REBNY portal pot still perking / bad plan or just bad communications?
REBNY play defense in communicating with members about the portal
They did not do it because I blogged about the “public web portal” but it so happens that REBNY circulated a memo to its residential division members soon after my last post about it.
The tone is very defensive; the content is disturbingly vague and contradictory. Looks as though they rushed it, just as it continues to look as though they rushed the whole plan.
The document is a set of Qs + As, to be updated “regularly”, they say. The cover memo is signed by the heads of the Residential Division, Diane Ramirez of Halstead and Fred Peters of Warburg.
what’s the point?
REBNY says the open portal is designed to
give the public what is necessary to help them narrow their property search and to either drive them to a REBNY members seller’s broker or enhance their ability to work efficiently with the buyer’s broker they have already selected.
what’s the answer?
There are some very significant decisions that have not been made yet, including about cost, vendor, and content.
REBNY has taken a lot of flak about pricing the portal at $7,000 for large firms and $3,000 for small firms and they look like they have completely abandoned that structure for … something very different but undefined.
From a two-tiered system, REBNY will have a four-tiered fee structure for firms (presumably based on size??) and a “surcharge” for agents. Indeed, they claim not to know what the system will cost overall, basically saying that the cost will depend on what the vendors say.
Nine vendors have been asked to submit proposals, including new-kid-on-the-web-block Trulia.
keeping the story straight is harder than it should be
If you think the Q+A would be clear you’d be wrong.
Whether consumers would be able to sign up to get information about future listings that fit their criteria seems like a pretty basic question about the portal. REBNY is not sure whether the portal will have one, but says it will “recommend” to the vendor that this feature be included.
Why the uncertainty? Is there any doubt that consumers will get pretty pissed pretty quickly if they are forced to return and re-enter their search criteria time after time after time??
Will the consumers see floor plans? In one place, the answer is clearly “no”; in another place the answer is “most likely no”. Is there any doubt that consumers will get pretty pissed pretty quickly if they don’t see such basic information (even NYTimes.com has floor plans for most real listings).
Will the portal carry rental data? How much more basic can that question be that it hasn’t already been answered? Well, in one place the answer seems to be a firm maybe (“we will be reviewing this very soon”); in another place in the same Q+As the answer seems clearly to be yes (the portal will include “[a]ll the exclusive sale and rental listings that appear on our present RLS” system)
driving traffic elsewhere
Since the stated point is to drive consumers to selling agent’s websites, it is logical to provide bare-bones information only. Whether that is a smart choice or not is a different question.
For my listings, if I expect potential buyers to see them first on this portal, I want them to be attracted to the listing info – just as I would want them to be attracted to the listing regardless of what medium they first saw it. I am not sure that this portal will do that, as the number of photos, the scope of the description and the amount of listing information have not yet been defined (the Q+A says there will be “some photo(s), description, and listing information”).
If this thing is expected to be like Realtor.com is in the rest of the country (the first place nearly everyone goes for listing information), I want my superior marketing to shine through so that everyone does click through to my firm’s listing. If I am a small firm with a bare-bones site of my own maybe I want everyone’s listings on this portal to look a little dreary. But if I am Corcoran (or CBHK) or any firm that has spent a fortune on their web presence, I want a lot of that experience available at the first point of contact for consumers.
Hmmmm… maybe there is a fight there….
who wants this thing? everybody??
The Ramirez-Peters cover memo says that the entire 13 member Board of the Residential Division voted for this portal. That includes representative of The Establishment, of course (Halstead, Warburg, PruDE, Corcoran, Stribling, Sothebys, Bellmarc and Brown Harris are all represented) as well as some smaller firms (Cornelia Netter and Barbara Fox from their eponymous firms, as well as a few others).
But not all the campers are happy, as Ramirez and Peters admit.
Some members requested to meet with staff and Board of Director members to get a better grasp of the project and four times these members were accommodated. Unfortunately, there are those who would like you to believe that no dialogue, movement or compromise to date has taken place; that is not true!
time-lines are tricky
On the one hand, the “results of this planning effort” for the portal will be reported to member firms in the middle of January. On the other hand, the vendor is expected to be selected in late January. It seems that REBNY is waiting for the vendor to tell them what he system will cost and what some of the features will be. Seems like a messy process,
Seems particularly messy to be airing the messiness before it gets cleaned up.
Wonder what’s really going on here….
© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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