They May And We (Likely) Will NotApril 14, 2006
Here is a starting list of things that we are not going to do at forsalebylocals.com or any of the affiliated sites. My assumption is that, if they bother me, then these things will also bother a large subset of our users. Put enough of them together and the non-vocal majority will simply leave and not return.
1) Excessive Use of Adsense: There are some choices when it comes to business models. We are initially choosing not to go down the adsense road. Random sites appearing in my search for real estate and often taking substantial space on the page simply does not inspire confidence for me as a user. This may change in the future but I doubt it. I'd love to get feedback from others on this point.
2) Cheesy or Clearly Spammy Ads: Frankly, I despise the majority of internet advertising. Blinking ads about foreclosure, male performance issues, free , or other such nonsense simply isnt in the cards for our site. I love to hear if such advertising would actually deter you from posting a classified on sites that have such ads.
3) Value-Add Primarily Focused On The Buyer: Very few real estate sites actually focus on providing value-add to the seller. Some definition might be in order here. Surely there is value-add in providing a seller's listing to a different audience. So, I am not saying that other real estate sites provide zero value add to the seller. But look at the majority of other features and how they are definitely skewed towards the buyer.
- Mortgage Rates
- Credit Reports
- Loan Calculators
The primary seller value-add services seem to be as follows:
- Find an Agent
- Closing Costs and Commission Rates
- Value Your House
If we assume that "Find an Agent" apply equally to a buyer and seller and that "Costs" sre really just a phone call away, then we have diluted the value-add a bit. "Value Your House" seems reasonable to me for a true seller-oriented value-add service assuming the following:
- The valuation can be done immediately online
- The valuation is reasonably correct
Home valuation as a seller value-add service makes for great fodder for a future post (especially since forsalebylocals will not be in the business of home valuation at all). It really demonstrates the fine balance between what is good for the customer and what is good for the business. Some companies just don't understand this from a customer perspective.
I'd argue that clicking on a link that states "get the value of your house now" or some such text would lead me to believe (as a customer) that I'd get a home valuation immediately..often this is not the case. In short, what is good for the business (read: referral fee) often trumps the customer expectation (read: instant valuation).
The correctness of the valuation is also important. Who cares if you provide an instant valuation is the price given isnt even in the ballpark of selling in the area. For instance, I live in an oceanfront house in an established neighborhood at the end of a "point" at one end of a rather large inlet. Houses at the end of the point usually sell for about $200,000 to $300,000 more than houses at the start of the penisula. Houses at the start of the point are generally more dated and also are impacted by the tides (meaning they don't have water in front of them during certain hours of low tide). The valuation sites that I am most familiar with don't seem to account for waterfront housing vs. landlocked housing, or for potentially significant difference in values along the same street.
Everyone can do better…even our site when it launches. The most important thing is that we all learn from their experiences. Correct?