Inaccuracy of Zillow Zestimates as high as 61%


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spencer rascoff Zillow

Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow

This article is by Kenneth Harney, respected real estate columnist. Many Realtors have to contend with the inaccuracy of Zillow’s Zestimates every day when interviewing sellers who believe their properties are worth more than the market value, because they believe the Zestimate they saw on the Zillow website. Also, buyers are duped into thinking they can purchase certain properties for less money than the market due to erroneous Zestimates they have seen online.

In my experience, these Zestimates vary widely from area to area, sometimes too high, sometimes too low. This article sums it up pretty well, showing that the true value of a property can vary from $40,000 to over $120,000 from the Zestimates.

This is a validation of the need to contact a true local expert Realtor, whether buying or selling.

CFPB Costing Consumers – Not Protecting Them


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Respa reform

Unfortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has hurt consumers that want to obtain mortgages.  This has dampened the real estate market to a degree.  At a recent real estate conference I attended, I was on a panel with several colleagues, one of which is a lender.  He made it clear to the Realtors in the room that most, if not all, lenders today are not focusing on serving real estate agents or their clients, but are only focusing on compliance with the CFPB.  This is a real blow to the customer service people expect in a real estate transaction.  Here are some of the facts:

  • Since the inception of the CFPB, lenders’ costs have increased by 25% due to compliance requirements
  • In the first quarter of 2014, non-institutional lenders (mortgage brokers and bankers) lost $194 on every loan they made.

Obviously, this means that the consumer will be paying higher costs for mortgages.  I don’t believe this was the intent of the CFPB or the Dodd/Frank bill that created the Bureau, but it seems like Congress always acts before understanding the unintended consequences…

Also, if you are interested, I received this information from Ken Trepeta, Director – Real Estate Services at NAR.  I have included the link for you to sign up for the webinar on changes in the RESPA and the TILA. It sounds like an interesting and informative discussion.


On Tuesday August 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM EDT the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Federal Reserve will be hosting a webinar on the implementation of changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).  In addition to major changes to the loan disclosure and closing forms themselves, the new rules will require that the settlement statement be completed three days prior to closing.  The new forms and rules go into effect less than one year from now and industry is working diligently to put together systems and train staff to deal with the new forms and rules as well as integrating the new rules with local customs and practices. This webinar is part of the process of answering questions and concerns relating to implementation.  All those with an interest in disclosures, the closing process, and RESPA/TILA should sign up and listen in. Signup page:

As you can imagine, these new rules that go into effect in less than a year will probably add more costs to the closings on real estate transactions…I truly believe that the CFPB is hurting the consumer more than helping, when it comes to real estate.  What are your thoughts?


Housing Market and Economic Update


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I recently attended the Inman Connect Conference in San Francisco, and was honored to be included in the invitation-only CEO Summit.  One of the best presenters there was Pat Stone.  Here are some of the tidbits of information he gave us regarding the housing market and the economic issues affecting it.

  • The key to a returning robust housing market is all about CONSUMER CONFIDENCE.  Right now that index is gauged at about 83 to 84 on a scale of 0-100.
  • In order for the Consumer Confidence level to rise to over 90, we need to see the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) at 3% or more for 3 or 4 consecutive quarters.
  • That will bring in the 1st-time home buyers that are on the fence right now.
  • Of the 100 Million people in the U.S. that are ages 18-35, 40% say they want to buy a house.  That’s 40 Million People!!!

The really good news that I read today is that July’s CONSUMER CONFIDENCE INDEX = 90.9, up from 86.4 in June.  This is the highest level it has been in seven years!  Here is a link to a recent column by Zoe Eisenberg in RISMedia:


Conversation about Zillow and Other Portals like Trulia and on Facebook and Inman News


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I enjoyed this article of Matthew Barba’s from Inman News.  After reading the article and in particular, the dialogue between me and Jonathan Reese Wilhelm, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Do you agree with the analogy of the real estate search portals being similar to a retail store, with their inventory being the housing listing information?  Is my thinking off-base regarding the suppliers of this inventory?  Talk to me and let me hear your thoughts.

Court Throws Out 17 yr old RESPA “Policy”


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RESPA LogoOn November 27, 2013, the day before Thanksgiving, many real estate, mortgage and title insurance people were giving thanks for the decision handed down by The U.S. Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit.

