Lead Generation – An external, lightweight IDX search page that members can use to generate leads.
- HAR Member Websites – Template based sites hosted on HAR. Light IDX solution is incorporated.
- HAR Member Blogs – A platform that members can use to start their own blog. Light IDX solution is incorporated.
- Agent Profile Videos – Professionally produced 30-60 seconds spots that members can buy for $99. HAR promotes videos through YouTube.
- Housing Trends Newsletter – A one size fits all stats and trends newsletter that members can point clients to or use in an email campaign.
- Social Media CE Classes – For a minimal fee (usually $20) members can attend 101 type classes on using Twitter, Facebook, Linked In or Blogging for real estate.
- Consumer Site – HAR’s pride and joy is the consumer side of the site from which members can generate leads on their listings if consumers schedule a showing or contact the agent.
I listed all their achievements because I wanted to give credit where credit is due. But in stark contrast with all those positives, the association falls short when it comes to the crucial tool they provide their members: The MLS.
The same association that brought you all that forward thinking hits in the previous paragraph, has brought us the Gigli of MLS providers – Tempo. What’s wrong with it? If we start with what’s right, we’ll finish sooner. Here’s some of my beef:
Kludgy mummified interface – When consumers have a better, more functional interface than member agents, something ain’t right
Photo and Character Limitations – Good agents take a lot of time perfecting their photography skills and spend a lot of money on equipment all in the interest of taking great listing photos, only to be reduced to pixelated mush from HARMLS photo compression. Moreover, why allow just 16 photos and 500 character descriptions and not more?
Browser Incompatible – Tempo works on in IE which is the only reason why IE is still installed on my computer. In this day and age, this is inexcusable.
Sucky Reports – Neighborhood stats on TEMPO are less than sorry. You get a one liner with the total number of listings, average list and sold prices and days on market. No running average, no export to Office or Google Docs, no email to client.
Zero Charts – If an agent wanted to generate an activity chart or running median sales price chart on a neighborhood they’re farming to write a post on their member blogs, they’d be out of luck. No such thing anywhere with Tempo.
But all the techie issues with the software don’t bother me as much as this. Four or five months ago, the HAR MLS commitee had a meeting to discuss whether or not to continue with TEMPO for another three years. There wasn’t an announcement or an email to members. I’m sure is listed somewhere deep in the captivating HAR Committee schedules and someone will surely tell me I need to get involved more. But my point is, shouldn’t members get a say on the selection of the software that can make the difference between thriving success and sameoldology? I’m willing to bet most HAR members think TEMPO is MLS and are not aware of any other choices. That’s the way it’s always been done and why change it.
Better or Great?
In part, the purpose of this post was to show other associations and their members what is possible. And in that context, HAR is an example of how it can be done better. But the real question is should we revel in “how good we have it” or strive for great, instead?
What say you?
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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