We found – 32 articles for Proactive House Hunting

Whisper listings open questions, highlight benefits of Proactive House Hunting

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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 »

PROACTIVE House Hunting vs Home Stalking

Hypotheses: ProactHH 1Q2013

Have you seen the MSN Money headline asking, “Should I try Home Stalking?” For years, Real Estate Cafe has been encouraging clients to try Proactive House Hunting, annoying some at our persistence. So, we never imagined that Zillow would include proactive approaches on their list of “4 Real Estate Trends for Summer 2013,” but are dumbfounded anyone would call it “home stalking.”

When we presented Proactive House Hunting as an option to clients in February, we repeatedly heard, “Let’s see what happens with the traditional home buying approach.”  Now, after four months of overheated bidding wars, the spring market has passed and rising interest rates have created a turning point.  Summer is usually a slow time for real estate but we agree with Zillow — now is the time to begin Proactive House Hunting for the Fall.

For existing clients, the bad news is that other motivated buyers will be trying to create their own home buying opportunities.

The good news is that you can still outsmart them.

First, look at the language they use — Isn’t “home stalking” or “house stalking” more likely to generate a call to the police than a favorable response from a potential seller?

Second, mailing letters or merely presenting an unsolicited offer are not as simple as they seem, particularly if they are not informed by a comprehensive proactive strategy.

Third, just as a good sports team can beat better athletes with a GREAT GAME PLAN, we’re eager to customize our Proactive House Hunting strategies so you can beat competition from house stalkers or 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.

But that’s looking backwards, let’s look forward.

Proactive House Hunting starts with the recognition that there are 10 hidden costs in the traditional, REACTIVE house hunting process.

If you’ve experience some of them this Spring, we’d love to get an update on your home buying plans for Fall 2013 and share Zillow’s housing price predictions for Boston in 2014.  Thankfully, their predictions could make Proactive House Hunting more compelling for sellers and clients ready to experiment.  We hope you’re one of them.

To make it easy for you to decide, we’re having a Proactive House Hunting Open House all weekend:  Use this form to let us know if you prefer to discuss the opportunity in a private appointment or small group presentation?

PS.  We’ve been trying to keep Proactive House Hunting low profile to give our existing clients a competitive advantage, but now that the cats out of the bag, we’ll become more vocal.  Before we do, we’ll give existing clients an opportunity to be “first movers” before taking on new clients.

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Tired of bidding wars? Try Proactive House Hunting

This 10 slide preview invites potential homebuyers to question the conventional, REACTIVE house hunting process by exposing three of the 10 hidden costs. Can you name the other seven, and do you know what they are costing you monthly, annually? Want to learn a better way? We call it “Proactive House Hunting.”

Use this form to schedule a 15 minute FREE consultation to learn more about the 10 Hidden Costs of ‘REACTIVE” House Hunting, and how you can benefit from “Proactive House Hunting.”

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Social Search: Time to try proactive house hunting?

David ProactHH resized 600

“The Sunday paper has some listings, the

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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 »

Discouraged house hunters: Time to Persevere or go Proactive?

Steve Jobs on Perseverance

The Real Estate Cafe turns eighteen this year, and as the highlights below demonstrate, we’re coming of age.  But while perseverance may be the key to successful entrepreneurs, it may be costly for prudent homebuyers who sat out the last boom / bust cycle waiting for housing prices to “correct” only to see artificially low interest rates reinflating prices again.

Is it time for DIY homebuyers to persevere with conventional home buying practices or to be proactive?  What would Steve Jobs do?

Like Jobs, we look real estate upside down and backwards to better serve clients.  So we’ve identified 10 Hidden Costs of “Reactive” House Hunting and use them to explain the money-saving benefits of an experimental process we call “Proactive House Hunting.” Please watch this preview, sign-up for a DEMO, and share this link with friends: http://bit.ly/ProactPreview


1.  To mark the 20th Anniversary of the Consumer Revolution in Real Estate, a two-day conference hosted at the World Trade Center in Boston, featuring Ralph Nader and more than 30 other panelists, we launched RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance on Google+ to re-energize reform efforts.

2.  Redesigned and relaunched of our website on WordPress, which includes nearly 800 blog posts chronicling, among other things, the real estate recession.  Our Menu of Fees & Rebates, including the 100% rebate featured in the Wall Street Journal, has been simplified and explained in a slideshow.

3.  Our “Game Changing” vision of real estate trended briefly last Fall on Twitter. Twenty years after we did, the National Association of Realtors says it time for their members to Rethink the Future of Real Estate.  If you’re a past client or someone who has ever visited our fee-for-service, money-saving business model, you know that’s been our mission since day one.

We need your help to continue our mission, and we’re willing to reward you with an attractive ROI: “Return on Invention.”  Whether you’re a homebuyer, past client, friend, or investor, please contact us for details.  

