Tickets are on sale for NAR’s convention and meetings to be held in Anaheim Ca November 11-14, 2011. You can register for the event and get more information here.
It goes without saying that the economic times have altered what people are looking for online. According to search statistics and trends one of the fastest growing segments of real estate related searches online is for rentals. This would be totally expected. That said, for REALTORS who market online, this can create a difficult and confusing problem. Some call it white noise.
It is a flood of registrations and leads on a REALTORS website that are inquiring about rental opportunities that can totally overwhelm a REALTOR’s ability to handle the IMPORTANT tasks like getting in touch with those who are looking to buy or sell. It can sometimes be frustrating experience.
Of the people interview that are dealing with this there seem to be four approaches that are being used.
1) We are going to dig through these leads and find a way to efficiently deal with them.
2) Send them off to a friendly local property manager / rental agency
3) Alter online marketing efforts to avoid terms that typical renters would be searching for.
4) Alter ad copy to “screen” rental buyers to avoid having them click on Paid search ads.
Soon after ZooCasa.com , a property portal and lead generator site was purchased by Canadian telecom giant Rogers, Century 21 filed a lawsuit in Canadian court against ZooCasa for unlawfully scraping the listings from their site and using that data.
“Scraping” is the process of using multiple inquiries to pull data, including text or photos from a site for use on another site. In the real estate industry, scraping has in the past been used by third party lead generators to obtain listings for their sites without getting MLS approval to use that data.
While Century 21 won the case, they were less able to successfully prove the amount of damage this cost them, resulting in only $33,000 in damages according to industry reports..
ZooCasa has announced that they no longer scrape listings and instead work through the typical industry syndication portal(s).
In the first of what many real estate industry experts expect to be a growing number of REALTOR Association mergers, two Chicago area boards are taking a serious look at merging. According to ChicagolandRealEstateForum.com, both boards have approved the deal:
The Board of Directors for both the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® (MORe) and the REALTOR® Association of Northwest Chicagoland (RANWC) have voted unanimously for the merger of the two groups and now just need their members to approve it in July.
The new group would include 16,000 members serving 185 communities in Cook, DuPage and Lake Counties. It would be the largest association of realty agents in Illinois.
The economies of scale for MLS mergers are particularly attractive in a time period where membership is declining, technology can be deployed in a very scalable way, and support staff can be more efficiently managed in a larger setting. Real Estate industry Watch has confirmed a number of MLS’s are currently considering the option to merge with nearby boards.
Since its inception, Zillow has always been apparently aimed at competing for traffic from large national sites like REALTOR.com. In a continued quest for the traffic lead in the real estate space, Zillow has released several new Facebook applications that create tabs on a Facebook business page. The Listings app will create a “My Listings” tab which will show a REALTOR’s listings at no charge.
The difference between this and the current REALTOR.com tab is that those who are NOT paying for “Enhanced listings” from REALTOR.com are now able to put the listings on their fan page at no charge. Industry experts are waiting to see how many REALTORS will download the new apps to their Facebook page and utilize them.
Other FAcebook apps offered by Zillow include a Contact form, Reviews, and Local information.
First there was an 18 month process that ultimately culminated in NAR OKing indexable IDX listings on franchisor sites…then came the response from a group of independant brokerage collective organizations who wanted the policy repealed. At NAR’s recent midyear meetings, the board decided to alter the MLS committee’s recommendation and voted to change IDX on franchisor sites such as Century21.com, REMAX.com, and KW.com to “opt-in”.
From NAR’s internal news:
The decision to add the opt-in centered on the directors’ concerns about the availability of listing information to non-participants without brokerages’ consent. Brokers representing Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Home Services of America, and the Realty Alliance led the way toward the policy change; those companies oppose the new IDX policy and had backed a failed proposal to repeal the policy.
Blogger, Broker and member of the MLS committee Jay Thompson did an excellent write up of several of the issues discussed at the midyear meetings here and indicated that he would opt in (his brokerage is independant). At RealEstateIndustryWatch, we asked a number of agents around the country and found that almost all of them did not understand the issue and what it was about.
