Zillow Continues to Make Real Estate Information Cheaper

“Information is cheap, don’t be cheap”

It is one of Toby’s favorite statements as he is building his real estate business. And, today word came out on the Zillow Blog that continues to make information cheaper.

For those that aren’t aware, Zillow is a site that is working to build a database that will allow people to create a comparative market analysis for their homes. This technology will make information cheaper and continue to change how real estate agents do business.

Agents that continue to belive that their job is to provide information — such as what homes are on the market or how much the home is worth — are going to feel the pinch. And it could be sooner rather than later.

But does that mean that Realtors will soon be heading the way of the dinasours? Well that really depends. You see agents that are like the dinasours will become extinct, but those that are willing to be open with their clients and add value to the transaction will not survive, but they will prosper.

I was sitting here on the couch just minutes ago, when a prospective client called Toby and started asking him about a home they were considering. He talked with them for a few minutes about the home, when the conversation quickly changed. The customer had spent time on Zillow and was giving information about the home’s value.

The conversation went from one of education, to one of adding value. Rather than “providing information”, Toby began “adding service” to the transaction. Yes that is the value that Zillow suggests for this home, is it accurate? How does it play into the market? All the things that an agent does to earn their money, during the transaction are now being done at the beginning of the deal. And it just makes me wonder why real estate agents are wondering why the sky is falling because of this program.

The Week That Was in Delaware (Sept. 16-22)

The week of September 16 through September 22, was a slow one in the City of Delaware. Only three homes sold this week, while 37 homes went into contract (either under contract or contingent). A break down…

Type No. List$ Sold$ Ft2 Bed Bath DOM
Active 307 $183,890 1,813 3 1.1 112
Sold 3 $130,600 $128,300 1,248 2 2.1 329
Under Contract 1 $207,500 2,425 4 2.1 93
Contingent 29 $177,634 1,777 3 1.1 68
Contingent/Escape 7 $180,114 1,660 2 1.1 244
Withdrawn 5 $182,800 1,961 3 2.1 88

What does this table mean?

  • Top Line – Type of home are defined below, No. is how many of this type reported, List$ – the average original listing price, Sold$ – how much the average home sold for, ft2 – square footage of the average home, bed – number of bedrooms, bath – first number is average of full baths and decimal number is average half baths, DOM – marks the days on
    market for the average property.
  • Active – these are homes that are currently on the market.
  • Sold – those where the sale was completed this week.
  • Under Contract – these are homes that are under clear contract, with no contingencies remaining on the contract.
  • Contingent – These are homes that have some type of “requirement” that must be met
    before the home can go under contract, and eventually sell. Most of the time contingent requirements are financing and inspections.
  • Contingent With Escape – This is similar to the contingent, except in this case there is an out for the home’s owner. Usually this is used when the sale of home “a” requires the sale of home “b”. If the owner of home “a” gets another offer on the home, they can force the hand of “home b” owner via the layout of the contract.
  • Withdrawn – Homes that were taken off the market this week.Why so slow?

    Of course the current economic trend isn’t helping, however, the fact that the Delaware County Fair was this week had to put a damper on this week’s numbers.

  • The Little Brown Jug: Ohio's Kentucky Derby!

    The third Thursday of September in Delaware, Ohio is a self-proclaimed holiday.
    Don’t try to visit the bank, they close at noon.
    Want to buy a house, good luck.
    What is this self-proclaimed holiday? The Little Brown Jug.
    While I was but a month old last year, Toby and Gretchen have been quick to share their experiences with the Jug. Toby even wrote an article for Connect2 OWU last year on the experience.
    The Jug drew 53,000 people last year — or nearly double the population ofthe city — and was carried live on the Ohio News Network and was covered by media from all over the country and Canada.
    The Jug is more than just “a” horse race, it is a cultural event. The parties begin almost at sun-up and carry on through the day with the final race — the Brown Jug — being ran in the early evening. Then the party will move to one of the downtown establishments or a personal party and continue into the night. In much the same way as the Kentucky Derby transforms Lexington, Ky. in May.
    So party on Delaware!

