How much lower can Move go?

When I started at Move in May ’06, the stock (and my options) was priced at slightly above $6.  Today, I see the stock end today at $0.89, making for a very sad looking chart and definitive proof that I know nothing about timing my employment options.  I’m also not particularly good at reading financials, but I do know enough to know that having a market cap of $136M when you have $140M in total assets (down from over $200M in total assets from last year) is not a good thing.  I’d think they’d be an obvious take-over target except my guess is that many suitors would view the contract with NAR as more of an impediment to growth than an asset.

Which begs an interesting question… How much lower would the stock have to go before NAR steps in, realizes Russell’s dream and buys back operation of realtor.com from Move?  My guess is that there’s a bunch of reasons this couldn’t happen, but still… It would seem that something will have to give at some point if the stock price keeps dropping.

On a more positive note for Move, they did win their patent case today that had to do with putting listings on a map (at least that’s how I remember the case being explained to me!).

Realtor.com Turns up the Heat and…

…I really like how they’ve mapped it out!  😉

The Realtor.com team recently turned on a “heat map” option within their home valuation tool.  Here’s a heat map of Ballard in Seattle where you can really see the detail of the more expensive areas (in particular the areas around the water!):

Realtor.com Heat Map Screenshot

It’s clean, fast and well implemented.  On my version of firefix (v 3) on a Mac, I’m not seeing the legend that others appearently can see, but that is the only hole I can find in the implementation.

To get an idea of just how detailed these maps are, it’s worth comparing to the previous implementation that exists on on the neighborhood page for this same area on realtor.com showing average neighborhood list price:

realtor.com heat map from neighborhoods project

I think it is also worth noting that neither Zillow or Trulia have done much to bring the same level of detail to the maps… For example, Trulia’s heat maps are limited to the neighborhood level with boundaries

Trulia Heat Maps

And the option to display heat maps on Zillow no longer seems to be available (although I did find this page which shows what they used to look like on Zillow).

heat map for the seattle area on Zillow

Anyway I love maps and think they can convey a ton of great information about neighborhoods and homes, so it’s great to see someone pushing the boundaries even if I’ve been giving the team a hard time recently for other issues (see realtor.com home values and realtor.com blog hack articles).

On the hunt for new real estate marketing tools!

The great folks at Inman News have asked me to put together a 15 minute presentation at SF Connect this year… and I’m downright excited about it.   The title of my presentation:  50 Technologies To Help You Survive the Downturn.

I’ve got some huge shoes to fill in that both Jamie Glenn of Trulia and Brian Boero of 1000watt have given versions of this presentation at recent Connect Events… and their presentations were top notch.

The Plan?

I’ve been given 15 minutes to talk about 50 technologies… Let’s break down into what that means in terms of the amount of time I have to explain each technology. Fifteen minutes is 900 seconds. Given the fact that I at least have to introduce myself and let my audience know I’m available for speaking gigs, I’ve already blow 30 seconds right there… Combined with the fact that I’ll need at least two 10-second water breaks, I’m down to 850 seconds or 17 seconds per technology!   I’m known for speaking fast, but the pressure is really going to be on!  😉

I Need Your Help!

Real estate agents: Do you have a favorite tool or technology that has become indispensable at making your business operations more efficient?   My preference is online tools, but I’ve have to find 50 of them, so I’m honestly not very picky at the moment!

Real estate tech providers: Do you have a tool you think is worthy of being featured at SF Connect?    Let me know, but make sure I can “sell” it 17 seconds or less!  I make no promises, but again, I’ve got to find 50 tools in less than 50 days, so I’d appreciate any help you can give!

My Bag of Tricks

Here’s an outline of the previous presentation.

Jamie Glenn:

  • Listing Sites (12 sites)
  • Social Media (9 sites)
  • Multimedia (15 sites)
  • Communication (7 sites)
  • Blogging (9)

Total: 52 sites!  Plus, his last slide through in 9 “bonus” resources!

Brian Boero:

  • Things that will help you work smarter and cut costs (10 actions)
  • Things that let you engage customers and prospects in new ways (8 actions)
  • Things that will help you grow your professional network (3 actions)
  • Blogs you should read (and watch) (7 actions)
  • Market smarter – and cheaper (6 actions)
  • New advertising opportunities (5 actions)
  • Technologies that help you leverage your knowledge (3 actions)
  • Things that shrink space and time (3 actions)
  • Technologies that help you meet the neighbors (4 actions)

Total: 49 actions.   Although much to his credit, each-and-every “action” included at least one technology tool and many of them included multiple tools!!!

I have both presentations in front of me, and I can tell you that they both did an excellent job of providing a wealth of information in only 15 minutes!

My Presentation

Lucky for me, I still have over a month!   Unlucky for me, I just typed out all the notes I’ve taken to date and I have only 33 technologies listed that are appropriate for the title: “50 Technologies To Help You Survive the Downturn.”

Here’s an outline of how I grouped the various tools, concepts, websites so far (but note, I’m positive the final outline will be MUCH different):

  • Online Marketing Basics
  • Publishing Tools
  • CRMs
  • Inspiration
  • Analytics
  • Listing Syndication
  • Listing Tools
  • Connecting with Consumers
  • Connecting with Professionals
  • Video Podcasts
  • Communications
  • Identity Management

However, rather than bias you’all by starting with my list of sites I would include (or listing out the websites from the the previous presentations), I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear some of the tools, techniques and technologies that you think would be worthy of being included in this list!

