Posts Tagged as real estate market (page 2)

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.

Selling Homes in Today’s Market Requires Online Approach

I saw a great blog article today from Dave Ramsey’s website that asks, “Are You Using Outdated Methods to Sell Your Home”? You may be familiar with Dave already, as a result of his status and reputation as a financial guru. But he also has some smart stuff to say about real estate outside the financial context, and it turns out it’s the same stuff we’ve been telling you all along. Selling a home in today’s market requires an online approach. It’s as simple—and as complicated—as that.

I saw a great blog article today from Dave Ramsey’s website that asks, “Are You Using Outdated Methods to Sell Your Home”? You may be familiar with Dave already, as a result of his status and reputation as a financial guru. But he also has some smart stuff to say about real estate outside the financial context, and it turns out it’s the same stuff we’ve been telling you all along. Selling a home in today’s market requires an online approach. It’s as simple—and as complicated—as that.

Dave Ramsey’s first tip is to “Go Where the Buyers Are and Give Them What They Want.”

Yes, indeed.

In one of our older posts “How to Establish Yourself as a Real Estate Expert,” we talk about just that same thing. You need to be present where the buyers are. And they are online, in increasingly overwhelming numbers.

Greater than 90% of home buyers are searching for their new houses online, according to NAR. We know what home buyers are looking for. They’re using the Internet as the most significant part of their home search process. It is within your power to give them EXACTLY what they want when they’re there.

What happens when they get to your listing online? Well, quite frankly, they should find a professional and complete single property website showcasing the home and property.

That leads me to another important statistic: 84% of surveyed home buyers told NAR that they consider photos “very useful” to their decision making and willingness to check out a home online. Detailed property info came next in importance at 82%, followed closely by virtual tours at 63%.

Dave Ramsey quotes an agent who says that a seller has just six seconds to make an impression when showing a house. You probably have even less time when presenting your listing on the Internet. Now is not the time to mess around with shoddy photos. Great real estate photos make good first impressions on buyers. And they’re not as hard to achieve as you might think.

And yet more timely advice from Dave: “Part of your agent’s job is to determine the right price for your home so you won’t waste time with a price that’s too high or lose money with one that’s too low. Agents have their own sources of information they use to calculate prices, and those aren’t always available to online pricing websites.”

He’s right, you know. And if you’ve been around long enough, you’ll have seen it come up many times. In fact, you can read 5 Good Reasons to use a Real Estate Agent on our blog, as well as Why Not FSBO?

I love seeing someone with as much influence and integrity as Dave Ramsey weighing in on a subject so close to our hearts, especially when everything he’s said is so sound. It’s good to have someone at the top of his game be on the same page we are at Properties Online. So, thanks Dave and team – you’ve impressed us again!

And if any of you would like to read more of what Dave Ramsey has to say about real estate agents, click HERE.

3 Ways You Can Invest in Real Estate

Almost 30 percent of U.S. home sales were all-cash purchases during 2013, according to Realty Trac. That means many would-be landlords hoping to buy a property to rent out for income lost out on sales to those who made cash offers. Having that much cash may seem like a roadblock, but there are creative ways to invest in real estate without becoming a landlord or raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here are my recommendations on 3 ways you can invest in real estate today.

Invest in REITS

Reap the financial rewards of being a landlord without dealing with tenant issues with a real estate investment trust (REIT). Sold like stocks, REITs are trusts that earn a rental income by buying and developing property. However, a REIT does not develop properties to turn around and resell them. Instead, they’re developed as part of an investment portfolio.

Unlike many forms of real estate investing, REITs must legally pay out 90 percent of their taxable income if they meet certain criteria. This means investors ultimately receive regular payments. REITs develop everything from apartment buildings to malls to cell towers to prisons and beyond.

REITs also level the playing field for those who want to get into real estate, but don’t have a ton of cash lying around. There’s no need to compete with wealthy investors or corporations buying up properties. REITs give you the opportunity to make small investments you can afford and still enjoy the perks.

Become a Private Lender

While REITs act more like a diverse portfolio of property investments, there are ways to invest directly into handpicked projects. Private lending allows individuals or companies to loan out money without the help of a bank . This technique usually works with a note and deed of trust to fund a real estate transaction. Investors typically earn up to 10 percent interest without ever dealing with rehabbing and reselling properties.

Private lenders get the benefit of earning income on their investment without the red tape and middleman of a bank. You can, however, find a third-party platform to help the process. A peer-lending site like Lending Club can connect you with those who need money for property or other assets. The site helps organize and facilitate the process and deal instead of trying to do it on your own.

