Taking advantage of the fact that there’s a bunch of real estate folks in town for the CAR event in Long Beach, Jessie B of Retrove has organized an event for Monday evening and you’re invited. It should be a fun night of food, drinks and conversation!
If you’re interested in attending, let me know in the comments and I’ll happily send you an invite to the event page on Facebook where you can get all the details!
What a fun week on the 4realz Hotlist… I wasn’t exactly sure what type of microposts people would throw up, but was pleasantly surprised at the results.
There’s a lot of stuff going up on the Hotlist, so if you’re low on time, here are the highlights from the past week:
Huge News of the week: “Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced plans Sunday to take control of troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, replace the companies’ chief executives and provide up to $200 billion in capital to restore the firms to financial health. The Treasury’s plan puts the two companies under a conservatorship, giving management control to their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA. In return for agreeing to provide as much equity capital as needed later to cover losses stemming from mortgage defaults, the Treasury gets $1 billion of preferred stock in each company without providing any immediate cash.” (hotlist)
Ardell put together a great post on lease purchasing that (on comment #200) earned this great praise from Benjamin Day of Colorado: “So for all the mundane details, the legal citations, the everything elses… THANK YOU from the real estate world.” (hotlist)
I think it goes without saying that I’ve been doing all my microposts on the 4realz Hotlist and going to save 4realz.net posts for the more traditional (but infrequent) blog posts. The beauty of the Hotlist is that you can join in with me in documenting anything of interest that’s going on around the web and help get you featured on both 4realz.net and my email newletter.
Just some of the topics we discussed included (1) an overview of the new regulations, (2) how the changes will affect loan originators and (3) what types of policies should we be looking at to really fix the problems within this segment of the industry.
Thanks again everyone for taking part. For everyone else, you can listen to the show here:
So, who am I going to grill? Andy Kaufman, Brad Coy, Todd Carpenter and Jay Thompson have all confirmed that they’ll be on the call. It’s a great group of people, so I’m positive it will not only be fun, but we’re likely to cover a lot of ground including:
What is BarCamp? And what is going to happen there that won’t happen at RE Connect?
What type of person do you think will get the most value out of RE BarCamp?
If someone wants to help you guys organize, how should they get involved?
However, what’s up with the name: 4realz DeepDive?
Ever since I started doing the 4realz Roundtables, I’ve wanted to have a channel to talk more specifically about individual products (and especially product launches) with company executives, or in this case, talk about events with event organizers.
On a DeepDive conversation, I’m going to limit the number of guests who are “on air” the entire show to just me and the official guests. However, using a format more standard in the radio industry, I’m plan to unmute listeners if they have specific questions they want to ask people on the show! No doubt that this format is just an experiment and you, the listeners, will be the judge if it works or not! 😉
By the way, I’ve been doing something similar, where I interview just one person per show, on Rain City Radio for the past few weeks, and I can see how that format could really compliment the 4realz Roundtable discussions!
Also worth noting…
At the request of more than a few people from the East Coast, I’m going to try a new time slot for next week’s 4realz Roundtable… (That’s right, there’s going to be 2 shows next week: a Roundtable and a DeepDive!) Next week’s roundtable discussion will be on the usual day (Thursday), but at a new time (1pm PST).
And next week should be great as we’re going to cover how the Cuomo/Fannie Mae/OCC appraisal rule changes are going to change the mortgage brokerage industry. This is a topic that was suggested to me by two people after the very first roundtable on the DOJ/NAR settlement conversation, so I’m glad that we get to make this happen! I’ve already confirmed Jonathan Miller of the Matrix as a guest on the show, so i know it is sure to be both interesting and informative.
Move, Inc lost $4.6M in Q1 and not releasing “transformational” product. About the only positive news is that they are “announcing” a beta site that has been live (with a link from the homepage) since December. I feel bad for my previous colleague in marketing who has to spin this stuff.
