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The Flip Side of the Inaccurate Search Results Debate- Good News?

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stewieOh how they cry

From the day aggregation of MLS/Broker data began, the traditional real estate industry has cried foul over inaccurate search results, citing expired listings, withdrawn listings, or even pending listings as currently available properties within big search portals like Zillow, Trulia, Vast, and others.

But why the angst?

For years, Craigslist has been abused by the traditional sales agent in the practice of the old fashioned bait and switch, where a house with a price, no address, and a phone number is inappropriately titled “This won’t last.”  I say inappropriately because it simply didn’t exist to begin with, or maybe it did… last year. This practice continues unchecked even to this day; it’s simply an old sales tactic that no one seems to want to curb, yet ‘the traditionals’ continue to cry foul when big media companies simply aggregate the data directly from the Brokers.

Why the sales tactic works

Right or wrong, it works because the offending agent knows that the house in the Craigslist ad matters not because it was the area and price point that actually sold the unknowing consumer into making the phone call — inventory is abundant, and the agent has the MLS to satisfy the desires of the unwitting consumer.

Which brings us to the point

It’s the job of any agent to vet fact from fiction, check availability, and provide options to consumers in the first place-why and from where the phone rang is only relevant to understanding the desires of the consumer.  If in fact the listing data is correct is moot as it’s your job to present alternative options that empower the consumer to make the best decision based on all of the options anyway.  How many times have you as an agent had your own client call you on another agent’s Craigslist ad for you to find and show them the property? It happens, and you’re put in the uncomfortable position of apologizing for a 100 year old sales tactic you’ve never practiced, but ultimately, you become the hero.

So why the boohooing?

If Zillow, Trulia, and the rest provide closer to accurate information that is above and beyond popular sites like Craigslist (which are more agent driven and inaccurate), isn’t this a good thing? If the traditional industry isn’t willing to police itself in the public space where the data they’re sharing is potentially inaccurate, wouldn’t we prefer our consumers at least begin their search in an arena that at least aims for some semblance of accuracy standards? It stands to reason that if the traditional industry is so concerned with inaccurate data, then wouldn’t it be better to begin educating buyer agents against such a practice and Brokers cracking the whip on agents utilizing them? Regardless of the medium and the ethics it disregards, it seems acceptable so long as it’s done by ‘the professionals.’

Free happy endings

In our opinion, it’s good news that you (those that stand against bait and switch) are there to bring the value in accuracy and efficiency because it’s no longer about where the search began (that cat is out of the bag) but more about how it ended- with you. The search result was you- the rest remains “traditional.”

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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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Chris

    March 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Interesting perspective. I’ll have to show this to the agents blasted by owners/landlords who find their deal pending/expired exclusive properties on these sites.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 27, 2010 at 4:08 pm

      Good, maybe they’ll actually read the post.

  2. Bruce Lemieux

    March 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    The quality of Trulia and Zillow’s data is *so* bad, they do more harm than good. How bad is their listing data? I analyzed a popular zip code outside of D.C. in December and compared our MLS which had 72 active listings. Zillow listed 95 listings, yet only 36 of these were valid listings. Trulia showed 106 homes, yet 45 were accurate. What’s active and what’s not? A consumer would have no idea. We can’t expect them to know the difference between MLS-sourced listing data and syndicated data.

    It’s reasonable for a home buyer to expect that a national home search site would have somewhat accurate data. It irritates the life out of me that these guys knowingly present big buckets of crap data so they can sell web ads and services to agents. Under the guise of empowering home buyers, the add more confusion than clarity. It’s disingenuous and a horrible business model.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 27, 2010 at 7:54 pm

      Hi Bruce, what was their response when you showed them your comparison?

      What I’m more interested in with this article is beyond paragraph one- It’s a from the top down protection of the data beginning with traditional. You’re right, if T, and Z, ignore your findings, that is a problem, but there’s a problem right here at home and that’s so called professionals practicing this every single day on CL and in some cases, even their own sites with sold and not sold listings.

