Does your home have a chimney for Santa to shimmy down to deliver gifts this year? Chances are, it might not. We searched high and low, pouring over countless real estate listings for mentions of fireplaces and chimneys across the country to find out how many homes are Santa-friendly.
While fireplaces are a fairly common amenity for those cozying up to loved ones over the holidays, we discovered that for new homes chimneys are rare. After all, a gas fireplace — or even a decorative mantel — doesn’t require an old-fashioned masonry stack. (Plus, some new brand new homes with “real” fireplaces don’t need a chimney to vent.)
So if your home doesn’t have a chimney, how do kids think Santa manages to get the presents under the tree?
We want to know! Send us a video of your child’s cute answer for the chance to win some extra holiday spending money.
We’ll select 10 submissions at random — each winner will score $500 and Trulia will make a matching donation to our charity partner Toys for Tots to help ensure that children in need can enjoy a happy holiday season. As of last year, the program distributed over 469 million toys to over 216 million children! Spread the good cheer by donating directly to Toys for Tots here.
How to enter
Film a quick video of your child answering the question, “How does Santa get into a home without a chimney?” Share your video with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or by email between Wednesday, November 26 and midnight on Monday, December 8, 2014 and you’ll automatically be entered for the chance to win $500 towards your holiday shopping!
On Facebook, “like” Trulia (if you are not already a fan) and post your video on our page. On Twitter, follow @Trulia, then tweet your video and tag our handle. Either way, your post must include the hashtag #NoChimneyNoProblem to be entered in the sweepstakes. Alternately, upload your video to YouTube and include #NoChimneyNoProblem in the title.
Not on social media? You can also email us your entry at email@example.com. Be sure to include #NoChimneyNoProblem in the subject line.
Before submitting, please read the Official Rules to make sure you are eligible.0 comments
Today, we have some exciting news to share, as Trulia is embarking on a new and exciting chapter. We’ve signed an agreement to be acquired by Zillow, which will enable us to accelerate our efforts to revolutionize the home search process for consumers, help professionals build their businesses and create additional value in adjacent markets. I’m excited about the benefits this combination will bring to the consumers, agents, brokers, franchises and data providers we work with every day.
Over the last 10 years, we have successfully built Trulia from the ground up by staying focused on our vision – to fundamentally improve the way that home buyers, sellers, renters and home seekers find a place to live and the way that agents and brokers connect with them to power their businesses. It’s clearly been working and today’s news further validates and invigorates our mission. It is also a reminder that our journey has really just begun.
Zillow will acquire Trulia in a stock-for-stock transaction in which Trulia stockholders will receive shares in the combined company equivalent to 0.444 shares of Zillow for each share of Trulia, and will own approximately 33% of the combined company at closing, on a fully diluted basis. At closing, I will remain as CEO of Trulia reporting to Zillow CEO, Spencer Rascoff, and will join the Board of Directors of the combined company. In addition, a second member of the Trulia board of directors will join the board of the combined company.
Trulia and Zillow will maintain our individual consumer brands and operate as separate companies. The combined company will offer buyers, sellers, homeowners and renters access to vital information about homes and real estate and provide advertising and software solutions that help real estate professionals grow their businesses.
Together, we will create an even stronger organization by bringing together the shared talent, technology and deep industry relationships of Zillow and Trulia. We can align our time, energy and resources into building the best online real estate experience by accelerating innovation on mobile and desktop platforms and providing more valuable tools and services to consumers and professionals. We can also work together and in partnership with the real estate industry to ensure more free data is made available to consumers, which can empower people to make better decisions. With broader and seamless distribution, home sellers, agents, participating brokerages, franchises and MLSs will be able to reach an even larger audience of consumers. Finally, together we can offer shared services and marketing platforms for advertisers to enhance productivity and deliver great return on our customers’ investment with us.
Additional Information about the Proposed Transaction and Where to Find It
I know this announcement may come as a surprise for some of you. Over the years, in this first chapter, as we have participated in the growth of the industry with Zillow, mutual respect grew. We believe that combining with Zillow will allow us to do much more together than apart.
It has never been a more exciting time to be in the real estate industry. Here’s to the next exciting chapter!
