Rudy is to Trulia…


I woke up this morning to this email:

Rudolph Bachraty wrote:

Hi All!

We’re conducting a poll and would appreciate any feedback you may have.

What are the 3 most important things Real Estate Agents should do to improve their online presence?

There are lots of choices with little or no clear ROI.

Agents are blinded by the bling. Time is money. It has to be spent wisely. Not everyone can dedicate endless amounts of time testing new products and services. Even I get overwhelmed at times. Yet agents know that most consumers go online to conduct their search for real estate information and they want to join the conversation too. Agents just want to know where and how to start.

Thanks for your time.


For more info, please visit:

Of course I am going to answer Rudy, formerly of Sellsius for obvious reasons.

The thought crossed my mind that Trulia is just as on the ball as Zillow, given that


Rudy is to Trulia…as David G. is to Zillow.

How can you not love Trulia and Zillow as much as you love Rudy and David G.? It reminds us that this is the day of Who You REALLY ARE No gimmicks. No phony crap. No “how do I want to present myself?” I think, for the first time in history, people are responding to who you really are vs. the Sound Bites and canned schpiels and “make a problem; fix a problem”. The smart money’s on choosing based on reality, not smoke and mirrors and dog and pony shows. Credibility is key.

Kudos to both Trulia and Zillow for choosing these two guys to be their voice out in the world.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: cell: 206-910-1000

116 thoughts on “Rudy is to Trulia…

  1. Thanks Ardell; you are too kind.

    It’s truly awesome to work at a company that has nothing to hide and that encourages its people to speak to its customers. What makes my job rewarding is that the product development teams at Zillow REALLY listen to your feedback that I pass on to them and they use it to improve our site. Without that ability to really answer our customers, I’d be just another talking head (and would probably be doing something else.)

    Thanks again.

  2. Hi Ardell!

    I’m blushing. Thanks so much for your kind words.

    For those who don’t know me, I’m a huge believer in building personal relationships. It all comes down to HOW we do things and HOW we treat people. The Trulia team welcomed me with open arms and their integrity is second to none. I’m in a very fortunate position to be able to work with such talented people who really care about creating the best user experience for both agents and consumers.

    I’ve actually learned a thing or two from you over the years Ardell. Thanks so much for being you. And by the way, Brio could not have selected a better person to lead their team. Great move Jon!



  3. Jim,

    Well NAR kinda had Dustin for awhile there…same deal…but they put duct tape on his mouth and didn’t use him to their best advantage.

    In other words…they had their shot and blew it.

  4. Hi Ardell,

    Actually, yes we were πŸ™‚

    Your agents must be like sponges, soaking up every ounce of knowledge you drop on them. They are so lucky.


  5. Ardell – Stop teasing….

    Pete – No, you’re da man….

    Todd – πŸ™‚

    David – Maybe I should get a shirt with my name on it too….hmmmmmm?

    Hi! I’m Rudy from Trulia. Nice to meet you.

  6. Hey Rudy,

    How is your new baby sleeping these days?

    “What are the 3 most important things Real Estate Agents should do to improve their online presence?”

    Here are my answers:

    1) SELF REFLECTION. Agent should ask themselves if they really want to improve their online presence.

    So many times I meet Realtors who honestly do not want to interact with consumers online. They don’t “get” how consumers won’t want to, for example, provide their real identity, or they don’t understand why online consumers do not readily trust a Realtor. If an agent honestly does not have an internal motivation to do something, then it will not get done. The agent will sabatoge his or her own efforts and then blame whatever instead of looking within. I say if an agent really doesn’t want to work with consumers online, then go connect with consumers offline.

    Look within before looking for some magic diet pill for those last ten pounds. Zillow, Trulia, blogging, online lead gen systems….none of it will work unless there is internal motivation.

    2) RESEARCH. Seek out education regarding today’s real estate consumer. Read BOOKS, not just website articles. Move beyond real estate guru books and reach for authors like Seth Godin and other cutting edge marketing thinkers. Go beyond online continuing ed classes. Go to some conventions. Push yourself outside your comfort zone. Like go to a tech geek convention of some sort and interact with the geek guys and girls and watch the trade show vendors hawk their wares. Even though you don’t want to buy what they are selling, talk with them and let them try to sell you on their product. Observe their sales pitch. Then go home and visit their online presence.

    Budget the amount of time and the amount of money that you are able to spend increasing your online presence without hardfast boundaries. Never forget that the goal is closed transactions not search engine optimization. Closed transactions take more TIME to accumulate than SEO. Be flexible with the plan and the process but keep focused on the goal.

  7. Hi Jillayne!

    Summer is doing great! Thanks. The twins are due on or about Feb 20th. Real estate pun intended.

