First the news about a new organization set to try and take down Realtor.com, Trulia.com, and Zillow.com and replace them with syndication done REALTOR right. Or at the least to compel the syndicators to get the listings right.
Now my opinion. I think this is interesting. And I think it will get a LOT MORE INTERESTING if enough people join up to give them critical mass.
Did I mention that I would like things to get interesting? Or at least get fixed?
And for syndicators who want to hate on me for wanting things interesting… Fix the listings problem. Then gripe at me. Quit gaming the system. THEN let’s talk about the rest of it.
If you want to dispute the WAV group’s survey linked in the news article…okayfine…but a LOT of us here in the real estate industry have a lot of empirical evidence that the study is true, namely people calling us about listings and us having to say “yeah that was sold a while ago.” That is a TON of empirical evidence that the WAV Group study is spot on.
Warning – long post ahead. I had a lot on my mind.
This last week and my trip to Inman has been a whirlwind and I just walked in the door from the airport.
I have literally been too busy to write some of the things that I experienced and I really want to have some time to put them in context and “digest” some of them so that I can (hopefully) use what I saw to provide something useful in future posts.
That said, the first of my impressions was the most clear and thus most easy for me to put out into the arena of public ideas while it is still fresh. One of the panel discussions was the “Syndication Discussion” which included the usual representatives, (Saul Klein, Spencer Rascoff from Zillow, Errol Samuelson from Realtor.com, and others) including Mark McLaughlin of Pacific Union. (Note to Mark – I don’t know you personally, but nicely done. The crack about “I’m not outnumbered the audience is on my side.” was priceless. There were many people in that audience that wanted to get up and say something, but did not…)
Ok, now to my main point. At one point in the panel, Mr. Samuelson turned to Mr. Rascoff and pointed out that they include FSBO listings on their site at which time Mr. Rascoff replied that REALTOR.com included non-REALTOR listings in THEIR site as well. (gulp–start the music and Mr. Samuelson proceeds to do the “Inman 2 Step – a dance done by executives when they want to avoid continuing the line of discussion that THEY started…) This is a point which I had made recently in a post on Real Estate Industry Watch. And the folks at Realtor.com had actually asked to meet me about at Inman (and we did…).
If you read what I wrote at REIW, I specifically was concerned that REALTOR.com has a HIGHER LEVEL of ACCOUNTABILITY because they are the OWNER of the REALTOR trademark. (Please, we can leave the anti-NAR stuff for a later post, I am trying to stick to one issue here) Since they HAVE our trademark, I do NOT believe that they should be able to water it down and put non REALTOR listings on the site with the REALTOR trademark. That in my opinion, while not Fraud, is deceptive in that they KNOW non REALTOR entities are using it to tell their sellers that there is no difference and that they are advertising listings on REALTOR.com. And there IS a difference. (again, let’s please leave the fact that some folks would not mind the REALTOR brand and NAR to go away entirely out of this for now…)
If you can flag these listings and put a little itty bitty image that says REALTOR listing that noone sees, then you sure as heck can push the delete button REGARDLESS of what the MLSs have to feed you. At the end of the day Mr. Samuelson, the ball is in YOUR court. I told the people in your organization that I would totally praise REALTOR.com for doing the right thing here and I will… if you get it right. IF you stand behind the intent of being REALTOR.com – the domain of the REALTOR brand.
You are not Spencer. He does not claim to be the protector of the REALTOR trademark. He does not have to rise to that. There is no difference to you SEO wise, because you have a page for the homes that are NOT for sale as well as the ones that are. What is the difference (precisely) between a FSBO and home listed by a non-REALTOR and why are you going to list one and not the other?
It would seem to me that the most defensible position to take would be “We are the defender of REALTORS and we list the listings represented by them”…especially since a HIGH percentage of your traffic to your main page is type in traffic for the term REALTOR.
Or alternatively, you could take the position that we are not the protector of the REALTOR trademark…but saying one and doing the other is not consistent (in my opinion). So which is it? The folks at Zillow, while I am no friend of their business model, do not have the same level of duty to REALTORS that someone does who owns that brand.
