November 11, 2008
Technology Debriefing Post NAR 2008: Best of Breed money-saving tools for home buyers & sellers
Used GoGoPin's new browser-based ad designer to create this call for nominations for "Best of Breed" money-saving applications for home buyers and sellers following the National Association of Realtors convention in Orlando, November 7-10, 2008. Watch this one minute screencast for more information on the proposed technology debriefing. Should we meet in person in Boston, like real estate round tables and technology debriefing hosted in the past by The Real Estate Cafe, or online so anyone can participate?
If you attended the NAR convention and spent time visiting some or all of the 500+ vendors in the EXPO, we'd love to receive your nomination for "Best of Breed" money-saving tools for home buyers and sellers.
August 12, 2008
"Real Estate Olympics" Redo: Call for Best "Do-it-yourself" money-saving tools at each step in the home buying / selling process
A leading group of real estate technology innovators is using a sports metaphor, the "Real Estate Olympics", to launch a compelling, timely competitive for the "Real Estate Pacesetter of 2008."
However, the first nomination (Zillow.com) and next week's run off between eight companies to pick a single winner suggests that this competition will be a battle of the GIANTS. Compare that with Seth Godin's presentation on "Small is the New Big" to the same group of innovators at ConnectNYC07 and Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2006: "YOU".
If you translate those MEGA-trends into an Olympic metaphor, you get a different kind of competition and a different call for "Best of Breed." Just as the Olympics have 302 events, there are hundreds of steps in the home buying and selling process and real estate innovators empowering consumers with money-saving, do-it-yourself tools at EACH STEP in the process.
For more than a decade, The Real Estate Cafe's has maintained a list of "Best of Breed" innovators at each incremental step, and we are eager to share them with our clients and others. Real Estate innovators, if you think you should be on the list, please send us an email:
1. Nominating yourself for the appropriate step in the home buying and selling process, and
2. Explaining how you help do-it-yourself home buyers or sellers save money (or time).
Any nominations we receive before this weekend from innovators, or consumers who rave about them, will be showcased at our first "FSBO Trade Mart," tentatively scheduled this weekend at TogetherInMotion.com, One Broadway, Arlington, MA. Watch Twitter & FriendFeed for more details.
01:00 PM in "We" companies, Change Agents, Do-it-yourself, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack
August 01, 2008
CARPE DIEM: Expired & canceled listings create "commission-free holiday" for buyers & sellers
Massachusetts home buyers, if you have been waiting for housing prices to slide into your acceptable range, this could be time to "carpe diem." As shown in the graph above (click for larger image) of MLS activity during June & June over the past 15 years (1994 to 2008):
- The number of off-market properties -- expired, canceled & temporarily withdrawn listings -- surged to a new record of 16,319 properties just after midnight.*
- In contrast, sales have fallen from a peak of 19,180 in 2006 to 12,335 in 2008 (as of 12:30am, August 1).
- That means that sales are down by about a third, while off-market listings have nearly doubled since 2005 when we first wrote that expired listings were a leading indicator of the real estate bubble.
- Over the past three years (2006-2008), more properties have been pulled off the MLS than sold during June & July. For every three listings closed in the past two months, four were pulled off the MLS statewide in Massachusetts.
What do these raw numbers mean to buyers and sellers? Think of expired and canceled listings as a two-sided window of opportunity, or the real estate equivalent of a "tax-free holiday." Sellers can accept an offer about 5% less than their last asking price and still net the same profit because they are no longer obligated to pay a traditional real estate commission.
Will this "commission-free holiday" be enough to motivate buyers to make offers, or will motivated sellers in Greater Boston begin making offers to well-qualified buyers as is happening in other markets?
The Real Estate Cafe is advertising buyers on Zillow to make it easier for motivated sellers, particularly those who have received pre-foreclosure notices, to find them. If none of our buyers wants to purchase your home, we offer seller services "a la carte" on a fee-for-service basis. If you'd like to learn more about how to sell your home "for sale by owner," we're organizing a FSBO support group and invite you to see our "FSBOs on Steroids" presentation. If you're not interested in selling on your own, we'd also be glad to do a Listing Agent Report Card to help you select a new listing agent and try to negotiate a reduced commission. Email for more details.