Keller Williams gets Zillow fever. Consider the great relationship between Top Producer (owned by Move) and KW, this must have been particularly painful for Errol Samuelson (runs both Top Producer and Realtor.com)
Todd announces RE BlogWord… A special real estate track for the popular BlogWorld conference in Vegas. My guess is that there will be a bunch of big names from the world of real estate social media so this should be a lot of fun.
Krunching.com launched earlier this week. I like everything about the site (from the perspective of a first public launch), except the business model. I think they will either need to be a tech provider (i.e. selling tech to consumers/professionals) OR a brokerage (commissions!), but not both. Otherwise, the site is great and I look forward to seeing more!
Niki let me know that he launched Homethinking Mortgage earlier this week. I feel bad that I haven’t had more of a chance to check out the site, but ANYTHING Niki does is worth checking out. Some of the things, like the heat maps of average loan amount, are interesting, but I just haven’t taken the time to figure out how they will be useful!
BeatYouThere launches (yet) another national real estate search site. I kinda feel bad for anyone trying to start up in this space at this point, even if they are well funded. Incremental improvement in the search just aren’t going to be enough at this point.
Jeff gave me a demo of an earlier incarnation and I was quite impressed. He’s obsessed with bringing more transparency to the mortgage process… and if he’s successful, it should be a win-win-win for consumers, participating professionals and himself.
My take on Zillow has always been that accurate Zestimates was never particularly important to their business… What mattered was that people were talking about them. Zillow’s first strike of brilliance was that they took something that was traditionally complicated (getting a home value) and made it better than simple for consumers; they turned it into a fun game (“Honey, let’s go check how our home value changed since yesterday!”).
With mortgages, Zillow went to the other extreme. They took a process where consumers view it as somewhat of a game (“Honey, how is the broker advertising this low rate going to screw me over now?”), and made it boring. Before you get mortgage rate quotes, a consumer has to fill out a long form with all kinds of financial information (boring!).
But the result is that pre-vetted lenders will view an (anonymous) version of a consumers profile and then make appropriate quotes. Brokers are expected to stick by their quotes, because if they don’t then consumers will give them bad ratings.
It’s a well-thought out idea that appears to be well-executed
It’s awesome that consumers are in control of their information throughout the process and their personally identifyiable information is kept private. And eBay-style ratings of lenders will (over time) give consumers a great indication of how well a lender performs
Zillow is not charging any transaction or referral fee to lenders (only $25 to run a background check), so lenders have almost no reason to not try it out.
The problems I see have less to do with the product itself and more to do with some of the business and marketing implications of the project. Here’s the two main issues I see:
There’s something to be said for mortgage companies that optimize their operations so much that they can not only provide competitive rates but also consistently acceptable service. However, the very nature of the program seems designed to create a downward spiral for lenders where they need to find the lowest possible point that they can bid and still stay in business. While this is great for consumers, it can be dangerously addictive for companies that are looking to create a viable long-term business. A great case study of the danger of this type of behavior comes from a story where Vlasic went bankrupt after introducing low-priced pickles at Walmart. Either way, this really isn’t a problem for Zillow, since there will always be other mortgage lenders willing to take their chance at providing an efficient mortgage product to consumers.
There’s nothing sexy about this tool. Unlike Zestimates, which were relevant to almost every homeowner, mortgage quotes are relevant to a much smaller population. And without the benefits of voyeurism (“Honey, let’s have fun with a few lenders today and fill out a fake mortgage profile on Zillow!”), I just can’t see how they will achieve the buzz that they got with Zestimates.
As you can see, even the negative stuff is just not that bad. Compared to the existing situation, the fact that Zillow made mortgages boring is obviously a plus for consumers who want to get the most value out of the loan process.
(Full disclosure: Zillow is a sponsor of my 4RealzEd seminars, and so are many other companies in the online real estate space, so assume that this article, and pretty much most of the articles I write, come with a clear bias!)