We have a searchBot running in the Arizona Regional Multiple Listings Service to find our next home. We’re not actively searching, with a burning urge to move. But we know what we want, and, should it turn up, we may take the leap.
This is not terribly likely. We are professionals, after all. This means, first, that we have a very tightly refined set of criteria for the next home we will move into. And, second, it means that our next home will have to be a better-fit than our current home for our professional needs — a high hurdle to leap. Still, the bot manages to scare up a house or two a week, and we end up taking a closer look at maybe one out of twenty.
We are not unique as move-up buyers. We work with quite a few people who are pursuing this same strategy indirectly, through us. Sooner or later they will move-up to homes selling from $500,000 to $1,000,000 — when the right home comes on the market.
That’s traditional real estate in the age of the computerized MLS system.
Now let’s do the same thing without professional representation. We can go to Trulia.com and PropSmart.com and Zillow.com and ZipRealty.com and look at what may be four different inventories of homes or may be essentially the same homes — with the degree of overlap unknown. Still worse, some of those home will have been off the market for months, since, with some exceptions, there is no penalty for lax housekeeping in the databases. The contact information is what it is, and, obviously, there is no built-in provision for arranging showings.
The idea that the secret power of Realtors is control of the MLS is funny, but funnier still — for now at least — are these goofy alleged alternatives to the Realtor’s way of identifying candidate homes for buyers.
Enter the folks from Incredible Agent with a solution. What if, every time you ran across some dubious candidate home at some dubious Realty.bot, you were to race over to HomeHugg.com to leave that home a Hugg, which is analogous to a Digg but even stoopider.
(I feel like a cad for picking on the Incredible Agent people. A few weeks ago I beat them up for trying to use BloodhoundBlog to sell their canned RealtorBlogs. They can take solace in the knowledge that, had anyone else come up with the HomeHugg idea, I would be even less forgiving.)
So you find a home you think you like and you give it a Hugg. The you go to some other Realty.bot site where you give another house a Hugg. Then other people can go to HomeHugg.com and give secondary Huggs to your Hugged homes, reinforcing your belief that you are, in fact, a Hugging genius.
Serious buyers obtain representation — not alone for the benefits a professional using professional home-search tools can bring. Frivolous wannabuyers flit about here and there for the pure joy of window-shopping.
There is no such thing as organized, systematic window-shopping.
And in light of this obvious fact, HomeHugg.com is this week’s winner of the Cheez-Whiz Prize.
The website has that goofy Web 2.0 look — where Web 2.0 might turn out to be the systemic inability to distinguish fad from phenomenon — and it has had more than its share of fawning coverage. Nevertheless, the underlying idea is beyond stoopid.
This is a dumb question: Why would anyone use HomeHugg? Here’s a better question: Why would anyone seriously interested in buying a home not obtain professional representation?
Steve Leung from Silicon Valley Real Estate Blog offers a very wise answer to that question, drawing the line from perception to motivation:
It’s easy to say that in any real estate transaction, the client’s best interest is paramount. But sometimes pointing out things that may impede a sale but advance a client’s goals is part of the job.
What clients really need when they hire a real estate agent is not someone who is a “closer” but someone who has the wherewithal needed to be a good consultant and Devil’s Advocate. Take care not to choose someone who gets color blind to any color but green when you need a truthful opinion…
Steve has written a fascinating essay, a profound contribution to the debate. In recognition of this, he is this week’s winner of the Odysseus Medal.