November 11, 2008

Technology Debriefing Post NAR 2008: Best of Breed money-saving tools for home buyers & sellers

Gogopin_bestnar2008v1 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.

09:39 AM in Best of Breed, Do-it-yourself, FSBO: Best Practices, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 06, 2008

RSVP: Private research LIVE from Realtors EXPO

Home buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate innovators:  Wish you could attend the National Association of Realtors convention in Orlando this weekend but can't?  Interested in participating virtually?

I arrive Friday mid-afternoon and plan to spend all four days visiting 500+ vendors at the Realtor Expo to identify "best of breed" money saving opportunities for home buyers and sellers. Last July, I acted as the LIVE BLOGGER at Inman New's ConnectSF08 and am willing to provide private market research reports LIVE from the floor of the exhibit hall for a few select clients.

Are there are any vendors or competitors on this interactive floor plan you'd like me to check out?

As in the past, I can provide feedback by phone, email, text. This weekend, I hope to experiment with video, live or recorded, as well as screen sharing and video conference calls.

Fees begin at just $25 – $50 per vendor you'd like me to investigate depending on the research question and how you'd like the results presented. That modest fee would cover 15 to 30 minutes, additional time is negotiable.

07:21 PM in Change Agents, Counterintelligence, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, Market trends, Real Estate Blogs: Best Practices, Tech Trends, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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.
https://Twitter.com/RealEstateCafe
https://friendfeed.com/realestatecafe

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

Maoffmarket_junejuly10yrs 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.

09:26 AM in Do-it-yourself, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, Savings & Rebates, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 29, 2008

BUBBLE HOUR: Slowest real estate sales since 1991 got you cheering or crying in your beer?

Bubblehour_beergoogles1Bubble watchers in Massachusetts, time to pull out the beer googles and celebrate today's headline in the Boston Globe about the slowest pace in real estate sales since 1991 with a Bubble Hour?

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.

05:30 PM in Bubble Hour, Do-it-yourself, FSBO: Best Practices, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, Market trends, Real Estate Bubble, Savings & Rebates, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 17, 2008

If airlines have fare sales, should real estate agents? Part 2

Businesssuckssale Poking fun at the current cover story in Barron's Magazine, "Bottom's Up: This Real-Estate Rout May Be Short-Lived," Bill Apgar of the Harvard's Joint Center for Housing predicted, "There will be 10 articles a month [like that] until we hit the bottom, and the last one will be right."

When will it be the right time to buy?  That's what all The Real Estate Cafe's clients are asking.  Some of their house hunts began two years before the market peaked, and are now into the third year of falling prices.  Nearly 50 of our active buyers have looked at more than 1,000 MLS page views. Twenty-one have looked at more than 1,000 MLS pages in the past year alone, but only four of them have paid any fees to The Real Estate Cafe.

Unlike listing agencies who represent sellers and charge 5% to 6% commissions, or dot.com start-ups that are venture funded, The Real Estate Cafe pays it's overhead almost entirely from hourly consulting fees paid by clients.  With so many buyer waiting out the housing bubble, those fees have slowed to a trickle.  Now, after 13 years, we need your financial support.

We constantly look for ways to help you save money, by learning more about the housing bubble and the latest technologies.  Today, for example, we attended a seminar on State of the Nation's Housing and a Foreclosure Prevention Workshop. This weekend, we'll participate in PodCampBoston (for the third time.)  Next week, we'd like to participate in two real estate technology conferences in San Francisco:  REBarCamp and Real Estate Connect.

To do so, we need to raise $2,000 to $3,000 quickly.  You can help us, help you save money by selecting one of the following special offers:

Money-saving offer #1:  Fare sale
Repeat the Fare Sale we used successfully in 2007 to get two to three clients to prepay $500 to $1,000 in exchange for 1 to 3 hours additional work for FREE.  Email for details.

