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  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: instant offers, real estate,   

    Realtors rebelling against Zillow over instant offers 

    Realtors rebelling against Zillow over instant offers

    Hot off of them threatening a blogger over fair use of photos (BTW, they backed down after the EFF told them they have no case), real estate website Zillow is testing a new program called Instant Offers. Zillow says Instant Offers can speed up the process of selling your home and make it a lot easier. Basically how it works is, you register your home with Instant Offers and ideally, within two business days you’ll receive offers from investors who are willing to buy your home. Real estate agents, who already have a contentious relationship with Zillow, are saying not only does this hurt their business, but Instant Offers are also not consumer friendly.

    Even though Instant Offers is only being tested in Las Vegas and Orlando, many members of the National Association of Realtors have seen the writing on the wall. The realtors are saying not only does Instant Offers take away business opportunities from them, but they also say the Instant Offers investors are not offering equitable offers to homeowners. The realtors believe the investors are offering a great deal below market value. One realtor has even taken it upon himself to start a grass-roots movement to try to stop Zillow from becoming the Amazon of real estate by launching the website Stop Zillow.

    However, the question that needs to be asked is, is Zillow looking to corner the real estate market nationwide, or are realtors looking at Zillow like newspapers looked at online classifieds before print media’s decline? Only time will tell.

     
  • Geebo 8:58 am on June 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Kate Wagner, McMansion Hell, real estate,   

    Zillow threatens architecture blogger over house photos 

    Zillow threatens architecture blogger over house photos

    Real estate website Zillow has threatened 23-year-old architecture blogger Kate Wagner over her use of photos from their website. Wagner was running a successful blog called “McMansion Hell” where she took the gargantuan functionless houses to task. In many of her posts, Wagner would use a dry wit and humor to poke fun at many of the design-challenged houses by using photos from Zillow. Ms. Wagner is no mere snark blogger either. Here she is giving a TEDx Talk about the flaws in the poorly planned out houses.

    Recently, Zillow took it upon themselves to send Ms. Wagner a letter demanding she remove any picture she used on her blog from Zillow. Ms. Wagner had always attributed the photos to Zillow and defended her use of them under fair use doctrine. However, in response to Zillow’s perceived threat, Ms. Wagner has decided to, at least temporarily, shutter her website. This is a shame since not only did she have some great content about some poorly designed houses, but she also had other insightful posts on her blog about architectural trends and history in the United States.

    This isn’t even taking into consideration that Zillow themselves don’t own the pictures Ms. Wagner was using. They belong to other copyright holders who allow Zillow to use them. Zillow claims they are defending those copyright holders, but they appear to be petty in doing so by shutting down a blog of a college student whose sole income source is her blog. Maybe if Zillow decides to seek damages they should request a sense of humor in the settlement.

     
    • salman 4:20 am on June 28, 2017 Permalink

      Things got real serious.
      But if Ms. Wagner had credited the photos to Zillow, so there might not be big issues.

  • Geebo 9:03 am on May 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: real estate, Zestimates,   

    Zillow faces lawzuit over Zesitmates 

    Zillow faces lawzuit over Zesitmates

    National real estate listing site Zillow has a feature on their site called ‘Zesitmates’. These Zestimates, as the name implies, are price estimates for real estate listings. According to their website, Zillow says Zestimates are not an appraisal, but are a starting point in determining a home’s value. The Zestimates are based on a proprietary algorithm that takes user provided information and other local prices into account. Sometimes the Zestimate numbers don’t match with the actual value of the home or the price being asked by the homeowner. This sometimes vast disparity in numbers has now led to a lawsuit against Zillow.

    An Illinois homeowner has filed the suit claiming Zillow’s estimate was $60,000 less than the home is worth. The suit claims that Zillow determined this valuation by using the prices of newly built homes in their area but not quite in their neighborhood. The homeowner feels the Zestimate has limited the market potential on their home.

    Is this lawsuit warranted? Well, yes and no. While it doesn’t appear Zillow has acted with any real malice, they had to know their Zestimates could affect the market values on some homes. While Zillow may claim their Zestimates are only a starting point, they have to know a lot of potential buyers are going to use the Zestimates as a de facto appraisal no matter how many warnings they post.

     
  • Geebo 10:45 am on February 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate   

    Could you be violating your lease by using Airbnb? 

    Could you be violating your lease by using Airbnb?

    As you may know, Airbnb is a service that allows you to rent out your house or apartment on a short-term basis. The problem is that if you currently rent your home you could be violating your lease by renting the property out on Airbnb. Many leases include clauses that prohibit subletting or subleasing which could cause the breaking of the lease by renting out the residence on even a short-term basis.

    It’s gotten so bad for one property management company in California that they’re suing Airbnb. The company says that by having their tenants sublease their apartments it’s caused security and safety issues for their residents. The rental company states that Airbnb is complicit in encouraging their tenants to break their leases. Airbnb has largely stayed silent about the suit with many stating that it’s the users fault for violating their own leases.

    Airbnb renters have been seen as a nuisance in a number of jurisdictions that local governments have heavily regulated the service.