Additional Information about the Proposed Transaction and Where to Find It
In connection with the proposed transaction, Zillow and Trulia expect to file a joint proxy statement/prospectus with the SEC, and Zebra Holdco, Inc. expects to file with the SEC a registration statement on Form S-4. INVESTORS AND SECURITYHOLDERS ARE URGED TO READ THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT AND JOINT PROXY STATEMENT/PROSPECTUS (INCLUDING ANY AMENDMENTS OR SUPPLEMENTS THERETO) REGARDING THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION. Investors and securityholders will be able to obtain free copies of the registration statement and joint proxy statement/prospectus (if and when they become available) and other documents filed by Zillow and Trulia at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Copies of the documents filed by Zillow with the SEC will be available free of charge on Zillow’s website at www.zillow.com or by contacting Zillow Investor Relations at (206) 470-7137. Copies of the documents filed by Trulia with the SEC will be available free of charge on Trulia’s website at www.trulia.com or by contacting Trulia Investor Relations at (415) 400-7238.
Certain Information Regarding Participants
The respective directors and executive officers of Zillow and Trulia and other persons may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies in respect of the proposed transaction. You can find information about Zillow’s executive officers and directors in Zillow’s definitive proxy statement filed with the SEC on April 17, 2014. You can find information about Trulia’s executive officers and directors in Trulia’s definitive proxy statement filed with the SEC on April 22, 2014. Other information regarding the participants in the proxy solicitation and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by security holdings or otherwise, will be contained in the joint proxy statement/prospectus and other relevant materials to be filed with the SEC (if and when they become available). These documents can be obtained free of charge from Zillow or Trulia using the sources indicated above.0 comments
In today’s competitive real estate market it’s crucial to be the first to know about new homes and apartments as soon as they come on the market. That’s why Trulia is now providing instant alerts of newly listed homes near your current location.
The nearby home alerts feature is available on both the iPhone and Android versions of the Trulia app, and will alert you of any new homes — either rentals or homes for sale, the choice is yours—listed in the last 24 hours. Because it is the only real estate app to offer this kind of functionality, it truly can help you stay ahead of the game.
With fully customizable settings, you can control your search radius, price range, and how often you want to be alerted. So whether you want to search within walking distance of work, or a few minutes drive from school, Trulia will keep you up to date and get you one step closer to finding your perfect place.
We know that coming up with a down payment is a big obstacle when it comes to getting your dream home. That’s why we are excited to announce our new contest where one lucky person can win $50,000 to use toward a down payment to their dream home – or any other home expense they choose. Now, getting “the one” is closer than you think! The contest opens today and runs through July 1, 2014 so you need to act fast.
It’s easy to enter. Just go to win.trulia.com and provide your first and last name along with your email address. If you want to enter more than once – you are in luck because we are giving you bonus entries. Just download our free, top-rated mobile apps and instantly find homes near you.
What are you waiting for? Enter now to get that dream home!0 comments
We’ve all been there: you scan your phone throughout the weekend looking for open houses, only to be disappointed when you actually drive through one of the neighborhoods (this part of town doesn’t seem too safe) or notice that the home you’re in doesn’t quite look like the one you saw online or on your mobile app (the bedrooms are so small!). You aren’t alone. It’s a common problem that we at Trulia wanted to help solve. And that’s why we’re excited to announce the redesign of our iPhone and Android apps, just in time for the spring house hunting season.
According to NAR, the real estate information buyers find on their mobile devices is now just as important as visiting an actual open house. With the newly redesigned iPhone and Android apps, house hunters can get some of their Sundays back. Instead of schlepping through a slew of open homes that may or may not actually help with their search, home buyers will now get must-see properties – the best of the best – which means less time driving around in a car and more time working on an offer.
We believe our apps are now so visual and immersive; it’s almost like being at the open house without even leaving your couch. Everything you want and need for your house hunt is in one place:
Beginning today, real estate agents and brokers will have the chance to purchase Trulia Seller Ads (TSA), the first product from Trulia created specifically to generate valuable leads from home sellers. This new offering boosts agents’ seller leads by targeting consumers thinking about selling their homes. This is especially important today, as low inventory remains a challenge in many markets around the U.S.
How Does It Work?
Trulia created a new seller portal for consumers who are interested in understanding the value of their home. After providing some basic property information, the home owner receives a free home estimate report that includes price history and comparable homes sold.
Home owner landing page
The report is intended to be a consumer’s first step in understanding their home’s value and introduces them to local agents who can provide more personalized estimates, based on local market conditions and unique home features. The recommended agents are featured in the report with contact information, brokerage name, and their Trulia profile photos to help them establish their brands with sellers. The agent receives a lead notification and can then follow-up to provide a professional list price estimate in person and establish a relationship with the homeowner.
