Ben Phillips, vice president of new products and research for the Realogy Franchise Group, is also managing director for OpenHouse.com, a Realogy-operated site that allows searches for open-house events scheduled across the country. The site, which is also open to non-Realogy brands, offers e-mail alerts, interactive maps and a route-planning tool.
Phillips is speaking during an "Internet Marketing Bootcamp" workshop that is a part of the Real Estate Connect conference in New York City. The conference runs from Jan. 7-9, 2009, at the Marriott Marquis Times Square hotel in New York City.
He responded to a set of questions posed by Inman News:
What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2009?
I see continued contraction as a result of the credit crisis and low consumer confidence. Brokers must continue to watch operating costs and marketing spends.
What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?
Don’t list overpriced turkeys. It adds to the overstock of housing inventory and won’t sell, further compounding the housing challenges we face. Use new methods of interacting with consumers online, but don’t forget to step up your level of community involvement so buyers and sellers know you are open for business and homes are still selling despite the economy.
What sparked the idea to start your company?
OpenHouse.com was started as a method to save money on print advertising and better reach today’s consumers online. Open houses are poorly marketed online — the site provides … convenience for consumers looking to print out a map of all the homes they want to tour and makes it easy for brokers and agents to reach those customers.
What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?
Working with competitors who are skeptical about posting their listings to a site owned by Realogy. But that’s changing. We now have more than 40 brokerages, including some national franchises, participating on the site and they know that there is no favoritism and nobody is disadvantaged. The rules are the same for everybody who wants to get involved in marketing listings on the site.
What new features are in the pipeline? Can you share any future plans, goals?
There are some new updates coming in first-quarter 2009, including some premium listing features and "Open House Now," which will allow brokers and agents to directly input listings to the site. This will help companies that cannot provide a data feed.
What lesson did you learn in the last year?
Stay true to your strategy. Remain focused and results will come.
What would your second career choice be and why?
Racecar driver: I race extensively and had I been able to race at a younger age I would have tried to go pro.
What is the biggest problem in the real estate market today, and how would you fix it?
The media have pummeled our economy and the housing industry mercilessly and have whipped up fear and unrealistic concern. We continuously seek to have Realogy executives speak on news shows to provide a more accurate picture of the housing market.
What do you most enjoy about working in the real estate industry?
It’s always changing, so each day is different. Our industry has some of the most outgoing, intelligent and intriguing people to know and work with.
Tell us something we don’t already know about you …
I can read your mind (just kidding).
Hear Ben Phillips speak at "Be Seen in All the Right Places," a session during the Internet Marketing Bootcamp workshop at the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference in New York, which runs from Jan. 7-9, 2009.
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