If left alone this problem will only grow as more people leave NAR (and I know there are a few people here who would be happy with that, but I am not among them..I am still a work from the inside out kinda guy) in pursuit of lower fees and a way to “game the system”. They are only facilitated by the protectors of the REALTOR brand not protecting it.
I would love for there to be some open discussion about this (sparing us the NAR is evil rhetoric for the moment) so that we can see if REALTOR.com will actually defend REALTORS. You have the opportunity to do the right thing, Mr Samuelson, and not the Inman Two Step. It is my understanding that protecting the brand was NAR’s intent and was in the spirit of the agreement (no matter how much I disagree with the sale of R.com, it happened).
I hope that you in fact WILL do the right thing.2 comments
I was all set to write about how you should NOT use the new Zillow sites because I happen to agree with Don Reedy that they are sleeping with the enemy…when sleeping with friends is ONLY an FTP and a little bit of money away…c’mon people. ( I was even going to title it “A Mess of Pottage” just to get people talking… )
But then I saw this on the Huffington Post. Check it out. SERIOUSLY. Check it out.
Now for those of my friends that are more liberal, RELAX. Just because I saw a Google alert for Real Estate Blog from HuffPo does NOT mean I am drinking your Kool-Aid. You should know me better than that.
And for my conservative and libertarian friends, RELAX. I am not drinking THEIR Kool-Aid. Boy this political season has me stressed. hehe. Oh yeah…conservative friends..go back and read the post, don’t skip it just because it is HuffPo…you aren’t gonna die or go blind…grin
My goal was to offend EVERYONE politically in two paragraphs…how did I do?
I guess my points (I have THREE) with the above article was that I was well and truly surprised to see HuffPo celebrating the creative destruction of one business and noting the rise of another as an entreprenurial journalist shifted from Journalism to profitable blogging and made good at it. (Or is in the process of it).
And a corollary to that point. Creative Destruction WORKS. Even in our beloved real estate industry, just because things are the way they are today does not mean that they will be there for long. I am headed out to Inman this year (after a long hiatus from Connecting and Conventioning and etc) to enjoy some further reflection on where this industry is going and how to profitably stay in front of it.
We need to embrace change. Enjoy it and thrive on it.
How essential are brokerages? How about Franchises? How about Offices? How fast will business models change? Third party lead generators – are they vital? Or just an interloper?(All good questions IMO)
Oh yeah…the other two points.
2) The final point is this. REGARDLESS of the circumstances that you find yourself in… (And yeah, sometimes it is tough.) There is always a way, over time, to get to the Creative side of the Destruction. It takes rugged individuals who dedicate themselves, but there is a way.
So if you are looking at your real estate career and saying W-T-Heck (or worse)? Whether you stay in the same industry or go to a game where the rules are more in your favor, know that the Creative side of the destruction is not far away. My hat is off to this guy. He used the gifts God gave him to give back and get paid for it. Good for him. I wish no less for anyone, anywhere.
In the world of Google upheaval that I have lived through in the past couple of months, I have consumed my share of Diet Mt. Dew and aspirin. So to cure my headache and to continue to contribute to all that is good in the real estate conversation, I offer you the first of hopefully many Jeff Foxworthy style best practices that I am seeing in the real estate industry.
I have entitled these posts, “You might be a Bloodhound if…” I think it is appropriate.
The first entry is from a friend in Manhattan Beach Ca who has what I think is one of the classiest videos to introduce himself ever. Try competing with the sincerity and the authenticity of this REALTOR:
Seriously. Go to the page…click the video and please share your thoughts.
I personally think that this type of video connects in all the right ways with a consumer. It would if I was the consumer.
Would love your feedback. (And NO I did not do the video. He sent it to me for my thoughts. grin
You might be a Bloodhound if…you create a video to connect with people like this. #justsayin for those of you twitterers..grin15 comments
Long post ahead. I think it is worth your time.
The first presentation that I ever did on SEO was titled “SEO is a team sport”. I am a team sport kind of guy. I know that it may sound wierd coming from a rugged individualist, but it is or at least can be totally true. I have an example that (hopefully) proves my point.
