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Category Archive: ‘Zillow’

Zillow Threatens McMansion Hell

I think Rob Dawg might have started this one – his blog is where I heard of the McMansion Hell on Friday, and now Zillow is chasing her around like a felon:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/26/15876602/zillow-threatens-sue-mcmansion-hell-tumblr-blog

McMansion Hell is a Tumblr blog that highlights the absurdity of giant real estate properties and the ridiculous staging and photography that are omnipresent in their sales listings. The blog, started by 23-year-old Johns Hopkins graduate student Kate Wagner, began in July 2016 as a way to poke fun at pretentious architecture. It has since gone viral, but now she’s facing potential legal charges by real estate site Zillow for allegedly violating the site’s terms of service by reproducing the images on her blog.

A typical McMansion Hell blog post will have a professional photo of a home and/or its interior, along with captions scattered throughout by Wagner. She also adds information about the history and characteristics of various architecture styles, and uses photos from the likes of Zillow and Redfin to illustrate how so many real estate listings inaccurately use the terms.

Under each post, Wagner adds a disclaimer that credits the original source of the images and cites Fair Use for the parody, which allows for use of copyrighted material for “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.” In a cease and desist letter to Wagner, Zillow claims Wagner’s reproduction of these images do not apply under the Copyright Act. Additionally, the company claims McMansion Hell may “[interfere] with Zillow’s business expectations and interests.”

Zillow got sued for using photos without authorization, so now they are going after the little people with a vengeance?  Where will they stop?  I think there is a desperation in the air that is impacting everyone (except Kayla, who has four in escrow!).

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Market Conditions, Zillow | 0 comments

Zillow Hardball?

On May 1st, Sandicor, our MLS for San Diego, began automatically uploading our listings to Zillow in an effort to improve accuracy.

This is how Zillow advertises the pending sales in Orange County, which is how they were presented in San Diego prior to May 1st:

They leave the list price at the top, which is helpful for searchers who knew the house was for sale but didn’t know the how much.

They make it clear that that the home is pending, which is good for their accuracy, and they mention the listing agent, with a phone number, along with the three-headed monster on the right.

Here is how Zillow has been marking our pending sales since May 1st:

If you were a casual observer, you wouldn’t learn much about this home.

  • No list price.
  • No ‘pending’ banner (or anything about it being for sale or not).
  • No listing-agent info (except I’ve learned to put my name in the first line of the remarks).
  • No three-headed monster (three agents who pay for advertising).

If you were told about a new listing on this street and checked Zillow for more info, they now give you nothing!  What’s worse is they have captured my photos and remarks, but now prevent me from editing.

It’s not just me – I checked some of highest-spending Zillow agents, and they are getting the same treatment.

Is it just an oversight in the transition?

After a couple of inquiries, a Zillow rep did respond today, and said I should probably check with my MLS to fix it.  Thanks a million.

There is a work-around. Join the CRMLS (which provides the MLS for the rest of Southern California), input your listings there, and then Zillow will reflect them when pending.

Until then, our listing accuracy has gone backwards in San Diego!

It may not seem like much, but listing agents are judged by their online presence. When potential sellers see our listings without prices, for-sale status, or even the listing agent mentioned, they will think that we won’t be doing much for them either.  But it is out of our control – Sandicor and Zillow are running this circus!

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Zillow | 3 comments

C.A.R. and Instant Offers

He says C.A.R. would “oppose any such development that eliminates many consumer protections”. Well, are you opposing the Zillow Instant Offers? It doesn’t sound like it. As usual, the leaders of the realtor business are comatose while outsiders strip us down for spare parts.

There is an easy solution. Everyone provide ‘instant offers’.

I have regular buyers for North San Diego’s coastal region that will happily pay 10% under value, and investors that will pay 20% to 30% under value. Both will close in 5-10 days. Contact me today!

