I’m spent. I continue to cling to the notion that for every problem there is a solution, but this morning I am throwing in the towel.
All I want to do is continue to post market statistics for a half-dozen distinct zip codes and for San Diego County as whole on our web site. That should be easy enough. I have MLS access, dang it! I have been doing this for years, and while this seemingly simple task has always been the source of much frustration (and has often resulted in a few colorful words being tossed about, like “darn” and “jeepers”), never before have I found myself resigned to utter defeat.
When I set up my first, ugly web site a decade ago, I decided I wanted to provide on-going market statistics because a) Consumers liked them, and b) I could. Since I have always shunned the canned web site, I am able to entirely control the content. The power is intoxicating. I can update any page or create new pages any day I am in the mood, or even several times in one day if I am feeling spunky. Even today in my evolved state, our web site is not vying for any “pretty” awards, but it is content-rich.
It is no secret that I am not a huge fan of our new MLS system. But, even the old system presented it’s challenges when it came to sharing data. This is mostly because Realtor Associations, as we all know, have never been good at sharing. In the early days, I started by providing a list of homes on the market, in escrow, and recently sold for a single Zip code: Scripps Ranch. Within weeks of publishing my stats for the first time, I got the nasty-gram from my Association. Where active and pending listings are concerned, by showing actual property addresses, I was a big-fat rules violator. Even with the proper disclaimer (“listed and sold by various Brokers”), I can only publish this information if I am the listing agent. If I was a Virtual Office, things would be different, but as a lowly agent with my license hung at a brick and mortar Brokerage, this is forbidden. Fair enough.
Instead, I started providing the lists with street names only. Not so fast! In nasty-gram number two, I was counseled that this information was still too specific, and a consumer might actually be able to figure out to which property I was alluding. Obviously, we can’t have that. The solution, I was told, was to identify the home by “subdivision.” The challenge here is that while listing agents presumably get the address right, they rarely get the subdivision name right. “The Willows” often becomes something like “Scripps Ranch PUD Unit 12B 987-J Heck if I Know.” I overcame this with a little sweat equity; the MLS report tables could be cut and pasted into my own table where I could set about correcting the data before posting.
Over time, my statistics offerings were expanded to six Zip codes plus the county summary. I always wished I could provide data for more areas, but given that there is no way for me to automate the updates or even easily grab the data, this will never be an option. The Altos Research charts helped, but these (so far) only reflect active listing trends. Until they (or someone) are able to provide a similar product for pendings and sales, I am relegated to doing things the old-fashioned, manual way.
Enter Tempo5. I am no longer able to “right click” reports, and I am certain this was by design. Further, the standard reports either include fields I don’t want (map code and listing type) or fields I can’t use (address). I can create a custom report, but I can’t add column labels. I can’t find a way to even find the county-wide summary statistics because, before I can get to the “statistics” report option, I have to display the listings meeting my criteria, and this display is limited to 250 records.
The fun doesn’t stop there. Statistics reports for some Zip codes include Days on Market, while others do not. If an address is long, it overwrites the adjacent column, the column for Zip code which I don’t even want because I am searching by Zip code. Duh. There are a million other little problems, like price-per-square-foot being reported to ten decimal places, but they are too numerous to go into here. So, I have been playing with work-arounds. I have tried saving screen shots of reports and dropping them into Photoshop for cropping and resizing, but that only works if the search results fit within one screen. They rarely do. I have tried saving the files as PDFs, but being one who is not prepared to pop for the $7,985 full Adobe software, I then have no way to correct or edit the data.
If someone has any ideas, I would love to hear them. I know I can pay DataQuick to provide me with the sold data each month, but this just seems wrong. I have access to the data I need; I just can’t get it from Point A to Point B. In the meantime, I am seriously considering nuking the statistics pages from my web site entirely. And, maybe, nobody would notice or care. I just hate to have to admit failure.
So, to the three people who might accidentally read this, help! If you are a vendor, is there a solution I am not aware of? If you are an agent and you are willing to share, have you found a solution? And, if you are a consumer, are the statistics offerings really of any value to you, or can I make them go away and put myself out of my misery? I could always lobby our Association and Sandicor to provide me with what I need, but given that we are still trying to untangle the mess that is their current offering, that is not really an option at all.
Tempo5 Footnote: This is a little off-topic, but it is still important. If you are a San Diego agent, do you know where your listings are? A three-week old listing of ours is still not showing up on Realtor.com, the “Offical Site of the National Association of Realtors,” if you believe their banner. I am told that “they” are working on this. Presumably “they” are the same “they” that told us we would need to update our ActiveX controls again this morning, only for us to be met with an error message that told us to contact our system administrator. On Yahoo Real Estate, a site relying on my Broker’s feed, our three-week-old listing is also AWOL. Fortunately, it is resident on Trulia, but only because I use Postlets to syndicate our listings, and on Zillow and Craigslist, but only because I manually enter our homes for sale there. It shouldn’t have to be this hard.