Nest In The News

Frequently, I am asked how Nest is going. “It’s great!” seems a bit trite. So, rather than tell you how I think it’s going. I thought I would just point out how other people think its going.

Discussing Nest Realty:

From The Hook:

“changing the way real estate is transacted in Central Virginia” by using a more “technologically savvy” and “client-centric” approach.

Discussing our web site:

Charlottesville Real Estate_s New Breed of Broker_ Nest Realty Group.jpg

From 1000 Watt Blog

But this is about more than a website. … Brokerage companies are in for a serious brain drain unless they can use their assets in a manner that supports, rather than inhibits, these stars [referring to Jonathan Kauffman, our Principal Broker].

From PropertyLight – A UK On-Line Marketing firm (We have no idea how they found us)

  • Nest Realty Group has created the property website you wish you had.
  • In the US, a small property broker has created a website that should make most of the industry here in the UK re-think how they present themselves online.
  • Inspiration. This website does something that we’ve yet to see in an agent website here in the UK…. it inspires.

Discussing our Custom Signs:

From NBC 29

Killer Signs from Keith Davis on Vimeo. | Nest Realty, Jim Duncan’s new broker, joins the custom sign club | National real estate marketing and technology blog | Realtors and real estate, mortgage and investment news.jpg

From the Bloodhound Blog

First, I think these signs are striking, very interesting graphically. The grid layout is sweet and fine, a very clean style of communication.

From RealCentralVA – This is Jim Duncan’s site who is one of our agents. But, notice the comments he got, many from other agents and brokers.  (A few of the more than 20 comments are below.)

  • What’s not to love? They look great and I am happy to see “single property signs” spreading, I think they are one of the best services you can bring to the seller.
  • really impressed with this. love how it’s modular (top and bottom are on each sign, the big portion goes with each house). brilliant. well done!
  • Talk about transparency! That is awesome and I think the gen. public will love it. If the house isn’t what they’re looking for, then “no harm, no foul” and no one wasted anyone’s time.
  • I like this! Not only do you get a price on the property without stopping the car, but this sign is actually more about the property for sale than the agency representing it. That’s refreshing. I would love it if I were a seller.

(Emphasis Mine, WKD)

MLS Fields

In real estate, our clients expect that the information we provide will be accurate. They want it in a timely manner, and they want all the information in a one-stop shop. Sometimes, however, the information that we have in our MLS is not really correct.

A quick run down on some items that may or may not be right, and what we are doing / trying to do to fix it.

Days on Market – A number of years ago, it was a common practice among some agents to withdraw and re-list properties on a regular basis (every 25 days or so). A look back to 2006 real estate will bring up several homes that have as many as 6 MLS Numbers. Most good agents knew to check the history of the property and tell their buyer clients, but the practice continued. The number one reason to do it is that the property would pop up on all agents’ hot sheets and would go out to prospects on automatic e-mails nightly. Well, we haven’t stopped it entirely, but we have done a good bit to slow it down.

Enter CDOM or Continuous Days on Market. This little ticker can’t be reset. So, even when a property is withdrawn and relisted, or even listed by a new broker at a new firm the CDOM keeps on counting. There is no hiding how long a home has been listed. I have seen agents who attempt to add an apartment number or other identifier to get rid of the CDOM, but almost always other Realtors report the violation, and it is fixed.

Tax Assessments – So, here’s a good one. I was able to buy the tax records for the city and was able to match most of the current listings with records fairly easily. Not 100%, but it was possible. A little more time and effort and I could have it. But, at CAAR, we don’t have the resources to match the data within a reasonable amount of time. So, the city tax records in CAAR are several years old. The County tax records are from 2006. There is no real reason why we can’t get the taxes to match up. We need to train our agents better to use parcel ID for their properties. This would provide a fool proof way of matching the records.

Square footage – This is the one that drives me crazy. A client calls and says they would like a 2500 square foot house. You find a home in the right school district in the right price range but with no photos. When you arrive, you find a 1500 square foot ranch with a 1,000 square foot basement. This is not a 2,500 s.f. home, even though it might be technically. We rely so much on the data from the MLS, but we have no way of separating out above grade and below grade square footage. This is currently being examined by the CAAR Tech Committee, although I don’t know yet what direction we will head. I hope that we will see three fields. Above Grade Finished Square Footage, Below Grade Finished Square Footage and Unfinished Square Footage.

