How Zillow Cheated Me – Part 1

February 28th, 2013

When I finally discovered in late January what Zillow had done to me and all of their paying customers outraged me so thoroughly that I called and made several demands.  Working my way through their channels it became obvious that they had no intention of doing any of them.  From their point of view they had done precisely nothing wrong.  They had sent a notice.  It was all legal. In other words, they could get away with it.

The 2nd person I spoke with is named, Martin.  Martin’s job was to handle people who wanted to cancel their account with Zillow.  I told Martin that I was aware of the continuous price increases but that what they did in October was a covert and underhanded move designed to hide a massive price increase and that they had actually cheated me and all of their other customers when they did it.  It was about the same as a Realtor filling out a listing form, charging the seller 6% and then going back in to an elderly person and having them unknowingly agree to a 15% commission.  Martin didn’t see it that way at all.  But that is exactly how I saw it.

You can see the specifics at this link: http://zillowripsoffagents.com/zillowcostsandresults2012.htm

I am accustomed to advertising vendors attempting to overcharge me.  I spend a little over $800,000 a year on marketing.  Every year at contract negotiation time pretty much every TV and radio station wants to explain why we should pay more for even less.  It wasn’t the fact of a price increase that outraged me – but the disingenuous method they chose to use.  And no TV or radio station (or other source of internet leads I’ve ever used) has ever attempted to trick me once I made a deal with them.  According to Martin, Zillow  had simply “changed their business model”.

I explained to him that based on what each lead cost me the cost per closed deal (buying Zillow leads) went from about $1,100 a deal to about $1,900 a deal.  He became agitated that I kept insisting on using a cost per lead – he let me know “we don’t sell leads, we sell number of impressions”.  Really, Martin?  Cost per impression?  Fine, if you hadn’t at the very same time tried to hide the fact that you REALLY jacked the price this time.  So high that I believe any agent who sees and understands what your company just pulled and can see what their true cost is now will simply stop doing business with Zillow.

My demands were:

  1. Refund to me the money they had overcharged me.
  2. Refund to all of the other agents they had overcharged.
  3. Issue a public apology for having been sneaky about it.
  4. Promise to never do it again.

Martin made it clear Zillow wasn’t going to do any of these things.

They didn’t have to refund me or anybody else.  They had “sent a notice” they were making those changes.  It was legal.

http://zillowripsoffagents.com/how-zillow-cheated-me-part-1/

Can Anybody Trust Anything Zillow Says?

February 26th, 2013

www.zillowsucks.com was already taken.  Same for www.zillowsucks.net.  Already taken.  This is a company that is openly mocked and pretty much the entire agent community (their actual paying customers) dislikes them.  The people who might speak up in their defense are on their payroll.

They spew FALSE AND MISLEADING DATA almost non-stop and pretend like it is factual information.  This false information is not limited to their usually silly “Zestimates”.  Oh no.  In the months and years ahead I will document that the initially open (but now hidden) CONTEMPT that Zillow’s founder has for agents remains an interegal part of the make up of the company now.

I will take up the ACTUAL PURPOSE of Zillow and demonstrate why the PRICES THEY CHARGE WON’T WORK for their paying customers.  I will show, with specifics,  that they are PASSIVE-AGRESSIVE in most of what they do and say.

Every word or phrase that is capitalized in this post will be the subject of a future post.  And …. I promise to make each and everyone of them informative and entertaining.

http://zillowripsoffagents.com/can-anybody-trust-anything-zillow-says/

What is your time worth?

September 13th, 2012

If you are a working Realtor and want to “give yourself a raise” this short post is for you.

There are many many “things which must be done” in your business. Many. To skip just one of those things is to invite eventual disaster. But that does not mean YOU have to physically do each of them yourself. In fact, doing them all yourself is a very expensive way to foolishly spend money.

There are DOLLAR PRODUCTIVE ACTIVITIES.  And then there is everything else.

There are only two types of activities which can not ever be delegated. Just two. Lead generation (not lead conversion, it can) and quality control.

