By Sam DeBord
The National Association of REALTORS® recently voted to approve updates to its operating agreement with realtor.com® and allow more flexibility for the Web site. There has been a wide range of reactions from REALTORS®. This blog is part one of my five-part series in which I will discuss the propriety of the agreement.
Let’s start with some background: NAR does not own the Web site. It merely owns the domain name, realtor.com®, which it has licensed to Move, Inc. to operate. Many discussions center on this issue still today. This agreement started in the mid-90s. Whether or not some members liked it, it is a 20-year old moot issue. NAR only owns about 2.5 percent of Move, Inc. They are merely a marketing partner with whom REALTORS® have regulatory clout because of our ownership of the domain name.
The new agreement between NAR and realtor.com® approves four major changes:
- Display unlisted new homes and new-home communities.
- Display unlisted rentals.
- Obtain listings from entities that are not REALTOR®-owned and controlled, as well as from brokers who are not REALTORS®.
- Identify properties where a notice of default has been recorded, auctions of distressed properties, short sales, foreclosures, and bank-owned properties. (Listing brokers will have the option to opt out by calling the realtor.com® customer care center.)
Individual consumer FSBOs remain precluded from the site, and the changes will be implemented in a way that preserves realtor.com®’s accuracy advantage, according to Move executives.
NAR directors are members—not some faraway body of executives. The directors who I know are just brokers and agents trying to make the best decisions for our industry. Arguing about all of these issues at once ensures that confusion and disagreement will be the end result. Broken down one at a time, there are some very interesting issues for many different stakeholders that help to explain why the decisions were made. I will look at each issue one-by-one, starting with…
Displaying Unlisted New Homes and New Home Communities
This item flies under the radar of many, but has also drawn some of the sharpest criticism from those who really dug into the meaning of the agreement. The display of new construction homes often means that “model homes” or “home styles” are being advertised, which draw consumers out to the construction site and, theoretically, directly to the builder. New construction property ads are often thought of more as just advertising for a community, since the majority of buyers who inquire on that property will actually be sold a different model, different location, etc. when they actually arrive at the community. The attorneys get concerned about the way some people throw around the word listing. An ad on realtor.com® isn’t a listing. It’s a listing if it’s represented by a practitioner and placed in the MLS.
Some members have objected, with the reasoning that new home developers will try to keep REALTORS® out of the process by luring buyers directly to themselves and cutting out the buyer’s representative. This is certainly a valid concern. Most builders are happy to engage a buyer’s representative, but there are also some who strategically try to reduce the buyer’s agent’s ability to earn a commission. By advertising unlisted properties, it has been said that builders and developers take on a role similar to a FSBO.
In the end, the NAR Board of Directors felt that the overall exposure to the marketplace and broader appeal to consumers outweighed those concerns. I imagine this was one of the toughest points for the REALTOR® members voting. Consumers want a site that shows them the entire market of available homes. The upside is the increased exposure to a larger inventory of homes for realtor.com® visitors.
Realtor.com® is a marketplace. REALTORS® are a brand of professionals. To have the opportunity to spread knowledge about the REALTOR® brand, we need to create the broadest, most consumer-friendly marketplace possible. Within that marketplace, we can display the great things that REALTORS® do for consumers to a much wider audience. In our fast-paced, limited-attention-span world, we need to grow our reach, not constrict it.
The REALTOR® brand is better served by allowing more consumers to be informed about their real estate professionals. The more we limit that exposure, the faster consumers flock to other Web sites, which is far more damaging to the brand.
Check back later this week for Part II: Displaying Unlisted Rentals.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine
Is your listing suffering from the neutral blahs? It’s good to go neutral when selling a home so that you offer up potential buyers a blank canvas to imagine their own decorating, but too neutral can also make your listing look dull and forgettable.
Using pops of color throughout the home’s interior can add more visual interest to rooms and even be used to enhance architectural details or create focal points that you want to make sure home buyers don’t miss.
Here are some ideas:
Want to be trendy? Reach for the blues — deep and dark blues are a popular color nowadays to decorate home interiors. But you likely won’t want to go overboard with such a dark tone. “There are lots of blues coming in to interiors that coordinate with turquoise and aqua blues,” says color expert Erika Woelfel, director of color marketing for Behr. “Really deep and dark tone blues like sapphire, iris blue, and navy blue are popular.”
