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Entries Tagged as 'National Association of Realtors'

A leisurely ride through the Carnival

December 4th, 2006 · No Comments


This week’s Carnival of Real estate was hosted by the Property Monger, and the ten winners are highlighted here.

Taking first position is Northern Michigan’s Stefan Scholl for his insights into NAR’s current legal woes.  Stefan’s legal background helps us parse NAR’s recent setback in which a judge denies its request to throw out the case.  In a nutshell, the judge agreed with the government that many of NAR’s online polices appear anti-competitive and anti-consumer.  Sweet old NAR is anti-consumer?  No….. :)

In no particular order, Property Monger highlights these posts as well:

  • My Resurrection Post, in which I thank the good folks at Altos Research for playing a role in my recovery from the Martian Death Flu and then return the favor by extending their analysis on the NASDAQ vs. Palo Alto home prices.
  • Landlord Shmandlord talks about the pros and cons of making extra mortgage payments on an investment property.  I found myself scratching my head at the example of a property with a $1000 per month mortgage payment and $2000 per month rental income…and then remembered:  not everybody lives in California!
  • Cliff Jacobson asks who’s going to win the real estate 2.0 wars — the National Association of “Hide the data” Realtors, or the “Give them data, sell advertising” approach of Zillow et. al.  In that particular race, I’ll put my money on Zillow every time.
  • Bryant “Active Rain King” Tutas shows how to get a listing at a saleable price…by playing on what sellers instinctively know to be true.  BTW, I keep my fingers crossed every day that my wife won’t come across Bryant’s writings…I might have to get her (my wife) a far more expensive Christmas present than planned!
  • Trulia borrows a page from Robert Scoble with its Youtube video interview of a Dutch online real estate entrepreneuer.  Well worth a look:  broadband penetration in the Netherlands — north of 85% — has effectively obliterated the real estate sections of most Dutch newspapers.
  • The ever-creative Mary McKnight offers suggestions on how to “pimp your blog.”
  • Pat Kitano dissects Edgeio’s acquisition of ARES.
  • Sadie, another great real estate canine in the tradition of Odysseus, discusses how today’s changing market leaves buyers with more options…including, thankfully, not having to assume that they need to settle for just any old property that comes on the market.
  • Athol Kay practices the art of the obscure analogy.  He argues that blogging is simply much more effective advertising than more traditional media.  Couldn’t agree more!  I’m going to have to do some serious thinking to come up with a similarly obscure analogy for my upcoming guest post on his blog!

Thanks again to the Property Monger for all the hard work!

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Tags: Carnival of real estate · National Association of Realtors · Real estate · Zillow

The carnival is up…

November 20th, 2006 · 1 Comment

The good folks at Ubertor took the helm at the Carnival of Real Estate this week, wading through a ton of good entries to narrow it down to 11.  Pat Kitano of TransparentRE rightfully won top honors for his entry on first mover advantage in a Web 2.0 world, a much-discussed and dissected article (see the comments) on how difficult it is to stay ahead of the game technologically these days.

In addition to thinking kindly of a recent post of mine, (my second in a series on why the Internet will never displace realtors)  Ubertor also highlighted the following:

