Posts in IDX

The Zillow-Trulia Merger & Your Real Estate Business

Last week, Zillow revealed publicly its intent to buy Trulia for $3.5 billion. Obviously this news (and the rumors we’ve been hearing for some time) are hot topics of conversation in the real estate world. The consolidation will allegedly take place whilst still maintaining the distinct identities of both Zillow and Trulia. Only time will tell. But what will a Zillow-Trulia merger mean for your real estate business?

Last week, Zillow revealed publicly its intent to buy Trulia for $3.5 billion. Obviously this news (and the rumors we’ve been hearing for some time) are hot topics of conversation in the real estate world. The consolidation will allegedly take place whilst still maintaining the distinct identities of both Zillow and Trulia. Only time will tell. But what will the Zillow-Trulia merger mean for your real estate business?

On July 28th, Zillow announced via a press release that “it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Trulia, Inc. … in a stock-for-stock transaction. The Boards of Directors of both companies have approved the transaction, which is expected to close in 2015.”

Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow, stated: “Consumers love using Zillow and Trulia to find vital information about homes and connect with the best local real estate professionals. Both companies have been enormously successful in creating compelling consumer brands and deep industry partnerships, but it’s still early days in the world of real estate advertising on mobile and Web. This is a tremendous opportunity to combine our resources and achieve even more impressive innovation that will benefit consumers and the real estate industry.”

Pete Flint, Trulia’s CEO, then commented: “Trulia and Zillow have a shared mission and vision of empowering consumers while helping real estate agents, brokerages and franchisors benefit from technological innovation. By working together, we will be able to create even more value for home buyers, sellers, and renters, as well as create a robust marketing platform that will help our industry partners connect with potential clients and grow their businesses even more efficiently. Our two companies share complementary employee cultures with innovative, consumer-first philosophies and a deep commitment to create the best products and services for our industry partners.”

By the (self-reported) numbers:
• Zillow reported a record 83 million unique users across mobile and Web in June 2014.
• Trulia reported a record 54 million monthly unique users across its sites and mobile apps in June 2014.
• Approximately half of Trulia.com’s monthly visitors do not visit Zillow.com
• Approximately two-thirds of Zillow.com’s monthly visitors across all devices do not use Trulia.com.
• “Maintaining the two distinct consumer brands will allow the combined company to continue to offer differentiated products and user experiences, attract more users and maximize the distribution of free content across multiple platforms, apps and channels.”

The Zillow-Trulia merger might not create the “pricing power” juggernaut that many people fear. We’ve been reading comments by agents and brokers all over the web, and the fact is that many MLS boards and independent agents are starting to pull their listings – they simply don’t want to have to pay to advertise next to their own listings. There are also frequent rumblings about the data and Zestimates on Zillow being inaccurate.

Citron Research cites a deal struck between Realogy and Zillow/Trulia. Realogy—the world’s largest real estate agency, comprising Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s, ERA, Century 21 and Better Homes—secured a lucrative deal for its agents that “prohibits all other agencies from advertising on their listings” at a cost of less than 95% what any other agency pays. What’s more, Realogy is aggressively pursuing their own online offering that will compete head-to-head with Zillow-Trulia in the consumer-focused online real estate space, with a new product expected sometime in 2015.

“We believe that there is a space in there that we can compete in. It will have features like Zillow and Trulia. It will have features that you wouldn’t put on a real estate brokerage website. An example of that would be Zestimate that Zillow uses. There are certain features that we believe we can effectively do and be able to cast a net outcome, a consumer-oriented facing website arena and be able to capture leads, reviewing [scrub then] as I described, and then put them in the hands of our sales associates so we create the business opportunity,” NRT CEO and President Bruce Zipf is quoted as saying on May 9th during a Realogy Investor Day Q&A.

Rascoff, Zillow’s CEO, has been quoted as saying, “It ought to be quite clear to a listing agent or a broker that it behooves their seller to have their listing displayed on Zillow and Trulia or sites that Zillow powers.”

