What Real Estate Consumers REALLY Want

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Every week there is new set of charts and graphs that come out. They analyze every minutia of data and all the information imaginable. New killer-apps are being released at such a rapid pace it’s tough to keep up with them all. And why?

Well, according to the techno-listing sites, the third-party aggregation websites, like Redfin, Zillow and Trulia, apparently what people really want is…. yep, more data. That’s right- more and more data. Every conceivable number and metric they can think up.

It’s like a race now. Who can churn out the most data, and cram it onto their website, the fastest. Who cares if it’s relevant or if anybody will actually use it- it’s DATA! It’s cool color charts and graphs that can show you everything you never thought possible. Come and see how many times people in this neighborhood walk their dogs on Tuesday mornings or find out the ratio of homes that sold for 1/25th of their initial listing price, during the first 118 hours being on the market, after being sold 2-3 years earlier, that have a redwood deck, and were listed with a Realtor named Sally- all in a cool pie chart.

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So, this is where all the investment capital is going with all these techno-listing sites- more data? Millions of dollars are being pumped into these companies by investors who are counting on profits from all this data, yet none of these companies have made any profit. Think about how ridiculous this is. Redfin gets $20Million and it’s whole model is based around the idea that if they give more data and info, people will just buy homes online. The whole Redfin company, with all of their PR, news coverage, and dozens of full time employees and agents, only sold about 1000 homes last year.  For a comparison, I sold 114 homes last year. And these investors keep pumping money into this sinking ship.

Zillow just got another $30Million and Trulia has now received almost $18Million. And the business models of these companies is to get advertising (more stuff to put on the websites). I guess they figure at a certain point people will just become so buried with all the data on their websites that they’ll just have to fall over and surrender to them. When these companies run out of money (like they all keep doing), they simply come up with some new graphs and heat maps and show the suckers investors how this new data will finally get them some of that “profit” they keep hearing so much about, but alas… it does not come.

I receive a lot of advice on what I should add to my website. I have had no less than twenty companies approach me to sell me some cool new data field or information feed.  And I like data, and using it to give people good information, but enough is enough.

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 People don’t want more data- they want a great experience.

I don’t want to climb over piles of charts and graphs to find what I’m looking for. If I’m thirsty I don’t really care if the glass has twirling lights and does my taxes- I just want the water that’s in the glass. The next cool drinking glass that has dancing girls and live-streaming music might be hot for a little while (like these tech-sites), but in the long run I believe that people will always use simple, easy to use water glasses. Because when they are thirsty they want the water, not the glass.

My point is- don’t cram your website with as much stuff as you can find. Instead, use good data and information, and present it in a way that offers a good, fun experience for your consumers. Give them a presentation that is visually appealing, as well as powerful and technologically advanced. Don’t forget that people make decisions based on emotion, and we always will.

Give me a great experience and I will give you my business.

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14 thoughts on “What Real Estate Consumers REALLY Want

  1. Pingback: What Real Estate Consumers REALLY Want | The Long List of Odysseus Medal Nominees | Realtors and real estate, mortgages, lending, investments

  2. I like some of the data tools. Different consumers have specific needs. Relocation consumers like school reports, crime rates and neighborhood demography. Mostly a good search and true market statistics would be nice on a site. Actually I think the speed test looking graph looks cool above. The in company trend is to create a realtor.com looking site with many MLS listing feeds on it. They have 1 broker per state signed up with MLS’s to get the IDX feeds. Then have a site designed to capture buyers info by scheduling showing and refer them to local agents.

  3. Tom,

    I like the cool graphs too, but having a clean user-interface is important. The trend of having 1 broker in each area, like Roost, is one way to go. A better way is agents having their own custom websites that are just as good or better than the national companies and collect their own business without referral fees or advertising costs. In fact, the agents, once in the right network, will be able to have advertising on their own websites and make that ad money themselves, instead of paying it away to someone else.

  4. A quick straw poll shows that 78.32% of Web 2.0 Real Estate Agents agree with you, but 14.3% of those still love the entertainment factor. 87.4% of traditional agents did not know what you were talking about.
    Me, I feel a cosmic synergism with your stream of thought.

  5. Nice John…

    I agree, but did you know that 13.76% of all agents still do not use email, 73.44% do not know what Trulia or Zillow are, 14.67% are named either John, Robert, Elizabeth, Rebecca, or some variation of those names.

    Also, interestingly enough, only 0.67% of all agents named John have a great looking website and blog on a regular basis. You’re the top of your class!

  6. Did you also know that 57.4% of statistics are made up on the spot? 😉

    I’d say go look it up, but, well, you know…

    In reality, I think what will be important going forward is not the distribution of data, but the interpretation and explanation of it. That is where the action will be.

  7. Greg – what a refreshing take on what our clients want – I have to agree it’s tempting to become a total “gadget girl” and lose sight of overwhelming them – KISS comes to mind. Enough to build credibility and by the catalyst for an introduction to an opportunity to do business. Thanks

  8. Excellent post Greg. Now how about some real stats from the 2007 NAR Homebuyer Profile:

    84% photos “very useful”
    – vs –
    24% detailed info about recently sold homes “very useful”

  9. Pingback: Price Watcher Plus! A Dose of Caution and an Ounce of Advice | Redfin San Diego Sweet Digs

  10. Pingback: Trulia’s Integrity Called Into Question « BlueRoof Blog- BlueRoof360- Real Estate, Realtor Websites

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