Redfin releases a genuinely interesting update!

According to their press release, they are now commingling MLS, FSBO and Foreclosure listings on one map… and this has me scratching my head!

Are they allowed to do this? Isn’t this type of commingling of listings against MLS rules?

redfin search in woodland hills

Notice the purple and pink icons… Those are REO (foreclosures) and FSBOs, respectively (green icons are MLS listings).

I have four ideas about how they are able to get away with this:

  1. They found a loophole in MLS agreements that let’s them commingle listings (but I would find this hard to believe).
  2. They got buy-off from all their local MLS organizations (but I would find this hard to believe)
  3. They have reason to believe they can win this battle in the courts… (maybe a DOJ brief in support of this or something similar?)
  4. They just don’t care about the rules and believe that consumer support for this feature will be so great that they’ll risk MLS fines.

None of these scenarios seem likely to me. What am I missing?

With that said, I REALLY like how they are approaching the foreclosure data. I’ve received a few press releases recently from real estate search sites that “announce” they are now publishing foreclosures on their site. However, inevitably, when I tested out the feature, the sites were just regurgitating RealtyTrac data that required consumers to pay a fee to get the actual address of the property. Redfin is providing the address.

Also interesting, someone from Redfin let me know that they are going to phase in a flat-fee buying option in order to accommodate these new listings types.

I want to send my congrats out to the Redfin team for pushing the boundaries yet again. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re working pretty darn hard to deliver features and tools that they think will do a better job serving their customers.

UPDATE:

There’s some debate in the comments about whether there are local MLS rules against commingling of data, with some people claiming it’s just a misunderstanding that the data can’t be commingled.  However, someone (who wished to remain anonymous) send me the following email which demonstrates that for at least one MLS where Redfin is commingling data, the rules are pretty clear:

Check it out:   http://www.imrmls.com/centsite/idx_policy.htm

“4.13. Listings obtained through IDX must be displayed separately from listings obtained from other sources, not including information provided by other MLSs.”

What that says to ME (having experience with MLS rules) is that MRMLS doesn’t allow FSBO properties side-by-side with MLS listings.

Google’s Street View for everyone…

DotHomes, Trulia, and RealEstate.com (and I’m sure others) have added Google’s Street Views to their home search tools.   Despite all the press releases flying around about this feature, the real innovation is on Google’s site since everyone is just tapping into their stuff and becoming ever more tied to the Google mapping solution.

Trulia integrates Google’s street view photos into…

their home search.

I think it is a great move by Trulia and outsourcing the task of collecting and organizing this task to Google has some obviously benefits over doing it in-house.  Collection/hosting costs are huge, but so are the potential legal headaches associated with being the original publisher of this information.

The 1st 4RealzEd event was yesterday and…

4ealzEdI think I’ve recovered enough now to actually post about it! 🙂

Despite our best efforts to be prepared, the day started off a bit rough with a nearby mudslide taking out power in our building in the morning (meaning no hot coffee and no projector) and a 9-car pileup on a nearby freeway slowed me down tremendously. AHHH

So, to say it started rough would be an understatement… But once it started, things seem to get on a roll quickly.

I started with an overview of consumers expectations in a web2.0 world to set expectations for the day… Jim followed up with presentation on optimal features and design for a real estate website. Then it turned back to me for a presentation on social networking… lunch… then another presentation by me on creating value through blogging about communities. And we returned for the day’s finally with Jim giving a engaging presentation on measuring and tracking marketing results to ensure a positive ROI.

All around, it was a wonderful day! And, maybe they were just being nice, but the attendees who talked with me said only good things about the education.

Because I promised attendees I would give them a list of all the sites I mentioned in my presentations (so that they wouldn’t have to ask me to spell out each URL), here is the list for everyone’s benefit.

Consumer Expectations in a Web2.0 World:

Engaging in Social Networking to Earn Clients

Using Blogs to Build Communities

I wasn’t tracking the sites that Jim mentioned, but there were not nearly as many of them in his presentations…

And thanks again to all the bloggers who have helped spread the word about the event, the sponsors who helped us keep the price low and all the attendees who made the day possible!

I received some incredible feedback from all three groups, which is going to lead me to make some changes to the upcoming events (I’ll announce those early next week!). Great stuff all around. Thanks again to everyone!

Going way back before I took my job at…

…Move, I landed a 30-minute meeting with Dan Rosensweig (COO of Yahoo at the time), where I tried to convince him that I should lead up a team for Yahoo to build a platform that would help real estate professionals market themselves at a local level using the various tools Yahoo had in-house (at the time, it was something like Yahoo 360, Flickr, upcoming, local business reviews, maps, listings, etc.).

Dan’s strongest argument against such a platform was that I should prove out the concept first by doing it myself since almost all of these platforms had APIs (and theoretically, he was right, but I was looking for a regular paycheck!).

Anyway, I only remembered this story after reading Joel’s post about Seth Godin’s new product: SquidZipper.

Even two years after my call with Dan, the market for providing a free, quality, and local marketing platform for agents is still largely undeveloped… and while one of the real estate focused verticals like Trulia or Zillow could theoretically fill this niche, it still seems like such a no brainer for one of the big guys like Google, Microsoft or Yahoo to take a page from Seth’s playbook and create a niche-specific platform for their various tools!

Seth’s platform is a great idea… but it is still missing the one thing that could really make a platform like this work: an abundance of consumers!