June 7, 2017

Fellow REALTOR®,

C.A.R. President Geoff McIntosh

No doubt you’ve heard about Zillow Group’s “Instant Offers” pilot program for home sellers where, with or without an agent, homeowners can entertain instant offers and sell their home quickly. This program – which is essentially a new take on another “I’ll buy your house for all cash, below market value” business – is a small segment of the marketplace. The reactions we have received so far falls into either the camp of strong opposition or strong support. For those who are opposed, the pilot has been the subject of much consternation by REALTORS® since its announcement because it creates a path that eliminates the critical role an agent plays in the transaction – another step toward disintermediation.

Many see this as an antagonistic step against the very industry that fuels the site with listing content and premier advertising money, only to promote the prospect of excluding REALTORS® from the transaction. For those who see it that way, they have the option of rethinking their participation with the site. Those holding the other opinion have reported that they see business opportunities to enhance their work through this program. No matter how you look at it, we can all agree it’s bad for consumers who need to get sage advice, excellent customer experience, and top dollar when they’re selling their home, especially when consumers have to pay an exorbitant cost to participate in the program.

C.A.R. has been asked for its take. First of all, there is no substitute for the tremendous value REALTORS® bring to what is usually the largest, and often the most complicated, transaction a consumer will ever make. The program seems to be geared toward investors or investment groups who are willing to make more speculative investments. Any move which promotes eliminating REALTORS® from their role as a trusted navigator in this complex undertaking would ultimately harm most consumers, leaving them without a duty-bound advisor just when they need one most. C.A.R would oppose any such development that eliminates many consumer protections and will ALWAYS advocate for the unparalled value of using a REALTOR®.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to discuss with your clients the value proposition that a REALTOR® brings to the table and look at expanding the services you are uniquely able to offer investors and investment groups.

Sincerely,

Geoff McIntosh
Geoff McIntosh
2017 President
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Posted by on Jun 7, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Realtor, Realtors Talking Shop, Zillow | 0 comments

Petition NAR to Stop Zillow?

The author doesn’t mention that the investor-bought homes will be resold, giving realtors ample opportunity to sell a renovated home….for higher commissions.  If you ever hear me leading any national effort as a 50-year real estate veteran, stick a fork in me.

https://stopzillow.com/

INSTANT OFFERS is a new program by Zillow that leverages the credibility of Zillow to help sophisticated investors buy homes from unsuspecting consumers at thousands below market value.

For years, Realtors and consumers have tolerated inaccurate Zillow “zestimates.” This was Zillow’s entry into the actual real estate business and should have been stopped cold at the time. These online valuations (no one sees the home) consistently mislead consumers about home values, making it harder for Realtors to help buyers and sellers make good decisions.

Now Zillow’s “Instant Offers” encourages unknowledgeable home sellers to sell directly to profit-driven investors at below market value. This program mesmerizes home sellers into acting without consulting a Realtor, attorney or appraiser.

Instant Offers is a costly, misleading program for the public and a stab in the back to Realtors who fund Zillow. It’s a lose-lose program for everyone (except greedy investors). It reduces home seller equity while diminishing Realtor income.

It’s time to draw a line in the sand. Years ago when Zillow introduced “zestimates” NAR should have demanded that Zillow stay out of brokerage services or risk losing MLS IDX feeds and Realtor advertising.

Now Instant Offers is a clear intrusion by Zillow into real estate brokerage, a move that needs to be stopped before it gains traction.

The StopZillow.com petition website and Stop Zillow LinkedIn Group were formed by real estate attorney, Huffington Post writer and 50-year real estate veteran Greg Hague to insist NAR keep Zillow out of brokerage to protect Realtors and the public.

The first petition is simple and clear: warn Zillow to discontinue Instant Offers or risk losing the MLS IDX listing feeds and Realtor advertising.

Read the petition to NAR. If you agree, please sign online. That’s it.

Your information will not be shared or used for any other purpose.

After signing the petition you will receive a weekly email update about the progress with NAR and Zillow.

Greg Hague, The Real Estate Maverick

https://stopzillow.com/

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Posted by on Jun 5, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Zillow | 5 comments

Do We Need A List Price?

