There’s always something to howl about

Building the perfect Bloodhound, three years into the job

Cathleen took most of my client contact off my hands Sunday so that I could have time free to play with a new API the FlexMLS folks are getting ready to release to their client MLS systems. I love FlexMLS, and I haven’t said nearly enough good things about it here, but let this stand as endorsement enough: If your MLS is on the cusp of its vendor contract, get FlexMLS. It’s plausible to me that other companies might have cool stuff, but other companies don’t listen to geeks like me. FBS is wicked smart to begin with, but they’re smart enough to know that nobody knows everything. By listening to the user base, they’re able to grow their product in ways that will matter a great deal to all of us going forward.

So for Act one, I worked out how to build radius searches from any valid street address. By software, I mean. I want to be able to work from street addresses to build searches on the fly.

Act two was just brute force API programming, building semi-custom searches into 11,000 or so unique pages. (I’ve mentioned that Realtors have a publishing problem, but I’ll bet you weren’t thinking in the thousands of pages.)

Act three was a quick-search form. A lot of folks already have stuff like this from their IDX vendors. The difference is that I can build as many as I want, as elaborately as I want, using the most common or the most arcane fields in the MLS system. As an example, imagine a weblog post about central vacuum systems coupled with a quick search form featuring homes with central vac. Can your IDX system do that?

That’s innovation, y’all, and there is a point at which it is nothing more for me than ars gratia artis — art for art’s sake. I play with new ideas not to make money or to skin elephants, but because I love new things, and I love to wring every last drop of implication out of anything I lay my hands on. I can find the marketing — and, one hopes, the money — in new things because I can plow my way through them in the first place.

If you submit yourself to BloodhoundBlog’s archives, you will find hundreds of well-realized ideas about hardware and software and Web 2.0 and sales and marketing. It’s what we talk about, and we do it more and better in greater depth than anyone. This is a very proud accomplishment, and I am very proud to be a part of it.

But there is a level of innovation that rises above particular posts, a spirit that transcends and infuses the work we do here. Teri Lussier has taken to tracking the memes I throw into the conversation, in part because they can be fun reading, and in part because they illustrate how even people who say they disagree with me debate my issues from my frame of reference. There are others here who are doing the same kinds of things, perhaps without Teri noticing. The world of real estate is much larger — for now — that the world we live in. But within this world of ours, the debate belongs to us, with the rest of the either watching in silence or issuing progressively less-credible cannonades of stuttering, sputtering yeah-buts.

And that, at the end of three very quick years, is the innovation that matters most: In our time working here together, we have turned the word “Bloodhound” into a meme that matters.

Cathleen and I loved the idea from the first, since we brought Odysseus home from the pound. But what we saw was simply the iconic idea of a indefatigable professional hunter as a symbol for the right kind of real estate agent.

But in talking here together about the work we do — in seeing and embracing the similarities that unite us, and in acknowledging the proud and sometimes prickly virtues that separate us from others — we’ve carried the world “Bloodhound” much further than ever we foresaw.

Jim Whatley of expressed that complex Bloodhound notion in a way I like:

I do not want walk around and say I sold the most. I want to walk around and say I’m the best.

I am good at contempt, especially in response to what I see as being apologies for laziness or lies, but I have no desire to take anything away from anyone. To the contrary, what I have always wanted to do here is share what I’ve learned — in no small part in order to learn what you have to share.

And so I really, really like the idea of spreading this Bloodhound meme. One could wish we had come up with a better name, but serendipity is where you find it. The essence of a name is that it crystalizes and encapsulates a vast array of ideas under a single, handy referent. Strangers to this place may not know what we mean, when we refer to a Realtor or a lender as a Bloodhound. But we know, as does everyone who has ever been here — most especially the people who try to lurk under the radar.

Who will supplant the NAR? The Bloodhounds will.

Who will realize the full potential of Web 2.0 and all its many APIs? The Bloodhounds will.

Who will dominate the real estate market going forward? The Bloodhounds will.

Who will have redefined everything that matters in real estate five or ten years from now? Whatever we’re calling ourselves by then, it will be the people who write and read here who will have made all the difference.

I love new things — mostly just because they’re new. But when you devote your attention to new things, you can’t help but come up with new ideas of your own. No one here set out to redefine the way real estate professionals think about themselves and their work. But we’ve done just that — in just three short years.

And that’s the innovation that matters at BloodhoundBlog.

That is the innovation that will plant and fertilize and cultivate every seed of every new idea we bring forth in all those years ahead of us.

So: Here’s to the Bloodhounds! I’m very proud to be a part of this thing — strange and unexpected and inspiriting and ennobling — and always enthralling.


3 Comments so far

  1. Teri Lussier June 29th, 2009 12:07 pm

    >No one here set out to redefine the way real estate professionals think about themselves and their work. But we’ve done just that — in just three short years.

    >And that’s the innovation that matters at BloodhoundBlog.

    >That is the innovation that will plant and fertilize and cultivate every seed of every new idea we bring forth in all those years ahead of us.

    Because I do love to track memes, because it does tickle me to watch them take hold and take on lives of their own, I can confirm this. I could fill a post with examples, but I’d probably be called mean, or vitriolic, or bitter. Not true. I’m watching the entire conversation of the real estate industry change before my eyes, and most of this conversation starts here. I take no credit for it, because I don’t start these memes, I simply hide and watch as you like to say. I might pipe up with .02 cents, but mostly I watch the industry scramble to keep up. And, yes, I do enjoy what I see. Immensely.

    I love the memes that have been created here- supplanting the NAR is my personal favorite, although conversations about vendorsluts are the most fun to read. But beyond that, the openness with which Bloodhounds toss out ideas- proven or not- is stunning, and is also liberating to all of us. We really can discuss ideas without being told that they must work before they should be discussed. That’s what we do here- talk about ideas, shake out the options, refine best practices, explore the industry at length and in depth. All this and more, and it’s so very exciting!

    Happy Birthday, BloodhoundBlog. Don’t ever change.

  2. Glenn Kelman June 29th, 2009 12:34 pm

    Fantastic post Greg. I have been surprised at how much this blog has become about the technology and the craft of brokering real estate. I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve come to like the contributors here. Each year, Bloodhound gets more thoughtful, and more active. I’ve learned more about real estate from reading this blog than just about any other online source. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for letting us participate occasionally, and mostly for letting us listen in.

  3. Al Lorenz June 29th, 2009 7:42 pm


    BHB is an epiphany, or three, a day. Thanks to you, Brian, Sean and the others who started it and are still the heart of it today.

    You’ve attracted quite a group of hounds. I was floored by all the tremendous thinking and innovation at Unchained.

    Super having folks like Glenn as well who are also working in their way, and participating at BHB, to change the industry and the world. At BHB’s third year it is clearly the eye of the storm changing the industry for the better.