  • Searchlight Crusade on “Buyers Who Don’t Want a Buyer’s Agent.“  Dan makes the good point that a lot of unattached buyers who meet agents at an open house get a poor impression of agents in general simply because they (the buyers) don’t understand that the listing agent not only isn’t on their side, but actually has a legal obligation to do everything short of lying, concealing the truth, or misleading in order to get the the most amount of money in the least amount of time for his client — the seller.  So, yes, if you’re at an open house, and you feel the listing agent is putting pressure on you…that’s their job!  They’re not there for your benefit…
  • Douglas Heddings at True Gothan discusses the luxury market.  Psst, Doug…if your clients can’t find the $15M property they’re looking for…send them my way!  It’ll be a long commute, but a hell of a property!  Though Doug makes no mention of it, my understanding of the Manhattan luxury market is that it’s heavily affected by Wall Street bonuses, which apparently are going to be pretty good this year.
  • Joel Burslem at FutureOfRealEstateMarketing talks about Quantcast, a new — and free! — web traffic analysis service.  Using Quantcast, Joel notes that Trulia’s site has a stickiness problem, while Redfin’s visitors are pretty wealth — which makes sense, considering their current activities are confined to the wealthy West Coast enclaves of Seattle and the Bay Area.
  • Jonathan Dalton muses about some of the bone-headed decisions NAR has made regarding the Internet.  Preach it, brother!
  • Zillow’s general counsel Liam Lavery comments on a recent court decision exonerating Craigslist in a lawsuit that claimed the site was violating the Fair Housing Act.  Perennial Web rivals Yahoo and Google chimed in on the case in support of Craigslist, and Liam notes that this decision bodes well for both purveyors and consumers of online real estate.
  • The Tour Sheet, written by Kyle Else, notes that caveat emptor remains the best consumer anti-scam protection, and then he goes on to list what some of the more common scams are.
  • Chiming in from Utah, Greg Tracy asks “What if Zillow Got Serious?“  He proposes — hypothetically — that Zillow might benefit from hiring scads of on-the-ground folks to keep their data up-to-date and accurate.  My take?  I think we’re all missing the forest of Zillow’s future plans for the trees of its current AVM offering.  Zillow has made it clear they have no intention of being a one-hit wonder, and though what their next offering will be and when it will come out is anybody’s guess, I would put money on it being as compelling to the general public, and controversial to the industry, as their Zestimates.
  • The RealEstateTomato’s headline is one that brings shivers to grammatical purists, but, ending in a preposition or not, Jim Cronin’s question (re-phrased) is valid:  For Whom are You Blogging?  Our corner of the blogosphere sometimes resembles an echo chamber, but Jim suggests that some first time home buyers and sellers might be finding our sites too.
  • We all have our favorite clients, and the Bloodhound takes us on a long, delightful journey with some of his, the Pawlenko’s.  The best example I’ve seen in a long time about the whole “real estate is a relationship” thing.

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Tags: Carnival of real estate · Liam Lavery · National Association of Realtors · Real estate · Redfin · Trulia · Zillow

The real reason Realtor.com is critical of Zillow…

November 8th, 2006 · 3 Comments

With New Orleans already alive with NardiGras, I’m expecting some more choice outtakes of Realtor.com’s Alan Dalton criticizing Zillow to come out soon.

Why is he so against Zillow? Is it, in fact, out of some sort of principled commitment to the way online real estate should be conducted?

I think it has more to do with what Lloyd Frink of Zillow says in this clip from a recent CAR convention.

Quite simply, Realtor.com is running scared. In 6 short months, Zillow has made rapid gains and is now in contention to become the leading real estate destination on the Web, along with all the ad revenue that implies.

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Tags: Alan Dalton · California Association of Realtors · Lloyd Frink · National Association of Realtors · Real estate · Realtor.com · Zillow

We’ve seen the fireworks; now let’s see the substance…

October 30th, 2006 · No Comments

Lest I give the impression that Alan Dalton is all bombast and no substance, consider the following clips, also from his recent address to the home crowd at the California Association of Realtors.

Dalton gets the Internet in a way that many senior real estate executives don’t. He understands that the transparency promoted by the Internet is a good thing.

The problem is, his hands are tied. Without the suffocating restrictions on the display of online data recommended by the National Association of Realtors, and implemented by many MLS’s, I have no doubt that Realtor.com would have a much richer treasure trove of data with which to tempt the public — though it would probably still have a less-than-mediocre interface. Dalton is a capable executive, of that I have no doubt. It’s difficult for him to compete against the sites that aren’t beholden to NAR — like Zillow — so he cloaks his frustration by calling on red herring higher principles.

Classic. He challenges Zillow to do something, and then promises to implement it as well on Realtor.com. That “something”? Displaying “what homes have sold for” instead of “what homes are worth.”

The problem? Many MLS’s, including our own in Silicon Valley, REIL, prohibit the display of sold listings. Realtor.com has had access to sold data for eons but, bound by NAR’s paranoid “keep the data under lock and key” restrictions, it hasn’t been able to…until recently…and then only by disingenuous subterfuge.

