Another DOWN Weekend for Advanced Access Sites

When will it end? Once again Advanced Access can’t seem to get through a busy consumer searching weekend with all of their sites and IDX remaining online! Many agents are currently reporting that their sites are up, then down, then up, then down, like a roller coaster ride. Others have reported that their interior pages are not appearing or their IDX is offline and unavailable for consumers to search for homes. I’m sure that once again we will all see the canned excuse from Advanced Access Customer Support reporting the same old, same old, with no solutions. If I were a betting person, I wouldn’t give this outfit much chance of long term survival since they seem to be on life support already!

Clients Bailing From Advanced Access Sites

While doing some Googling for ‘Advanced Access sites’ the other day, I came across a blog from www.WebNewsForUs.com that made mention of several great looking Advanced Access sites. Upon recognizing many of the agents in the post, I clicked on the half-dozen hyperlinks and wasn’t surprised to find that ALL of the FORMER Advanced Access clients were now hosting their real estate websites elsewhere. I knew that several of them weren’t active on AA’s forum anymore and had gone elsewhere but was surprised to see that ALL the ones that were touted in the article had left. Just another example of the problems that exist at Advanced Access and why some of the greatest sites (as well as agents) that were once hosted there have bailed out. Are YOU a former AA client, and if so, WHY did you not renew with them?

Advanced Access Sites DOWN per Agents & Clients

Well, it seems like Advanced Access just can’t seem to figure out the magic formula to keep the power on. Once again, agents and their clients are reporting that the websites are unavailable. This has been an ongoing problem with Advanced Access for quite some time, even though they claim to have a state-of-the-art backup system in place. The other problem is trying to reach Customer Service to report any problems, as many agents indicate that calls go unanswered or they tire of being on hold forever waiting for a supervisor. All this should change once enough agents bail out and the size of the Advanced Access client base becomes something that they are capable of handling. Is there anyone who can save them before they go under?

Advanced Access promotes ForSaleByOwner.com

In a snafu to all their paying clients, Advanced Access elected to include an article in their February newsletter promoting ForSaleByOwner.com . I wonder how many agents missed it and sent it to their clients before AA was blasted for including something that takes away from Realtors® income and replaced it with something more appropriate.

Here’s an excerpt of the article:

How to Sell Your Home in a Tight Market
(ARA) – Now that the New Year is underway, a lot of people are wondering what 2008 has in store for the real estate market. Industry experts say it could be a tough year for people who put their home on the market.

With more than 4.2 million homes currently on the market and more to come as spring “selling season” arrives, home prices are falling to entice buyers to get off the sidelines. Buyers, of course, are drawn to houses offering the best deal for the money. With home prices threatening to go lower or, at best, remain unchanged, many home sellers are concerned about selling their home for less than it was worth just a year or two ago. Add to that the fact that real estate agents typically eat up five to six percent of a home’s sales price, and that’s even less money that will go to the seller.

This probably explains why many sellers are choosing to forgo working with an agent and save on commission, allowing them to price their homes more competitively. There are now more people using ForSaleByOwner.com, the nation’s largest Web site for these home sellers, than at any other time in the company’s history.

There’s big money to be saved. An analysis performed by the company found that real estate agents and brokers collected $55 billion in commissions in 2007, an average of $13,900 per home sold. People like Joseph De Luca of Enfield, Conn., question the wisdom of paying so much when, with a little effort, he could do the job himself and save thousands of dollars.

“An agent is going to market the home by putting a yard sign out front, posting an ad on the Internet and holding a few open houses. Why pay a five or six percent commission when I can do that myself,” asks De Luca.

Instead of spending thousands on an agent, he invested $249 to market his three-bedroom home on ForSaleByOwner.com. DeLuca’s listing package included a guidebook to selling your own home, and other resources to walk him through the entire real estate process. He also received a ForSaleByOwner.com yard sign that signaled potential buyers to view his home on the Internet, and a home appraisal report that compared his home to others in the area and gave him market information so that he could price his home accurately.

De Luca noticed that similar homes in his neighborhood were listed at more than $340,000 and hadn’t moved. Figuring that he was saving on commissions, he sold his house for $335,000 within 45 days. Had he gone with a commissioned agent, it would have had to sell for $355,000 in order for him to pocket the same amount. “I’ll never use a real estate agent again,” De Luca proudly says.

Another ForSaleByOwner.com customer, Bruce Brandywine of Tampa, Fla., attracted a buyer who saw his online ForSaleByOwner.com property ad and toured it during an open house that he hosted himself. “Who knows my home and can possibly explain its features and attributes better than myself?” he asked rhetorically. To close the deal and give him piece of mind that nothing was overlooked, he hired a real estate attorney to handle all of the necessary paperwork.

Brandywine is not the only one choosing to skip the “middleman.” ForSaleByOwner.com estimates that ‘for sale by owner’ sellers saved almost $9 billion in home value during 2007.

