We found – 7 articles for "intention inventory"

DIY Homebuyers: Go PROACTIVE to identify “Intention Inventory,” avoid costs

Intention Economy Book

Kudos to the Boston Globe for writing / blogging about a proactive house hunting strategy homebuyers used to create a win-win scenario with grateful if unintentional home sellers.

Targeting homeowners who may sell in the future isn’t just “a new twist on that old idea of writing to the seller,” it’s evidence that consumers have old and new tools to compete with listing agents for what the Real Estate Cafe calls the “Intention Inventory.” Radical as that may seem, it’s just one part of our reVRM-Minifesto.

Want to learn more or be a first-mover, contact us about our “secret” Boston Realty Party.


Real estate brokerages and individual agents spend a fortune each year “farming” new listings, and their tools range from “junk mail” to predictive analytics that claim to know which homeowners need to sell before they do.

Fortunately, a new generation of tech-savvy homebuyers doesn’t need a real estate licensee to hack together their own “proactive house hunting” campaign to buy a home that isn’t for sale.  But make no mistake about it, this is NOT an isolated couple — it’s a new trend, maybe even a MEGA-trend.  Some BREN readers may be surprised to learn that Zillow called proactive approaches one of their “4 Real Estate Trends for Summer 2013.” But as we blogged at the time, we’re dumbfounded why anyone would call it “home stalking” unless they wanted to discourage buyers from trying.

REACTIVE vs Proactive House Hunting

If you assume there are two homes in the intention pipeline for every home in the MLS, particularly this time of year, why wait for new listings to come into the Spring market, when there could 5 to 25 to 50 other buyers waiting for the same new listing alert? No matter how much Redfin and others hype “real-time” listing alerts, they are still REACTIVE and laden with transaction costs, some hidden, some more obvious.

So, why limit yourself to homes in the MLS when enterprising DIY homebuyers and willing homeowners can avoid costs by being proactive!

While there’s a growing awareness of proactive house hunting, some coverage has been too simplistic, assuming the approach involves little more than mass mailing asking (as Boston.com’s blog did today):

“If brokers can do it, why shouldn’t buyers do it as well?”

As the longer version of the Boston Globe story today described, mailing letters is one of the last things to do in a Proactive House hunting strategy, particularly one informed and empowered by a comprehensive strategy and tool set.

If everyone starts mass mailing, how will you compete? Just as a good sports team can beat better athletes with a GREAT GAME PLAN, the Real Estate Cafe customizes Proactive House Hunting strategies so our clients can competition effectively with mass mailers and traditional listing agents. We’ve been experimenting with proactive house hunting, on and off, since the late 1990s — the last REAL sellers’ market in Boston.

We can’t guarantee results but we can bring our expertise and learning experience of past clients to the task:  Try a Googling, Proactive House Hunting or Proactive Househunting, and see how many times Real Estate Cafe comes up in the search results.

Then email realestatecafe@gmail.com or contact us to learn more. We’re particularly eager to serve tech-savvy, DIY homebuyers ready to rebel against blind bidding wars.

Posted in "We" companies, Bidding wars, DIY Homebuyers, Extreme Househunting, IntentCasting, Intention Inventory, Proactive househunting, reVRM | No Comments »

Millennials: Getting killed by housing costs, or killing homeownership?


Dead Poets Society

Remember the scene in Dead Poet’s Society where Robin Williams stands on his desk, and challenges his students to change their perspective?  His message:  the way you see a problem or opportunity depends on where you stand.  So the blame built into the question, “Will millennials kill homeownership?” underlines William’s point, and will surely trigger hot buttons and heated debate today on Boston.com about who’s doing who wrong.

To put the debate in broader context, Real Estate Cafe recommends this background reading:

How the Housing Crisis Shafted the Next Generation

http://bit.ly/HousingShaft  (please share this short URL via social media)

And this rising concern.  Some, including the National Association of Realtors, are already wondering if the next housing downturn is already in sight.  They’re calling it the Great Senior Sell-Off, and we blogged about it recently in the context of rising rent burdens:

http://bit.ly/RentBacklash  (please share this short URL via social media)

If only 4 in 10 households can afford their rent, how will many accumulate enough savings to afford a downpayment or the reinflated housing prices of 2013?