    Your answers are GOLD Jillayne. So refreshing. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in one of your classes. If you had a book coming out, I’d certainly buy it.

    1. Self Reflection – This is the primer…
    2. Education, Education, Education – Never stop learning…
    3. Keep your eyes on the ball – ABC….

    Thanks so much for your fantastic feedback.

    Stay well,


    P.S. What ever happened to your [project]?

  8. Jillayne,

    Excellent! I do think every agent should blog, not for their own benefit or for closed transactions necessarily, but so the public can better see Who They Are, beyond a simple ad or commerical.

    Blogging is for the benefit of the public primarily, not the blogger.

  9. Kary,

    I go back to my first blog articles sometimes, when I thought I was simply helping someone beta-test their blog software. My writings were passionately consumer oriented when I thought no one was watching. And then came Dustin.

    My musings do not appear to change whether or not someone is watching.

    I find that blogging sharpens the tool, keeps you looking at the bigger picture and gives you more foresight. Fewer surprises for me and my clients when you stay on top of your game, and blogging helps you do that.

    When I wrote the blog article recently that is a tutorial to buyers of short sale properties, I wrote it to my clients who were buying a short sale property. Sharing that info in a blog post, vs. simply sending it in an email, benefits anyone buying a short sale, anywhere.

    That is what I mean about blogging for the general public. I could have written that as an email to my own client only. Same as a blog post I wrote this week. I have to write it anyway, so why not let others peek in and maybe learn something instead of using email?

    Blogging is often me working, I just camoflouge it somewhat to protect client confidentiality.

  10. Hi Rudy,

    I think that Jillayne’s list is a very good one, and I would add a few more from my point of view:

    1) I think an agent (or any blogger) must be passionate with a point of view about their subject. That passion comes across in the post with energy, depth and personality that adds credibility and makes the “voice” of the blogger. It also takes a lot of time and energy to write posts, and keep at it over time. At first there are no comments to spark a conversation and the blogger is a voice alone and it takes passion to keep it up when there is no response. Once you have engaged a number of commenters in dialog it then takes a lot to keep up with the converstaion! πŸ™‚

    2) Interested in what is happening with others in the blogosphere, being willing to visit, read and make comments other blogs. Adding to the energy and conversation, blogging is inclusive and is about sharing.

    3) Be fearless! You are putting yourself “Out There”. Be willing to reveal yourself (not some sort of Public Relations blah, blah blah material) and that means that the blogger has to either be cool with that naturally (self-confidence) or “Be fearless”!

  11. Hi Deborah!

    Hey, remember the guy on the corner at the fish market? πŸ™‚

    Great points.

    1. Be passionate and patient – so true…
    2. Read and comment on blogs before starting one – you need to walk before you can run…
    3. Be Fearless! – nuff said….

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Deborah.



  12. Q-Diddy:

    Consider yourself lucky, my home isn’t even listed on Zillow. I guess those boys from Zillow must have seen the “Beware of Dog” sign out front and ran off.

    Google Earth even cuts out the back part of my woods. I guess that odd looking bird I have been shooting at may have been the google satellite as I can see the barrel of the shot gun sticking out the side of the picture .

  13. 1) The Realtor should have a very well informed website. I see alot of the websites that just tell what office they work for, thier name and a picture.
    2) The good agents have a full website showing listing that the customers can see on the home page and a good paragraph about the area the house is in.
    3) I noticed talking to realtors they are a little down because of the market. This will pass,so keep your clients excited and in the loop.

  14. When i say exited, I am refering:Talking to them about the great investment that they are making. And that the market should not be like it is now in the next year possibly.

  15. “When i say exited, I am refering:Talking to them about the great investment that they are making. And that the market should not be like it is now in the next year possibly.”

    Are you kidding!? This is a pretty sick joke.

  16. Michael said: “Kidding? You do not think realestate is a good investment? And you don’t think the market will be better next year?”

    If you’re an agent (I hope you’re not), you shouldn’t be telling your clients to be excited. You can’t and shouldn’t tell them what you yourself cannot guarantee. Home prices will most likely get worse before they get better and you should be stressing the risk in this environment.

    This is one of the reasons why I have no respect for agents.

  17. Q-Diddy, what if an agent thought prices have been too high for the past 10 years? Would they have been doing any kind of service to their clients letting them know that?

    Personally I think it’s best that agents leave predictions out of the mix entirely.

  18. Kary said: “Personally I think it’s best that agents leave predictions out of the mix entirely”


    But with any investment or large purchase I would always stress caution.

  19. I thought I’d flush that out for you Q-Diddy. LOL! Sic em.

    Q-Diddy is dead on right here. It is no time to be promising that things will be better in the next 12 months or 2 years.

    I personally did do that back in 04 and through May of 05, and I stand by that. After that, some missed the boat for short term investments in real estate. Long term buying as personal residence…another story.