“The real estate market is expected to be tough for at least the first half of 2008, so we expect more people will avoid using a commissioned agent in order to price their home competitively and save more of their home’s value.” says Eric Mangan, director of consumer relations at ForSaleByOwner.com.

Whether you’re planning to sell in the near future, or are looking to buy, log on to http://www.ForSaleByOwner.com for the help you need today.

Courtesy of ARA Content

“Brief” Power Outage At Advanced Access adds 1,000 Hits!

Amazing what a ‘brief’ power outage at Advanced Access can do to this blog! I wonder if AA got 1,000 hits in the last four days. Going back and reading some of the 13 pages on the AA forum thread from when the lights went out on ‘Black Friday’ in May of 2006, it was astonishing to see how many agents had closed their accounts with Advanced Access. After that fiasco they posted this about their new server setup at the new location:

“The new data center is a state-of-the-art facility with multiple fiber paths for Internet connectivity, redundant environmental control systems, on-staff AC and electrical technicians and on-site backup diesel generators.”

The recent power outage only ranked as ‘brief’ although all sites were down during prime time for over four hours with a very weak explanation. Stay tuned………

Advanced Access Down Completely!

Here it is on a nice Wednesday evening about 9:00 PM when homebuyers may be searching for homes and the ENTIRE Advanced Access network appears to be DOWN, again!

No website, no AA forum, no Advanced Access homepage, NADA!

What will be their excuse THIS TIME??? Will we just get another canned excuse? If you are looking fora dependable real estate hosting company, this is NOT the place to put your marketing dollars. This company has become one BIG JOKE since they tried designing a new 4.0 platform and even worse since their sale to Dominion. BEWARE!!!! STEAR CLEAR!!!!! This company has turned completely upside down as in my logo.

Former Advanced Access Employees Sound Off!

Jan 22nd, 2008
The IDX product for Advanced Access has long been a huge problem, and will definitely not be in any form of working order any time soon.

I say this as the former manager of the department that “John Adams” mentioned above.

I just became aware of this site today, and am glad there is a resource for current and former clients/employees to document their frustrations with this company’s failings.

I sincerely regret leaving a department that I worked very hard on in such chaos, but I simply had enough with the company. The IDX product was constantly not working due to archaic programming methods and simple lack of attention to it. When serious work began on 4.0, all upkeep for the IDX program stopped completely – and this lack of maintenance on the IDX product continues to this day due to the continued efforts to fix all the 4.0 issues that are still around. I found myself in a position where I had to defend a product that simply didn’t work to both clients and the MLS partners we have contracts with.

Disillusioned, frustrated, and overwhelmed with day to day work that had piled up and was beyond my ability to whittle down (partly due to AA’s decision to lay off my assistant in late June, the ONLY help I had in that department, making it so I was now in charge of day to day work and manager work) I decided to take a job with another company, and couldn’t be happier about the decision.

Anyway, the reason I’m posting this little story is that I don’t want people to have to deal with AA’s crap anymore. 4.0, IDX, everything is in bad shape right now, and will most likely not be fixed anytime soon. The representatives you speak to on the AA forums and in the call center are blowing smoke up your ass whenever they say things like “it’ll be fixed/added/upgraded soon”. I say this as a former smoke blower that just couldn’t take it anymore.

For those of you who are still current clients and have the AA build IDX program: CHECK IT and make sure it is working. The only reason I beleive AA has gotten away with this program’s problems for so long is because the web site owners don’t search their own site too often. Check results against your MLS’s search results, and check it against other IDX providers’ results.

PS. Just for more info on the IDX problem: while I was still employed with the company, I was looking to buy a home in my area since I was recently married. I attempted to do these searches on what I was most familiar with: the AA IDX product. I was UNABLE to use the product that I was in charge of for reliable results and had to use competitor sites. That really says something, I think.

January 22, 2008
I just wanted to back up what was posted here. I am a former manager of the IDX/MLS Dept., and I can tell you that things will most likely not get better.

From what I observed during my time there, it seemed that new programmers would come on board, realize what an absolute mess everything is and leave not wanting to deal with it. I don’t beleive any of the programmers are incompetent or lazy – they are simply given the task to fix major issues left by the programmers before them. That cycle is why you as the AA client don’t get things fixed

January 23, 2008
MLSNI is very large, and does take a long time to update if they are downloading the FULL set of data and photos (photos especially). If everything were working correctly, they would only be downloading what is new/updated every day, which takes minimal time. The replication process (the process that parses the data from the download area and puts it into the search database) being used is archaic, full of bugs and issues, and was built really assuming they would only being using it for 1-5 different MLS feeds. As of the time I left, they were downloading ~135 different feeds.

The problem is NOT the download – it’s what happens after the download where everything gets screwed up. They unfotunately have no way of knowing WHAT is missing, so the only fix is to either re-download individual listings by request, or download ALL of it again and hope things go better this time.

