Monday, 11 April 2011

Tour the Neighborhood via Sketchup

Over on the Minneapolis Craigslist, I saw this post:

“I need some people to help create 3D models of residential homes using Google sketch up or any other 3D software. Please send an example of your work (inside, outside, both) and your rate sheet for what you can offer. I am a Realtor and have an order for 10 homes with plenty more to come. “

I think this is a tiny glimpse into the future of real estate; sales, open houses, tours, remodeling, redecorating, etc.

The hard work is creating the house’s avatar.

After that – it’s the fun stuff; overlaying property lines, changing colors, and moving walls, making copies and doing walk-through tours.

Especially once enough more than a handful of the homes in your neighborhood are in Sketchup (and then placed in Google Earth).

Then you can finally determine if you should move to that house 1-block away or not.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

NYTimes on Redfin & The End of Real Estate Agents

“Some economists wonder why agents fight so hard to maintain this pricing system when it is making so few of them rich. In every housing boom, the number of new agents entering the market tracks the climb in home prices. As a result, the average agent sells far fewer homes and makes less money.”

“If agents don’t like [Redfin], then it must be better for consumers.” – Matt Bell

Friday, 2 June 2006

Sunday, 5 March 2006

Real Estate Agents and Dodo Birds

Steven and Stephen, the dynamic duo behind Freaknomics have a bit on Real Estate Agents being added to the Endangered Species list in the New York Times.

Nothing new to anyone with a little understanding of the real estate market and how the internet has dissolved both travel agents and stock brokers. The more conversations I have about the real estate industry, the more I see how ripe for change it is. Nice to see the issue in the NYT.

Let’s say it takes 5 years of owning a home to make it worth the closing costs. Now, let’s say the home sales slow just a tad. Just enough to push out the timeframe to 7 years. As the NYT article reminds us, 7 years ago stock brokers and travel agents had yet to be replaced by online tools.

Now just might be the last opportunity to sell or buy a home with an agent.

Sunday, 19 February 2006

Property History & Comments – Another Reason for Real Estate Agents to Blog

There’s been a few parties interested in our house, I’m surprised to learn from our agent how unstructured, the agent-to-agent feedback process is. Sounds like the listing agent has to initiate the contact with the showing agent, rather than the showing agent providing it by default.

As a seller, I want to know what prospective buyers are saying about the place – maybe there’s some small improvements that’ll make it more attractive? For the listing agent, the feedback helps refine the house’s marketing and positioning.

Blog comments and trackbacks automate this process, by collecting all the feedback on a given property in a single location – whether it’s written the listing agent’s blog or the showing agents’.

Extending this idea, houses themselves should have an ongoing blog, not only for buying/selling events, but documenting improvements (“when were new windows installed?”).

Jen says, “Oh, like”

Wednesday, 8 February 2006 First Impressions launched today, and since our place is still on the market, I thought I’d check what Zillow’s estimate for 2701 31st Ave NE was. Huh, Zillow puts the marker above the 189,900 we started the listing at. Cool.

Overall, the site is zippy and filled w/ ajax-y goodness (and I can therefore forgive the initial Safari incompatibility). The maps draw fast and come up with more info that I expected.

Outside of finding and refining the value of a house – I’m not sure what else I’d do here – explains the text and banner ads sprinkled across the site.

Of interesting note, I can update house data, add improvements, and choose comparable properties all without creating an account or logging in. The numbers are in Zillow’s terms, “your own private worksheet”. Nice way to provide value without the irritant of another login/password.

The real estate industry is ripe for reform, and Zillow is a much needed start in the right direction of transparency and immediacy. Speaking of transparency, yes, Zillow has a blog.

Sunday, 15 January 2006

Wanted – Real Estate Agents to Blog

Before I bought my current place, Jen and I talked with a handful of real estate agents. We didn’t purchase from any of them. In general, they didn’t feel authentic, connected, credible. Felt like the stereotypical used car salesman. With a housing boom like this – I don’t blame them. Problem is, demand won’t always be this strong, interest rates this low, and the need for agents will only diminish.

At some point in the next year or so, there’s a very good chance I’ll need their services. This is what I’m looking for in the next real estate agent I work with:

  • A weblog that’s about 60% ‘business’ – properties, housing market, interest rates, mortgage stuff. With the rest of it more personal and hopefully completely off topic. Ideally, some posts will cross both sides – likes restaurants and events in the neighborhoods they really like.
  • Yes, the weblog needs to have an RSS feed filled with photos so I can automatically stay up-to-date on the home sales in the area.
  • I’d also like an iCal calendar available, so open houses can be loaded into my things-to-do this weekend.

These 3 items help me build a relationship with an agent, on my terms and without the risk of spam and unwanted phone calls. While at the same time, building the agent’s reputation, credibility, and network. This is very much the agent equivelant of Alex Stenback’s Behind the Mortgage.

Historically, real estate agents have operated in a world where market information is difficult and inconvenient to consolidate. Google Maps mash-ups like DC Homeprices,, and bring buyers, sellers, and agents closer to the same level. Not to mention neighbors with blogs.

Anyone out there doing this today?

Elsewhere: 20 Aug 2008:

“…consumers are accessing agents’ ever-more-common blogs, social network pages or viral video campaigns — all of the burgeoning options that have been called Web 2.0 — to tap their expertise and get a sense of their personalities” – Simone Baribeau, Washington Post Staff Writer