In a nutshell, there was an earlier federal court case (Carter v. Welles-Bowen Realty) that declared HUD’s long-standing “10-Point Standard” unconstitutionally vague and that it did not constitute agency regulations, and therefore did not merit deference by the courts. 

That decision was appealed, and even with strong support from HUD, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision.  In my opinion, this is HUD logoHUGE!  This court precedent will have a far-reaching effect within the real estate industry, and will change the landscape of Affiliated Business Arrangements in the future.

Granted, the CFPB has taken over RESPA enforcement from HUD, and that new entity is being aggressive, but this changes the playing field quite a bit.  ABAs must still meet the three baseline statutory requirements, but the Feds can no longer use the 10-point Standard with any real authority.

Here is a link to Ken Harney’s Inman News article about this ruling.

What are your thoughts?

The Wisdom(?) of the Masses…


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“Blanket cynicism gives the illusion of understanding.”

-Marcia Angell, Harvard Lecturer quoted in The New Republic


I ran across the above quote the other day, and it reminded me of a couple of things:

1.  Many great ideas never see the light of day because of cynical naysayers that always find ways to say “That will never work.”

2.  Group mentality often overcomes a single brilliant voice of innovation or questioning.

Just a quick reminder to myself and others to listen with an open mind…and stand up for ideas that may be different and are worthy of consideration and vetting, but that may change things for the better.

Confused by Obamacare? Check out REALTORS Health Insurance Marketplace


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Obamacare2As most U.S. real estate agents are independent contractors, many will be scrambling to find good health care coverage.  This has always been an issue for REALTORS, but is even more problematic with the whole Affordable Care Act in force soon…

Realtor InsuranceThe National Association of Realtors has created its own insurance marketplace for its members.  I encourage you to check it out.  You will need to sign into your account on in order to see the details.  Here is the link:

I was pretty impressed with the choices in my area.  Don’t procrastinate!

In addition, the NAR is offering a webinar on December 12, 2013 at 11am Central Standard Time.  The link to register for this is:

It is called:Health Insurance and the Affordable Care Act: What REALTORS Can Do Today





HomeOwnership Award at RISMedia Power Broker Dinner


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Tonight in San Francisco, I was honored by RISMedia at the annual Power Broker Dinner when Publisher John Featherston presented me with his HomeOwnership Person of the Year Award.  I am humbled by being selected, and enjoyed seeing so many people in the audience that I have known for many years, and many that I have just gotten to know recently.  After 38 years in this industry it feels really gratifying to be recognized this way.

It was also great to see Steve Young (former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback) again…he was the keynote speaker tonight, and was thoroughly enjoyable.  I have had the honor of meeting him in the past at one of his Forever Young Golf Tournaments.

Regional Developers and Broker/Owners joining me from Realty Executives were Michael Neuman from Austin, K.M. Lock and NG Kim Poh from Malaysia, Nancy and Steve Summers from Kansas City, Don Perron from Louisiana, and Jeff Moore from Las Vegas, NV.  All in all a great night!

Accepting the 2013 HomeOwnership Person of the Year Award

Rich Rector, President of Realty Executives International, accepting the 2013 HomeOwnership Person of the Year Award

Chaparral High School Students Getting Real Estate Licenses


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Real Estate Students at Chaparral High School

Real Estate Students at Chaparral High School

Today I was honored to speak to two classes of high school seniors who are taking real estate classes taught by Brad Goddes.  Brad is a science teacher at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, AZ, but is also the Designated Broker for his family’s home building business.  For the past several years, he has been offering these classes to seniors that will be 18 years old by the time class is over, so the students can sit for the State Real Estate Exam and be fully licensed agents.

I sang my two little ditties to break the ice, and then had a great dialogue with the students about many aspects of our industry – ranging from franchising to compensation methods to reducing liability in transactions.

Me with the students' instructor, Brad Goddes.

Me with the students’ instructor, Brad Goddes. 

As part of their curriculum, the students must do some outside work, like visiting open houses in the area to see that process in real life and visiting the foreclosure auctions at the Court House steps in downtown Phoenix.

Huge KUDOS to Mr. Goddes for making this available to high school students and giving them an amazing head-start in our industry.  I would love to see this done in many other places.  Please leave a comment letting me know if this type of class is available to high schoolers in your area.




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