What I’m getting at is: the lack of updates on the IDX feeds is not because it takes a long time to do the normal every day download; it’s because the process breaks, then a client such as yourself may not notice for several days before reporting it, then it may take several days for the report to reach the IDX programmer, then it’ll take a day to apply a fix that may just yield the same problems and start the cycle over again. By this time, data has been out of date for a week, maybe more.

Some trivia here for you: during my time there, MLSNI was often used as my example to the powers that be of how broken the system is. For example, over several weeks I documented what percentage of the listings in MLSNI had photos available. That number avereaged between 50% and 60%…you can’t tell me that half of all active listings in that area do not have photos. I won’t say these reports fell on deaf ears necessarily – I do beleive (maybe naively so) that the IDX problem is well known and recognized as a serious issue by those who would be in charge of fixing it, however the bigger priority seems to be getting 4.0 to work properly (1.25 years later as of now) and building the 3.0 to 4.0 conversion process. Who knows when that’ll be done, and who knows when the inevitable bugs and issues from it will be worked out.

Bottom line is that NO ONE is touching IDX unless it is an emergency situation where all IDX is down. Then it gets a band-aid.

January 23rg, 2008
I’m also an ex employee of Advanced Access but I was in the Website Marketing (cough) Department. I was (and still am thanks to high up insiders) very familiar with what was going on. You’ve already heard that it won’t get any better and it really truly won’t. Justin is to busy trying to save money than retain clients and fix the overall problems. His head is up corporates ass. Now Aron Spegon, Director of Customer Service, wants to put all liability on the clients to help reduce the expectations of AA. New clients no longer have someone helping them with their new website. They have to do it all on their own. Shitty business practice? I think so… and so do many more.

I bet John and Jerra are pissed at the downfall of this company.

I left AA after three years in December 2007 because of their lack of concern for existing employees needs (and then some), the way I was forced to treat our Marketing Clients, and for the way the company was turning out to be. I wanted to work for a reputable company. When I told them that, I didn’t mean bad reputation.

I am now self employeed and serving clients the way they should be served and giving them the support they need to become a success WITHOUT Advanced Access.

I can help you get away from them without royally screwing up your rankings if you have a 4.0 site. If you have a 3.0 site, it will have an effect but the long run wil be better for you.

January 28, 2008

Does it really matter that the ex presidents are seemingly unwilling to give out their true identities…? However they can matter of factly speak about the going on’s and policies and procedures currently in place at AA? Hmmm… Working in the office next door to Sean G for about a year, I can adamantly state that Sean was working all day every day with his hands tied trying to make a difference at AA. I was in a “Director’s Meeting” when he was even brought in to explain how and why we needed to make changes to the way Advanced Access handles the IDX data (Mark Gilmore arranged this presentation). How many of the recommendations he made were followed…? I’ll let Sean handle that one.

Does it really matter that the reality is that since John Morris and Justin LaJoie left, AA decided to attempt to keep the course instead of keep up with the competition. Does it really matter that the “Intellic@rds” that are touted as an email marketing solution are dated back to 2001-02? When is the scheduled “deployment” (its a popular word that was introduced by IT at AA to make it seem like progress was being made) for the next version of the Intellic@rds? Old news… No suggestions nor proposals were ever seriously considered by Captain Edward John Smith and his Yes men and woman. The only proposals and suggestions I ever saw being implemented were when it dealt with cutting earned commissions and bonuses of its employees.

Let’s not point the fingers at the individuals who attempted to keep AA cutting edge and providing good service to its clients. I for one, and can attest on the behalf of Sean, that pride was taken in providing our clients the best possible services that we were capable of providing based on how tied up our hands were.

Lets rather talk about the fact that if you are a current AA member and are running the newest version of Internet Explorer, you cannot edit the content of your website… There is a work around, obviously I am aware of that, but what are we really talking about? Is it our clients responsibilty to jump through hoops to use something they are paying $40 or $50 a month in “hosting” for? Or should AA man up and resolve the problems like any responsible company would. Apparently AA feels it is being held hostage by Microsoft for releasing IE7… Hmmmm…

Third-level domain names anyone? Oh yeah, we offered those. What happened to them? I guess they are not as important as “deploying” banner advertising to its clients asking them for more money by selling them Leadmore. Programming is more than on top of it when it comes to that. but where is the upgrade to 4.0 for all 30,000+ clients (which we all know was a bogus number ask Gary Brackle) . Realistically 4.0 is garbage, people are much better offf with 3.0, but at least with 4.0 you can still sort of use your page editor. To sum this up, though it may seem like there are ex-employees who are unfairly letting off steam realize that Advanced Access was a GREAT company to work for. And it USED to provide great products and services to it’s clients. But those days have long since passed and when you feel like things could have been done to avoid it’s downfall, you almost feel responsible. I know that I do.