Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

The single best idea for online real estate I’ve heard in the last 5 years.

Okay. First a disclaimer. I heard this idea last night in the lobby bar of the Scottdale Plaza (where I’m attending Clareity’s MLS Executive Workshop). I was blown away when I heard the idea, but wanted to make sure when I sobered up that it was as good as I thought. As of this morning I like the idea even better.

First off I have to give the credit to this idea to John Holley (CEO of NTREIS). Our conversations last night were drifting towards how the next generation of buyers are far different from ones in the past. Everyone has heard about these “Millennials”, or Generation Y. Lots of blog ink has been spilled on the impact of these new types of consumers and how they might be a big part in a new “Renter Nation” movement.

John’s idea is simple (the best ones usually are). Why not have property portals/idx listing sites have a toggle. Flipped one way the toggle would let you show purchase price. Flipped the other direction is to show “Price per month” (monthly mortgage). See my crude mocks below, Based on REALTOR.com.

Price Per Month (Click to Enlarge)
Price Per Month (Click to Enlarge)
Purchase Price (Click to Enlarge)
Purchase Price (Click to Enlarge)

I think this is genius. I think it taps in to the mindset of these new consumers. Car companies are doing it all the time.

Listing portals/idx websites should begin implementing this now!

UPDATE #1: @rqd points out that sites like Zillow and Trulia have implemented something close to this for years. In search results and details pages they display mortgage information without a toggle. To me, and this is very subtle, the idea of a toggle is key.

UPDATE #2: After my initial post on this subject many of my readers sent me examples of their sites already doing this. None of them had a “toggle” but merely added the estimated amount along with other listing information. I clarified in my first update, that the “toggle”, in my opinion, was the magic. But another reader pointed out that this entire practice (toggle or no toggle), might be illegal. It seems that according to “MAP Rule”…

” It applies to all entities within the FTC’s jurisdiction that advertise mortgages – mortgage lenders, brokers, and servicers; real estate agents and brokers; advertising agencies; home builders; lead generators; rate aggregators; and others.”

To clarify the rule doesn’t say you can’t advertise/display monthly mortgage estimates, it has more to do with the record keeping requirements (24 months) if you do so. Part of me thinks that since the rule has been in effect since mid 2011 that it must have been vetted but I would strongly advise to have your attorney review this new rule. It appears to effect IDX sites, and most property portals. The fines could be as much as $16,000 per day. Yikes.

More information can be found at the below links (The first link is the best as it relates to brokers and agents):

How The New MAP Rule from the FTC Affects You By John Dolgetta, Esq. (PDF)

Mortgage Acts and Practices – Federal Trade Commission (PDF)

MAP-ing out new mortgage protections

FTC Issues New Rule Strengthening Consumer Protections Against Deceptive Mortgage Advertisements

  1. You mean like the way Zillow and Trulia have been doing it for years….or am I missing something?

    No toggle, they just show both the price and estimated payment on every listing.

  2. @robert I think its much more effective on the listing results page. Trulia is closer to this than Zillow but both are implemented poorly.

  3. Any easy formula for estimating tax + insurance into the ammortization table? I spoke with the Springer crew at RatePlug to determine how you could get accurate local market estimates along these lines and doesn’t seem any easy answer.


  4. Zillow displays property taxes from county records for each property so I think it would be pretty easy to include it into a monthly estimate based off the prior year’s actual amount. Insurance is a little more difficult but it is also a much smaller percentage of the total monthly payment so and estimate should be ok.

    Do you think it would be helpful to display estimated utility bills and maintenance expenses (based off of the age of the roof and other major systems?) for each home?

Sponsored By Giant Steps Advisors