Will the resulting decline in demand and plunge in purchasing power turn today’s rent burden into a deadlocked resale market or the next wave of short sales as aging babyboomers try to extract their shrinking home equity and / or share their inheritance in 2020 and beyond?

Here’s what one expert says about the Great Senior Sell-Off:

“By 2020, there were will be around 35 million over-65 households in the U.S. That year, Nelson calculates, seniors who would like to become renters will be trying to sell about 200,000 more owner-occupied homes than there will be new households entering the market to buy them. By 2030, that figure could rise to half a million housing units a year. “Between changing preferences and declining median household income … “that means we can predict the next housing crash, and that’ll be in about 2020.”

2020 is only six years away.  Are concerns about an intergeneration disconnect on housing shaping your real estate intentions?  Want to know why we think “Intention Inventory” will become more important than active inventory and how you can benefit from that mindset right now?

Contact the Real Estate Cafe to learn more.

Posted in Affordable housing, Buyer agent, Defensive Homebuying, DIY Homebuyers, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, Intention Inventory, Mlllennials, reVRM, Timing the market, VRM | No Comments »

Real estate predictions 2014: Have sellers already missed the best time to sell?


Ready to reset your assumptions about where the housing market is headed in 2014 and beyond?  Compared to other housing gurus, Mark Hanson looks at trends upside down and backwards; as buyer agents, that’s Real Estate Cafe’s perspective too.  So for us, bad news for sellers is good news for our buyer clients, and emerging signs continue to point to what the Realtor’s chief economist recently called the “last hurrah” for 12 to 18 months:

1.  Two months of falling median prices on pending sales in MA;

2.  11,000+ expired & canceled listings over the past 12 weeks, or nearly 1,000 per week statewide;

3.  Yesterday’s big news, the Fed will begin winding down it’s economic stimulus in January 2014,

4.  Today’s bad news:  Mass. jobless rate is higher than US for first time since ’07!
http://bit.ly/UnemployMAvUS (please share this short URL via social media)


Will 2014 be a good time to sell in MA, or have homeowners who waited already missed the Bubble 2.0 peak?
What’s your opinion before and after reading Hanson’s challenging assessment and bottomline:

Housing “Bubble 2.0”; Same as “Bubble 1.0”, only different actors
http://bit.ly/REBubble2 (please share this short URL via social media)

Bottom line:  Houses first became “unaffordable” in 2002.  Then, exotic loans were introduced in 2003 allowing people to keep buying more house without income following suit.  When the exotic loans all went away at the same time in 2008 house prices “reset” to the real “affordability” using a 30-year fixed rate mortgages requiring proof of income and assets.  The market ticked higher slightly in 2010 on the Homebuyer Tax-Credit then “double-dipped” as the stimulus was removed.  Of course, the third major stimulus aimed at housing in the last 10 years came in Q4 2011, exactly when housing caught it’s most recent bid.  The past two-year move was so fast and large that the subsequent “reset” should be ‘another’ one for the record books.


Anyone want to meet on or offline when the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR) / The Warren Group stats come out for last month?  If those stats don’t reflect the trends above, is it just a matter of time before we begin hearing bad news with unflattering month-over-month comparisons between 2013 and 2014? Or will the Fed’s tapering create another “greater fool” housing market sending buyers into bidding war frenzy particularly if the Boston Globe’s repeats a series of front page stories about lack of inventory and overeager homebuyers?

When the Massachusetts Miracle unraveled didn’t that leave people wondering what happened?  If the Fed ends it’s stimulus by this time next year, will buyers and sellers wonder what happened to the Housing iCovery of 2013:

“iCovery” is the word we coined for the interest rate, investor-driven, illusory housing recovery of 2013, which in our assessment, was not a real or sustainable housing recovery. That’s clearly Mark Hanson’s assessment, too.  Buyers, sellers, fellow real estate professionals:  what’s your crystal ball predicting for 2014 and beyond?