All other actions can be delegated. All of them. You will always make the greatest income if YOU focus on Led Generation and delegate the rest.

The first thing to get rid of is the $15 an hour stuff. Your time spent on lead gen is worth at least $200 an hour. You doing $15 an hour work costs you $185 an hour for you to do it.

And get over the (false) idea that customers only want you. They want a certain result. Not “you”.

This is done on a gradient. First get rid of $15 an hour work. And get a life in the process too.

A Seminar on Team Building

May 5th, 2011

Seminar on Team Building

Over the years I’ve had agents tell me they "wanted a big team".  Or they "didn’t want a big team".  I’ve never seen anyone who didn’t want "a big team" have a need for a team at all.  And (other than an oversized self image) I’ve never seen any good reason to "want a big team".  It just doesn’t work that way.

Further, most "real estate teams" are not "teams" at all but simply people who sit at offices in the same building or room.  They are not teams in any real sense of the word, "team".

I believe the fundamentals of team building are the building blocks of building a business.  Here is a link to a page that has pretty much the entire two hour talk I gave (Wendy came in near the end and covered hiring) and also some links to little snippets where specific questions are answered.  Thanks to Phil Sexton for doing all the editing and making this possible.  I hope you like it and find it as helpful as I intended.

NAR Raises Dues. Yawn

March 21st, 2011

NAR Members VS Annual Sales

Oh sure.  Lots of agents will complain and bemoan having to pay more.  But I doubt NAR will lose any members (due to the dues increase) they weren’t going to lose anyway.  There is a very interesting relationship between how many members NAR has and the average number of sales per member.  Although some members are not directly or significantly impacted by this sales-to-member-ratio, it does have an impact on the average NAR member, regardless of if they think it does or not.

The chart above, showing NAR Members VS Average Sales is from the wonderful Gary Keller book, Shift.  Looking at the chart it is pretty easy to see a pattern: that there is a relationship between the number of members and the number of sales.  And that the number of members – when falling off – lags the drop off in the market.  Notice in this second chart, NAR Members VS Available Sales Per Person that because of that lag (NAR membership is at its lowest when the perception is “the market is bad” and highest when the perception is “the market is good”) there are times when the Number of Available Sales Per Person is much better for the members in the business.

NAR Members VS Available Sales Per Person

Right now is one of those times.  In my area, Phoenix, the market is on fire – with some months being record breaking months (December and February, for example).  Prices are at the very bottom – that is what is driving the buying frenzy – but the local media, quoting always behind the times local economists, are still pushing the “doom and gloom, things are awful” line.  So both agents and the public tend to believe things are awful – when just the opposite is true.

1. NAR does a lot of things wrong.  2. They do a lot of things right.  3. They do a lot of things that don’t matter much.  An annual dues increase of $40 would be in that last category – as far as membership retention goes.  How they spend that money and how effective that winds up being with regard to accomplishing the intended objectives will determine if the results are in category 1 or 2.

You’re welcome.

If You’re in the Short Sale Business Most of the Banks Are About to Take a Giant Dump on You and Your Clients

September 28th, 2010

FNMA

It is no secret that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are tightening the reins on delinquent  borrowers.  What is looks like to me is Fannie is now going WAY out of their way to "find errors" and "mistakes" so they can can shove the foreclosure back on the originating bank and not have the loss belong to them.  FNMA has a long history of when making loads of money any profits belong to them (for their ultra-bright management) and the stockholders.  When they lose money – well yes, that’s on the taxpayers.

Now industry giant, Wells Fargo had the following sent out:

Subject: !!!URGENT!!! New Procedures Regarding Extension and F/C Sale Dates

Hello,

If you are receiving this email, I currently am working on your short sale file or have worked on your file in the past few months. PLEASE READ THIS WHOLE EMAIL AND FORWARD TO ANY PARTIES WHO MAY BE WORKING ON A SHORT SALE FOR WELLS FARGO.