* Technical note: Includes all residential property classes in MLSPin: single family, multi-family, condominiums and land. Temporarily withdrawn listings available for 2008 only.
July 29, 2008
BUBBLE HOUR: Slowest real estate sales since 1991 got you cheering or crying in your beer?
Sellers, does the same news have you crying in your beer, prepared to drop your price again, or tempted to drop your real estate agent (once your listing contract expires, of course) and try "for sale by owner" this Fall?
If you're one of the 15,000 sellers across Massachusetts who's listing has already expired, been canceled, or temporarily withdrawn from the MLS during the past two months, The Real Estate Cafe is eager to talk to you about selling for sale by owner, or help you evaluate and select your next listing agent.
We've just returned from LIVE BLOGGING the leading real estate technology conference in San Francisco, and are eager to demonstrate new money-saving tools and web sites. Do-it-yourself home buyers and sellers, would you like to see those demos in a small group or a personalized one-on-one presentation? We're eager to take advance reservations for a "FSBO Cruise" in Boston Harbor aboard the Yacht Starship: $99 includes a private, one-on-one presentation of our "FSBO on Steroids" seminar plus a lunch buffet with four-star cuisine.
Sellers: we don't see the housing bubble through rose-colored glasses, so if you are intimidated by selling "for sale by owner," The Real Estate Cafe can prepare a "Listing Agent Report Card" instead and try to negotiate a reduced commission. If you pay in advance for our analysis, we'll rebate one-third of our referral fee.
May 09, 2008
How can we improve our money-saving Menu of Fees & Rebates?
It's been more than a year since we updated our Menu of Fees & Rebates, so we'd like to invite home buyers to meet in person to discuss possible improvements. Our current options are shown above (click on arrowheads in outline for more detail) and on our wiki.
- We offer three basic options: traditional commissions with limited rebates, hourly fees with full rebates, and flat fees with performance bonuses
- Our most popular options include a 100% rebate of the buyer agency commission included in the sales price.
- Our hourly fees range from $75 to $125 per hour depending on the size of retainer prepaid (or $150 per hour with no retainer or minimum fee).
- Limited availability: Flat fees start at $3,000 plus performance bonus. Each performance bonus is negotiated individually to motivate us to help you maximize saving (see map of savings totaling over $1 million).
- We're also willing to work with a few buyers on a 1% fee option, some restrictions apply.
- Finally, you can propose your own fee / rebate, particularly if you are selling "for sale by owner" and would like us to represent you as a buyer. That way you can maximize savings both buying and selling.
Our ideal is a mix of fees -- hourly, flat fees, and traditional. If you select option 3.3 and prepaid $3,000 in the next few days, we'll cut our hourly rate by 50% for the first 40 hours. We're pushing this special offer so we can attend the National Association of Realtors mid-year convention next week to identify the best new money-saving tools and trends for home buyers and sellers.
Should we host a series of webinars or meetings off-line to discuss the benefits of each fee / rebate, and to help new clients decide which money-saving option best meets their needs? We can meet on short notice at a local cafe or in the privacy of your home. We're also eager to begin meeting at TogetherInMotion in Arlington, MA so working parents can talk over food while their kids play. Please contact us for additional information.
03:54 PM in "We" companies, Client Feedback, Commission Reform, Do-it-yourself, Fee-for-service, Inside The Real Estate Cafe, Savings & Rebates, Social Networking, Unbundling the Commission | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack
April 14, 2008
New banner ad features map of client savings totaling over $1 million
Looking for feedback on our new banner ad directing Boston.com readers to a map of client savings totaling over $1 million during a recent 12 month period, plus a Wall Street Journal article featuring The Real Estate Cafe's 100% commission rebate option. We'll post a link to Boston.com's newly redesigned real estate section after it goes live.
