Another Internecine Debate: Home Search Registration

avatarthumbnail.jpgYesterday brought about another one of those debates that seem to tie some real estate agents up in knots and send others to their soapboxes in record time. What was most interesting is the debate over this one topic – asking folks who use our home search to provide a name, phone number and e-mail address – remains no different today than it was four years ago.

Once upon a time I didn’t ask anyone to register to search for Phoenix real estate but that changed about a year ago. Why? Well … I hope I don’t shock any of my dear readers with this announcement but I happen to have a career in sales – I sell real estate for a living. It’s not a hobby, it’s the method by which I put food on the table and keep shoes on my growing children’s feet.

That’s the no-brainer side of the equation – I’m providing a small service and all I ask for in return is a name, phone number and e-mail address. Preferably yours, to be specific.

But there’s more to it than that. By registering on this site you’re able to save your custom searches, saving you the time you’d waste having to re-enter the same information over and over again. You’re able to mark your favorite properties and watch them specifically. You’re able to schedule showings and you can ask for additional information. You can add your own notes so when the homes blur together you can be reminded of what you liked.

Yet as robust as Diverse Solutions’ platform may be on this and my other sites, it doesn’t have all the capabilities for custom search that I have in the MLS. So one of the first things I offer to people registering on this site is to have a more complete, more specific custom search set up for them and updated either via e-mail or via a personalized listing portal.

Now … here’s the little secret that goes with the latter portion. Any agent in the Valley with MLS access can set up the same thing. Which is another way of saying that listings are far from the extent of the services offered here. Finding a home often is the easiest task in a real estate market such as this. Having a coherent plan of action to obtain that home’s another story.

What gets completely list in the debate over registration is the fact the listings are just a small part of what real estate agents offer – or at least what they ought to offer. In many ways they’re the free root beer float Sonic offered to get you to buy a hamburger. They are a loss leader, designed to get you to a site and keep you there.

Another fashionable argument in the debate about registration is the idea that anyone who does not ask for such information is pro-consumer and not just a salesman and vice versa, as if something as non-consequential as registration is the litmus test.

Personally, anyone in sales who works so very hard to convince everyone that they aren’t in sales just because they abhor prospecting reminds me of the fable about the scorpion and the frog.  You can dress a beagle in reindeer antlers but he remains a beagle.

Read the comments on Jay Thompson’s post about writing multiple simultaneous offers (and also see the answer I provided on Trulia Voices and posted here) and you’ll see my approach may be different from other agents. Not all real estate agents are the same and not all handle the business of helping buyers buy and sellers sell the same way.

It’s knowledge and expertise and knowing the meaning of hooped that sets apart what I do from other agents. Maybe that’s of interest to you. Perhaps not.

And if it’s not, if all you are looking for is a place to anonymously search Phoenix real estate listings, that’s fine. Here are some places you can do so:

(Jay’s site was on the list but things are changing on his site.)

Now ask yourself … why would I intentionally link to other agents’ home searches from my own blog? I’ll accept insanity as an answer, though I’d prefer to think that I’m crazy as a fox. Because I also know the listings only are the window dressing. It’s the rest of the package that really makes the difference.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Jay Thompson 9 years ago

    Great post JD. I am a long time “proponent” of “open” search. But that’s rapidly changing (due in part to conversations we’ve had). I’ve also frequently said I am not a sales person. Maybe the truth is, I’m just a lousy salesman. But the simple fact is, in this my chosen profession, I have to prospect, generate business, or God forbid “get leads”.

    This latest debate had some interesting tidbits in it, along with the utterly asinine morality arguments and even, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, saying requiring home search registration is as evil as murder.

    There are multiple ways to do business. Some methods work for some, others don’t. I can’t door knock or cold call because to be frank, I suck at it. Doesn’t mean it’s not a perfectly viable means of generating business for some. And it certainly doesn’t mean door knockers and cold callers are immoral or evil.

  • Charleston real estate blog 9 years ago

    I particularly enjoyed registration considered as evil as murder.

  • Jonathan Dalton 9 years ago

    Jay – I always go back to BawldGuy, Jeff Brown. All that matters is how many cats you skin, not how you do it. I’m not much for door knocking and I’m mediocre at best at follow-up calls, which is why many who register don’t actually get that call.

    I’d prefer not to think of myself as a sales person either, but I think that is as much about the connotation that goes with the term as anything else.

    Howard – I didn’t really read it until someone passed it along to me and even then I couldn’t hack through too much before the stupidity of the morality play left me woozy. Best comment was one near the end, at least the end the other day, which simply asked why anyone in the business should care whether an individual agent has registration set. Our business. Our choice.

  • Charleston real estate blog 9 years ago

    @JD Let’s talk about salesperson for a minute, there is no way the best salesperson can “sell” a house, they can help someone buy it but as you point out, that’s the connotation of “salesperson”.

    I did wade through all the comments early Monday morning but didn’t bother to comment. I doubt anyone’s mind would be changed by either position offered, each side was more extreme than called for. As you say, it’s an individual decision on how you want to run your business.

    @Jay I was kind of surprised to read about your conversion to registration on your new REW site and your thinking about it at PREG. Morgan must make a strong case for it. By the way, what’s your new site URL.

  • Portland Real Estate 9 years ago

    I will have to politely disagree with the forced registration. I am one of those internet users that will leave immediately if I have to give information to get information.
    I believe that a website should be an informational tool, a resource. When my clients go to my website, they are able to look at listings and are not asked for their information unless they try to save a favorite, or request a showing for a home. This gives them what they want without bothering them with a mandatory form.


  • Jonathan Dalton 9 years ago

    I think one of the issues is the term “forced” registration. You’re no more forced to register here than you are to shop at a certain brand of supermarket. But if you want to see the homes here, I do ask for some basic information. The percentage of bogus registrations that I receive has been low.

    I disagree with the idea of a website as an informational tool. While I try and make it informative, at the end of the day this still is a business and not an information kiosk. People can go to Trulia Voices for that.

  • Whizzer 9 years ago

    I do appreciate the links. Thanks, that was nice to do.

  • Jonathan Dalton 9 years ago

    No worries, Whizzer … it’s not like I’m revealing state secrets, though. All of these can be found through Google. 🙂

    My feeling is if asking someone for an e-mail address and phone number is that much of a deal breaker, they and I may not have been a good fit anyway.

  • Doug Francis 9 years ago

    Since my MLS set up a very 2009 search site,, and then advertised it on radio, Washington Post, and the Metro, and my clients were using it even before we met, well, I had to dump my IDX since it was essentially a waste of $$.

    I really like Diverse Solutions product, but free it wasn’t.

    I always discuss with clients how finding the house is the easy part, getting a contract negotiated and ratified, financing done, inspections and so much more are elements where my experience benefits them. Yes, I am a salesman!

  • John Wake 8 years ago

    Jonathan, Thanks for the mention and the link! Just to be accurate, I do require registration after you see 20 homes. I’ll lower that number after I have better systems of follow up.

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