Money-saving offer #2:  Experiment with monthly fees
Introduce an optional monthly subscription fee. If you agree to pay $250 per month, we’ll slash our our consulting fees, normally $100 to $150 per hour, to $50 per hour for five hours—that’s a savings of 50% to nearly 70%! Like frequent flier miles, hours you prepay accumulate and you can use them any time you like.  Email for details.

Money-saving offer #3. Attend educational seminars
Host a technology debriefing after our trip to San Francisco to share best money-saving tools and tips from the two real estate technology conferences. We would like to host two events, one for buyers and the other for FSBOs ("for sale by owner") within 10 days of the conferences at TogetherInMotion, One Broadway, Arlington, MA.  $49 per household, per event.  Email for details.

Finally, your best savings opportunity may already be part of our normal menu of fees & rebates.  For example, one of our $3,000 flat fee options enables you to buy down our hourly consulting fee from $150 per hour (without retainer) to $75 for 40 hours - that's a 50% savings before payment of any performance bonus.  (Contact us for more details on this option and others.)

We encourage buyers to wait for the housing prices to correct, but don't wait to take advantage of these savings opportunities. Once we raise $2,000 to $3,000, they'll be gone.

10:25 PM in "We" companies, Bubble Hour, Client Feedback, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, Housing forecasts, Inside The Real Estate Cafe, Price trends, Real Estate Bubble, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 24, 2008

Using Twitter to introduce home buyers to FSBOs

Marathonbuyers_042108This time of year, most real estate agents are helping sellers prepare their homes for the Spring housing market.  But as fee-for-service real estate consultants who specialize in representing buyers, The Real Estate Cafe wants to introduce our clients: 

  • To sellers BEFORE they list their homes in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and
  • To homeowners who are selling "for sale by owner" (FSBO).

That's why we celebrated the Boston Marathon Monday by updating some buyer profiles from our 1,000 Click Club, a highly-motivated group of buyer clients who have viewed at least 1,000 pages on the MLS.  If you're a seller who falls into either category above, we'd be glad to introduce you to our buyers.  We assure you that our menu of fees are quite modest by comparison to traditional real estate commissions, and the potential savings are substantial.

For example, one of the buyer / sellers matches we helped earlier this year will save approximately $80,000.  We can't guarantee those kinds of savings, but if you're a seller who's struggling to get your home ready for the Spring market, we can offer you three hours of decluttering / organization / home staging for just $99 for three hours (limited offer).  We'd also like to invite a limited number of sellers to attend one of our upcoming "for sale by owner" seminars, most likely in Arlington, MA or to schedule an in-home presentation.  (One of our dreams is to teach 50 to 100 sellers how to save $1 million as a group.  We passed that milestone for buyers during one recent 12 month period, see map of client savings).

We'll publish more buyer profiles, special offers, and seminars for buyers and sellers in the future.  You can receive updates by following us on Twitter.com/RealEstateCafe

03:46 PM in Extreme Househunting, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, Savings & Rebates, Social Networking, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 19, 2008

Unlisted properties represent opportunity for proactive home buyers

Mainventorypie_011008v6 This graph of active listings versus unlisted properties during the 4th quarter of 2007 reveals two significant trends behind today's lead story in The Boston Globe: 

"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 08, 2008

Best money-savings tools & trends for home buyers in 2008?

Followthemoney The Real Estate Cafe's "Booth Sleuth" is eager to attend the leading real estate technology conference in New York this week so we can identify the latest tools and trends to help clients save money.  To raise funds, we're repeating the "fare sale" we offered in November 2007.  If you think you'll be using our services anytime in 2008, we encourage you to prepay for them now so you can enjoy savings of up to 50%.  More details upon request.

If you're looking to develop a new product or service to help real estate consumers save time and / or money, we're also willing to conduct sponsored research at the conference.  For examples of our work, see Twitter posts and "Live Notes" from last real estate conference on The Real Estate Cafe's public wiki.  Confidential inventory of Web 2.0 applications in real estate also available.

01:37 AM in Change Agents, Counterintelligence, FSBO: Best Practices, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 26, 2007

Billions in savings: Will real estate consumers extend a helping hand?

GiveahandIt'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