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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began, the traditional real estate industry has cried foul over inaccurate search results, citing expired listings, withdrawn listings, or even pending listings as currently available properties within big search portals like Zillow, Trulia, Vast, and others.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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Social Media

There’s a subreddit that is literally moving the stock market

(SOCIAL MEDIA) “You can’t change the world on Reddit all day.” Hm. Wanna bet? Some people do bet on whether a stock will rise or fall on Reddit.

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Stock market

I don’t gamble. RIP to Mister Kenny Rogers, but this whole folding, holding, walking, running business is bad for my heart.

So playing the stock market is out for me, but apparently, you don’t even need an accountant to place your bets? The good, if foul mouthed, people of r/WSB aren’t just proving that, their playing and paying outside the traditional trading room is actually moving markets!

The subreddit, full name r/wallstreetbets, is 900,000 users strong, and boasts members that have been involved for years. They show off their stock market wins, losses, jokes, and opinions with varying levels of insight on all contributions.

Ordinarily, this’d just be an interesting collection of folks talking stock, but some of their threads have been shown to have an effect on share prices!

Users don’t just share what and how they’ve traded, they also gamble on what stock prices will do, without actually purchasing or selling any. Options contracts allow users to cast lots for less cash, while retaining the power to show actual purchases as hotter or colder and literally moving the temperature dial on them by word of mouth (and possibly pure conjecture) alone.

So I could hop in, put a marginal amount of money down, and say ‘Stock in Pressure Valve Company X is going to go up since more people are buying bidets in the wake of the Corona-based toilet paper hoarders, and they’re a key component’, then pepper in some off-color jokes about personal hygiene and everyone’s moms to blend in, and potentially wait to collect!

Neat.

After all, not only are surges of humans looking at these bets, web algorithms and cookie crawlers are staring too. It’s chatrooms of the dotcom boom all over again, except more chaotic, more gif-laden, and more monitored by outside forces.

It’d be sinister if the vibe of the sub wasn’t ‘Take literally nothing seriously’. Try discussing ‘chicken tendies’ in a boardroom sometime and see what I mean…although the tide on that might be shifting as well.

The one forbidden thing here is actually using the forum for insider trading. Directly profiting from the rumors gets users exiled, and gets users interacting with them booted too.

Serious business actually DOES occur, who would have thought? I wouldn’t have. Which is why I don’t gamble.

It’s easy to write Reddit off as just an online echo chamber slash cesspool, but when it comes down to it, the American Psychos of the world are on the same internet as the basement-dwellers, and the gap in financial literacy between the two ends of the spectrum is pulling a reverse Pangea.

We need to start recognizing that.

I’m still staying away from 4Chan though.

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Facebook messenger gets a major facelift for speed

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook messenger has been around a loooooong time and has started to suffer from build bloat. So the new project lightspeed has redesigned it.

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facebook messenger

If you’ve ever spent time in an old-school, family-built home, then you have an idea of what the inner workings of the Facebook Messenger app look like. It began with just a few rooms, but as the needs of the family grew, they kept adding on rooms wherever they fit until the layout no longer made sense and the home became a bloated maze.

Facebook Messenger has been suffering growing pains ever since it branched off into its own app in 2011. As the app became more popular developers worked to make it more engaging by adding new features like stickers, GIFS, and video calls.

At some point, they realized that the app had gotten away from them. The Facebook Messenger currently on your device has move 1.7 million lines of code. An app that big is slow and takes up a ton of valuable space on users devices, so the team knew it was time for a change. The project became internally as Project LightSpeed.

Facebook Messenger is a valuable app for connecting with friends, family, and business connections across the globe. You don’t even need to be Facebook friends with someone to message them making it an invaluable tool for long-distance teams or new business connections. In recent years, the app has begun to slow down making it vulnerable to competitors like WhatsApp.

The development team’s goal for the new app was to make it small, fast, and simple. In order to achieve this Facebook’s team of engineers has reduced the core code by 84%, taking the original 1.7 million lines of code down to 360,000. The new app will be about a quarter of the size of the current app.

A smaller app will load quicker and be more responsive, even if you’re using an older device or you’re in an area with lower connectivity. Current tests put the new app as being twice as fast as the current version, while keeping all the features that users have come to expect. Don’t worry, you will still be able to send your friends stickers, pictures, and obnoxious amounts of GIFs.

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Facebook wants to hear from you. Literally. For innocent reasons

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As if Facebook didn’t already own everything that is you, they are asking to hear you say a specific phrase for their new voice services.

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facebook portal

Good news, Facebook is now offering to pay you to let strangers listen to you! Well, kind of.

Users connect to Viewpoints – a different app under the Facebook umbrella – which allows them to participate in market research. In this case, participants repeat the phrase “Hey Portal, call,” followed by the name of a Facebook friend, and submit the recording. The whole ordeal is about five minutes, tops.

By finishing this and other tasks, participants can expect to make a grand total of…$5. It’s not much, but at least that’s a fancy cup of coffee for work you can do while waiting for the ads to finish on your TV show.

So, why is Facebook shelling out $5 for people to make voice recordings? Surprisingly, it’s because AI is not nearly as smart as we sometimes assume – especially when it comes to voice commands. There’s a whole host of things that go into how we communicate, like posture, tone and even slang, which can make understanding vocal commands a much bigger ordeal.

In order to make improvements to the system, it often requires teams of humans putting in the leg-work. This means studying the disconnect between humans and machines, as well as creating solutions. Unfortunately, this human touch is also the excuse companies like Amazon use to justify listening in on your conversations. (Sure, users can ‘opt out’ but come on. That’s not exactly something Amazon advertises.)

As more people grow aware of the potential breach of privacy that tech like Alexa or Portal can bring, however, it’s put pressure on companies to scale back. Which is where Facebook’s new paid survey comes in. Unlike an anonymous employee listening in on a random Portal conversation, this way participants opt in, rather than out, of having their information shared.

The academic in me is slightly skeptical. There’s only so far a paid study like this can get, especially when it comes to the nuances of voice command. The conspiracy theorist in me is also skeptical, mostly because although Facebook promises they won’t sell your information or publicly share it, there’s still plenty of nefarious things to be done. That said, at the end of the day, at least Facebook isn’t just swiping information off your Portal…and you even get some pocket change in exchange.

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