There’s always something to howl about

The Odysseus Medal: Propagating better ideas in real estate by celebrating better ideas in real estate

This is probably not much of a secret, but I really love ideas. I think the argument that smart people can improve the NAR cartel from the inside is absurd, but the instant form of the claim — that I could advance Realtors’ use of technology by wasting my time at committee meetings — is especially specious. It’s no goal of mine to change any life but my own, but, even so, the best technological benefit I can bring to Realtors, lenders, investors and thoughtful consumers is right here: Explicating our own new ideas and and drawing attention to other peoples’ innovations. Ideas are an attribute of active minds, and minds and meetings are sets with the tiniest of intersections.

Among all the other virtues I might claim for it, The Odysseus Medal competition is a celebration of great ideas in real estate. Here are this week’s winners:

This week’s Odysseus Medal goes to Dan Melson for Should Lenders Be Permitted to Sell Real Estate?:

Let us ask about real estate which has become owned by the lender. Why should lenders lack an ability shared by every other citizen, resident, illegal alien, and even people who have never set foot in the country – the ability to sell their own property? There’s no requirement for anyone else to use an agent. It may be smart to use an agent, but everyone else has the legal right to go it on their own. Why not lenders?

I’ll tell you why. Because not only would lenders being able to get into the business threaten the interests of the major chains that control most real estate, but this requires lenders to pay those same firms money if they want to get the property from their bad loans sold – and they need to get the property sold.

I have to admit, I’m not exactly eager to compete with yet more big corporations with huge advertising budgets. It remains the right thing to do. Right for the industry, and right for the consumers. As I’ve said many times before, rent-seeking is repugnant, and that’s what NAR is doing – seeking rent from lenders who are not permitted to be in the business themselves.

Mortgage brokers have been competing successfully with lenders for decades, to the benefit of consumers. There’s no reason real estate brokerages can’t.

Dan Melson is one of the most consistent voices of sanity in real estate weblogging. If he’s not in your feed reader, amend that omission right now.

The Black Pearl Award may just be the perfect expression of the BloodhoundBlog ideal, so I’m delighted to bring it home this week. Who won? Kris Berg, with Dogs Playing Poker – What do you do with great property photos?. Here’s the Black Pearl:

The photos are worthless unless you know what to do with them afterwards. Clearly, they are used on all of our online advertising for the home and in the MLS. About a year ago, we also starting producing bifold brochures as a matter of routine. These brochures are done for every listing (with a few exceptions, since occasionally we will just have a home which cannot fill a brochure, no matter how we might try). From one-bedroom townhome to million-dollar estate, all of our sellers’ homes benefit. They are glossy, full-color, full-bleed card stock which are placed both inside and outside the home.

Inside, I have two pages to not only display photos but practice the Greg Swann art of poetic description. I have had people tell me that the brochures really “put them in the home”, which is the intent.

The big finish is when we have the printer zap our little stand-up photos and tag line from the back cover and insert the mailing labels. These brochures then become our (very expensive) Just Listed notices. We mail them to a sizeable surrounding homes crowd and to our list of clients and past clients. Not only does this generate enthusiasm from the neighbors and keep us in the minds of our past clients, but it generates showings, which is ultimately the goal.

Everybody’s bored at the ball-game until someone hits a home-run. If you want to be the vendor everyone remarks on — do remarkable work.

The People’s Choice Award is fun for me. I get to see what everyone else would have voted for for the Odysseus Medal. If you think consensus in the norm, think again. Virtually every post in the short-list of nominees will earn votes, a nice testament to the overall quality of the candidate posts. Still: Somebody’s gonna win. This week it’s Rain City Guide’s Dustin Luther with Rules for Rain City Guide Contributors. The title is more parochial than the post. Witness:

Here are the only two “rules” that come to mind:
  1. If you are going to attack something… attack ideas, not people. (i.e. “your idea sucks”… not “you suck”)
  2. Avoid obvious self-promotion.

The first rule is just a modified version of a rule from my mother with regards to the way I needed to treat my little sisters… (I was allowed to say to them “you did a bad thing”… but never “you are a bad person”). It’s pretty simple advice that I inevitably regret when I forget to obey.

An interesting related piece of advice from my mother is that I was never allowed to say “no” to my younger sisters, but rather I always had to say “instead”, as in “instead of playing with that, here is a toy you’ll find interesting.” Combine those two bits of advice and you get the essence of good blogging: Passionate challenging of ideas while providing interesting solutions.

The second rule is much more art than science and I can’t blame new bloggers for crossing the line on this too often. Obvious self-promotion looks bad and is an real turn-off for most consumers. I’m a huge believer in treating my readers like they are intelligent and savvy enough to know that the typical professional is blogging in order to earn business. If the consumer likes your attitude and style, they will choose you when looking for an professional without the need to constantly prompt them. One of the reasons I put all the contact information for active contributors on the sidepanel is because I think it is classier if I do the promotion for the contributors than if they try to do it for themselves… ;)

By the way, one trick I recommend for new real estate agents to help stay away from the self-promotion angle is to make sure there is always at least one link in their posts that references an idea of someone else. The link could be to a news article, but preferably it is another blog post.

Without Dustin’s outstanding example with Rain City Guide, there would be no BloodhoundBlog, so I’m doubly delighted by his win.

Are you late to this party? The short list of Odysseus Medal nominees has become the Sunday newspaper of the If you didn’t examine the list yesterday, do it now.

As always, if you see something remarkable nominate it.

Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon PDT/MST. You can nominate your own work or any post you admire here or, more easily, here.

Congratulations to the winners — and to everyone who participated.

Technorati Tags: , ,


3 Comments so far

  1. […] The Odysseus Awards are up at Bloodhound. […]

  2. […] … have posted at the Bloodhound Blog. And I now have a new blog in the GoogleReader. […]

  3. Searchlight Crusade September 17th, 2007 5:14 pm

    Links and Minifeatures 09 17 Monday…

    Carnival of Personal Finance Cool! Gregg Swann thought my post on “Should Lenders Be Permitted to Sell Real Estate?” worthy of his Odysseus Medal. The San Diego Special Edition ********** FTC Warns Some Mortgage Ads May Violate Law I’m……