Try coordinating the trendy blues with yellow or lime green — “a great contrasting color can be a nice enhancement with a dark blue,” Woelfel says. If you don’t want to paint an entire room a deep blue color, use it as a color for an accent or feature wall. “Paired with white furniture, blue walls can really pop and create a nice, relaxed atmosphere,” Woelfel says.
Color block: Color blocking has become a popular fashion trend, and you can also use the idea to dress up your interiors. For more modern spaces, you could use color and geometry to give a neutral backdrop more visual interest. For example, the photo to the left shows an example of how color blocking is used to dress up a modern kitchen with neutral gray walls. In this example, the cabinets were painted blue and then colors of dark plum were added to create depth in the space as well as a light cognac brown to soften up the hues.
Create a focal point: This is where accent or feature walls — painting one wall in a room a few shades darker or a more bold color — can really do the trick in leading buyers’ eyes to a place you don’t want them to miss. Feature walls can help you create a focal point in a room, such as in highlighting a fireplace or directing buyers to a hallway. Have some fun with your accent color: You could pick a trendy color here because it’s easy enough for someone to change and it won’t distract from the overall neutral tones of the home.
Accessorize: You don’t have to commit to paint to add color punches. For example, in an all-white kitchen, add color pops through the accessories, like a red or orange colored small appliance, or a bowl of red apples or lemons. For a neutral living room, use color pops through the throw pillows, blankets, or the artwork to weave in color and more visual interest.
Make more room: Reach for a darker tone to make a space feel roomier. Blues and greens may be a good choice, but you’ll need good lighting if you’ll be using darker tones.
For example, used with good lighting, “blue actually can make a space feel larger,” Woelfel says. “Blue is a recessive color. It can fade away in your field of vision. It’s a cool tone that can be used to push out a room and to create a feeling of space, but you have to have good lighting.”
On the other hand, warmer colors — like reds, oranges, and yellows — are a color that move toward you in your vision. “They can make your walls feel closer, but it also can depend on the tone,” she notes.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine
No detail is too small for a home buyer. And while you’re making sure the kitchen counters are decluttered and sparkling clean, you might want to take a closer look in the fridge too, particularly if it’s staying with the house. The buyer likely will be. And what will they see when they open the doors?
Over-stuffed, sticky shelves? Expired veggies that are growing a friend? Vile smells?
The contents of a seller’s fridge may say a lot about a home owner. It may even have the potential to leave a potential buyer with a negative impression.
The New York Times recently devoted an entire article to a place often overlooked in real estate showings: The fridge.
When writer Richard Samson with The New York Times was getting ready to sell his apartment, he suddenly became alarmed at the contents of his refrigerator. “From the perspective of the nervous buyer, I realized that my freezer contents alone had the potential to terrify and repel: vodka; century-old, virtually empty ice cream containers; more vodka, and then those mysterious foil-wrapped parcels of who-knows-what.”
Samson realized he needed to clean up his ways. When prospective buyers opened his refrigerator, he wanted to send a sophisticated vibe: He filled his fridge with freshly squeezed orange juice; 9-ounce glass bottles of Ronnybrook milk; bright red watermelon chunks; black olive Tapenade; and two bottles of champagne strategically placed on the bottom shelf.
OK, but there’s limit to just how far he would go. He realized that when contemplating buying burrata for $8 for a small container. “There’s a fine line between appearing cosmopolitan and actually looking like a fool,” Samson wrote. “Besides, I can’t risk buyers’ thinking I have money to burn on mozzarella, unless I’m prepared to attract an array of low-ball bids.”
What’s inside your sellers’ refrigerator? Do your sellers need a fridge intervention? Ask them for a drink and then sneak a peek!
It may be a good time to remind your sellers that if the refrigerator is staying with the house, buyers often will take a look inside, and impressions count. Encourage them to clean out their refrigerator. Toss out the expireds and those items that may have been hiding in the back. Clean off the shelves so they sparkle. And possibly even add a few touches, like a bowl filled with colorful fruit or gourmet mustards and condiments. After all, presentation is everything, even inside the refrigerator.