There was quite a bit of hubbub this week about the Zillow Instant Offers program being tested in two cities. Seller inquiries are sent to as many as 15 investors plus a Premier Agent, who gets to make their own pitch for the business – and one realtor reported that she has already received 48 inquiries!

LINK

If that is behind the paywall, the article can be summed up by saying that the agent has submitted proposals to the seller leads, but none have responded. She will knock on some doors to see if she can drum up some business, and she is willing to shepherd the sellers through an investor deal for $1,500.

But why restrict the offers to just 15 investors and one agent?

Let’s let everyone have a shot at it!

Everyone could make an offer if Zillow had a ‘Submit Your Offer Here’ button.

They have the Make Me Move feature already, but that’s where the seller states the price they want. If their was no list price, like some of the commercial brokers do (see image at top), sellers could conduct their own price discovery.  Who knows, maybe they would receive an appealing deal or two?

Our list price gives potential buyers some guidance.  But do they need guidance?  And if there was no list price, might they be willing to pay more than the sellers expected?

The result would be a slow-moving auction, with agents having plenty of opportunities to plug in and provide value to buyers and sellers.

Posted by on May 27, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, The Future, Zillow | 0 comments

Zillow Instant Offers

If there was anyone left who still had doubt whether Zillow has the killer instinct, let this be the final piece of evidence to convince you.

Today they launched ‘Instant Offers’ which allows homeowners to submit a request for 15 investors to bid on their house.

https://www.zillow.com/instant-offers/

Zillow thinks that if they encourage sellers to hire an agent, it will be enough to appease their big-money-spending Premier Agents, because sellers will also have the option to engage with an agent regarding their home’s value.

But there is recent evidence to know how effective that program will be.

Zillow rolled out their big Seller Leads program at the last Premier Agent conference that we attended in Las Vegas last year.  We signed up for the 6-month program, figuring if it does catch fire, we’d want to be involved!

During our paid six months, we got one listing in Spring Valley.

Our advertising with them has been so ineffective that we quit all Zillow advertising this month.  Our listings will still be prominently displayed, but you won’t see me being part of the three-headed monster on the right-side of the listings in Encinitas and Carlsbad.

They have a good shtick, but in reality, the Zillow advertising being sold to agents works most effectively in the lower-end areas, where buyers and sellers aren’t connected to several agents already.

The Instant Offers program is likely to find a similar fate.

Zillow is attempting to capitalize the Open Door model, which has 200 employees operating in the Phoenix and Dallas markets, and has raised $320 million in venture capital.  Zillow probably feels the pressure, and figured they have to do something to compete with Open Door.

As we saw with Tom, not every homeowner is greedy.  There are those who would rather cash out quick than navigate the path to a retail sale – heirs to the estate, long-time landlords, etc., who just want to get their money!

Things that are likely to happen with Zillow’s Instant Offers:

  1.  The investors will hire great salespeople.
  2.  Agents will attempt to game the system.
  3.  Higher-end sellers will hesitate.

If the investors have great salespeople who convince sellers that their discount is worth the fast money, the program might work – whether the buyer is Open Door, Zillow, or Tom T!

https://www.inman.com/2017/05/22/11-burning-questions-about-zillow-instant-offers/

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Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, The Future, Zillow | 4 comments

Zillow Sued Over Zestimate

It was bound to happen: A homeowner has filed suit against online realty giant Zillow, claiming the company’s controversial “Zestimate” tool repeatedly undervalued her home, creating a “tremendous road block” to its sale.

The suit, which may be the first of its kind, was filed in Cook County Circuit Court by a Glenview, Illinois, real estate lawyer, Barbara Andersen. The suit alleges that despite Zillow’s denial that Zestimates constitute “appraisals,” the fact that they offer market value estimates and “are promoted as a tool for potential buyers to use in assessing [the] market value of a given property,” meets the definition of an appraisal under state law. Not only should Zillow be licensed to perform appraisals before offering such estimates, the suit argues, but it should obtain “the consent of the homeowner” before posting them online for everyone to see.