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Tags: Alan Dalton · California Association of Realtors · Lloyd Frink · National Association of Realtors · Real estate · Realtor.com · Zillow

When Realtors lobby, who wins?

October 26th, 2006 · 7 Comments

The National Association of Realtors and its state and local affiliates are masters of the rile-up-the-troops-and-get-out-the-vote routine.  Two years ago I trekked up to Sacramento for the California Association of Realtor’s annual Legislative Day and had my eyes opened to the world of lobbying, politics, and how legislative decisions are made.  2000 Realtors from around the state descended on the capital and met with their local state representatives, “educating” them about upcoming real-estate related legislative issues and “how they should vote.”  Our local NAR affiliate, the Silicon Valley Assocation of Realtors, is equally effective on local issues — with a day’s notice, it can mobilize several dozen, perhaps even a few hundred, local Realtors to show up at a city council meeting to voice their opposition to some new measure.
Don’t get me wrong — every trade association in the country lobbies, and the Realtor lobby just happens to be better funded, organized, and influential than most.  NAR’s express purpose is, and should be, to protect the interests of its members as it perceives them.

I’m often troubled, however, by issues on which the interests of “citizen Kevin Boer” and “Realtor Kevin Boer” might conflict.  If there’s a ballot initiative in which I as a Realtor benefit, but I as a citizen don’t, which way do I vote?  Personally, the answer is clear:  when it comes to elections, I’m a citizen first, and a Realtor second.

Measure A is an upcoming county-level Land Use ballot initiative (see Smartvoter for more information).  SILVAR wants us to vote “No” on this issue (see here and here).  I don’t know enough about this particular measure yet to figure out which way I’m going to vote, but I’m willing to bet that most Realtors who do go to the polls on November 7 will toe the party line.

Not all of them, though.  Ray Schuster, a fellow Alain Pinel-er, sent out a refreshing, independent-minded email this morning.  Ray takes issue with SILVAR’s recommendation on Measure A, and does so in a very level-headed way.  Hats to Ray for taking a stand and letting us know that not all Realtors necessarily vote per the dictates from above!


As a member of SILVAR, I rely on the association for information and recommendations related to political and legislative issues. So it is appropriate that SILVAR provide voting advice on Santa Clara County Measure A.

However, It is not appropriate that this advice be based on incomplete and misleading information. I disagree with SILVAR’s “no on A” recommendation. I will vote “Yes,” and urge other SILVAR Realtors to consider doing the same—or at least looking beyond the SILVAR arguments to make an informed decision.

SILVAR recommends a visit to the No on Measure A website. Fair enough. For balance, you should also check out www.openspace2006.org., the pro-Measure A website. Here are just a few facts that you’ll find there:

Measure A was not written “behind closed doors,” without public input, as the SILVAR email alleges. Measure A was written carefully with input from community leaders and organizations throughout Santa Clara County, including farmers and ranchers. Endorsers include 41 organizations, 44 community leaders, and 106 state, federal and local elected or formerly elected officials. See for yourself at http://www.openspace2006.org/endorsements.htm.

The Santa Clara County Land Conservation Initiative (Measure A) will preserve our region as a desirable place to live and work. It amends the County General Plan to help protect hillsides, ranchlands, watersheds and agricultural lands by reducing the number of developable parcels permitted in rural areas. Nothing more.

The Measure will not harm family farms. All existing legal parcels and uses remain valid. The Initiative WOULD reduce the number of new developable parcels by limiting them to 160-acre minimums, actually encouraging farming development. Importantly, the Initiative leaves many thousands of acres under County authority available for housing in and nearer to existing built-up areas and public services.

In summary, and without making a book out of this, Measure A will protect Santa Clara County’s remaining valuable natural resources from being paved over and lost forever.

I think these goals coincide with the goals of Realtors in Santa Clara County.

Ray Schuster

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Tags: Ballot Initiatives · California Association of Realtors · Measure A · National Association of Realtors · Real estate · Silicon Valley Association of Realtors

The nice thing about making the rules is … you get to break them!