    Blogging Won't Change the World

    I was sitting here this morning thinking about what to write, when Toby decided he needed a break from his early morning routine and we took a walk around the neighborhood.

    It was our typical 1-1/2 mile trip around Locust Curve– and I love these early morning trips. I get to see all the little kids waiting at the bus stop and they always spend a few minutes petting me and telling me how pretty I am. Like I didn’t know that already

    But on this trip, I started thinking about how blogging effects real estate transactions. I was reminded of an article that appeared on CNNMoney in January (“Blog if you love real estate”) that outlined the growth of real estate blogging and how it was changing the world.

    That sounds wonderful, but to be honest, it sounds a little too easy to me. Blogging is a great way to share information that isn’t covered well in the main stream media. And real estate is definitely that way, even as the dog of an agent, there are a lot of things that I don’t understand or don’t know about these transactions.

    And blogs – if the writer is knowledgeable – can help. But, that requires an agent to be part of the process and how many agents want to share all the knowledge with the general public? Not many. These people are competing every single day for listings and leads – and if the agent “gives” you the knowledge and you go to someone else – they’ve given away their information. (Not that Toby, or many of the other “new-age” agents, believes this of course.)

    But even worse is that blogging is too anonymous (come on, this is being written by a dog) to really make a huge difference in the specific markets. “Blog if you love real estate” quotes “Blogs are telling it like it is at the street level,” said Brad Inman of Inman News, a large real-estate news service. Inman said real-estate blogging began in the Bay area, took hold in New York and has now spread nationally.

    But can you believe the word on the street? And why should you believe this person?
    If someone is writing that “Builder X” does horrible work, what does that mean to you as a potential consumer? Is this a person that is out to ruin him? Is the writer a real concerned person or simply a former employee or – worse – a rival builder that has an axe to grind with the new builder in the neighborhood?

    All that being said, I think blogging is a good thing about real estate. There are lots of things that can – and should – be shared without damaging the reputation of agents. As Toby is quick to say, “Information is cheap, don’t make yourself cheap.”

    So until next time, may you be flea free!

    Sadie Lynn

    Choosing a Full-Service Brokerage

    Full service brokerages – and agents – are not for everyone. That mayseem odd for me – a full-service agent – to tell you. However, there are a lot of instances where a full-service brokerage can offer you more than you realize.

    I liken it to a career similar to an ccountant. The more money the deal involves the more likely you are to have your taxes done by an accountant. If you are selling a single parcel of land for a couple thousand dollars to your neighbor – thedeal is pretty simple and straight forward.

    The basic ways tosell a house are by owner, a limited brokerage, and a full-service brokerage. What is the biggest difference between these three? Money and time.
    When looking at the choices, you have to ask yourself “Which do I value more?”

    A basic rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of the options:

    For Sale by Owner
    Theadvantage is that you don’t have to give a commission to a license d real estate agent. But a major disadvantage is that you will not have access to a Multi-Listing Service, which will limit your home’s exposure. But even more important is the time commitment that you’ve made to selling your home. Not only are you now you doing the staging and prepping – but also the marketing, advertising, and promotion. Not even mentioning what happens when you get an offer.

    The majority of For Sale by Owners are eventually pulled off the market and listed with an licensed sales agent. Why? The data shows that people underestimate the time it takes to sell a home.

    Alternative Brokerage
    These are emerging throughout Ohio and offer a lot of alternatives in our increasingly busy world. The concept is that alternative brokerages will – for a fee – provide you with an a la carte selection of items. For sale signs, listing in the MLS, postcards to area homeowners, and other items can be purchased for a fee. The advantage is that it will reduce the cost of the transaction, while the downside is that you may not have the attention that you should be receiving from a full-service broker. Again it comes down to time, you have less time invested (but more money) than selling it on your own. But there is still quite a bit of time invested in this process for the homeowner.

    Full Service Brokerage
    The traditional approach with a listing agent working to sell your home for a percentage of the sale price. Hopefully, you’ll be getting superior service and will have the least amount of work with a full-service brokerage, but you will also pay the most. However, a good agent will be more than a “promoter” of your home. She will work with you to find the best possible offer – which may not always be the highest offer – and give you the expertise that they’ve developed in the field.