April 2006 Archives

Upset Before Settlement

Kenneth R. Harney:

It's the No. 1 complaint that real estate agents make about the home mortgage lending process. And it bugs their home buyer clients as well: The failure of settlement or escrow officials to provide a copy of the final settlement sheet before the closing.

The Century 21 Harpy Ad


Slate advertising critic Seth Stevenson grades the latest commercials from real estate company Century 21, which feature a nagging wife and an agent listening in to what should be a private conversation.

More B-Schools Add Sales Courses

Ronald Alsop:

A company's sales force is its lifeblood. But you'd never know it by looking at the typical M.B.A. curriculum.

Because they're lighter on theory and research than other academic subjects, sales courses are surprisingly scarce in M.B.A. programs. "It's sad that something as important to the economy as sales shows up as a footnote in the principles of marketing course at most graduate business schools," says Andy Zoltners, a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, which has long offered a sales-force management class.

But the sales function seems to be slowly gaining more respect as a few other major schools, including Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina, create M.B.A.-level sales courses. Harvard Business School has taught sales management for many years, but lately it has been focusing more on the selling process itself, with lessons on making sales presentations to corporate customers, influencing people and closing the deal.

"Many people view selling as tactical and haven't taken the broader view that you will need sales skills even if you aren't managing a sales force," says David Godes, an associate professor at Harvard. "If you're going into banking or consulting, how do you get clients and how do you raise money?"

"Google and Craigslist May Weaken Realtors Hold"


The Web sites are emerging as places to shop for residential real estate and may encourage more consumers to attempt marketing and selling their houses on their own.
There were many options in the late 90's. We'll see if it's different this time...

Agents use Text Messaging and Podcasts to Reach Buyers

TJ Sullivan:

Home sellers like Peter Maurer are hoping they will. When the founding partner of a Santa Monica architecture firm put his five-bedroom house in Sherman Oaks on the market in mid-March, his real estate agent, Craig Paul, put more than just a phone number on the sign out front. Paul, who subscribes to a service called CellSigns, also posted a string of numbers known as a "short code" to which prospective buyers can send a text message to request more information.

After the query is sent, several brief text messages are automatically transmitted in response from the text messaging service, giving information such as the number of bedrooms, the square footage and the asking price. One message lists the agent's website address and explains how to request a call or brochure by e-mail. Some services, such as Phoenix-based House4Cell, send messages with photos of the inside of the home.

Edina Realty sues for top spot on Google


Two Twin Cities real estate companies are in a legal fight with implications for the future of advertising on the Internet. Edina Realty is suing relative newcomer TheMLSOnline.com for trademark infringement and unfair competition. The dispute is over how the newer company uses an increasingly important advertising medium: Internet search engines. A Minnesota judge recently ruled the case can go ahead, setting a up a trial that could shake the world of online commerce.

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