    I can still honestly help someone buy the right property as long as they are not planning to sell in the short term. But telling someone the market will be better in 12 months? Convince me, then convince them.

  20. Ardell, I can’t believe you’re saying that! What agents do is determine what the property is worth at the point in time, and to assist with the negotiations and paperwork. On the buyer’s side we also help locate property.

    Predicting the future has zero to do with what an agent should be doing.

  21. Kary,

    We don’t have to be right. But we do have to have a valid opinion based on the facts at hand. I clearly have to advise a client differently if they are an investor planning to flip the house vs. a homeowner saying they plan to live there for 10 years.

    Right now if someone said they were planning to buy for one year and sell at a profit, could you honestly say you have NO opinion as to that?

  22. Kary,

    Thought about it again. I have never not had a predicting opinion for my clients. I have on a few occasions had to sell someone’s house 6 months or so after they bought it. I could smell that coming at the time they bought, and made sure they bought something I could turn for at least a smidge more than they paid, to cover costs.

    If someone came to me right now and said they wanted to buy and not rent, and needed to sell in a year, it CLEARLY would influence my advices on what they should be buying.

    I can’t believe you would suggest otherwise. Do you just do what people tell you to do? Are you an “order taker”? I hope then that you charge accordingly.

    I can’t guarantee the results, but the client and I clearly discuss these things and I offer my best advices regarding their long term and short term objectives. We represent people and their goals. Helping them make the right purchase decisions is part of our job. Helping them succeed in their goals IS our job. We can’t do that job with “zero predicting” considerations.

  23. “Good God, if only the NAR would realize that through Rudy and David G, Trulia and Zillow are winning consumers and Realtors(R) hearts and minds”

    Zillow has a way to go on its algorithms. Based on Zillow’s own FAQs the “Zestimates” have accuracy issues that make the data reporting nothing more than toy. A good experienced agent can price a house to sell within +/-3% or the list price within the average days on market.

    Michael P. Lindekugel
    Financial Analyst
    RE/MAX Commercial
    Team Reba – RE/MAX Metro Realty, Inc

  24. Ardell wrote: “Right now if someone said they were planning to buy for one year and sell at a profit, could you honestly say you have NO opinion as to that? ”

    I’d say it’s unlikely no matter what the market was since it would have to head up almost 9% to cover costs of sale. But if they want to ignore my opinion, I’m not going to force mine on them.

    This may be arbitrary, but unless someone says 3 years or more is their time frame, or doesn’t say anything at all, I’ll say something about the risk of holding short term. Back when I was doing bankruptcy work I’d seldom file a bankruptcy for someone with under $20,000 in unsecured debt. That was arbitrary too. One of the things I used to do was spend about 30 minutes on the phone with initial callers, even if it was clear in the first 5 minutes that they would never be a client. I’d rather advise someone and not make any money, than just do something for them just to make money.

  25. “Back when I was doing bankruptcy work I’d seldom file a bankruptcy for someone with under $20,000 in unsecured debt.”

    I found that to be quite interesting. Can you elaborate? If someone owns a house and the equity goes to negative $30,000, does that count as over $20,000 of unsecured debt?

  26. That would depend on the situation. Only one home loan, probably not. First and second, probably because if the house is going to be lost, then they would probably owe the money on the second after the foreclosure.

    I was technically speaking of someone taht only had $20,000 or less of unsecured debt. If you throw a house into the mix it complicates things. They might be looking at Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 7. They may or may not be delinquent on their home loan, and usually car loans would be in the mix.

    It was sort of ironic that back then the most valuable thing I did was tell people whether or not they should file bankruptcy (which is why I spent 30 minutes on the phone with them), but I didn’t charge a thing for that. BTW, over the years I’d guess that probably close to 75% of the people that called me didn’t need a bankruptcy, but they did need some advice.

  27. Kary,

    The only change I want to see, is for agents to treat buyers the same way that they treat sellers.

    Clearly we would have a predictive opinion if someone said they might wait to sell for a year. Right now if someone said they were planning to sell their home, but didn’t know whether to do it now or wait a year or two, most agents would offer an opinion. Given the volume change so far since September of 07, I’d be inclined to say sell sooner rather than later.

    So if one would say sell sooner rather than later to a seller, what is the flip side of that coin for a buyer? If you would say to a seller, it’s OK to wait a year because I’m pretty sure the market will be up next year, then it’s OK to say the same thing to a buyer. But you can’t have a different market outlook for buyers than you do for sellers.

    If you have no opinion whatsoever regarding market conditions, like a stock trading company that only takes your stock order without comment, then the no advices service should come with a different price tag.