Flip a House

House flipping was all the rage during the height of the last real estate bubble. It was relatively easy to get loans with little money down, enabling investors to come in and fix up properties to resell for a tidy profit. But despite the bursting real estate bubble, it’s still possible to flip a home and earn an income. According to a Realty Trac report, in the third quarter of 2013, house flipping actually increased 34 percent for homes worth $750,000 and more, 42 percent for homes priced between $1 and $2 million and 350 percent for those worth $2 to $5 million (over Q3 2012).

Need ideas on coming up with cash to support your private lending dreams? Look into creative funding techniques. If you’re entitled to a structured settlement, you could sell your future payments and use the money to reinvest in REITs, private lending or flipping a house.

What Does the Average Home Buyer Look Like?

Short Sale Sellers Back in the Real Estate Market

During the worst of the real estate crisis in 2009, 45% of all homes sold nationally were foreclosures or short sales. But in the last quarter, sales of bank-owned properties reached their lowest level since early 2008. What’s more, thousands of home sellers are now outside the three-year penalty period and in the position to once again secure a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loan. Supply may be down, but demand is increasing as many families are now able to rejoin the ranks of homeownership. Across the country, short sale sellers are back in the real estate market.

Once the three-year waiting period (from the short sale closing date) has passed, homebuyers can obtain another FHA mortgage for as little as 3.5% down, the shortest route for buyers with less than 10% down.

The alternative – a conventional loan – requires up to a seven-year wait for less than a 10% down payment. That time reduces to four years with 10% and just two years if the buyer can put 20% down.

While conventional lenders often want to know the circumstances surrounding a short sale, the FHA loan is non-discriminatory after the waiting period has passed.

The biggest hurdle for these former home owners is time, and that hurdle is gone now for many of them. However, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, only 30% of borrowers who defaulted on their mortgages in 2001 had taken out another mortgage by 2011. There are plenty more considerations besides time and money; home loss takes a significant emotional toll, as well.

New contracts for home sales this year have been at their highest level in three years. With 2013 figures thus far having showed that the housing sector is in recovery, agents can start looking at a whole new group of return buyers, who are once again able, even if perhaps not quite yet willing, to become home buyers once again. May 2014 bring even more positivity to the housing market.

House Canary, Inc. Launches Real Estate Prediction Tool

House Canary, Inc. announced on Tuesday that is has launched an advanced big data and analytics platform that accurately forecasts real estate values across all 381 US metro areas. House Canary, a real estate predictive analytics company, is a homeowner’s “canary in the coal mine”, providing advance notice of downturns and upturns in the real estate market.

HouseCanary.com provides property owners in the US with a simple and accurate forecast for what is likely to happen to home values in their area over the next few years. While a home represents most people’s single largest investment in life, there is insufficient information available to help people understand likely future real estate price swings in their area and appropriately plan. HouseCanary is launching a free-mium web service to help homeowners create value. Why? “Our goal is to arm every current and future homeowner, who has most of their net worth wrapped up in their home, with better information about their home’s future value, and why it is likely to change,” states HouseCanary’s Founders.

HouseCanary is both highly reputable and accurate. Using real estate big data dating back over 40 years, the company creates accurate monthly forecasts up to 36 months into the future, with an average of 0.93 r-squared; meaning the forecasts explain over 90% of future movement in real estate markets. The company employs rigorous techniques in statistics and econometric analysis, utilizing real estate and economic data combined with search trend data, social sentiment, and proprietary local social metrics that help provide insight into the behavioral element that drives real estate markets.

By combining real estate and social data with predictive algorithms to produce accurate forecasts, “HouseCanary has done the impossible, coming up with amazingly accurate models that allow individuals and institutions to more easily navigate the complex and confusing landscape of real estate data,” says Lee Sherman, co-founder of Visual.ly. “We’re excited to partner with them to power their interactive visual infographics.”

HouseCanary also serves the most sophisticated institutions, including homebuilders, mortgage banks and REIT’s with highly detailed predictive forecasts. For Institutional clients, HouseCanary provides details on the drivers of the forecasts, and sensitivities for how changes in interest rates and other factors will affect prices going forward in each market.

Stay tuned for major new developments from HouseCanary that will be coming out very soon.

About HouseCanary, Inc. 
HouseCanary is a real estate predictive analytics company that combines state-of-the-art big data approaches, predictive analytics, and data visualization to accurately forecast and communicate future real estate values at the metro and zip code level. HouseCanary serves institutional clients, investors, realtors and consumers. HouseCanary was founded by a team that includes former partners from the world’s leading strategy consulting firms and Statistics PhD’s from leading universities. To learn more about HouseCanary, please visit Housecanary.com or call +1 888 818 6328.

Media contact:
HouseCanary PR
Email: PR@HouseCanary.com
Phone#: 888-818-6328