Trying to decide whether to sell home in 2014?  By dealing directly with one of our pre-approved buyers, you can avoid paying traditional real estate commission.  If you’d like more information email realestatecafe@gmail.com after reading our blog posts about the (1) Great Senior Sell-Off, and (2) the Intention Inventory. Then watch (3) this two minute video on saving home equity:  http://bit.ly/SaveHomeEquity

Posted in Bubble Hour, Buyer agent, Defensive Homebuying, Expired listings, Housing bubble, Housing forecasts, Pending sales, Real Estate Bubble, Timing the market, Trend analysis | No Comments »

What would Geico do: REthink Council vs reThink Commissions?


Can Warren Buffett’s entry into real estate do for consumers what Geico – a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway – did for insurance?  So far, there’s no evidence Berkshire Hathaway Homes Services (BHHS) is launching a witty marketing campaign or offering a value proposition akin to “Fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.”

For two decades, Real Estate Cafe has championed money-savings, consumer-centric innovation in real estate, so we’re skeptical that Berkshire Hathaway’s entry into real estate will be transformative for Millennials (or any market segment), particularly if it means repositioning thousands of existing franchisees.

On the surface, Berkshire Hathaway’s REthink Council is to be congratulated for taking a cue from the NAR’s reThinkFuture campaign.  However, putting Millennial lipstick on an industry “stuck in the “dinosaur age” won’t be enough to attract 20 to 30 years buyers and sellers when new technology and disruptive ideas — including abandoning the industry’s bloated, two-sided commission — are more compelling for a generation of do-it-yourself / DIY homebuyers and sellers.

Targeting Millennials or “White Glove” Luxury Market?

One should not judge a book by it’s cover, but the oversized, white-on-white Berkshire Hathaway booth at the National Association of Realtors convention in San Francisco in November 2013, was about as inviting as a living room with plastic dust covers on the furniture.  Aside from the Berkshire Hathaway staff, the booth appeared to be getting little traffic; but if you target the right market niche, maybe that’s all you need to prosper. As this link documents, BHHS is targeting the 1% — “the luxury market to the world’s most high-end consumers…. seeking a life without compromise.”


So it’s not surprising that the only Berkshire Hathaway for sale sign I have seen so far was in gentlemen farm country in Connecticut; hardly a location where Millennials — a.k.a. “Generation Broke” — are hanging out unless they’re sharing expenses in a rural co-housing community.

Listen to this motivational speech by BHHS’s reThink Council leader and see if there is any insight into excessive rent burdens or other challenges faced by a generation that counts 22 million peers living at home with their parents?


Radical reThink = Consumer Savings

So Millennials, ask yourself, “who can best understand and serve your housing needs?” — a billionaire-backed brand intent on capturing the luxury home market or one of the new business models that is really trying to reThink real estate RADICALLY and deliver billions of dollars annually in consumer savings?

Got your own ideas about how to disintermediate real estate agents, like the DIY mass mailing campaigns described last week in Boston.com’s real estate blog?

Want to participate in a visioning exercise to create an new eco-system, like the brainstorming board shown in the photo above?  We need Millennials and other motivated innovators to create momentum for our “reVRM-Minifesto” in 2014 by asking:

What would real estate look like if there were no MLS?” and

What if homebuyers and sellers managed their own data?

$30B annually in Consumer Savings vs $60B net worth?

Forbes recently estimated Warren Buffet’s net worth at just under $60 Bilion dollars. Would you believe that tech-savvy, DIY real estate consumers could save that much money in just two years according to a prediction made by McKinsey & Company in 1998?

Want to experiment with some new money-saving real estate apps or co-create them? Email realestatecafe@gmail.com to learn more about our collaborative visioning exercise.

Posted in "We" companies, Commission Reform, Creative class, DIY Homebuyers, Do-it-yourself, Fee-for-service, reVRM, Savings & Rebates, VRM | No Comments »

Seasonality: Insider’s guide to cool deals in HOT neighborhoods

win-win concept on blackboard

From comments thus far, looks like Boston.com readers have missed the significance of seasonality in a blog post today about buying in HOT neighborhoods.

