By Nobu Hata
Trulia. Zillow. Cyberhomes. The mere mention of those words, and their use in such sentences such as “But, insert service here says my house is worth insert marketing-dollar-sucking price here!” strikes fear into the hearts of many a real estate practitioner.
We’ve all had the conversation, and for the most part, the majority of us are still grappling with the public’s access to information such as this. Tax data, sold prices, “market” value, we’re in an age of unprecedented access to information; info that was once held close to the chest, is now available for all buyers and sellers to see. In fact, to some consumers I’ve been talking to, these tools are – strangely – a much more trusted resource than a licensed REALTOR®.
The scope of which I didn’t believe until I was privy to a conversation with Zillow guru David Gibbons at BarCamp Seattle. He has been e-mailed about home valuation prices from concerned home sellers wondering where Zillow gets their numbers. Folks are wondering why the remodeled specs of their homes aren’t correlating online. Why the foreclosure sales in their neighborhood are impacting their home so much.
Aren’t these conversations WE should be having? God bless David for throwing us a bone and telling these folks to “call a REALTOR®.” But seriously, when and how did a nameless, faceless website whose own leadership admits is inaccurate, become an authority? It’s the public’s insatiable thirst for information that keeps Zillow, et al, relevant, and our consumer relationships combined with embracement of Zillow, et al, is imperative.
What we all can agree on is that these tools aren’t going away, and soon we’ll have Realtor’s Property Resource to deal with, so it’s about time we get used to it. So next time one of your clients is sitting in the back of your car futzing with an iPhone real estate app, ask them what they found. How about downloading and actually using these apps and teaching our clients how to use these tools, rather than deal with questions gleaned from inaccurate data. Perform a Trulia/Zillow/Cyberhomes search before a seller presentation, ever ask a user what they found on the other service-site? It’s inevitably a number they wouldn’t admit.
Analysis-paralysis strikes Joe Buyer and Janet Seller more than you think, and I believe our value proposition is going to be sorting out and analyzing the information found. Anyone can plug an address into a website and get a number in return, but no one can combine the real world home specs, neighborhood demographics, buyer profiling and current market data, with the information at hand, and come up with an accurate “valuation number” like a REALTOR®.
Nobu Hata is a sales associate for Edina Realty in Minneapolis, and a founding member of the Minneapolis YPN group, the YoPros. Visit his Web site at www.nobuhata.com.