Free home value report
To develop the product, the Market Leader team shared what it has learned from a successful track record generating seller leads with similar products over the years.
The teams also worked together to make sure that agents can view, manage, and convert leads from Trulia Seller Ads in the popular Market Leader Pro software. Combined, Trulia and Market leader have one of the largest groups of agent subscribers in the online real estate industry, totaling approximately 56,000 at the end of the third quarter of 2013.0 comments
So you need to find a new apartment. Right away, you’re filled with dread over the stressful, all-consuming process. Sure, it’s easy to look online for places, but you keep coming across questionable listings. You know, the kind that feature the same apartment photos as other postings – but with different addresses or prices – and it gets confusing because you aren’t sure if what you’re looking at is legit. Starting today, Trulia is solving this problem with its new Open Markets feature.
New York City is one of several cities considered to be an open market. In these areas, when renters search for an apartment online, they’re typically faced with an overwhelming number of duplicate listings. Why? Because in open markets, both agents and brokers can hold the same listing and post it online.
Trulia’s Open Markets listing feature will solve this pain point for renters in three ways:
So, if you’re in the market for an apartment, check out rental listings on Trulia – where Open Markets makes looking for a place to live easier than ever!0 comments
In this internet era, we’ve gotten to a place where we require all of our information in bite-sized, white-and-charcoal grey pieces. But when it comes to creating interpersonal and professional relationships that really work, lists of interview questions and “what to Google” articles can fall short of fully fleshing out the factors that make us mesh with someone.
So let’s go a little deeper. Picking a real estate agent is a business and a relationship challenge – one which has a potentially massive impact on your finances and future enjoyment of the place you and your family live. If you take that seriously, here are a handful of characteristics I recommend you look for as you evaluate prospective agents.
1. Creativity. Some transactions go precisely as planned, clicking right along on schedule. Others – many others – get messy:
the loan underwriter issues bizzaro, last-minute document demands
the appraisal comes in low
the buyer backs out
you see 50 homes without any winners, or
the inspection reports reveal issues that make you wonder whether the home is a diamond in the rough or a money pit.
Whether your transaction will be easy-peasy or uber-messy, you cannot know until you’re in it. When you’re agent-hunting, it behooves you to look for someone who has the experience and creative problem-solving skill to help you methodically think through the facts, surface alternatives, propose solutions and engineer obstacle workarounds – just in case the going gets tough.
2. Deep, varied expertise. Buying or selling a home is much more of a lifestyle design experience than it is a financial transaction, truth be told. To do it with results that work well for yourself, your family and your finances for the duration, you need an agent that’s an eager partner with you. One that will deep-dive into all the nooks and crannies of your aesthetics, your psychology, your life plans, your financials and even your relationship dynamics.
You also need an agent with deep – not surface – understanding of homes, neighborhoods and local real estate market metrics, practices and contracts, and someone who deeply *gets* the home buying or selling process itself – so they can brief you on it and fruitfully coach you through it.
Have you ever taken a class from a novice teacher vs. a class from an experienced professor? The difference is nuance: a deep, mature understanding of a complex subject allows the more experienced instructor to give you insights into patterns they’ve spotted over time and repeat transactions. Same goes for your real estate pro: you want to make sure that either your agent or someone that will be working with them on your transaction (like their manager or broker) has deep knowledge and understanding in most or all of these areas, so they can share the nuanced insights and patterns they have spotted in the past which you can harness to your advantage in the present.
3. Calm resilience. When you lose out on a home to other offers, it can feel like the end of the world. When you list your home, stage it to the nines, and not a single offer is forthcoming, feelings of discouragement, frustration and even depression can easily arise. In both cases, it’s easy to delve into fear (fear that you’ll never get the home you need, or will never be able to move on to the next stage of your life) or paralysis (freezing up because you just don’t know what to do – period).
A great agent – and there are thousands and thousands out there – can bring a massive, game-changing dose of calm resilience to the table. They’ve been through this before. They know that there are lots of homes and lots of buyers out there, so losing out on any one is not a death knell to your dreams. They also know how to tell the difference between a normal delay in receiving an offer or an acceptance on your market and when your approach requires some serious course correction (see #4, below).