The featured buyer timed the housing market a year before the last boom / bust cycle peaked, so as Zillow economists caution (1) that “Home price gains are not normal, sustainable, or believable,” and (2) that the Boston housing market will come to a near standstill in 2014, it’s worth studying this case study:

“I looked exclusively at places that were on the market for more than 3 months when we first saw them. The house we live in now, we first saw in February, 2004 and it had been on the market for 9 months.”

Sounds like that buyer was smart enough to know that hot neighborhoods have cool seasons, and savings are sometimes more easily realized by timing the market rather than price negotiations, particularly in luxury price ranges as we’ve blogged in December 2011:

Do savings on expired luxury homes really exceed price reductions?

So, as the tax-free holiday approaches next weekend (August 10-11, 2013) across Massachusetts, it worth highlighting there are seasons to grab hidden opportunities in real estate, too:

1.  For the past 15 years, there have been approximately 1,000 to 3,500 expired and canceled listings during the 10 day period between June 26 and July 5. While those properties no longer appear in the MLS, that doesn’t mean they no longer intend to sell. We’ve been blogging about “Intention Inventory,” and suggest readers expand their reactive house hunts to think proactively to explore BOTH pre-MLS and POST-MLS home buying opportunities particularly in HOT NEIGHBORHOODS.

2. The other cool season begins when temperatures plunge, particularly after Halloween. So if you’re timing the housing market right now, note that Halloween is exactly three months or 90 days from now — that mirrors the success story in the Boston.com today. What can you expect if you wait 90 days? We’ve written extensively about that in the past and are interested to see how 2013 will compare to last year. Can you believe there were more than 15,000 expired and canceled listings across MA during the 4Q2012 alone?

If you’re timing the housing market to buy an expired or canceled listing during the 4th of July cycle or post Halloween “Let’s Make a Deal Season,” think of it as real estate’s equivalent of a tax-free holiday. If you haven’t visited the expired or canceled listing before or haven’t corresponded with the former listing agent about the property, DIY homebuyers should be able to buy the home for approximately 5% off the last asking price in the MLS because there are no longer any brokerage commissions buried in the sales price.

OFFER: Learn how to approach the owners of expired and canceled listings with our FREE Insiders’s Guide. Click for more information.

Posted in DIY Homebuyers, Expired listings, Fee-for-service, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, Luxury homes, Million Dollar Markdowns, Price reductions, Savings & Rebates, Seasonality, Timing the market | No Comments »

Whisper listings open questions, highlight benefits of Proactive House Hunting

Download (TIFF, 185KB)

When whispers scream my house is for sale, who needs a listing broker?  Or for that matter the MLS?  Isn’t that what Pocket Listings, Quiet Listings, and Whisper Listings have been demonstrating for the past six months in California and other markets where an estimated one in four listings is selling outside the MLS?

Contrary to it’s name, those are some of the questions Redfin’s newly launched Price Whisperer shouts.  Is this simply a shrewd move by one innovator to preempt pocket listing; or is it another sign that proactive house hunting is going mainstream, the MLS is shrinking in it’s importance as well as inventory, and the open ecosystem Zillow envisions will transform the real estate market before 2018?

Consumer Benefits:  Intended & Unintended

As a consumer advocates, buyer agents, and fee-for-service real estate consultants, Real Estate Cafe’s hope is that whispering about hidden homebuying opportunities will have four consumer benefits:  (1) reveal the depth of the “intention inventory,” (2) drive down bidding wars created by artificial scarcity, (3) create a marketplace of alternative, fee-for-service real estate business models, and (4) deliver the money-saving potential of IntentCasting to millions of homebuyers and sellers annually.

What are IntentCasting and Intention Inventory?  We described IntentCasting as broadcasting intentions in a recent blog post, so let’s focus on Intention Inventory.  Redfin’s innovation underlines that fact millions of homeowners are watching the market trying to decide when it’s a good time to sell.  We’re not talking about Zillow’s MakeMeMover, we’re talking about homeowners who have not yet expressed their intention to sell or have tried previously and failed.  For example, in one luxury suburb in Greater Boston, there are only 33 active MLS listings, but Real Estate Cafe’s analysis of expired and canceled MLS listings reveals four times that number have yet to relist.  (Yes, some may have sold for sale by owner, we’ll complete that analysis later).