Due to recent industry changes, we at Wells Fargo will no longer be granting any extensions for short sale close dates or postponing foreclosure/trustee sale dates. If you were issued an extension letter dated 9/14 or earlier, those extension letters will be honored, but no further extensions will be granted. Files must close by expiration date on the original approval letter or they will be removed. If your approval expires 9/15 or 9/16, you will have 48 hours to get me the final HUD for approval and close.

Please let me know if you have any questions! Thank you!

Thank*´¨)
¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)

***Please include the loan # and borrower’s name with all correspondence***
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ * You

Jessica Hubby
Loan Adjustor Specialist
Wells Owned/Private Liquidation
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage  |  1 Home Campus  |  MAC X2409-01F
Des Moines, IA 50328
Tel 515-564-3075
jessica.hubby@wellsfargo.com

Nice.  They trained the public to see how long they could stay in the house rent-free and now to "fix things" are simply not going to do any further extensions.  Yes, this is coming from FNMA (which is 80% of Wells’ loan portfolio) but 20% is theirs – and they will follow lock step in line with Fannie.  All the while chanting, "We don’t want foreclosures".  No, they don’t "want them" but will not act in accordance with "not wanting them".

Wachovia was first, now Wells.  In less than 30 days you will see an announcement from B of A saying the same thing.  It will be the new standard.  They are trying to quickly "retrain the public"  on how long they can stay in the house (now 7 months max) without paying.  Not a word from Wells about Fannie and what should be occurring.

A year ago I would have said that Well’s was one of the very best banks to do a short sale with and currently they are among the absolute worst.  Almost like they took lessons from how Bank of America was running their loss mitigation division six months to a year ago.  Not now.  B of A has made HUGE improvements and Wells has gone the other way.  Why can’t we get a short sale done before foreclosure?  Is it the buyer who is tardy with paperwork?  Is it the seller who won’t get papers back to us in a timely manner?  Nope.  It commonly currently takes Wells over 60 days to get back to us.

From where I sit, Fannie’s claim that they want to stop foreclosures and support neighborhoods rings kind of hollow.

Most of us usually judge individuals and companies by how they act.  Not by what they say.  At least not for long.

“what if you could really help – really make a life or death difference to a fellow REALTOR who seriously needs a hand up, not a hand out?”

September 27th, 2010

For Pat's Sake

I just received the following email from my good friend, Dr. Fred Grosse:

Dear Friends

Greetings to you all from springtime in New Zealand. We are writing to you with a different kind of message today, one that we very much hope you will support and which we also hope you will never need to use.

We would like to invite you to visit the following site: http://forpatssake.com

The site asks the question: “what if you could really help – really make a life or death difference to a fellow REALTOR who seriously needs a hand up, not a hand out?”

We encourage you to sign the “Bridge of Hope” petition and send it to NAR. The purpose of the Petition is to show the leaders of NAR that members of NAR want NAR to establish a benevolent fund to help its REALTOR family. To show NAR decision makers that this is something that needs to be done and that it is hugely supported by REALTORS around the country. Please take the time to read the information and to sign.

Once you’ve signed the petition and sent it to NAR, please would you email your friends and networks and ask them to do the same thing.

We feel this is an action whose time has come and we thank the Tuesday sisters and their male counterpart, Nick French, from the bottom of our hearts, for what you are doing. And we thank you, in advance, for your support.

Dr Fred and Victoria

I’ve signed the petition and think it would be great if every single person reading this signs it, as well. 

The site address again is: http://forpatssake.com/

CHASE Bank Has a Bully and Threats Division

August 19th, 2010

Chase Bully Division

It appears that Chase Bank has a division that continuously checks the net for any posts or comments about them. So it shouldn’t take them long to find this one. It didn’t take them long at all to find the videos that my friends and short sale competitors, Kevin and Fred had at their site, Short Sale Power Hour.