A great agent will be able to receive the news that you’ve lost out on a home or take in negative feedback from a prospective buyer, call you and deliver it calmly and right along with some smart, constructive suggestions for action items you should work on next, to keep the process moving forward.
4. Frankness and optimism. You want – no – you need your agent to be frankly honest. You need them to be frankly honest with themselves and with you about all facets of the reality you’ll face as you proceed through your transaction. Sellers, you cannot afford to have an agent who will let you persist in fantasy-land beliefs about what your home is worth – contrary to all evidence as to what homes in your area are actually selling for and feedback (read: silence) from prospective buyers who have seen your home – without challenging you to look at the data and adjust your pricing strategy. Buyers, by the same token, you can’t afford to work with an agent who encourages or allows you to make 5, 10, or 15 lowball offers on a home without urging you to face the truth that you need to house hunt at lower price points or make higher offers in order to be successful.
You need an agent who is willing to tell you the truth and have these sorts of hard conversations with you even when you won’t like it.
That said, you want an agent who possesses both this frank integrity and an ultimate optimism that, with right thinking and strategic action, you can and will ultimately succeed at making a great buy or sale.
5. Bandwidth. This one might sound strange, but the fact is that it can be difficult to get the advantages of having the best agent in the world if the agent is wildly over-subscribed and so busy they struggle to respond to calls and emails. This is why I don’t always say a great agent will necessarily have years and years of expertise. Some agents who have wonderful experience and wisdom are simply too busy to do the time-intensive guidance your situation may require. And some agents who are new to real estate bring highly relevant expertise and skills they’ve developed in other careers, have ample time to devote to your transaction and can enlist the real estate-specific insights of an experienced team leader, manager or broker.
If you know you’re going to want to meet up weekly for a house hunting session or debrief with your agent, tell them this up front and ask them flat-out how much time they can devote to your process. Make sure you’re comfortable with their response or solution (example – their listing specialist or partner can meet with you when they can’t) before you make your pick.
My advice for agent-finding is to engage in a multi-step process:
First, make sure you get referrals from your friends, colleagues and relatives to the agents they have worked with and love.
Also get a few names from our Agent Finder on Trulia, which allows you to get incredibly specific about what sort of homes, areas and transactions your ideal agent will have worked with.
Then, check all of your prospective agent candidates out online. Narrow them down a bit by what you see in terms of reviews and style of advice you see them providing on channels like their blog, website or social media pages.
Reach out to all the people on your short list through whatever medium you prefer to communicate – phone, email, etc. – and note how quickly you get responses.
Then book appointments to meet with a handful of agents and let them present their method to you.
Get references and check in with those past clients – ask them to tell you about their transaction experience, warts and all.
By the end of this process, you’ll likely find someone who fits just-right with your own personality, timing and transactional needs and possess these five traits.
BUYERS + SELLERS: How did you find your agent? Any advice for those still looking for one?
AGENTS: What traits do you think are important for buyers and sellers to look for? Why?0 comments
But I’ve found that many people – maybe even most people – love a challenge. Getting your home sold is one of those experiences that ranks as a complex business challenge and a series of emotional, logistics and financial challenges all rolled up into one.
If you plan to sell your home in 2014, you might be inventorying your action items or drafting your action plan as we speak. (If not, you should be – here, we’ll give you a kickstart.)
Beyond the basics tasks and actions involved in pricing, preparing, marketing and selling your home, there are a number of umbrella approaches and perspectives you can choose whether or not to take – each of which has the power to make or break your deal and make or break the angst or awe with which you experience the year ahead. If you’re not the resolution-setting type, or you are and you’re open to new approaches, consider challenging yourself to start and finish your home selling process with these next-level resolutions:
1. Resolve to do your own due diligence – cutting no corners. Here’s the thing no one tells you about selling your home: it’s exhausting. You have to:
spend hours interviewing agents
review all the neighborhood sales and try to figure out where your home fits among them
nitpick everything that’s wrong about your home
figure out what you can afford to fix and what makes sense not to
source contractors or gear up to DIY
have a bunch of little projects – and maybe a few big ones done
deal with staging and decor projects
then clean your home to within an inch of its life every single day, in some markets, sometimes for weeks or months on end.
And that’s all before you get offers.