    Is Airbnb largely ignoring a problem that they consider out of their hands or are they encouraging renters to willingly break their leases? Only time and the courts will tell.

     
  • Geebo 11:02 am on February 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: credit report, real estate,   

    Beware of new twist on rental scam 

    Beware of new twist on rental scam

    Previously, if you’ve responded to an ad for a rental property from less than reputable classifieds sites, you may have come across a certain scam. The scam artists posing as the renter would say that you can’t see the property due to dubious reasons but would ask you for a rather large deposit. An unsuspecting victim would pay the deposit only to find out that the property isn’t actually for rent.

    Now, the Federal Trade Commission is reporting that a new twist in this old scam has appeared. Instead of having victims pay for deposits, they now have them pay for credit reports to companies that the scammers owned as part of a non-existent background check. The scammers will try to keep the address of the property hidden due to ‘security reasons’.

    As usual the same caveats remain with any of these scams. If the price seems too good to be true it probably is. If something feels wrong during the transaction, don’t be afraid to walk away. It’s better to be disappointed than out of a ton of money and possibly scrambling for shelter.

     
  • Geebo 11:15 am on July 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cabin Creek, , ghost town, real estate   

    Colorado ghost town for sale online 

    Colorado ghost town for sale online

    Do you have $350K burning a hole in your pocket and you’ve always wanted to live in rural Colorado? If so then do I have a deal for you. Cabin Creek, Colorado, which is 45 minutes from Denver, could be yours. The property contains five acres, a gas station with a garage, a small hotel, a diner, an RV park and two homes. The property isn’t in the best condition but the current owner has said that he has installed modern security equipment. Cabin Creek became a ghost town after a murder there in the 1970s. The current owner says that he is selling the property in order to travel.

    If you’re interested in purchasing Cabin Creek or just checking out its history you can go to the town’s website or its Facebook page.

     
  • Geebo 9:45 am on June 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, salt lake city   

    Off Topic Friday: Like us on Facebook or be evicted 

    Off Topic Friday: Like us on Facebook or be evicted

    An apartment complex in Salt Lake City recently found themselves in hot water after giving notices to their tenants that they were required to like their Facebook page or possibly face eviction. As should have been expected, the tenants did not care for this and fired back at the apartment complex. Not only did they rate the apartment complex badly on their Facebook page but they also took to the media which in turn made this into a national story. The apartment complex has since revoked this requirement and has said they were doing this to make sure that pictures from a community pool party would be allowed to be posted on their Facebook page.

    Have Facebook likes become the new metric when it comes to business? Have they become more important than actual customers? Instead of focusing on Facebook likes maybe companies should focus on better products or services then the likes will follow. Trying to generate false or forced likes tends to make you look like a corporation of phonies.

     
  • Geebo 6:44 am on May 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate   

    Off Topic Friday: Craig’s new modest $6M NYC digs 

    Off Topic Friday: Craig's new modest $6M NYC digs

    Not an accurate depiction. Or is it?

    Craig Newmark, founder of the list that bears his name, likes to portray himself as a man of the people. Mr. Newmark likes to say that he’s not about the money. If you were to see craigslist’s home office you may think that was true. The building in San Francisco is so unassuming that if you were passing by you might miss it if you blink. Craig has often bemoaned that craigslist’s profit margins are so razor-thin that they can not hire additional staff such as moderators or customer service reps.

    Now it seems that craigslist’s profits may be more lucrative than Mr. Newmark was possibly leading us to believe. Recently Craig bought a $6 Million home in New York City. According to the New York Post the modest home takes up two floors of a four-story building and has three bedrooms and 3 and a half baths in the West Village. This won’t be Mr. Newmark’s primary residence either. This will be his New York crash pad for when he’s conducting business in New York. His primary residence will remain in the Bay Area where real estate prices are some of the most expensive in the country.

    Now we would never begrudge someone for their success, except when it comes at the cost of their honesty, ethics and the safety of their customers.

     
  • Geebo 7:04 am on May 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: real estate, ,   

    Don’t be left broke and homeless when looking for a place to rent 

    Don't be left broke and homeless when looking for a place to rent

    One of the oldest online commerce scams is the rental property scam. How it works is the scam artist will usually copy a legitimate ad for a house for sale but will make it appear in their ad that the property is for rent, usually at a rate that is almost too good to be true. Some red flags when it comes these ads is that the ‘seller’ will claim that their getting ready to go overseas, or for some reason they won’t be able to meet you face to face. They’ll also try to pressure you into paying a deposit without inspecting the property. In most cases they’ll try to do that through poorly spelled emails or emails where it’s apparent that they may not be native English speakers.

    However there’s an easier way to avoid having the scam go this far. Most legitimate rental properties should be listed with the county or municipality their being rented in. The owner’s contact information should be a matter of public record and if it doesn’t match with what you’re being told or if the property is not listed at all then it’s more than likely a scam.

    Too many families have been left without a home or money falling for these types of scams. With just a little bit of knowledge you can avoid being taken online.

     
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