  28. I’d tell them that the volume is currently weak, and that it may or may not improve in a year. If it doesn’t, prices probably will go down. These things are affected by matters outside the real estate area (employment, inflation, interest rates, consumer confidence, etc.) You’d need to be able to predict all that and more to be able to know where the market was headed.

    I actually like to use the stock analogy that you did. With stocks you have a lot more information about what’s going on, and there are people that concentrate only on analyzing a few companies. And despite that, they usually still can’t get it right!

  29. Kary,
    I’ve worked in both markets for almost twenty years each. Stock Market and Housing Market. With regard to the info available to us in selecting property, there is clearly at least as much info available regarding whether or not a house will go up as there is as to whether or not a stock will go up.

    Comparing Redmond vs. Duvall is like comparing two separate industries in the stock market. Choosing which house within the preferred area, is the same as choosing which stock within the preferred industry.

    Agents generally make a lot more than stock traders who offer advices, so suggesting they shouldn’t apply the same skillset is like saying agents are overpaid.

    Everyone knows that their stock and portfolio advisor can’t always be right, same as an agent regarding home values. But you pick your stock broker and agent based on the fact that they will at least have an educated and informed opinion.

    When someone asks, and they do, “What can I sell this for in two years?” I clearly tell them in any market that I cannot tell them that. Many are surprised, so I’m guessing some agents actually put a number on that. But I do tell them whether or not the likelihood is up or down for the market generally and for that particular house specifically.

    When the market may be flat to down, product selection becomes much more important then when the prediction is for the market to go up significantly. Buying brand new or turnkey clearly is not as wise when the market is flat to down. In fact it almost always goes down like a new vs. used car. So the market needs to be going in an upward trend for the owner to camouflage the dip in value of new or turnkey, due to the appreciation being higher than the depreciation factor.

    Since late 2006 or before, my advices have been to buy something that needs something. It gives you an edge, and some protection, to be able to sell it in better showing condition than you found it. Buying where it is “cheaper” is buying where appreciation has been less significant and NOT a good plan. Best area will always go up more in a good market and hold value better in a weak one.

    It’s fine to tell someone you might have a 5% loss in value, and for them to say they can live with that. It’s another thing to think that, and not tell the client. People deserve to know what you are thinking. It’s up to them to choose the agent whose opinion they value, same as when they choose a stock broker.

  30. Ardell and Kary-

    Here’s a question, are agents licensed by law to “sell” a home? In order to sell stocks or bonds you need a series 7 and 63 license I believe. If the answer is “no” then technically all agents can do is offer advice or opinion right?

    Personally, I would like to see more agents do less “selling” even if that means they don’t close the deal. Hopefully, the next wave of agents won’t be so eager to pump up the market.

  31. We are licensed to “represent people” who are selling homes and people who are buying property. Not just sellers, and in WA we are charged with representing buyers even moreso than sellers. So “selling” is NOT what we are licensed to do.

    Beyond that, cost of service and contracted for service becomes the same as stock broker – no advices vs. stock broker with advices.

    The difference is in the cost. “Online Purchase” Real Estate Brokerages are not including advices in their cost structure. So if advices are not included in the higher cost service, the cost shouldn’t be higher than an online order taking service.

  32. Q-Diddy,

    It clearly is our duty to sell at the highest price when we represent sellers. The issue at hand is that many, if not most agents, don’t receive sufficient training regarding how to represent buyers in opposite fashion.

    I took the ABR “Accredited Buyer Representation” course. I was so appalled by the curriculum that I do not use the “credential”. One would think that to be an ABR one would receive sufficient instruction regarding valuing property for a buyer. Clearly we value property for a seller, and offer advices as to now or later being better. So why not buyers?

  33. 1) The Realtor should have a very well informed website. I see alot of the websites that just tell what office they work for, thier name and a picture.
    2) The good agents have a full website showing listing that the customers can see on the home page and a good paragraph about the area the house is in.
    3) I noticed talking to realtors they are a little down because of the market. This will pass,so keep your clients excited and in the loop. 4)Keep clients up to date on current affairs pertaining to the market.

  34. Michael wrote: “1) The Realtor should have a very well informed website. I see alot of the websites that just tell what office they work for, thier name and a picture.”

    Why? Total waste of time, effort and resources, IMHO.

    Every time I hear an agent talking about improving or changing their site I think about my Teamster days in college. After work I’d sometimes have some of the guys up, and one of them commented on the pet rat I had in a cage. He said: “Do you think he fantasizes about a girl rat climbing up onto the table and getting into the cage with him?”

    I sort of view agent websites that way. “If only I had a better website, the clients would find me.”

  35. It really is about relationships and networking. If it can be done quicker and easier and just as good I’m in it. Time is too valuable. Money is just a tool to accomplish dreams. Treat others how you want to be and you won’t have enuf time to handle all the business that comes your way

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