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Zillow and the Future


Rob Hahn discusses his thoughts about the future of real estate agents after reading this in the Zillow 2Q/2015 Earning Call:

For example, at the end of Q2, the number of agents spending more than $5,000 per month, grew 48% year-over-year. Agents spending over $2,500 per month, grew 44% year-over-year. And the number of agents spending over $1,000 per month grew 34% year-over-year. The churn rate among these cohorts is very low, validating our strategy of focusing on high performing agents.

Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 in The Future | 0 comments

Realtor Transparency


I am a fan of transparency.

The two best attempts of creating an agent-ranking website got shot down by realtors themselves.  But outside entrepreneurs keep plugging away, and one of them could find the right mix and hit the jackpot some day.

One website called has agent data. To see what they presented, I looked up my own name.  They don’t go into details of where they found this data, or how to interpret this data.  No time periods are given either:

Jim the Realtor stats

Realtors complained about accuracy, but this is what we get instead – outsiders who are running an agent-referral business and using our names and numbers for eyeball bait.  They hope you’ll inquire about an agent, submit your contact info, and then they will send you two other agents who are paying them a referral fee of 25% to 30%.

I don’t know where this company gets their data.  I’ve sold around 32 homes within the city limits of San Diego, but did they get that straight from the MLS? A title company?

The average days-on-market should only be for listings sold – unless a longer average means the agent’s buyers are waiting out the sellers more effectively. On the MLS, my average days-on-market with sellers is 29 days, and buyer sales average 50 days so I don’t know where they got the 64.

Who knows about the 177.  I have more than that on my Zillow count but they may have taken their number from a few years ago?  BTW, Zillow finally corrected their sales counts.  Each agent has their sales tally on their Zillow page, but Zillow’s 12-month timer must have broke because recently they had displayed my count for the last 17-18 months.  I doubt any agents complained!  It is back to the 12-month count now.

Two broker-generated listing portals are being developed currently, and they should include agent statistics right off their MLS.  They will have the accurate data at their fingertips, so let’s create a depository of identical stats on each agent so the public can educate themselves.

Would it favor the old veterans who have more stats?

It might impress the analytical people who crave data, but consumers should be willing to consider the whole package. If photos and video were included in each agent page, any realtor could create a compelling case on why people should use them.

If agents don’t develop our own website, others like Zillow will keep doing it for us.  Or we’ll leave it the way it is now, with agents being able to say whatever they want about themselves because there’s no public way to verify.

Recently an agent mailed out a fancy brochure about being a rural-property specialist.  But a simple MLS search of her sales revealed that she had never sold a rural property. She said she had 15 years experience, but she got her license four years ago.  I guess she could have been an assistant, or sold in another state, but if you haven’t sold one here yourself in the last four years, then you aren’t a specialist.  Yet many agents get away with it because there’s no transparency.

Let’s provide a simple and identical set of data on every agent, and give explanations on how to interpret them.

These are my 16 listings sold over the last 12 months:

JtR stats

Possible interpretations by consumers:

1.  He only sold 16 listings in the last 12 months?

The blog drove a lot of buyers my way during the downturn, and I’ve been scrambling to generate organic listings since the REO listings dried up.

2. He sells them too fast.

Sellers who think it should take months to sell a house will think I’m giving them away.  But it is more a reflection of pricing accuracy and a hot market.

3. He doesn’t work my price range.

4. He doesn’t work my area.

5. He doesn’t sell my size of house.

6. He’s too busy. (I’ve sold twice this many)

7. He’s not busy enough.

8. He only works with sellers (I closed 17 buyer sales).

If each agent inputted their own explanations, they could add texture to their stats, and make their case why they should be hired.  Include a video presentation too (Zillow does).

Consumers would be making educated decisions, and we as agents should not only applaud that, we should insist on it.  Agents would have to get better at selling themselves, and those that do would get the business, regardless of experience or sales history.