The most striking thing to us was how many real estate people who could (and likely would) be affected by the decision simply were not informed, underinformed, or simply misinformed.
How will this affect franchises who have their websites setup with their franchisors?
How will this affect independent brokerages?
In an effort to get people in our industry up to speed on the issue of whether IDX on Franchisor sites is acceptable or not and if so, under what conditions, we recommend that you read the following resources:
and we will be adding other resources to this list as bloggers and other sources provide them.
Then we would like you to vote for the option you think most accurately reflects your views in our poll. Please take the time to take the poll!
The agreement made last year between Zillow and Yahoo Real Estate has now gone “live” according to Zillow. Zillow is now providing 4 million listings to compliment Yahoo’s already existing databases of foreclosures and other properties.
Additionally according to the deal, Zillow will be offering advertising opportunities on both sites to agents and brokers. This is the first of what many insiders think will be more consolidation among lead generatiing / listing syndication type sites. Other syndicators are poised to follow with Move, Inc’s acquisition of ListHub, they are anticipated to soon power AOL’s real estate presence.
Move Inc. and Zillow are in a pitched battle for dominance in terms of real estate traffic. Inman news is reporting that analysts are now stressing the need to look at the quality of the traffic as much as the quantity. This has been a subject that real estate bloggers have pointed out as a weakness of Zillow who has celebrity homes as a front page feature, among other strategies designed to maximize traffic quantity at the apparent expense of quality.
The bottom line that brokers need to be aware of is that all traffic is not equal. The size of the network (in terms of unique visitors) does not determine how many legitimate buyers or sellers marketing dollars will generate and that this battle may well go on for quite some time.
According to a Press Release by Keller Williams, KW and CitiMortgage have entered into an agreement to provide mortgages with reduced fees and a $1,500 on time closing guarantee. While this is not the first agreement of its kind in the industry, it is part of a growing trend among franchises.
“Our goal is to ensure that our associates have access to the best resources possible so they can focus on their main priority-their client. We are confident that with five million mortgage customers, CitiMortgage has the experience and expertise to support our Market Centers and associates at the highest level possible,” said Anthony Azar, director of strategic business alliances at Keller Williams Realty.
Another part of this deal will give Keller Williams market centers the opportunity to have a lender presence in their offices.
In a press release yesterday, Homes.com announced that they have entered into a “major” advertising agreement with RE/MAX Intl.
According to the press release and statements by both companies:
“We are excited to announce this landmark partnership with RE/MAX, one of the nation’s largest real estate franchises,” said Jason Doyle, vice president of Homes.com. “Homes.com has a proven record of attracting qualified prospects who are in the early stages of the home buying process. With this partnership, we are also enhancing the consumer experience by streamlining the hand-off to industry-leading RE/MAX agents at the local level.”
“Remax.com is the most visited real estate franchise Web site because we offer buyers and sellers tools and resources to make good decisions in any market and comprehensive information on listings around the country,” said Marnie Blanco, RE/MAX Vice President, eBusiness. “Our partnership with Homes.com gives RE/MAX listings added visibility and drives more buyers and sellers to a qualified RE/MAX agent.”
In a supplemental revision issued by the Treasury Department, HAFA participants now have new options (and new requirements) when dealing with short sales. The biggest of these changes allows 1st lien holder some more flexibility by eliminating the 6% cap on payments to 2nd lien holders, but the cap remains at 6%, meaning that the change will only potentially impact homes under $100K in value.
Among other changes:
- Vendor Fees (currently which can be charged to the Seller or the listing broker as a deduction from commission) are now not allowed to be deducted from commission OR charged back to the seller.
- Prior to a foreclosure, lenders are instructed to first offer a possible short sale and if not that, then a deed in lieu.
- As part of pursuing a short sale in good faith, a servicer has 30 days to send the borrower a short-sale agreement, which clarifies what list price or acceptable sale proceeds would be.
- Once an executed contract is in place on a short sale, the loan servicer has 30 days to respond.
These changes are effective Feb 1st according to the supplemental document linked above, but lenders are free to adopt these guidelines earlier if they would like.