I have mentioned my friend Gary Lundholm before. His brokerage has 150 plus agents and is a sizeable force in the Virginia Beach / Hampton Roads market. The way that he and his partners foundeed their brokerage was on providing the most and best tools and training to their agents. And then teaching a trusting that their agents would respect themselves and each other enough to work together as a cohesive and yet competitive team in the same market with each other. It is a team sport.
Coopetition. It is when Cooperation and Competition meet.
Most would argue that Competition surely eliminates cooperation. I would argue that a brokerage CAN take a leadership role in building a climate where their agents feel that the broker IS helping them build their business and not just the “chinese food and cotton candy” approach that most brokers take where 20 minutes later the agent is still hungry. That is laziness on their part as brokers. There I said it. Meant it too.
So my example? I was teaching an online SEO class to a group of his agents. (remember I said nothing held back? ) Note: Gary also equips them for online marketing battle with the same armor that he uses. Interesting, huh? We were helping two members of this little class to rank their sites a bit better in Google for neighborhoods and niches that they were targeting. Greg Chaplain (who focusses on several luxury niche neighborhoods) and Larry Porter (who specializes in military relocations). Great guys and each technically could be competing for the same kettle of fish, but everyone deciding to learn by doing, and also by helping the other guy in the process.
Would this work? That was the experiment. We decided to have a little contest to see who could apply most effectively what we had discussed in our classes six meetings.
Then I get an email from one of the class participants, Mike Nishnick, who focuses on the Kempsville real estate market. These are all niches in the same market and yet these guys are realizing the power of team work. I won’t bore you with the details, but he took the time to start helping Larry out with his online presence. And went on about how he appreciated that the brokerage was working together. How about that? Did he have to do that? No. This was a guy in his brokerage that he could have viewed as a competitor OR a friend. Or both. Paying it forward WORKS.
I would invite you to re-visit one of the classic blog posts of the Real Estate net done by Dave Smith a few years back. Still a favorite of mine.
You may say that my world is roses and lolipops and that it won’t work as an online marketing strategy for a brokerage. But I have proved that teamwork conquers stuff before. Google “Greatest real estate agent in the world”.
The brokerage that plays together not only stays together, but can become a REALLY difficult force to compete with locally. In a world of national sites with millions of pages that only want to sell leads back to agents, teamwork may be more than a good idea. It may be critical.
Wait for the follow up post 6 months from now and you will see what I mean.13 comments
If you have never read what Jeff Brown writes, STOP. Go read it. Seriously. Go to the right sidebar, scroll down to the Bawld Guy and click the archive link. Ok.
Jeff’s recent post brought up some good conversations that I want to shed some light on from my perspective. I consult with REALTORS on bulding their online presence as well as strategies for building their brokerages and teams. So his post was of significance to me.
The change that I am seeing in models right now (with some folks going right back to the model Jeff’s dad has practiced – an older school, more hardnosed approach that is much more leader (whether team leader or broker) centric and follower (dudes that manage leads either for listings or buyers and agents that are TRAINED to specifically convert those leads.)
“He who controls the leads makes the rules.” – me -several years ago. Still true.
Jeff’s 100% right about the value of whoever creates the streams of leads coming into the team (or brokerage or whatever). I think that was one of the most powerful points of Jeff’s post. If you can generate leads, build a brand (or utilize someone else’s until you can), then there are PLENTY of brokers willing to kiss your fanny just to keep you are part of their organization.
And in all but a few of those cases, you do NOT want your brokers advice.
Let me give you a concrete example of this type of model in play. I got a call from a client in Boca Raton Florida the other day. I have been working with this team on their online strategies for several months. Good guys. They have grown their team from the two of them to almost 20 (cannot remember the last count). Solely done by generating online leads and feeding their buyers agents those leads and working with them.
Here’s the kicker. Their brokerage (large independent brokerage with #1) level market share actually came to them and asked them to TONE DOWN their online marketing because they were getting close to outranking the brokerage site on Google. Presumably (my presumption) is that other agents in the brokerage were upset.
First of all, asking an agent to tone down a marketing campaign to (ostensibly) keep the other agents from getting upset? WOW.
Just my opinion to that broker. If you have the resources to build a brand, then you have the resources to build it online as well. Having to ask you agent to NOT market or market less is an indictment of your marketing team. (again just my opinion.)