Then the lawyers for the Chase Bully and Threats Division got involved. The videos in question had Kevin and Fred talking about their experiences and interactions as short sale agents dealing with Chase. The Chase Bully and Threats Division didn’t like the videos of Kevin and Fred talking about Chase Bank’s short sale division but there wasn’t anything Kevin and Fred were saying in the videos that Chase could claim was false or untrue or that would justify asking for them to be removed or modified. That didn’t matter.

During a very lengthy (6 hours, I am told) conversation, the lawyer from Chase told the lawyer from Keller Williams Realty International that if the videos in question, mentioning Chase, were not removed from Kevin and Fred’s Short Sale Power Hour site, Chase Bank would pull every REO listing from every single Keller Williams agent! There are 80,000 Keller Williams agents. Every REO listing that was a Chase listing from every single KW agent anywhere in the world.

Now that’s a damn nice threat!

I want one! I want Chase Bank to threaten me. Here is how they can get in touch with me so I can be threatened too.

Wachovia Will No Longer Postpone A Foreclosure

August 9th, 2010

Money Gun

In an effort to stop sellers facing foreclosure from gaming their system, Wachovia has completely stopped allowing any postponement of a foreclosure or Trustee’s Sale.  I have long felt that Wachovia was not simply a good lender to deal with for a short sale – truth be told – they were the very best.

I’m being told that this new policy isn’t going to be a "bad" thing.  I don’t see it that way.  To penalize everyone because of  the bad actions of a few is seldom good (even if common).

Here is a copy of a response from Wachovia that was sent to me via the title company:

**IF THERE IS A FORCLOSURE SALE DATE SET – WE WILL NO LONGER POSTPONE THAT DATE FOR ANY REASON – if there is an active foreclosure Sale Date we MUST RECEIVE funds no later than 5 DAYS before that Sale Date, also if there is a SALE DATE set we must receive the full package 10 business DAYS prior to that sale date (and again, we will not postpone that date)**

FOR EXAMPLE:

If you are SUBMITTING A SHORT SALE PACKAGE on a property that has a SALE DATE SET FOR AUGUST 30th, the SHORT SALE APPROVAL WILL BE ISSUED with an expiration date of AUGUST 25th and we will NOT EXTEND the Short Sale approval or SALE DATE.

Sandra Villalpando
Short Sales Manager
Wachovia, REO

I’m hoping that this new policy from Wachovia is reversed.  I do understand that some lenders say they will postpone one and then go right ahead and foreclose anyway.  I’ve just always expected much better from Wachovia.  And rightly so!

No BS Real Estate

August 8th, 2010

Jeff Brown's Head

I don’t think Jeff Brown’s (BawldGuy) head is much larger than Jay Thompson’s head or my head .  The three of us will be on a panel together on Tuesday, August 24th in Scottsdale.  Each of the three of us has a different approach to our business and yet I can’t remember a time I disagreed fundamentally with something significant that Jeff or Jay had to say about how to get and keep customers.

That last part of that last sentence is THE most important skill in business success: HOW TO GET AND KEEP CUSTOMERS.  If you are good at that one you could be bad at most of the other skills and still be a success.  I am not recommending being bad at the other important skills – just pointing how how important that one is.  If you are not good at that one it won’t make much difference how good you are at the other skills – if you are in business for yourself – you will still fail.  How we get and keep customers is what we will be covering – from three different perspectives.

In Gary Keller’s wonderful book, "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" the idea of Leads, Listings, Leverage was a key concept.  If you are working on or solving a problem in your real estate business you were always solving or working on one of those three issues.  How to get more leads, how to get more listings from those leads or setting up or improving your systems.  Those three things: Leads, Listings & Leverage were THE things.  Just those three.  No matter how it might seem that our industry is changing or the economy is now "different" (it usually is) those three things really are what needs work.  Getting leads, converting leads into listings and being able to handle more and more and still give great service.

The "economy", various market conditions, etc. does not determine your stats or your income.  Your ability to adapt to the current market and lead generate in that market with an offer that seems desirable to consumers in the current market and then lead convert establishes your income.  That is all in the skill category and that is something you can do something about.  Always.