GE Supra eKey – This isn’t bad data, it’s no data. For every house in the MLS, there should be a lock box. (There are exceptions, but not many.) Every time an agent opens up one of these boxes, the information is stored at GE, and at our CAAR offices. I want to see a weekly number of how many boxes are opened every week. The actual number is irrelevant, but the trend would be amazing to watch. If Contingent and Pending sales are an indication of upcoming sales, then Supra eKey box openings are a harbinger of Offers, and thus contracts, and thus sales. This is the greatest indicator that consumers should want to see, and should be screaming for.

Coming Home to Nest (or, My Most Important Post Ever)

Originally Posted February 15, 2009

Today marks a huge shift. For me, and I believe, for Charlottesville real estate. Today marks the official launch of Nest Realty Group, a team of four experienced Realtors who believe that the consumer has changed, the market has changed, and its time that Realtors change as well.

For more than a decade, I have found myself working at start-up companies in information and technology fields. I suppose it’s not surprising then, that I would head for the start-up route again. Each company in which I have been involved has existed in a mature industry, but has changed the way in which the industry operates. From a company that used genetic algorithms to train and schedule employees, to a firm that used simple (it’s all relative) bio-data from premature infants to predict illness before there were any physical symptoms, every company I have helped steer has believed that there is always a better way to do things. Well, here we go again.

Nest is another real estate firm. We will help list and sell real estate. To that end, we are the same as other firms. I’d like to think that the similarities stop there.

Over the next few days, I will be writing far more in depth posts about the ways in which we are different, but I will give you a few teasers here.

  1. No Dual Agency – Would you ask a Divorce attorney to represent both you and your spouse in your divorce? No. Then why would you believe that a Realtor could represent two sides of the same transaction? They can’t. In my posts in the next few days, I will delve into this more fully. Do I need to be at Nest to refuse Dual Agency? Absolutely not. In fact, I have never worked a deal as a Dual Agent, and I have been very forthright from the start of my career that I have no intention of doing so. Then why Nest? Because we believe that as a firm, our outspoken stance on rejecting Dual Agency will be an asset that Clients will recognize, and it will be a first step in establishing a higher standard for all ethics in our business.
  2. Experienced Agents Only – We are not a training firm. We are not designed to handle hundreds of agents. We don’t want to. We have built our Nest to house only the best, and only experienced agents. All of our team have been in the business more than three years, and within the next few months, we will all complete our Brokerage license. It is a company policy that anyone who joins us down the road will have similar experience and will already have or will pursue their Brokerage license as well.
  3. No Part Time Agents – Nest Agents will not be involved in real estate as a side business. We believe that Realtors who are not fully vested in the industry do their clients a disservice. The value that a Realtor brings to a transaction does not come from simply having a license, it is developed over years of learning every detail of a market and being able to interpret trends from that information. When a Client hires a Nest agent, they will know that their agent is committed to them fully, not just when they are off duty from another job.
  4. Technology – A quick look at our web site will point out that we are different. Clients can find information on listings, but not by stumbling through generic user interfaces. Our clients will be able to begin with maps, or schools, or neighborhood features, or price. Our searches can be saved, and they can be meshed with school information and proximity to shopping… and yes, even the closest vineyard.
  5. Marketing – I can’t go into too many details here, as we are still working with some providers to ensure that Nest does more to market properties than any other firm in Charlottesville. PERIOD. Consumers are changing, and we want to ensure that we are targeting every conceivable market that we can. This means using the MLS, as well as a plethora of on-line services from to Trulia, Zillow, and about 20 more. It means utilizing social media in ways we may not yet fully understand. It also means revamping the way we think about advertising media that we have been using for decades. Print ads are dead, but that doesn’t mean the only place to advertise is on-line. More about this later.
  6. Transparency – I work for my clients. It’s that simple. Anything I do in the course of business should be an open book. When they make an offer on a home, I will share with them all the information I have analyzed in helping them understand the market. I will share my marketing plan, showing information, everything. There should never be a question as to what I am doing to work FOR my client.

So, here we go in a new direction. I can’t express to you how excited I am to be doing this. For years, I have been writing about ways the industry needs to change to accommodate the consumer. And now, I look forward to being part of that change.

I can’t say where the industry will be in 5 years, but I can’t tell you without a doubt, it won’t be where it is today. We are in a rapid fire time of change; one that should excite consumers and Realtors alike. I can’t wait to change, and I can’t wait to see how the consumer asks me to change.

Welcome to our Nest!

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