March 13, 2008
Billion dollar break-up: Protecting rebates vs divorcing two-sided real estate commissions
Redfin's corporate blog is cheering because an "Anti-Rebate Bill" introduced in Illinois that would have banned real estate rebates has apparently died in committee, or in Redfin's words, been "crushed." Other sources report that the bill has changed focus, and as The Black Knight in Monte Python's Holy Grail famously said, may not be dead yet. According to sources, there may still be an attempt to morph the anti-rebate bill into a procuring cause bill before Friday's deadline, which could be extended. What's at stake is the definition of procuring cause, a legal concept which Realtors use to decide who procured the buyer, and therefore who is entitled to collect the buyer agency fee under their guidelines. Although the exact language has not been shared, Redfin and other sources allege that the reworded bill would require a buyer agent to accompany their client to property showings to collect the buyer agency fee offered through the multiple listing service (MLS).
Buyer agency compensation is an old family fight in the residential real estate industry, one the consumer has been dragged into because a growing generation of discount business model use rebates to hook home buyers. What most home buyers don't realize is the two-sided real estate commission is obsolete, and some critics have likened it to a real estate transfer tax (hence our photo above). So, IMHO, firms discount business models like Redfin are actually propping up an artificial pricing structure and reinforcing a barrier to competition and consumer savings. While a recent Redfin blog post called the 3% buyer agency fee "boring," it did not challenge it or call it unnecessary or anti-competitive. In fact, the blog post says "Redfin has always been careful when listing a home to encourage our clients to offer the buyer’s agent 3%..."
I agree with Redfin, the proposed IL bill is not the answer, neither in it's original form, which sought to ban rebates; nor it's amended form, which may seek to define procuring cause. However, there is a long overdue reform that would reduce real estate commissions by billions of dollars annually: separate fees for listing agents and buyer agents. Think of it as a real estate version of BYOB: Bring your own broker. That's the only way to create an open, competitive market place in residential brokerage, where as one attorney wrote: "the ability to freely price one’s service is a pretty basic, bread and butter tenet of competition." The Consumer Federation of America first proposed that reform 16 years ago, and there is growing interest in "divorcing" the commission even within the Realtor community. You can learn more by viewing this 90 second slide show:
Uncoupling the traditional two-sided real estate commission: 10 Mega-trends leading towards a tipping point (click to see video)
As the real estate industry transitions to a more competitive marketplace, The Real Estate Cafe's will continue to offer a menu of hourly and flat fees plus rebates, including a 100% rebate option. However, we'd prefer to work with other change agents to unlock billions of dollars of consumer savings annually by compensating buyer and seller agents independently. If you are interested, please use this wiki to brainstorm about building a coalition and action plan to divorce real estate commissions. If you'd like to meet in person in Boston, no need to BYOB -- we'll buy the beer.
02:30 PM in Change Agents, Commission Reform, Do-it-yourself, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates, Unbundling the Commission | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack
January 19, 2008
Unlisted properties represent opportunity for proactive home buyers
"Thousands in Mass. foreclosed on in '07:
7,563 homes were seized, nearly 3 times the '06 rate
TREND 1: The Globe reported that "...lenders initiated foreclosure proceedings against 7,467 Massachusetts homeowners" between July and September. That means that foreclosure petitions during the 3rd quarter of 2007 were nearly equal to the total number of actual foreclosures year round. Add that trend to the fact that foreclosure petitions topped 3,000 listings during October 2007, and you can see that the problem is growing. In fact, the number of foreclosure petitions in October approached the number of MLS sales in December 2007 as graphed in a previous blog post.
TREND 2: The inventory of unlisted properties or homes for "potentially for sale" across Massachusetts is also growing. It's difficult to identify how many expired and canceled listings have been already been relisted in the MLS, and we can only guess at how many homeowners facing foreclosure would be willing to sell. Still, the inventory of homes "potentially for sale" may be approaching the number of active listings during this slow time of the year, as shown in the graph above.