Indeed, Zillow powers some of the internet’s major property search engines, and together with Trulia will indeed have a massive reach. But for how long, with competitors like Realogy making such significant strides, technologically and on behalf of its agents at the bargaining table? And how long before Keller Williams, Remax, Berkshire Hathaway, or other agencies demand and negotiate the same deals Zillow-Trulia have granted Realogy?

Many real estate professionals feel a loss of power in the face of the deal, which cements a growing resentment at having to pay Zillow to advertise their listings. Online forums reveal many of these agents calling for boycotts, while still others agree there isn’t another viable option.

Inman News contributing writer Joseph Rand writes in his Op-ed “Why Zulia doesn’t mean checkmate,” that: “The bottom line is that Zillow needs listings more than listings need Zillow. Which means that Zillow needs the people (brokers and agents) who take those listings more than they need Zillow.” I’d venture that he is bang on with that assessment.

Where does your business fit in? Do you use Zillow to obtain leads? One thing I can say with certainty is that this isn’t over, and we’ll be talking about the Zillow-Trulia merger for some time to come. How do you feel about all of this? I’d love to hear your thoughts from the proverbial trenches.

How to Grow Your Online Presence

According to NAR research, 90% of homebuyers use the internet as part of their search for a new home, as opposed to just 27% who still look in the newspaper. Yard signs factor in to 53% of homebuyers’ search methods. But look at that first figure again. You have to be actively marketing your homes online, and you have to have enough of an online presence that buyers will find your homes, right? So, here’s a quick ‘how to’ on grow your online presence.

“A website is an absolute must for any self-respecting business, and that includes real estate agents,” says Amanda Cornelius, co-founder and CEO of Properties Online.

But a website in and of itself is not enough.

To truly grow your online presence, Cornelius advises, you should ideally have a mix of the following:

1. An agent website. Your agent website is your online business card and resume, and should be used to highlight your achievements, experience and expertise and to provide clients and prospects with valuable information.

2. Single property websites. These focus around a single property, highlighting its features and benefits and providing all the information on that property at one place. Sellers and buyers alike love single property websites , and they are great at helping you to win listings.

3. Social media accounts. You need to have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Update your social media accounts frequently, add useful info and links, and reach out to new friends and followers weekly. Over a year or so, you can significantly grow these accounts. The beauty of social media is that it functions just like word of mouth marketing, but on a much larger scale.

4. Don’t forget email! Being active and proactive rather than passive when keeping in touch with clients and prospects can make a big difference, and email drip marketing programs are a huge help.

5. Incorporate offline marketing tools. Remember those 53% of homebuyers who looked for yard signs? Custom sign riders, complete with QR codes, are designed to direct people immediately to your website, while also logging and sending their mobile phone number to you as a lead.

“Growing your online presence takes time and patience, but it is also lots of fun and the return on investment is very real,” says Cornelius.

Supercharge Real Estate Website Property Listings with IDX Mashup

More than 60% of real estate agents carry IDX listing feeds on their real estate websites. According to a recent ActiveRain survey of real estate agents, real estate sites that feature IDX listings are the most used technology tool in the real estate digital tool bag.

More than 60% of real estate agents carry IDX listing feeds on their real estate websites. According to a recent ActiveRain survey of real estate agents, real estate sites that feature IDX listings are the most used technology tool in the real estate digital tool bag. Of the agents surveyed, 63% make regular use of IDX software; and top agents are investing more heavily in IDX than their less successful peers. In a comparison of high and low earners, differences in software spending were greatest on IDX, CRM, virtual home tours, and team management.

IDX, or Internet Data Exchange, is a successful exercise in broker reciprocity that was initiated by the National Association of Realtors and went online in 2002. IDX allows members of local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) boards to display MLS properties on their real estate company or agent websites. IDX feeds have proved to be not only a valuable tool for Realtors, but a tremendous site traffic draw, allowing site visitors to peruse properties for sale in both nearby towns and cities across the country.