Knowing that other sellers find this list daunting, too, helps. You are definitely not alone. But the sheer scale of this list causes some sellers to take shortcuts at some or all points along the path. They don’t meet with more than one agent, or they don’t check references, and end up with an agent they less than love. They don’t pay attention to the detailed questions the disclosure forms ask them and end up omitting some crucial detail that comes back to bite them later, in the form of a lawsuit. They fail to tidy up before showings and buyers report back that the place smelled funny or was so cluttered during the viewings that they were too distracted to seriously “try on” the home in their mind’s eye.
Make it your resolution not to be that shortcut-taking seller. Decide up front that if you’re going to do this, you’re going to do it right and pass your home onto the next buyers with pride. That might seem silly, but I can assure you that the sellers I’ve known who took exactly that stance almost always received the reward of a fast sale at top dollar. Buyers can sense the pride you take in your home and your disclosures. It’s a good look.
2. Resolve to keep your eye on the prize – and the priorities. What is your mission for moving? What is the vision you’re trying to create? When you decided you wanted to sell, you were in some state that motivated you to make a change – your home had grown too small, too large, too costly, too old, too new, too fancy or not luxurious enough for your life, or because the location no longer worked for you. But that’s only one side of the vision equation. On the other end, there’s an ‘after’ picture: some state you want to be in. Maybe it’s another neighborhood or a new-and-improved set of amenities or a totally different look of a home. Maybe it’s a totally different school district, city or state, or a chic condo when your last home was a sprawling ranch house.
Whatever it is, get very clear on the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of your vision for this life change you’re trying to create by selling your home, and resolve to stay that way until escrow has closed. Focusing on your vision will force you to focus on your priorities. In turn, that will help you resist the urge to overprice your home, underprepare it or bicker with the buyer over silly small issues and amounts. It becomes much easier to let things that would normally irritate you roll right off your back when you realize that doing so will serve your own personal priorities of getting your home sold quickly for a great price, so that you can move on to the next exciting stage of your life.
3. Resolve to think things through from the other side of the table. By definition, a first-time buyer has never been in the seller’s shoes. But as the seller, chances are good that you have been in the buyer’s position before. It is to your strong advantage to hearken back to those days when you were desperately seeking a home of your own. That perspective shift is the closest you’ll be able to get to momentarily detaching emotionally; you can walk through your home, view it’s marketing and even think about how it is priced from the perspective of the very buyers you want to attract.
Remind yourself of how you felt when it seemed like you’d never wade through all the mortgage paperwork, when you felt like the lender wanted to know your mother’s shoe size, when you were frustrated with what you saw on the market in your price range or when you couldn’t access the information or get into the property you wanted to, at a time that was convenient for you. Don’t let your home be the listing that causes these frustrations for your target buyers. Instead, from the time you start looking at comps to price your home to the time you start reviewing offers and buyer’s requests for repairs, try to think things through from your perspective and then to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.
Even if you don’t slash the price or give them everything they ask for, chances are good that you’ll end up creating more win-win situations if you take the other side’s wants and needs into account.
4. Resolve to keep your head out of the sand. The truth hurts, the saying goes. I think that’s misleading, in the context of selling your home and in life. You see, sometimes the truth does hurt, the way a shot of penicillin or getting a tooth filled hurts. But even when it does hurt a bit, the truth never harms you. On the contrary, avoiding the truth about what your home is worth or the truth of buyers’ and agents’ feedback about it is akin to avoiding a shot if you need it, or avoiding the dentist if you have a cavity. It causes something much worse than hurt: real harm.
Confronting the truth that the comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for lower than you’d hoped to get might hurt, but once the sting is gone that knowledge empowers you to make an appropriate pricing decision, stage your home to the nines or even decide to stay put for awhile longer.
Facing the truth that your home needs a lot of repairs and upgrades compared to the nearby Open Houses you’ve toured might hurt. But after the hurt, you’re in the power position, with the knowledge about either what to do to your home or to its price to get the leg up on the competition.
Acknowledging the truth that you have borrowed so much against your home that you won’t be netting as much cash on the sale as you’d hoped to definitely hurts. But after the pain passes, you have the power to make wise decisions about how much to put down on your next home and to avoid overleveraging it the next time around.
In all of these cases, avoiding the truth poses the potential for real harm: the harm that you’ll overprice your home, underinvest in its preparation for the market or commit the same financial errors with your next home. Make it your resolution to keep your eyes wide open, head above the sand and boldly face the truth throughout the course of your home’s sale, no matter what might happen.
ALL: What are your real estate-related New Year’s Resolutions?0 comments