If Price Whisperer invites potential homebuyers to respond to target asking prices, what’s to prevent DIY homebuyers from making a pre-MLS offer directly to the seller?  Redfin blog post addresses that, but doesn’t disclose which party are they are representing or whether they are simply facilitating the match for a modest fee:

“The Price-Whisperer email is a test and only a test. We won’t use it as a secret solicitation to sell the home. No matter how many buyers respond to the email, the owner is still more likely to get top dollar by putting out a sign and offering the home to the entire market. We are also governed by our membership in local Multiple Listing Services, cooperatives for sharing listing data between brokerages, which require brokers to show all bona fide listings to all buyers.”

Beyond their policy above on Pocket Listings, my guess is that offering finder services would undermine Redfin’s revenue model. That’s not true for nimble fee-for-service real estate consultants like the Real Estate Cafe.  When we help buyers create their own homebuying opportunities with Proactive House Hunting, our fees start at just one percent, 0.5% for each side not the 5% commission model Redfin assumes.

Zillow says that “Home Stalking” is one of the leading trends this summer, so if DIY homebuyers and sellers find each other independently and just want help on an hourly fee, were set up to offer a menu of options there, too.  Just like what happens when you consider buying a used car from an owner; asking a mechanic to evaluate the car on an hourly or fixed fee can help you make a more informed decision before agreeing to a final price.

But last I checked, Redfin did not work with FSBOs “for sale by owner” properties and has a minimum fee of $6,000.  And instead of broadcasting a homeowner’s intention to sell the whole market, Redfin narrowcasts it to up to 250 of THEIR buyer leads and tells them to get in line:

“Folks who respond get first in line to tour the home if you decide to sell.”

Conflicts of interest

That raises questions about Redfin’s agency relationships and obvious conflicts of interest.  Are they trying to get the highest price for the seller, the lowest price for the buyer, or both sides of a commission?  They can’t do all three despite their home page assertion that “Redfin Agents are on your side.”

This isn’t the first time Redfin has had a conflict of interest or tried to host their own bidding wars in-house (at least in Boston) as we blogged in the past.

By restricting access to whisper listings to their own buyer leads is Redfin effectively requiring buyer and seller to consent to Designated Agency, a conflict of interest by any name?

That’s not the only conflict of interest.  If Redfin is “whispering” leads to hundreds of buyers and only one can purchase the property, how will the others respond if Redfin has signed a contract to act as their buyer agent?

Opening the Real Estate Ecosystem

Regardless of how Redfin answers these questions, there’s no question it’s just a matter of time before homeowners will be able to manage their own digital identity as well as their home using their personal cloud.  If 30 million homeowners – or an amazing one in three — have already tweaked the description of their properties on Zillow, it’s just a matter of time before they can issue an IntentCast that operates outside of Redfin’s silo, Zillow or the MLS.


1.  Want to learn more about how consumers, both buyers and sellers will benefit from an open ecosystem in real estate?  Read the 22 idea starters on our reVRM-Minifesto on the last few slides of this Game Changing presentation, and join us offline at MIT for a visioning exercise.

2.  Want to learn more about Proactive House Hunting and the 10 Hidden Costs of Reactive House Hunting?  Schedule for a webinar online or meet offline using this form.

Posted in Bidding wars, Buyer agent, DIY Homebuyers, Dual Agency Detective, IntentCasting, Pocket Listings, Proactive househunting, reVRM, Savings & Rebates | No Comments »

Are DIY homebuyers & sellers already doing the IntentCast Dance?

Zillow's Top Real Estate Trends for Summer 2013

If “dancing is the vertical expression of a horizontal intent,” are Zillow’s MakeMeMove listings and Proactive House Hunters already doing the IntentCast dance?