      I think if we as an industry made this a priority, the 3rd parties would have to follow suit.

      • Bruce Lemieux

        March 27, 2010 at 9:15 pm

        I didn’t share my findings with Trulia or Zillow. They are smart companies, they know how bad their data is. Any site that relies on listing syndication will have poor data quality since the data source is incomplete and unreliable.

        An MLS (and the public-facing IDX feed from the MLS) is the only place with rules to maintain a listing status accurately. It’s impossible for this to be 100% accurate all of the time since it relies on people, but wouldn’t most MLS data be 97+% accurate? I’m sure some MLS’s are better than others at policing their members. Forums like this indicate that many agents are victim to backwards/ineffective MLSs. I guess that at I’m better off than most since I participate in MRIS (metro D.C.) which is quite good. Still – I couldn’t imagine any MLS having data as poor as the syndicated sites.

        This is a post with my comparison of MLS and syndicated sites – bit.ly/6SYIw8

        I do see old listings on individual agent web sites, but most (all) don’t get enough hits to make a difference. And how many home buyers are looking on CL? Some, I guess, but isn’t this a tiny percentage of the total? CL is a horrible place to search for homes (or anything else). Still — I agree with you that a Broker must take responsibility for their agents CL shenanigans.

        • Benn Rosales

          March 27, 2010 at 9:24 pm

          Bruce, your last paragraph says it, but I assure you, we’re not talking about a few hits when we’re talking about CL. It’s popular because consumers want to consumer to consumer transactions, FSBO type approach, and mixed within are agents so badly that CL here in Austin began separating agents and consumers, and even still agents infiltrate the fsbo side posing as consumers. CL is big enough that Craigs been to Inman God knows how many times, and a few media companies want their share of lease ads.

          I know in a few markets midwest, cl is really just coming to life, but this isn’t just CL, or just online media, it’s in the real estate book, and many many other publications- this is sales tactic that spans decades.

  3. Missy

    March 27, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Agents should stay on top of their listings. They syndicate to the big 3 but when it sells it doesn’t go away except on R dot C to my knowledge.

    Most agents just list a house, and forget it. Two or more years later, a consumer calls on a house, they found. I check the MLS, it is sold or expired.

    Still it is up to the agent IMO to check their own listings.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 27, 2010 at 7:48 pm

      Missy, if we’re to continue to cry about data perfection, you’re right, it really should start at ground zero in either case. I find the MLS to be inaccurate as well time and time again, from showing times, to status – I once found a home with another houses images, imagine our surprise when we rolled up…

  4. Deborah Bernat

    March 27, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    @agentgenius The Flip Side of the Inaccurate Search Results Debate- Good News? https://bit.ly/aYVCeR

  5. good

    March 27, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    The Flip Side of the Inaccurate Search Results Debate- Good News? https://bit.ly/cXVNEa

  6. realdiggity

    March 27, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    The Flip Side of the Inaccurate Search Results Debate- Good News?: comments https://bit.ly/bPyRRg

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Instagram makes IGTV videos more accessible with automatic closed captions

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This new feature for Instagram opens avenues for viewers who don’t or can’t use audio on IGTV videos, creating more accessibility for all.

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Instagram live being recorded will now feature auto captions.

In an effort to expand accessibility efforts, IGTV videos on Instagram will now include an auto captions option. While its parent company, Facebook, has included auto captions on uploaded videos since 2017, this new-for-Instagram feature is expected to widen audience viewership and increase potential viewing by those who prefer watching sans-audio.

In a statement by Facebook, the company states: “While there is no shortage of information, not everyone can access it. It needs to be available to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to the World Health Organization, over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – have disabling hearing loss, and that is projected to increase to over 900 million by 2050.”