I am uncomfortable displaying my stats – people are prone to poke holes and find faults.  It’s why realtors don’t want data released!  But we should all get used to our sales histories being public, because one way or another it is happening – with or without us. Let’s make the best of it!

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Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Jim's Buyer Representation, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Market Buzz, Realtor, Realtor Training, Realtors Talking Shop, The Future, Why You Should List With Jim | 5 comments

Death Discount


Thank you daytrip for sending in this story about sellers who didn’t disclose a death on the property – an excerpt:

Over the next 15 years, Bell traveled all over the world, dividing his time between massive disasters and lurid scenes of tabloid horror. He examined such famously stigmatized properties as JonBenét Ramsey’s house, the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the nuclear-weapons test sites of the Bikini Atoll, businesses looted and burned in the Rodney King riots, the California estate where actress Sharon Tate was killed by followers of the Manson family, Chernobyl, the Rancho Santa Fe mansion where 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed suicide, the field in Pennsylvania where United flight 93 crashed, and the World Trade Center. For around $400 per hour, Bell would advise sellers on how to price their stigmatized property or make it more attractive to prospective buyers.

To determine an event’s effect on property value, Bell takes the price of a comparable, unstigmatized property and, using case studies drawn from his own research, calculates a percentage of depreciation. The exact percentage depends on the severity of the stigma, the elasticity of the local real estate market, and a host of other factors that can intensify or diminish the impact. Suicides, according to Bell, create less stigma than murders, but both create more than sexual assaults. Unsolved crimes create more stigma than those for which a suspect is apprehended. A murder that happens indoors creates more stigma than a murder that occurs outdoors. A murder involving a child is especially bad. Widely reported crimes create dramatically more stigma than those that are ignored. Peaceful deaths and nonviolent crimes carry little to no stigma. Murders in low-crime neighborhoods tend to attract more stigma than murders in high-crime areas.

On average, most stigmatized properties, Bell estimates, sell at a discount of between 15 percent and 25 percent and take significantly longer to find a buyer.

Bell says, though, that even the worst stigma eventually fades. A house is usually unsellable immediately after a crime. But within three to seven years, most properties recover nearly all their value. Forgotten violence loses its power to haunt.

“The financial penalty Mrs. Milliken has suffered was entirely avoidable had the sellers from whom she bought her home merely exercised a little more integrity and a little less greed.”

Read full story here:

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Interesting Houses, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices | 3 comments

Renting vs. Buying

rent own

This article talks about how ‘crazy’ rents have become, which isn’t exactly a scientific term but rents do appear to be on the rise.  But the indented paragraph below shows how low rates and big down payments have helped buyers lower their monthly ‘nut’ compared to the last boom:

An excerpt:

In some areas, rent is even more unaffordable. In Los Angeles, California, renters sent nearly 50 percent of their income to the landlord in the second quarter, while in the New York-Northern New Jersey and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Florida areas, that was hovering around 41-45 percent, the survey from the real estate listing and analytics company found.

Rents and occupancies are currently hovering at historic highs. While apartment construction has seen strong growth over the past three years, construction of multifamily homes, such as apartment buildings, fell to next to nothing amid the housing bust and the new units are meeting with pent-up demand.

Buyers, however, appear to be sitting pretty, likely spending around 15.1 percent of their monthly income on mortgage payments, down from around 21.3 percent in the 1985-2000 period, the study found.

“If you can possibly come up with a down payment, then it’s a good time to buy a home and start putting your money toward a mortgage,” Gudell said.

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Jim's Take on the Market, Thinking of Buying? | 0 comments

Inventory Watch

Early last month we had that little blip in new listings that I thought could mean something, but the New Actives and New Pendings counts sure have settled down since:

summer 2015 act-pend

We were on about the same pace last year at this time!

Click on the link below for the complete NSDCC active-inventory data:

Read More

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Inventory | 0 comments