For a growing agent who has the resources to mount an online marketing campaign and make this happen, AND who is not in a brokerage where the broker is leading the charge. (That will be my next brokerage model example in a couple of days and it is even more potent than this one).
I can give you other examples of small brokerages who are folding right now and where several agents who would be great if someone provided leads to them (ala Jeff’s dad’s model) literally offer to come to the guy who is generating the traffic.
Someone mentioned in the comments that model works for Russ Shaw. I know Russ. He is a friend of mine. And you can do it too. Yes, maybe not using the same lead generation vehicles that he has established dominance in, but whether you are in Ohio, or Louisville, or Hoboken, there ARE lead generation models available to you. Online, offline, radio, TV, carrier pigeon, whatever. If you are the source of leads, much of the rest will follow.
By the way…lest people think that we are talking about JUST converting leads and saying sayonara, not the case. Part of this approach REQUIRES that you help create customers for life out of then.
Think we are alone in our industry with this model? Ask the lawyers. They are in the same boat. Those lawyer ads you see on TV are not paid for with money that grew on trees. #justsayin.
I would love your thoughts and further conversation on this.
Next week: A brokerage model and an example that even beats this. And you can watch it happen!13 comments
Happy New Year to the dawgs. Woof.
Ok..maybe their isn’t something to like about this…I don’t know…but it is interesting to say the least. I honestly don’t have a dog in this fight. More than anything, I just want to understand it. And there is NO PLACE like BHB to put it out in the open and air it out a bit.
But let’s start with the facts and then get to the opinion and thus the fun. It was announced this morning that ListHub (a syndicator and sister company *snort* of REALTOR.com over at Move, Inc) has formed a new Real Estate Network. This is a syndication network with publishers of real estate listings that are jumping in at the founding which include RE/MAX, C21, Coldwell Banker, and other franchisors.
This frees them (if everyone participates in their network)from any illusion of NAR control. They are in the same shape (if I understand this correctly) as Zillow, Trulia, and other syndicators. Am I missing something here? They have to abide by the network rules seen here.
This also frees the independents NOT to participate in the syndication network IF they so desire. They can opt out.
I am not sure if I have that right. I would LOVE to have someone in the know comment and fill us in.
This also (if I read this correctly) makes NAR more irrelevant than ever when it comes to marketing online real estate. (You notice how many times I have asked if I am understanding this right? Enquiring minds want to know.) Once everyone is sharing data outside of NAR (as syndicators), then who needs their .02?
Again. I am not saying this is good or bad. I would love some industry comment though.
I have a box of popcorn and a ringside seat and a lot of websites to work on..I will be waiting.3 comments
“It’s complicated” is my FAVORITE relationship status on Facebook.
It describes perfectly the indescribable complexities that arise in life. And on this newfangled thing we call the internet that NAR seems to be trying to lasso. Such is the relationship with NAR, franchisors, and IDX . In Anaheim, the real fun will be had at BHB Unchained (goes without saying)…but the interesting side show may be best described in Rob Hahn’s latest post. (Well worth reading BTW) R.O.B. is on my short list of people that when he writes, I read for a reason.
I will probably tick off both sides of this argument in the next couple of posts I write on EricOnRealEstate.com.. I am going to attempt to articulate both sides’ positions better than they have…truth is I think I have a better solution, but one that would never be agreed to. (see below)
One of the solid points that ROB makes at the end of his analysis is this:
Consider that the franchisor is not a member of NAR. Nor is it a participant in the MLS. NAR has no jurisdiction whatsoever over the franchisor.
And yet, the way that the original, now-repealed language of the IDX policy read, it purported to bind the franchisor to a variety of MLS rules. Look at the conditions numbered 3, 4, 5, and 6 above. Those rules bound the franchisor, by threatening sanction against the participant franchisee.
Now that the whole thing has been struck down, what binds the franchisor to any limitation?
Why couldn’t a franchisor now modify or manipulate the IDX information, or retain it permanently? Sure, a MLS could bring a lawsuit under some copyright infringement theory, but the Kelly v. Arriba case seems to lean heavily towards the franchisors. If anything, manipulating and modifying the IDX information would likely be seen as being even more transformative.