Posted in Buyer agent, Creative class, Crowdfunding, Fee-for-service, Proactive househunting, Real Estate Bubble, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, reVRM, Social funding, Timing the market, VRM | No Comments »

Avoid 10 Hidden costs of “Reactive” house hunting

10 Hidden Costs of "Reactive" Home Buying

As rent day approaches and bidding wars continue, Real Estate Cafe invites existing and potential clients, particularly first-time homebuyers, to step back and assess what they’ve learned from the return of a “sellers market’ in Greater Boston, particularly after this blog post today on Boston.com:

Crazy price spikes in Lexington, other upscale towns

We’re eager to host a variety of table top presentations offline at convenient locations through the next 36 hours, and begin hosting webinars online to explore a variety of alternative approaches you won’t learn about in Homebuying 101 or from “counterfeit buyer agents.”  Hard hitting topics include:

1.  10 Hidden Costs of “Reactive” house hunting (PREVIEW slides & schedule private viewing)

2.  Homebuying in a sellers’ market:  Then & Now

3.  Defensive Homebuying

Please call or text us at 617-661-4046 or email realestatecafe@gmail.com to learn about possible times and locations; or to schedule a private, table top demo in a cafe, your office or home.  Here’s our tentative blitz campaign:

5/1/13 UPDATE:  PREVIEW slides and use this form to schedule a private showing.

TODAY:  Monday, April 29, 2013

4:00pm, Panera Cares, opposite Boston City Hall:  Open comps:  We’ll take a deeper look at some of the headlines in the Globe story, trying to figure out what’s really going on under the headline

5:15pm, Panera Cares, opposite Boston City Hall:  10 Hidden Costs of “Reactive” House hunting

7:00pm, location to be announced:  10 Hidden Costs of “Reactive” House hunting

8:45pm, location to be announced:  10 Hidden Costs of “Reactive” House hunting

TOMORROW:  Tuesday, April 30, 2013

10:30am, iYo Cafe, Davis Square:  Open Q&A with Chris Grande, Personal Financial Planner, plus 10 Hidden Costs of “Reactive” House hunting

Posted in Bidding wars, Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Proactive househunting, Real Estate Bubble, Real Estate Roundtables, reVRM, Savings & Rebates, Seasonality, Timing the market | No Comments »

Use Pi Day to explain, hack the way the real estate commission pie is sliced?

BCA596BE-7489-420A-8545-7262DBA17902IDEA STARTER:  Should #RE2020 use Pi Day, the celebration of a never-ending number to celebrate the approaching end of the bloated, two-side real estate commission pie?

Real estate is not rocket science nor is it complex math which is why it might be fun to poke fun at the obsolete, two-sided real estate commission pie on Pi Day, Thursday, March 14 — 3.14.  We’ll use the occasion to talk about:

  1. How the current system evolved;
  2. Why it’s being challenged; and
  3. How to select money-saving options now and in the future.

The topic is timely because a massive class action lawsuit was brought against real estate giants last week, National Consumer Protection Week 2019.  If you visit the first link in the tweet below, you’ll find new stories are hitting the press:

Regardless of the outcome of the suit, you won’t need to wait for the Mass Office of Consumer Affairs or Attorney General’s office to learn on how to save money by working with a real estate company that rebates a slice of the commission pie.

Although @RealEstateCafe has been offering industry-leading rebates for years (see WSJ from 15 years ago), we believe rebates are overrated.  They’re potentially only a fraction of the value an experienced buyer agent can add.  Here’s Real Estate Cafe’s track record:

http://bit.ly/Shop4EBA (share via social media)

Text 617-661-4046 to meet on demand

To fit into your schedule on #PiDay, we’re willing to meet on demand OFFLINE on the MIT campus or anywhere in Greater Boston easily accessible by T.  If there’s enough demand, we’ll post a schedule online, and schedule 15 to 45 minute slots to meet over coffee or our favorite, over beer (we call it #REonTap).

 SPECIAL OFFER:  Save $314.16

If you want to minimize commission costs and other hidden costs in the traditional reactive house hunting process, we can also explain our Proactive House Hunting strategies.  If you become a #ProactHH client, we’ll deduct $314.16 from our $1K retainer fee.

Posted in #REonTap, Commission Reform, Consumer protection, Discount real estate, Proactive househunting, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, Real estate rebates, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates, Unbundling the Commission | No Comments »

Homebuyers: Need offensive & defensive game plans or occasional coaching?


Thinking about buying a home in 2019?  Yes, it’s pre-season — but got a game plan?  Last night’s Super Bowl victory was also a lesson in the importance of systems or game plans.  The offense and defense both have game plans, with plays to use in specific down and distance situations on both sides of the ball.  Last night, the New England Patriot’s demonstrated that defense wins games.

What wins games from the homebuyer’s perspective? Getting the home of your dreams is the cliched response, so why not start there.  Don’t start with down and distance situations, start with the goal line — what does your end zone look like?  How will you know when you’re in YOUR red zone — not something you saw on HGTV, or the next home to come into the MLS, but a place that can deliver the lifestyle and happiness you seek.

During several sellers’ markets, RealEstateCafe has developed a system to help house hunters get into their end zone.  We call it Proactive House Hunting or #ProactHH.  It involves some familiar plays, including some you call do on your own.  But the execution you see in a touch football game doesn’t compare to the precision of innovation and best practiced evolved over decades.