By Scott Newman
You’re on Facebook and Twitter four hours a day and you’re telling me you haven’t closed a lot of business lately? Of course not! Social media is just a tool in your arsenal — and when used effectively and efficiently it can help you cultivate business. So, how do you best use social media to benefit your business? Funny you should ask…
Make Your Time Count
I speak frequently on the subject of social media to all kinds of real estate professionals, and one of the first things I usually do is ask the following question of the audience: “Having reviewed my social media presence, how many of you think I spend more than an hour a day on social media?” Almost all the hands go up. Then I ask about two hours, then three, then four. Believe it or not, usually at least a third of the room thinks I am spending at least two hours a day on social media, but the reality is that isn’t even close — it’s more like 5-7 minutes, MAX.
There is a greatly diminishing rate of return on the amount of time you spend on social media. As a real estate professional, it is your job to have a solid, well thought out presence, which showcases you in a positive light and makes it easy for people to reach you. Beyond that, if you think playing on social media for hours a day is somehow going to replace tried-and-tested business cultivation techniques, you’re dead wrong.
Understand Your Audience
This is the easiest thing in the world to breakdown. Write this down, save it somewhere safe — even consider tattooing it on your arm so you NEVER forget.
- Facebook: This is a place for you to share who you are as a person. Remember, clients need to like you before they decide to work with you! Never directly sell on Facebook — it turns people off. Instead, think of this as a great place to showcase your successes and entice people to seek you out for more information on their own. An example would be posting a picture of you and your clients at closing and tagging them in a congratulatory message (with their permission of course).
- Twitter: This is where you should be showcasing your local expertise by sharing interesting things that are going on in your local market and community. Demonstrate your involvement in the place you live and the things you care about, and organically engage with people who share similar interests.
- LinkedIn: This is the one place where you do not want to share ANYTHING personal. This is for business and business only. LinkedIn is a great place to recruit agents, engage with fellow industry professionals, and do research on potential clients and associates. No one here is interested in seeing pictures of your child taking their first steps or hearing about the awesome time you had last weekend at the beach.
Don’t over think it. Social media is a fun, free, and effective way to cultivate relationships and stay in touch with potential clients you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to connect with. However, thinking social media will replace conventional sales techniques is a mistake, as it is only one tool in your tool belt for continuing to grow and improve your business.
By Anand Patel
“Why do you do this for free?”
“What do you get out of it?”
“When do you have time to make money?”
“Why do you waste your time with that?”
“What’s the point?”
If you volunteer some of your time and talents to National Association of REALTORS® (or any other organization) at the local, state, or national level, you have heard all of the comments above before. Obviously there needs to be a balance between giving of your time and working your business, but you and I both know the incidental benefits, rewards and satisfaction that come with giving back to our industry.
Do you have a spouse, a business partner, a friend or family member who takes on some of the burden while you are volunteering? I am not nearly as involved as many of my colleagues in the industry around the country and abroad, but with two young children at home I know my wife takes on a lot of burden while I am away at conferences, leadership academy sessions and other meetings. And I admit, many times I take it for granted. I am writing this post not only to serve as a reminder to each of you who also give of your time, but also really for me to never forget that we need to take the time and thank those who support what we do in helping improve our industry. They may not always understand why we do it as there are usually no visible short-term benefits, but they still support us. We travel for a few days, we attend events in the evening, we are working on the weekends on matters that do not seem to directly correlate to our businesses, but our friends, family, and spouses still pick up the slack for us.
Take a moment and say thank you to your business partner who stays back while you hit the annual conference, your family or spouse who helps with the kids while you are away, and anyone else who makes it easier for you to keep giving back. To my wife, today, I say thank you! Thank you for always supporting me. You truly are “Super Mom!” Oh….and by the way, I’ll be gone to San Francisco for a week in November for a conference…gotta run!
Anand Patel is broker and president of Pangea Realty Group based in Tampa, Fla. You can connect with Anand on Twitter: @anand_tampa, Facebook: www.facebook.com/prgtampa, or LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/anandpatel1.