As long as there was some sort of a Franchise IDX policy, the franchisors voluntarily submitted to the authority of NAR and of the MLS to dictate what they could and could not do on their websites. Now that the whole thing has gone poof, I wonder what now makes the franchisors submit to anything at all.
There are literally dozens of ways that I can see a franchisor attempting to get around this… up to an including becoming a syndicator. If syndicators can become brokers (and I think that may be more and more likely as they have to generate return for overvalued shares **cough**Zillow**cough**. Then why can’t it work the other way around.
Why couldn’t Dave or Gary (for example) buy a small national syndicator site that is getting feeds and just push it to their domains? Again, I am not taking sides, I am just asking… is this not possible?
Oh…my solution? Glad you asked. I think that NAR trying to control who gets their data now that almost any website that wants it CAN get it via syndication if they are willing to pay a bit…is pretty ridiculous. I think that it is not unlike Congress trying to legislate control over the internet. They are trying to control where they have no jurisdiction.
I am more of a fix it from within kind of guy (I KNOW there will be others who will comment with other opinions on this and that is totally fine.) And the fix from within is to say Opt In – and your listings go EVERYWHERE online. Opt Out – They Go NOWHERE online. Don’t like it? Tough noogies.
Seriously. Tough noogies. Have your high priced lawyers write THAT in, NAR. T-O-U-G-H (space) N-O-O-G-I-E-S…And then fire them and pass the savings on to the REALTORS.
BTW- In all of this, I am neither for nor against. I simply am watching the futility of an “it’s complicated” relationship. Like most of those relationships, it does not have to be.
It is MUCH easier to explain to the consumer “We put your listing EVERYWHERE”, than it is to say..”It’s complicated”. I think that consumers deserve some simplicity there…
I am willing to change my mind on this. Someone convince me to…please?8 comments
I for one, am looking forward to getting together with Greg and Brian and the rest of the gang in Anaheim. It has been too long. But BHB wouldn’t be Unchained if I did not contribute some of the stuff I have been working on in the last couple of years since we got together.
So here’s my contribution.
I will bring 5 smooth stones to the event. That is what David picked up to slay Goliath. It only took one. And that is all you will likely need to bring down a Philistine or two and make some money. But I am going to bring five of the best SEO, Search Engine Marketing ideas that a real estate professional can use to generate opportunities to get belly to belly with potential clients. Five of the most effective strategies that a REALTORs have deployed in the last year. I promise you that they will be attention getters and conversation starters (which is what that Scenius stuff that Greg talks about is ALL about). It is where the fun begins and people start sharing ideas.
Sometimes the best ideas are so simple that people don’t take action on them. My purpose in life is to help businesses harness online marketing to bring people to where you can start a conversation…and you can use the skills you already have to start skinning cats and hanging them on the wall. I can not and will not do it for you, but if you want some ideas and where to start, I can offer you five smooth stones to fill your sling with. You must have the courage to take action.
I look forward to meeting a lot of new friends as well as reconnecting with a lot of old ones!7 comments
Warning long post ahead.
First of all, I was saddened today to learn of Steve Jobs’ resignation as Apple’s CEO. Below is the resignation letter which is making its way around the internet at lightning speed right now.
To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:
I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.
I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.
I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.
I have copied it here because I respect the man greatly. I spent several rough months of my life being diagnosed with the same illness that he has only to find out that I was fortunate and did not have cancer and he did. In the darkest hours of that time for me, him toughing it out helped me tough it out.
What impresses me the most about him is that he has kept his focus on doing his business, in building things to make peoples’ lives better and it helping other people through capitalism.he is everything I admire about the dream of taking things on because they are there and in building more in spite of all odds. He epitomizes the term “Do your worst, I will not kneel.” I am grateful for the example of a really bright guy doing extraordinary things.
Note to the East Coast media currently whining about a 5.8 earthquake…Japan’s was 1,000 times as severe. Let’s have some priorities OK? Quit whining. You do not have problems. Steve Jobs has problems…and yet he does not whine. Neither did Japan. I think there is a lesson there.
