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Articles for ‘Technology’

What home sellers don’t know…

Thursday, December 17th, 2009 by Gary Lucido

…will definitely hurt them.

I was poking around this morning doing some research on enhancing real estate searches for our Web site. We’re about to introduce building specific searches. While testing the listings for 340 On The Park I discovered that we are only allowed to show 9 listings, while there are actually 15 units for sale in the building. Why can’t we show those other 6 listings? Well, we could if we required you to register but we don’t want to do that because registration is a pain in the ass. Furthermore, it’s a real turn off for real estate buyers who are afraid that some pushy real estate agent is going to start harassing them – not to mention that many home buyers provide bogus registration information when faced with that requirement.

But why do we have to get you to register to see these other 6 listings? Because the real estate brokers that are listing those units do not participate in an arcane and convoluted program called broker reciprocity. As explained in that prior post real estate listings from brokers that participate in the program get put in the IDX feed, which is broadly available on all realtor Web sites without registration. If a broker does not participate, their real estate listings are only available in the VOW feed that requires registration to access on a realtor’s Web site.

What is surprising about the 340 On The Park situation is that 6 out of 15 listings are not in the IDX feed. That’s a huge number. Just the other day I did a quick estimate and determined that in the city of Chicago only about 2 – 3% of the real estate listings are missing from the IDX feed, which is consistent with what the MLS folks tell me. That’s the reason that we decided to not require registration on our site.

So why is 340 On The Park so different? It all comes down to the dominant broker in the building who has all 6 of those listings. Apparently, this broker does not participate in the reciprocity program. This is especially peculiar in light of the fact that a real estate broker has to actually go through the trouble of opting out of the broker reciprocity program. In addition, opting out of the program only prevents the listings from showing up on other realtors’ Web sites. The listing brokerage still has the ability to advertise the listing on any Web site they choose – e.g. Realtor.com, where these “missing” listings do appear and without registration. So the listing brokerage selectively withholds access from the Web sites of brokers like us who refuse to require registration for accessing MLS listings (we still have access to the properties through the MLS system but we can’t put them on our Web site without requiring registration).

All of these shenanigans highlight yet another problem you can run into using the top producer. So, if your home is currently listed and you want to find out if your realtor is holding out on you just check for your home on our site. If it doesn’t show up then it’s not getting the broadest distribution possible.

As I asked before, why would any broker not want their listings to receive the broadest exposure possible? Could it be that they are trying to restrict access to their listings so as to increase  the likelihood of their getting both sides of the transaction? Nahhhh. A real estate broker would never put their own self-interest above that of their client.

New! Browse Chicago Real Estate By Neighborhood Or Zip Code

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 by Gary Lucido

We’ve just added a new feature on our Web site that allows the curious to browse through and drill down into Chicago’s and Dupage’s real estate listings and get quick snapshots of the local real estate market, instead of just searching for a particular property. There are two different paths you can take from our home page – either browse by neighborhood or browse by zip code. Each of these starting pages gives you an overview of the Chicago and Dupage real estate market – the number of listings by type of property for each of our featured neighborhoods or zip codes. We picked these featured neighborhoods and zip codes based upon our current clients’ interests. If you don’t find a neighborhood or zip code you are interested in let me know. However, you can drill down on a more comprehensive list of neighborhoods from our neighborhoods page, which also includes profiles, maps, and real estate market statistics.

From these starting points you can drill down by type of property and then by number of bedrooms and bathrooms. 3 clicks is all it takes to get you to a specific home for sale. For example, starting at our neighborhood page you can click on the Lakeview condo and townhome link – 1009 listings at the time of this post. This page breaks down the Lakeview condo market into the different combinations of bedrooms and bathrooms. For each combination we show you the number of listings, the average price, and the minimum and maximum prices.

From there you could click on the link for the 47 3 bedroom/ 3 bath condos, which produces a list of the 47 individual homes for sale along with basic information on each listing such as total number of rooms, parking, and square footage. Clicking on any of those links takes you to the listing sheet for that particular property with all the pertinent details, including photographs.

Oh yeah…and, unlike most real estate brokers, we don’t force you to register so you can remain anonymous.

Interactive Floor Plans – Let Your Mouse Do The Walking

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 by Gary Lucido

The interactive floor plan is yet another way to avoid leaving your current home while looking for a new home. It’s really pretty cool and the ease with which we implemented this for our latest listing is yet another example of how a large broker has absolutely no advantage over independents like us. All we had to do was send an email to a Chicago based service provider who sent out a photographer to sketch out a floor plan and take photos from various angles throughout the home. Those photos were then linked from icons overlaid on a floor plan of the home, representing the locations from which the photos were taken. When you click on one of the icons it changes into a picture of a camera with shading representing the field of view and the corresponding photo is displayed on the side. A picture is worth a thousand words:

Interactive Floor Plan

You can click on the floor plan above to see the live example.

The interactive floor plan allows buyers to really get a feel for how the home is laid out and what it looks like from various angles. The only downside is that some buyers may think they’ve seen it all and try to make a decision based solely upon the online experience. We would recommend that the interactive floor plan be used only to rule out obvious misses.



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