October 20th, 2006 · 3 Comments

I rarely have a need to go to Realtor.com, but when I did so last night I had quite the surprise — there were not just active listings, but recently solds as well!  Their source for that data?  Not the MLS, but a 3rd party data aggregator called OnBoard.  I’m getting a headache.


It’s taken as a given in this industry that by withholding information from consumers, you encourage them to call a Realtor, which has been the rationale behind the archaic prohibitions on showing data on sold properties.  Alas, this thing called the Internet came around and set a whole bunch of data free, much of which is gleefully basking in the sun at Zillow.com.  So now consumers who want sold data can simply ignore Realtors completely.  Bad move on our part.

As a competitive response, Realtor.com, the “official site of the National Association of Realtors,” now displays sold data…in violation of the recommended rules of…you guessed it, the National Association of Realtors.

From the NAR site:


Our local MLS, which provides the data feed for this area to hundreds of web sites, including Realtor.com, is pretty explicit on this issue:  [I assume the first line is supposed to say, "No one may publish the following kinds of information..."]
So let me see if I have this straight…REIL, our local MLS, operating under guidelines from NAR, explicitly prohibits the display of sold listings.  REIL licenses its data for this area to Realtor.com, NAR’s official site, which then breaks REIL’s own rules by displaying sold data?

Perhaps they’re able to get around the prohibition simply by using sold data from a 3rd party aggregator, instead of from the MLS.  Ingenious, and disingenuous, at the same time.

Real time update…I just called REIL’s compliance department and spoke to a very friendly and helpful person.  She promised to look into it and get back to me.  I explained to her that while I think it’s a silly rule, if other people have found a way around it, I’d like to be able to do the same.

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Tags: National Association of Realtors · Real estate · Real estate data · Realtor.com · Technology · Zillow

Realtor.com takes on Zillow.com

October 20th, 2006 · 8 Comments

Rumors abound of a Jerry Springer-like dust-up between Lloyd Frink of Zillow.com and Alan Dalton of Realtor.com on Tuesday at the California Realtor Expo — see here, here, here, and here. Unfortunately, there does not (at least yet) appear to be a transcript or recording of the event — not even at the California Association of Realtors’ web site — and no mention either at the Zillow Blog or at Realtor.com itself. Youtube, where are you?
I’ve heard Dalton speak a few times, and he’s an engaging, if somewhat excitable, character. For somebody so associated with the old guard, he really does, I believe, “get” technology. If you can wade through his somewhat verbose writing, this article in a recent issue of RIS Media highlights his thinking on real estate and the Internet and demonstrates that he’s not just some old fuddy-duddy. Money quotes:

“We are in the information age … and yet our industry’s DNA would seem to suggest that there is a relentless reluctance to give out information.”

“…ill-positioned premise … that the mere “listing” of a property is actually a highly celebrated achievement.”

“My major suggestion on how to take the business back … from the industry-assaulting classified ad extortionist newspapers, is to recognize that nobody is going to outperform the Internet’s ability, appetite and destiny to display listing data in a ubiquitous way. Simply put, as an industry we have to decide which war are we more capable of winning: the Internet Information War or the Real Estate Marketing War?”

So what’s with his apparent assault on Zillow? I don’t believe it has anything to do with being “afraid” of technology or “not getting it.” It’s the exact opposite: because he does, indeed, “get” technology, he understands that Zillow could be a big threat to Realtor.com’s lucrative, if thoroughly mismanaged [prior to Dalton], business. If Zillow continues to take consumer eyeballs away from Realtor.com, surely the Realtor ad revenue will follow…assuming Zillow can convince Realtors it’s not the Antichrist.
Secondly, Dalton was playing to the home crowd — Realtors — and taking shots at Zillow was simply great publicity. He’s used phrases like “Cyberspace Carpetbaggers” before in reference to online real estate companies.

Here’s hoping somebody at the event recorded it and uploads it to Youtube!

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Tags: Alan Dalton · California Association of Realtors · Lloyd Frink · National Association of Realtors · Real estate · Realtor.com · Technology