In an interview, Andersen told me she is considering bringing the issue to the Illinois state attorney general because it affects all owners in the state. She has also been approached about turning the matter into a class action, which could touch millions of owners across the country.

In the suit, Andersen said that she has been trying to sell her townhouse, which overlooks a golf course and is in a prime location, for $626,000 — roughly what she paid for it in 2009. Homes directly across the street, but with greater square footage, sell for $100,000 more, according to her court filing. But Zillow’s automated valuation system has apparently used sales of newly constructed houses from a different and less costly part of town as comparables in valuing her townhouse, she says. The most recent Zestimate is for $562,000.

Andersen is seeking an injunction against Zillow and wants the company to either remove her Zestimate or amend it. For the time being she is not seeking monetary damages.

Emily Heffter, a spokeswoman for Zillow, dismissed Andersen’s litigation as “without merit.”

Read more here:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/real-estate-news/article149337129.html

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Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Zillow | 6 comments

Zillow and Sandicor Partnership

Sandicor had said that the Zillow demands were unacceptable. Who caved?  Zillow is still working out the bugs, but this should guarantee that they are as accurate as the MLS:

SEATTLE, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Zillow Group, which houses a portfolio of the largest and most vibrant real estate and home-related brands on mobile and Web, today announced partnerships with the following four new multiple listing services (MLSs):

  • SANDICOR, Inc., in San Diego. SANDICOR represents all of San Diego County, including East San Diego County and Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS®, the Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS®, and the North San Diego County Association of REALTORS®, with nearly 20,000 members representing more than 8,000 listings.
  • The Austin Board of REALTORS® in Austin, Texas. ABoR represents nearly 11,500 members and more than 5,000 listings in Central Texas.
  • The New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS. NOMAR is comprised of three organizations, the REALTORS® Association, which serves over 4,000 REALTORS®, the Commercial Investment Division (CID), which provides commercial brokers and agents benefits targeted to their specialized needs and Gulf South Real Estate Information Network, Inc., which provides MLS services to over 5,000 members.
  • Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors represents 2,700 members and nearly 3,000 listings.

“We are pleased to be working with these leading MLSs to ensure that the millions of home buyers and sellers using Zillow Group sites and mobile apps see the highest quality listings information,” said Errol Samuelson, Zillow Group chief industry development officer. “Now, the members of these MLSs and associations can rest assured their listings are coming to Zillow and Trulia in less than 10 minutes with the same high quality standards that MLS data ensures.”

Zillow Group now partners with more than 570 MLSs around the country, covering 95 percent of active listings in the U.S. marketplace.

Through the Zillow Partnership Platform, real estate agents are prominently displayed as the listing agent on all of their listings and can receive leads directly from Zillow and Trulia, all at no cost. Brokerages receive attribution, branding, a link back directly to their websites and daily reporting access.

Posted by on Apr 27, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Zillow | 0 comments

The Transparency Crossroads?

Our Zillow rep mentioned that they are investing heavily into virtual reality. (He’s reading the blog now – hey Jason!)

I’m a big proponent of video tours – there is no better way to help remind buyers of what they are thinking of purchasing.  We have seen the 3D tours hit the mainstream, and the virtual reality experience can’t be far behind.

Will we see an evolution of how homes are sold?

For that to happen, we would need a sea change in the realtor community.

Currently, the whole real estate industry is focused on representing sellers, and making buyers comply with their every wish.  There would need to be a buyer revolution for it to change.

I’ve already had sellers object to their home being so transparent. They don’t want buyers to see every nook and cranny, especially if their house is less than perfect.

While the virtual reality devices may provide some whiz-bang effect, don’t be surprised if they are slow to take hold.  Sellers and listing agents would rather tempt you with a select group of photos, and disappoint you with the truth once you arrive.

Zillow and others will push the virtual reality toys, and try to convince buyers that those who possess them are superior agents. But there won’t be widespread use, and it will end up just being another gimmick.

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, The Future, Zillow | 0 comments