In real estate, “IntentCasting” is simply telling others your home buying or selling intentions and inviting responses.   As the image above shows, Zillow recently reported “148,000 MakeMeMove listings and contacts to owners up 132 percent over last year.”

That caused Zillow to include “home stalking” or what we call Proactive House Hunting, on their short list of 4 Real Estate Trends for Summer 2013, sandwiching it between two problems:  slim pickings and bidding wars.  That’s significant because Proactive House Hunting and IntentCasting are the arguably the solution to low inventory, blind bidding wars and more!

The blogosphere and major new stories have linked Proactive House Hunting to homebuyer’s desire to avoid bidding wars, including a recent LATimes headline which read:

Motivated home buyers skip the bidding wars

IntentCasting could change the frame of reference for homebuying forever.  Image a real estate marketplace where everything is potentially for sale at the right price.  Instead of being limited to what’s actively on the market, a real estate ecosystem where homeowners can signal their intentions will introduce a new word phrase into the housing industry:  “Intention Inventory.”

Imagine if anyone who MIGHT sell their home in the next two months to two years (or even ten years) had the ability signal their intentions to potential homebuyers? “Intention inventory” would precede and supercede ACTIVE MLS listings.

Housing inventory would expand overnight, pocket listings would nearly disappear because intentions would be transparent, and the number of potential homebuying opportunties in the Intention Inventory would dwarf the Shadow Inventory (distressed properties currently working their way through the foreclosure process).

Last week, real estate pundits gathered in San Francisco to ask, “Where will the real estate industry be in 5 years?” Zillow’s prediction made me cheer:

.@crucialdy @ZillowforPros Standing O! #zillow envisions a completely open ecosystem in the future built on APIs that collaborate #ICSF #VRM

— Bill Wendel (@RealEstateCafe) July 10, 2013

Without understanding what Open API does at the technical level, it’s still possible to envision what an open real estate ecosystem could enable. For fun, imagine how the real estate industry might be organized if the present MLS system did not exist? Then enable that marketplace with Personal Clouds — instead of predictive analytics — where buyers and seller can manage their own digital identity and express their intentions to buy or sell and interact with or without full-service or fee-for-service real estate agents.

Significantly, IntentCast signaling is two-way:

  1. Homeowners who are not actively marketing their properties can still express a willingness to sell via an IntentCast, even if they are not working with a traditional listing agent or the Realtor-controlled multiple listing services (MLS).
  2. Similarly, by IntenseCasting, DIY homebuyers can preempting listings agents and the MLS to create their own homebuying opportunities and minimize transaction costs.

This emerging “two step” suggests that consumers are making up their own IntentCast steps until VRM app developers and Personal Cloud vendors automate the dance floor so, to paraphrase Doc Searls (author of The Intention Economy), homebuyers and sellers can broadcast or narrowcast their “intentions in a secure, private and trusted way, outside of any vendor’s silo.”

With Zillow pointing to an open real estate ecosystem by 2018, turbo-charged by open APIs with data and new functionality, doesn’t that make the $1 trillion dollar per year real estate marketplace look like an attractive dance partner?  We think so, that’s why Real Estate Cafe wrote a Real Estate or “reVRM Minifesto” in 2010 and more than 1,000 people have already flipped through our version of the future on Slideshare.

The question is whether Zillow’s prediction will attract attention or whether DIY homebuyers and sellers will continue to “dance like nobody’s watching?”

If you’re a DIY homebuyer, what can you do now?  In high costs housing markets like Massachusetts, the ability to avoid the 10 hidden costs in the reactive home hunting process are compelling, so schedule appointment to learn why MSN Money recently asked if homebuyers should try proactive house hunting.

Footnote:  The dancing metaphor in this blog post was inspired by Doc Searls post, “Which CRM companies are ready to dance with VRM? on ProjectVRM.  You can learn more about IntentCasting, Personal Clouds and VRM — Vendor Relationship Management — by visiting that site.

Posted in Bidding wars, DIY Homebuyers, Extreme Househunting, Idea Bar, IntentCasting, Proactive househunting, reVRM, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends, VRM | No Comments »
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