For those who whine about capitalism and how bad it is…and how these “corporate jet” CEOs are such evil monsters who are not paying their fair share, I would ask you to consider Steve Jobs. When you think that he built his company once, make a fortune, and then it almost went under after making it the first time and so he came back, reinvested and built it again…bigger and better and employing more people…And improving more lives. In the last few years, all while dealing with the ultimate of health issues. Pretty impressive in my book.
I’d like to offer you something to consider before you look at entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and say that the freedom we give them to build massive companies is a bad thing…when you are writing that criticism, make sure that you are doing it from an iPad or a Mac or an iPhone. That way the hypocrisy will be complete.
Before we think about how many ways that we can restrict more Steve Jobs’s out there with regulations and red tape to make it “fair”, I would suggest that we would best be served by turning them loose to dream, build, invent, create and do. They will succeed most times anyway, but why create obstacles that slow the progress and improvement in our lives?
Happy retirement, Steve. May you live each day to the fullest. Thank you for making my life (for one) all little brighter, my resolve to celebrate every day a little stronger, and my love for the freedoms and opportunities that I have a little deeper.
Well done.13 comments
The last 48 hours has been kind of a blur for me. My friend Gary Lundholm, who is a broker with about 160 agents in a couple of offices in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake VA emailed me on Monday am with an unexpected need. (I am going to tell you more about Gary in a future post…he is a Bloodhound and his office is thriving in this economy).
The SEAL Team that was killed in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan was based in his area. Among the agents in his office are many Navy Veterans (Gary is as well.) and spouses of active duty personnel. He wanted to do something to help the families.
He purchased SEALKids.com and wanted a site built so that his agents could all help gather donations from the local community as well as the real estate community for the children of these fallen warriors. Their goal is lofty. $100,000 for the kids of these fallen soldiers. Starting tomorrow morning, they will be sending this online to their friends locally.
If you know Gary at all, this is exactly the type of thing he is known for. (He’d never admit that, which is further proof.) So for the last couple of days on and off, we put together a site to help be a collection for funds to be donated to the Navy SEAL Foundation which will go to aid the families, who often cannot ask for help because they need to protect their identities. It is a close knit community.
It has been an honor to donate some time to work on this. I have cried often as I thought of my own kids and as I have thought of these families’ sacrifices.
I am not asking for donations unless you have it and want to give. I AM asking that you share this around with others so that those who can and want to give have the opportunity. I gave. I would not have posted that unless I had. My family and I decided together that it was something we needed to do.
One more thing that I would ask as a favor.
There is a section of the site for Paying our Respects to the families.
As I type this, these same families are seeing the remains of their loved ones be brought home. These children of these SEALs will likely grow up not hearing anywhere near the full impact that their father had on protecting our freedoms. If you could, whether you donate or not, please drop by and leave these families our respects for their sacrifice, I would appreciate it. Years from now, when these children read some kind words of respect for their fathers, I can only hope that it will bring some comfort for their loss.
it was (theoretically) possible for you to “nuke” all of your competitors and remove them from Google’s index. For all of you who thought that your site was awesome and the other guys’ site was crap. You had your chance. Hat tip to the folks at Search Engine Land.
The time has now passed and the security breach has now been fixed. Grin. And NO I did not harm ANY websites’ standing in Google in the making of this post. Nor do I encourage it. It may be illegal and is certainly immoral.
That said, I defy anyone to truthfully say that my job is not interesting. (grin) I was on a coaching call with an SEO client when I read the post. Very hard to keep my mind focused. grin.
But this begs the question…if you could vaporize your competitors from Google would you? and why?14 comments
Just a passing announcement that Google today officially ended Real Estate listings on Google Maps and Place Pages for individual property listings as well. For those playing the home game, here is the relevant information.
So what does this mean? Not much in my opinion. The reason Google dropped these ventures is that they simply were not generating traffic to the map searches. So, the corresponding ripple effect now that they are ceasing to exist will be equally small.
My take is that if a tree falls in the forest and it is a really small tree (traffic wise at least), then there won’t be a very loud noise.
Super busy, but wanted to share…What the Nativity Story might have looked like in today’s internet / Google / social media world…
Merry Christmas to one and all.