Current events have made the need for auto captions even more critical for inclusion. “The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in both the supply and demand of public health information. Several local and state governments, that were accustomed to holding live press conferences but didn’t have the resources, staff or technology to record, stream, and caption their live events, turned to Facebook Live. Several governments also discovered that video captioning was not just a nice-to-have, but imperative, especially in the absence of available sign language interpreters,” states the company.

Currently, Facebook provides auto captions for videos in 16 languages and has announced that Instagram’s IGTV will have access to the same features. The caption accuracy is determined by the video’s audio quality, although AI technology is constantly improving in both precision and speed.

Additionally, branded content ads are likely to see an increase in consumer interaction. Recently published data by Facebook shows ads visually designed for watching with the sound off have 48% more relevance to viewers and a 42% higher purchase intent. As auto captions normalize across social media, users can expect ad content to utilize this feature to the fullest.

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New tool organizes your Reddit feed (and makes it actually usable)

(Social Media) Reddit’s UI hasn’t always been super intuitive. ‘Deck for Reddit’ organizes your feed into themed columns, making it way more user-friendly.

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Deck for Reddit on display on laptop on desk.

Love it or hate it, the mass collection of forums on Reddit have some form of content for everyone. The simple UX design places content straight down the middle of the screen and the infinite scrolling feature allows you to view a limitless amount of content from cute puppy images to cringe-worthy videos. However, its simplicity isn’t very practical, and is something that I think should be voted down.

Yes, Reddit has come a long way from its previous text-heavy form, but there is still a lot to improve on. Charles Yang, a frustrated Reddit user, has created a web app that could change all that: Deck for Reddit, a desktop optimized, alternative way to browse your favorite forums.

“I built it to show as much content as possible at a glance, while respecting your screen real-estate,” writes Yang.

Currently, the web app is in open beta. With a very similar experience to Tweetdeck, this Reddit tool seems to hold some promise.

On the far left side of the website, there is a list of icons with all the subreddits you’ve subscribed to. Clicking on an icon will take you directly to that subreddit column. This is very convenient for users with a bunch of subscriptions. Additionally, by making several subreddits visible on the screen all at once, Yang succeeds in his goal of taking advantage of the vast empty white space that Reddit failed to use.

From this display, you can click on a post, and it instantly expands to show all the comments. Hit the back button, and the post collapses. Now, you are back to seeing all the posts related to that subreddit. And at the top of each subreddit, you can easily sort the content by what’s new, popular, and trendy. Engagement has never felt easier.

Along with everything else, this extension also adds another great feature in setting customizations. The theme can be switched from light to dark mode. Fonts, text size, and even the shape of the subreddit icons can all be adjusted. Preferences can be changed to hide viewed submissions and reduce animation motion. And if you’re slacking off at work or want to chill, you can set it to hide NSFW content.

Overall, Deck for Reddit makes the user experience smooth sailing, and it truly makes Reddit the “front page of the internet.”

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Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) If you’ve been wanting to start a fundraiser for something you care about, Instagram’s new feature lets you do just that. Go check it out!

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Instagram Fundraiser

Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.

In its announcement, the company confirmed that since January, more than $100 million has been raised for COVID-19 across Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook), citing that donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the past 30 days. The announcement said, “from people raising money to buy medical equipment for Black Lives Matter protesters, rebuilding Black-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding educational resources related to racial justice, people are eager to mobilize around causes they care about.”

Personal Fundraisers are short-term and meant to serve time-sensitive causes, with the initial duration lasting 30 days with the option to extend for an additional 30 days. Users must be 18 to create a fundraiser and have a designated bank account in which funds can be deposited. Donations will be processed through Facebook Pay, which also powers Instagram’s new shopping features. The platform covers fees for non-profits, but not for Personal Fundraisers. Donors can choose to keep their information hidden from the public, but organizers will be able to see user names and donation amounts.

To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.

Instagram says it will expand the number of users who have access to this feature in the months ahead, as well as give users access to share fundraisers both in their Feed and within Stories. Fundraising features already offered by the company include Donation Stickers for Stories and a Live Donations feature for live streams.

This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.

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