Over the past 5 years, the speculative cycle in real estate has been driven, in part, by performance-enhancing drugs — record low-interest rates.  Steroids are outlawed in football and other sports but go into any health club and you can see evidence they’ve not disappeared.  In contrast, in the final months of 2018 homebuyers got a look at a housing market that was no longer juiced by historically low-interest rates.

What will 2019 bring?  Asking that pre-season question is like predicting next year’s Super Bowl winner.  It’s impossible, but it’s possible to identify systems that have produced winning results.  This year, we’ll be refining our game plans on both sides of the ball — #ProactHH on the offensive side and #DefensiveHomebuying on the other side.  We’re always learning, always adapting our system, always responding to down and distance tendencies on game day– like the Patriots.

Just as a team with a good game plan can beat a team of better athletes, we can help you outsmart the housing market if you’re ready to get started pre-season.  Email us to talk offline about our Menu of Fees & Rebates at the earliest convenience as boutique buyer brokerage practice only works with a handful of clients.  We’re already preparing scouting reports to help them save money.  Peek into our huddle if you’d like to see a sample:

http://bit.ly/SuperREBowlSavings (share via social media)

Posted in Buyer agent, commission rebate, Creative class, Defensive Homebuying, DIY Homebuyers, iCovery, IntentCasting, Proactive househunting, Savings & Rebates, Seasonality | No Comments »

Want an EFFECTIVE Buyer Agent (or Listing Agent)? Better Shop Around


Eating lunch at the Cambridge Common near the Harvard Law School, and the overhead speakers are playing a 1960’s classic from Smokey Robinson & The Miracles with the prudent advice above, “you better shop around.”

The same words could apply to homebuyers and sellers according to a new report by the Consumer Federation of America on the Agency Mess in real estate.  It’s creating a ripple effect around the country, in part because real estate consumers too often work with the first agent they meet or a friend who may be new to the industry. You can skip all of the broker babble and get quickly to the bottom line by following the money.

Ask anyone — friend or stranger who offers to serve as your buyer agent whether their office offers a zero tolerance conflict of interest policy and what their track record is as a buyer agent.  Don’t let anyone trick you into working with a fake buyer agent (aka. Designated Buyer Agents), ask for MLS stats to prove they’ve been an EBA — EFFECTIVE Buyer Agent when it comes to the bottom line.

Our measure of that effectiveness is simple:  have you helped homebuyer clients save money?  Here’s a summary of our performance since 1995:


1.  Sales volume:  Approx. $50M in sales over 48 MLS sales since 1995 — 23 years ago (excluding non-MLS transactions, eg. Proactive House Hunting).

2.  Approx. $1.2M in gross commissions over 23 years, most of which has been rebated to buyer clients who pay hourly fees for services as they are rendered. Rebates effectively allow DIY homebuyers to get a return on the time they invest during their house hunt.

3.  Bill Wendel, broker at Real Estate Cafe, has saved homebuyer clients $6M or 5 times his gross commissions.  Rebates are in addition to the $6M saved by advocating for homebuyer clients.


1.  Negotiated $2.6M off the last listing price or a median of $15,200 in savings (before buyer agency commission rebate built into the sales price).  The average amount negotiated off was considerably higher, $55K per transaction.

2.  When price reductions and negotiated concessions are combined, the savings total nearly $6M.  That translates to a median total savings of $40,700.  Once again, the statistical average is three times higher — $124,109.

3.  1 in 4 homebuyers represented by Real Estate Cafe saved over $100K, when price reductions & negotiated savings are combined.

4.  Only 1 in 7 paid over asking price, with a COMBINED total of $81,000 or just a median of $7,000 over asking price.  In contrast, 1 in 4 homes sold for $100K over asking price in Cambridge, MA in June 2016.

5. Over nearly 50 transactions, homebuyers have paid an average of 92.4% of the original asking prices.  Median sales prices are even lower — 91.5% or a savings of 8.5%.

6. Nearly 1 in 3 homebuyers represented by Real Estate Cafe have saved 10% or more off the original asking price.

7. 1 in 4 has paid LESS than the assessed value of the property (as determined by the local tax assessment office not Zillow or any other automated valuation model).

Disclaimer:  Past performance does not equal future savings, but we’ll do our best to help buyer clients save money and avoid the 10 Hidden Costs of Reactive House Hunting.


+  +  +


Listing Agent Report Card

If you’re on the seller’s side of the transaction, we can also make it easy to shop around.  Because we’re not competing to market your home, we use MLS data to identify the best candidates to interview.  We can also try to help you negotiate a lower commission, and if nothing else, guarantee some savings by rebating part of our referral fee to more than cover the modest cost of our Listing Agent Report Card.

Alternatively, if you want to try selling on your own as a FSBO — For Sale by Owner, we can offer a limited range non-agency services “a la carte” or act as a finder.  Either way, we won’t engage in any conflicts of interest.

Let us know how we can help you shop around, and save as a DIY homebuyer or seller.

Posted in Buyer agent, commission rebate, Discount real estate, DIY Homebuyers, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, Listing agent report cards, Luxury buyer agent, Proactive househunting, Real estate rebates, Savings & Rebates | No Comments »
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