Available from Properties Online, IDX Mashup supercharges the power of IDX to maximize your return on investment. IDX Mashup allows customizable and savable searches of MLS listing displays on your website, a feature that entices site visitors to stay on and return to your site, using your site to organize and coordinate their property search. Lead capture options provide real estate agents with multiple opportunities to capture contact information and build prospect lists and data bases. Automatic new listing alerts that link back to your site and personalized email follow-ups maintain your connection to clients.

Property organizer software helps agents organize and manage their listings, easily customize and edit listings and showcase properties that have been sold or are under contract. System administration features let you tack and evaluate site use data, manage contacts and email subscription lists, and manage your brand — and much more. Visit our website for complete information about the many benefits IDX Mashup offers real estate agents.

Mobile Apps for Real Estate

Have you seen the mobile app from SmarterAgent.com? This looks like a really cool app. I recommended that my mom “The Broker” get it for her office so we can see how well it works. Anyone have a success story about this product? I can really see how useful it can be for buyers.

Have you seen the mobile app from SmarterAgent.com? This looks like a really cool app. I recommended that my mom “The Broker” get it for her office so we can see how well it works. Anyone have a success story about this product? I can really see how useful it can be for buyers.

Stacked-Phones

iHomefinder Names Properties Online LLC Reseller Partner of the Month

Partner Honored for its Excellence in Sales, Quality and Customer Service.

BERKELEY, CA — iHomefinder, Inc., the leading provider of online property search and MLS data, announces that Properties Online LLC has been named May 2009 Reseller Partner of the Month. Created to honor excellence among iHomefinder’s community of over 200 Reseller Partners, this month’s award acknowledges Properties Online’s success in increasing their iHomefinder IDX sales by over 400% in the last year.

Properties Online LLC was founded in 1999 by real estate professionals who wanted to offer unique website marketing tools to the industry.  The company bridges traditional marketing techniques with the ever evolving Web.  Their products increase lead generation and save time for agents, sellers and buyers.

In May 2008, Properties Online launched a new agent website product incorporating iHomefinder IDX called RealEstateSites.com.  The RealEstateSites.com sites are user configured, completely customizable, simple to navigate, and packed full of dynamic features that engage buyers and sellers.  RealEstateSites.com utilizes interactive maps, market reports, recent home sales, and detailed reports to educate and inform prospects about the home buying and selling process.

“iHomefinder’s IDX solution has been a wonderful enhancement to RealEstateSites.com. iHomefinder allows us to offer our clients a complete website package with the tools buyers and sellers are looking for online. With iHomefinder as an intricate part of our website marketing system, we look forward to continued growth in 2009 and beyond.” said Amanda Cornelius, Founder/CEO, Properties Online, LLC.

“We are pleased with exceptional growth in the iHomefinder/Properties Online relationship over the last year.  They offer an attractive and effective solution for brokers and agents,” said Brett DeSchepper, Founder/President, iHomefinder.

For more information on Properties Online, please visit http://www.propertiesonline.com. More information on iHomefinder and its Reseller Partner program is available here.

About iHomefinder:
iHomefinder is the leading national provider of online property search technology and MLS (Multiple Listing Service) data for real estate websites. Using the Internet Data eXchange (IDX) standard, iHomefinder powers hosted property search and lead capture capabilities in thousands of real estate broker and agent websites. The company partners with a wide variety of web designers and online marketing firms to integrate and deploy our technology in the real estate websites and related online marketing applications they develop. They also maintain relationships with hundreds of MLS’s across the US to provide accurate and timely listing data. The company maintains a long-standing reputation for stellar compliance with the local rules of each MLS.

In addition to serving real estate agents and brokers, iHomefinder provides strategic data services to innovative Internet marketing firms and MLSs who require robust access to national real estate listing data and reliable compliance technology. Established in 1997, iHomefinder is privately held and headquartered in Berkeley, California.