Should you wait for more homes to come onto the market or be more proactive? The Real Estate Cafe is exploring ways to help home buyers search expired and canceled listings, and to approach homeowners with "unlisted" properties - particularly those who have received foreclosure petitions - with unsolicited offers. If you're a homeowner willing to consider an unsolicited offer, or rent your unlisted property until you put it back on the market later this year, please contact us. Our qualified buyers are looking for ways to negotiate sales outside the MLS, and recognize that savings can be shared by doing so. (PS. Our menu of hourly and flat fees are modest by industry standards; and depending on negotiations, may be paid by our buyer clients so sellers retain more of their home equity.)
02:12 PM in Commission Reform, Do-it-yourself, Extreme Househunting, Foreclosures, FSBO: Best Practices, Savings & Rebates, Timing the market, Unbundling the Commission | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
January 04, 2008
Thousands of MLS page views over 2 to 4 years: Will Bubble-wary buyers extend wait thru 2008?
Temperatures in Boston are approached zero yesterday which, regrettably for this fee-for-service real estate consultant, was about the level of client billable activity over the Holidays. But that doesn't mean that The Real Estate Cafe's "do-it-yourself" home buyers aren't busy house hunting; to the contrary, 36 of them have looked at over 1,000 MLS pages online. As shown on the graph above, house hunts of 2,000 to 6,000 MLS page views stretching two to fours years are not uncommon.
Can you imagine how long it would take to drive by that many properties, particularly in this frigid weather? That's why The Real Estate Cafe offers two MLS access systems, one which includes thousands of expired listings plus another map-based search with links to Zillow estimates.
That's also why we're eager to invite new and long-time home buyers to network online and off in 2008. Regardless of whether you're a member of our "1,000 click club" graphed above, please join one or more of the subgroups on The Real Estate Cafe's new experimental social networking web site and exchange market insights with other clients -- particularly if you're in a long-term holding pattern.
Our survey of housing prices in Greater Boston includes a few questions about potential educational and networking events, like our "Bubble Hour." Please let us know what interests you and where you think housing prices are headed in 2008 and beyond.
December 26, 2007
Billions in savings: Will real estate consumers extend a helping hand?
It's Christmas 2007, and I am visiting extended family in St. Louis, my beloved boyhood home. Missouri is the "Show Me" state, so it's a fitting setting to ask how much money have real estate consumers really saved since McKinsey & Company predicted that industry restructuring could deliver $30 billion in annual savings ten years ago?
Last week, BusinessWeek's real estate blog, Hot Property, reported that home buyers and sellers paid $55 billion in commissions in 2007, down $13 billion from the peak in 2005. They attributed the decline to falling sales and noted that consumers paid $19 Billion more than 2000 "largely because of the surge in home prices during the boom."
What caught my attention was an estimate that "‘for sale by owner’ sellers saved almost $9 billion in home value that they otherwise would have paid to real estate agents." That figure is just shy of the $10 billion in savings from real estate brokerage commissions predicted by McKinsey & Company in January 1998.
How much more money did home owners save by using a flat-fee MLS listings services in 2007, AND how much more money home buyers receive via real estate rebates?
My guess is that those savings also exceeded $1 billion in 2007, and will grow in the future. As a "Change Agent," my question is whether home buyers and sellers are willing to share some of those savings with charitable causes? (Think "pay-it-forward" meets real estate savings.)
ChangeAgents's goal is to create a voluntary coalition of money-saving real estate business models and to invite their clients to share fraction of their e-commerce savings with local, national, and international causes of their own choice. Here's one example of a "community commission."
If you're part of the new generation of real estate companies delivering billions in savings, or if you're hoping to sell "for sale by owner" or receive a real estate rebate check in 2008, would you like to join our conversation about ePhilanthropy & Cause Marketing in real estate?
Please let us know what about your own dreams for 2008 and a better world.
02:02 PM in "We" companies, ASAP: AIDS Shelter Alliance Partners, Change Agents, Commission Reform, Do-it-yourself, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, In the News, Market trends, Savings & Rebates, Spiritual Home, Unbundling the Commission | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack