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Archive for September, 2006

Blogoff retrospective: Picking through everything and picking out the ones I like . . .

I finally made time today to read all of my posts in the Sellsius 101 Blogoff Challenge, correcting any errors I spotted and commenting where I had something to add to the conversation.

Jim Cronin of The Real Estate Tomato had asked me which posts I thought were my best and worst. I didn’t think any were horrible. There were plenty that I would not have done were it not for the contest, and others I might have done at greater length in different circumstances. I was gratified to show off many of my columns from the Arizona Republic, because they present a very hands-on approach to real estate.

Here are a few that I think stand out:

Blogoff Post #1: Cry, ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the war of blogs: “So, although there may be a lot of blog entries posted in this contest, I don’t think there will be any wasted entries. Your attention will be repaid with knowledge, insight, wisdom and, one hopes, grace.”

Blogoff Post #39: Work for passion, not money: “An admirable poverty is only admired from the outside. From the inside, eventually, it can come to be a tailor-made hell.”

Blogoff Post #45: Real estate weblogging? Yo, Shlomo! Cut back on the promo: “The bottom line is, if you start to look like spam to me, I’ll start to treat you like spam. How is that to your advantage…?”

Blogoff Post #50: Real estate weblogging? Write about blogging: “We become a forum, an agora — blog to blog, within a blog and within our own minds, solitarily engaged in the most blaringly public of debates.”

Blogoff Post #90: Stupid mistakes of the newly self-employed: “The only benefit I can think of to having a job is that there’s always someone to tell you to get busy. Not so for the self-employed. If you don’t learn to monitor and manage the hours of your days, you’ll be back on the clock in no time.”

Truly, time will tell: I link back to earlier posts all the time. We’ll know how these hold up by how I reference them in the future.

Thanks to everyone for being a part of this!

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  • 1 comment

    Ed Robson — Master Builder . . .

    Because of my long-time affiliation with Tom Horton, I got to write the inside-front-cover copy for Outrageous Good Fortune, Tom’s biography of Ed Robson, founder and owner of Robson Communities, which builds active-adult communities all through the Sothwest.


    From left to right, author and publisher Tom Horton, Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, Mark Robson (now a real estate devloper in Southern California) and Master Builder Ed Robson.

    Here is the copy I wrote for the Robson biography:

    Here’s a trek for the intrepid: Take the I-10 Freeway south from Phoenix, Arizona, and get off on the Riggs Road exit.

    If you drive west into the Gila River Indian Reservation, you will see some of the extent of Ed Robson’s legacy. In the reservation, the land is dead flat nothing for miles in every direction. Not beautiful, mountainous desert. Just desert, the kind that kills unprepared wanderers every day.

    Now turn your car around and drive east into Robson’s Sun Lakes. You’ll find rolling hills, man-made lakes, golf courses, clean-lined stores and churches and compact, elegant homes — a model suburb.

    But we’re not finished yet. Because when Ed Robson first set foot on the land that became Sun Lakes, the land he stood on and the entire southeast quadrant of the Valley of the Sun looked just like the reservation.

    It was Ed Robson’s Sun Lakes that led the way as the southern corridor of Maricopa County was transformed from scraggly desert and struggling agriculture to very beautiful, very prosperous suburbs.

    And Sun Lakes was just the beginning. Ed Robson spread his ideas about building master-planned active-adult communities throughout Arizona and into other states. As the Baby Boomers march en masse toward retirement, it will be Ed Robson who builds their homes — homes sturdy in construction and rich in luxuries, with the kinds of activities and amenities that make retirement an adventure.

    Did Ed Robson get rich doing all this? Oh, you bet! But he has enriched us all along the way. Not just the people who live or work in his communities, but also the people who live and work in the surrounding communities, communities that would not even exist if Robson had not pioneered the land. And by bringing ever newer, ever better ideas to the active-adult market, Robson has helped to transform what were once the leaden hours of the so-called ‘golden years’ into a truly golden sunset to happy, productive human lives.

    We should all rejoice in his Outrageous Good Fortune. It is our good fortune, too, thanks to all the riches Ed Robson shed in his rich life.

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    Want to know where real estate corruption comes from? Whatever you do, don’t look in the newspaper . . .

    I have a bunch of Phoenix-area real estate news piling up in browser tabs, so I want to reference it now, before it blows away in the autumnal desert breezes.

    First, more fake good news downtown: “Phoenix is putting in place the final building block in its plan to construct a new downtown.” How? What are you, new? Massive tax-payer subsidies, of course. How else? But, not to worry. This will be the piece that completes the puzzle for a true downtown in Downtown Phoenix. Pay no attention to all those other, past, failed pieces that were to complete the puzzle. This is the real deal, you betcha. If you say otherwise you’re a counter-revolutionary running-dog imperialist wrecker. Oops! Wrong propagandists…

    But don’t get the idea that Pravda — er, the Arizona Republic can’t issue a discouraging word: It turns out that trolley riders, if there are any, may have trouble finding shaded parking. If they can find any shaded parking now, in this benighted pre-trolley epoch, they should move to Vegas. They’re beyond lucky…

    But at the same time, don’t conclude that the Republic can’t strain at gnats over a good press release: Active-adult housing is popular in the Southwest Valley — even though there almost isn’t any. The article justifies its spin by stretching as far as Sun City Festival — which is in the Northwest Valley. (Disclosure: I am a long-time friend and confederate of Tom Horton, who wrote the biography of Ed Robson, founder and owner of Robson Communities, which in turn owns PebbleCreek, the principle focus of this article.)

    Did I say something about the Northwest Valley? Here comes the Northern Parkway, to relieve all the traffic out there where nobody lives — yet. The City of Glendale, which used to end at 67th Avenue, is going to extend itself miles and miles further west so that its tax-payers can delight in subsidizing thousands of new homes along the incipient SR-303 Freeway.

    All of this serves as a nice way of distinguishing capitalism from mixed-economy socialism. None of this would be happening if our real estate economy were governed by capitalist principles. How many entrepreneurs would build 1,100 houses where there are no roads? Zero. How many entrepreneurs would build skyscrapers in a “downtown” where there are no people? Zero. How many entrepreneurs would build a trolley system that will lose twenty dollars for every dollar it manages to collect? Zero.

    All of these things, and thousands more incredibly stupid blunders, are made possible only by government. Without using force against the owners of the land, and without using force against the producers of wealth to acquire tax funds, none of these things would happen. They are not artifacts of capitalism but of statism — not mutually-voluntary trade but coercion. They are the joint creations of the “statesmen” and the thousands of parasitic pretend-businessmen who feed at the tax-payers’ teat. If we were to put government out of the real estate business, we would put all those grafters out of business overnight…

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  • 1 comment

    BloohoundBlog is three months’ old — and we’re taking the rest of the week off to celebrate . . .

    There are still over 400 unanswered emails in my inbox. Plus I have a bunch of Arizona real estate news I want to talk about. Plus I have tabs and tabs of real estate weblog posts I want to link to.

    But… BloodhoundBlog is three months’ old today. A three-month-old Bloodhound can move your furniture and mow through a pair of shoes in three minutes flat. A three-month-old BloodhoundBlog is but barely aborning — well begun, but half-baked, at best. Four-hundred-twenty-five posts, but they add up if you do a few dozen in a single day…

    But part of working hard is knowing when to stop. There is a bottle of Old Bushmills in the cabinet over the refrigerator that demands at least three fingers of my attention this night. Irish Whiskey is an acquired taste, particularly if you’ve scorched your tongue with Scotch. But — for tongue-scorching — Cathy has laid in the stuff for me to make a Hatch chile salsa, and last night a client gave us chile rellenos and some other muy caliente delectables. Mere liquor is nothing compared to the endorphin rush that comes from eating really hot food.

    When I was a young kid working in New York, I had a boss who would stroll through the office at about 4:50 on Friday afternoons. “Why don’t you take the rest of the week off?” he would say. He never got tired of that joke. And I never have, either.

    So here’s a toast to you all, as we take the rest of the week off. Thanks for being here with us!

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    Butterflies might be free, but home-buyers pay for real estate advice — whether they know it or not . . .

    Ardell raises some questions at Rain City Guide about my column in this morning’s paper on negotiating the buyer’s agent’s commission. I’m going to address some of her remarks here, but my fullest statement on the topic is quite a bit more comprehensive. In the newspaper, I get 350 words a week, with the result that I am splitting this one topic over 5 (or possibly more) weeks. I’m thinking, too, that we should create a category for these weblog posts, because both Cathy and I are writing quite a bit on the subject.

    And thus to Ardell’s points:

    “I find that most consumers would like we in the industry, to lead the revolution and win that battle for them, rather than being involved in the process of that change in the industry.”

    I’m sure that would be nice, but I don’t expect it to happen that way. One of the reasons agents are so close with the co-broke information is that they’re giving up so much on the listing side. Buyers are the last sheep to be shorn — even though buyer representation is getting easier, not harder, and even though the prices of homes have risen dramatically over the years.

    I don’t see any way for this to change across the board without buyers becoming educated and putting their education to work. One market segment who could help a lot are the For Sale By Owner sellers. They could implement my idea of conceding funds directly to the buyer, to be used at the buyer’s discretion for representation or other costs, with none of the risks a listing agent might face.

    “Has anyone seen the Buyer Agent fee show on the Buyer’s Closing Statement when the transaction closes?”

    This is the only way a HUD-1 is produced in Arizona. If it’s not being done that way in Washington — one HUD-1 for everyone — I can’t imagine why. In any case, the buyer can negotiate for full disclosure of all funds.

    “Seller pays his agent and buyer pays his agent, is the only rational answer…”

    But it’s not actually true. For a represented home, the seller sets the amount of the commissions, the listing agent sets the distribution, and the buyer pays every penny. The rational argument is that the buyer discovered the home because the seller paid a marketing expense, much as you discover any other product. But the marketing expense is nevertheless paid by the buyer, with no input from the buyer as to the amount to be paid to the listing agent. The buyer can affect the amount paid to the buyer’s agent — but only by a process of negotiation. You and I are initiating that negotiation now. Few other agents are. All buyer’s agents would initiate that negotiation if the funds available to be used to pay the buyer’s agent were controlled by the buyer, rather than by the MLS co-broke policy. Until that happens, most buyers will have to initiate this negotiation for it to take place, since most buyer’s agents would rather represent their services as being “free”.

    “Truth is, buyers really do like these lies up to a point. They really do like to believe that is is free and the seller is paying it. Buyers like to “receive money from the agent” like the Redfin cashback. It’s a whole lot more fun to believe that they are “getting back” $20,000 than to understand that they are paying $10,000. They are not really getting back anything, they are financing their cash credit, if they take it in cash or cash credits. To truly save something, they have to negotiate a sale price with the seller and AFTER the fact, reduce the purchase price by the negotiated buyer agent fee difference. Otherwise they are including the full fee and they are paying it with interest for 30 years! They are borrowing it from the lender, not “saving” it.”

    And all of this is a huge problem. Buyers need to grow up — and fast.

    “But Greg does not give any advice regarding what to respond when the agent replies: “What do I charge?”

    I only get to do this in 350 word snippets. But that’s a good one, so I’ll do something explicit with it. (I have to say, Q&A is an easy way to punch out a lot of text fast. Somebody should have a blogging contest…)

    “What do you say to a buyer agent who tells you his services are FREE?”

    A smart answer would be, “That’s interesting. How do you make your car payments?”

    Buyers are not dumb, they just want something for nothing. Shopping should be “free.” Well, it is, if you do it alone or do it with an agent who has nothing better to do. Sellers understand why they must negotiate — because they understand that no agent is going to work to sell their home for “free.” If buyers wake up to the fact that they do pay for representation, then they can embrace the idea that negotiating a more favorable fee is to their advantage no matter how the excess funds are deployed.

    Further down, from the comments:

    “If a buyer needs to sign a contract to talk about commissions, the purpose becomes for the agent to get a contract, and not for the buyer to…anything.”

    The purpose of every contract is the mutual benefit of the contracting parties. Right now, anything we do with buyer commissions is essentially unilateral, because the buyers don’t know to ask for it, and don’t question the numbers we offer. Cathy is playing right now with a flat fee for buyers, and we may go to that — possibly also with an added discount in exchange for a non-refundable retainer. Half of this is about giving the buyer a much better deal. The other half is about eliminating our front-loaded risks. The corresponding and countervailing sets of costs and benefits are what make it a good deal — for both parties.

    I think we’ll end up doing the same thing with listings, and for the same reasons. We bring exceptional value to the transaction, and we’re willing to share in the cost savings we can effect, but the quid pro quo is that we want to eliminate non-productive client relationships from our practice. If I know going in that every client I work with is going to cover his or her costs, I can afford to charge less. That’s business, and buyers will do better by doing business than by shopping.

    There’s more: There are at least three components that have made this industry amazingly stupid, as compared with any other business in the capitalist system. The first two are commissions and licensing, but the third, and by far the most consequential, is the safe-harbor income tax exclusion. Because brokers can “hire” everyone as an independent contractor, they have no reason to cultivate human capital — the only kind that really matters. This was a foolish mistake, and it may well be the death knell for traditional personal-service real estate. One of the things we want to do, in the long run, is effect a totally different kind of business model for real estate representation. This again could result in huge costs savings for buyers and sellers while increasing our own profitability.

    Want to get the bums out of this business? Make real estate brokerage so efficient that only smart, honest, ethical people can make a living. Profit is the purpose of capitalism, but a gradual movement toward moral perfection is a necessary secondary consequence. There is nothing wrong with asking buyers to make a commitment in order to get one in return. What is wrong, in my opinion, is deceiving them — one way or another — into thinking that extremely valuable professional advice is “free”…

     
    The divorced real estate commission file: This is an organic compendium of weblog posts and internet-based articles arguing for and against the idea of divorcing the residential real estate commission — eliminating the co-brokerage compensation from the listing agreement, with buyers contracting for and arranging compensation for their own representation. One way this might be effected: Lenders could permit buyers to expense representation on the HUD-1 form as sellers do now. The entries collected here represent the full gamut of opinions on what may be the most important issue facing Realtors today. To submit additional posts or articles for inclusion on this list, fill out the form at this link.


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  • 13 comments

    My Friday treat: The telephonic equivalent of midnight vandalism . . .

    So here comes the call, at 9:27 am. Blocked Caller ID. I don’t normally take line-blocked calls, because they’re almost always spam. But I was waiting for an important piece of information, so I took the call anyway.

    An irate Realtor, of course, angry about this morning’s Arizona Republic column. I should have been expecting it. Anonymous phone calls from Realtors and brokers — pissy but pusillanimous — are a regular Friday treat around here.

    And here is where I respect doubly the people who send email to gripe at me: They put their names behind their words, and they have to devise an actual argument to justify an email.

    So I’ve got the call, like it or don’t, and the cranky Realtor on the other end says, “I’m a Realtor and I want you to know that I don’t agree with your columns saying that we get paid too much.”

    And this is an instant when I am thinking too fast to stand in awe of how fast the human mind can think:

    line-blocked call — hiding identity — no name offered — calling strictly to gripe — to penalize me for inciting her ire — wasting my time with no argument to make — nothing I say can possibly make any difference — moreover a phone call is no venue for intellectual debate — I need my phone back — I don’t get paid for this — I don’t have time for it now in any case

    All that was about one-third-of-a-second.

    Just like that, I said, “That’s your perfect right. Thanks for calling. Buh-bye.”

    If you want to stand up for something you believe in, standing behind it by putting your own true name out in the open, then I’ll give you my time. I just might learn something, and that’s a treasure I’ll make an effort to earn. If you’re calling me to commit the telephonic equivalent of midnight vandalism — get lost. You tell me everything I need to know about you by concealing your identity…

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    Repeat after me: Mr. Realtor, what do you charge?

    This is my real estate column from today’s Arizona Republic (permanent link). Today should be a fun day. My editor told me that, in respose to last week’s column, a Realtor called him, threatening to turn me in to the Arizona Department of Real Estate. I can’t imagine what the violation might be, but the hearing would be a hoot.

     
    Repeat after me: Mr. Realtor, what do you charge?

    Want to foment a revolution in residential real estate? It’s easy to do. Just learn these five simple words: “How much do you charge?”

    Sellers have known that question forever. It’s often the first thing they say at a listing appointment. They understand that they are hiring a Realtor for representation and marketing, and they want to know how much it’s going to cost them.

    Historically, buyers have not understood that they, too, pay for representation. Realtors have always insisted that the seller pays all sales commissions, even though every dollar on the closing table is brought there by the buyer.

    Unless the seller is taking a loss, the buyer pays for absolutely everything. That’s true not just for houses, but everything.

    When you buy a bottle of Pepsi, the marketing and advertising costs are not paid by PepsiCo. They’re paid by you as a part of the purchase price.

    In just about every other line of business, vendors roll out the red carpet for buyers because they know that buyers make the world go around.

    Not so in residential real estate. We baby buyers, telling them tender, loving lies: “Buyer representation is free.” “I’m paid by the seller.” “My services cost you nothing.”

    All of this is false. The cost for buyer representation is rolled into the purchase price, just as the cost of marketing and advertising is rolled into your bottle of Pepsi.

    There is a difference, though. If you would have bought the Pepsi anyway, you can’t ask Pepsi to scale back its marketing costs.

    But if you’re hiring a buyer’s agent to help you buy a home you have already decided to purchase, you should practice those five simple words: “How much do you charge?”

    If you’re buying a new build, the builder may be paying “your” agent a huge commission. You should negotiate to make sure that you receive any funds over a reasonable rate.

    The price you pay for a buyer’s agent should be proportionate to your needs. But you will not get to a more reasonable buyer’s agent’s commission without mastering those five little words: “How much do you charge?”

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    If you thought Greg had a lot on his plate in the Blogoff — I almost got locked up!

    Responding to Dustin’s offer to help Ardell during the Sellsius 101 Blog-a-thon (Yikes, Dustin! I know it’s the home team and all but 1. that woulda been cheating; and 2. you shoulda had more faith in Ardell; and 3. you don’t write like Ardell; and 4. that woulda been cheating!), Ardell nobly responded that she was so busy she never even saw his offer till after she had reached her goal, and even had she seen the offer she wouldn’t have accepted.

    The risk of having RCG go down in the middle of competition was weighing heavy on me. Also, it wouldn’t have been fair to Greg, unless he allowed Christine in, and then we’d have to deal with Dustin wrote 35 % and Christine wrote 33% translating into something that would cloud the achievement.

    She was right, of course, even if she did get my name wrong ;). But for my part, I wouldn’t have tried to help Greg out even if Dustin disguised as Ardell (picture that in your mind’s eye!) had peppered himself throughout Ardell’s Seattle Area Real Estate Blog. Why not?: 1. that woulda been cheating; and 2. I have absolute faith in Greg doing what he says he’ll do; and 3. I don’t write like Greg; and 4. somebody had to do some money work around here on Tuesday.

    Actually, beyond helping out with his desk work on Tuesday, I did pitch in to wash the puppies out of the Technorati tags when those pesky critters showed up instead of Sellsius 101. But at about the time Greg was posting his 72nd entry, I was walking out the door to go to an inspection.

    And about the time he was writing his 76th post, I was sitting on the side of the freeway, praying that today of all days, I wouldn’t be carted off to jail!

    You see, I recently got new plates for my car. My new Pet Friendly plates cost more than the old plates. The difference goes to a fund to help defray the cost of spaying and neutering cats and dogs whose owners are having trouble affording to do this on their own. Now I am actually capable of unscrewing the screws that were holding my old plates on the car, placing the new plates over the holes and screwing the screws back in. In fact, whenever there’s handy work to be done around the house, it is me who handles it. If it’s beyond my skills, then it’s beyond the guys’ skills, too. But Greg got us these new license plate frames, with holes that don’t fit right on my car, and he wanted to see whether there was some way for him to fix that before giving up the frame.

    Like I said, I have absolute faith in Greg doing what he says he’ll do… eventually. So there I was driving around with my old plates on. I had my new registration in my glove compartment, so I figured that if I got pulled over, I would suffer inconvenience, but not for long — that I would be on my way as soon as I demonstrated compliance with having paid my tag fee.

    But I was wrong… There were cars in front of me and cars behind Tuesday afternoon, all of us speeding, but all at the same rate. I saw the state trooper riding next to me and figured she was just getting us to moderate our speed. So I was surprised and annoyed at the inconvenience when she singled me out and pulled me over. The plates hadn’t even crossed my mind till she asked the question, and I hated sounding like a dumb blonde when I told her that I owned the plates, but it was just a matter of getting my husband to attach them to the car.

    My heart dropped when she explained that having invalid plates on my car is not a traffic violation, it is a criminal offense! So on the side of the highway I sat waiting for her to run me through the computers to see whether I had any outstanding warrants. I called my client, and I called the inspector to let them know I’d been detained. Then I sat there stewing that if I were taken off in handcuffs to the city jail for not having the puppy plates tailing me, Greg wouldn’t even know about it till after midnight, after he finished competing in his rassafrassin Blog-a-thon! I didn’t dare call him. I just text messaged him, so he’d know what the story was, just in case…

    It got a little scarier when the trooper came back to see whether I had an alias. There is a local woman with the same last name and same date of birth who has outstanding warrants. I waited some more, praying, while she did whatever she did to satisfy herself that the warrant-woman and I are different people. And of course, I had a happy ending, getting off with a stern warning to put my plates on myself if that what it takes to stop being a criminal!

    I caught up with the inspection, ran some errands and got home without event. And the next day, put my criminal behavior behind me.

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  • 8 comments

    Digging out: A 102 link real estate weblog post about real estate weblog posts . . .

    I fully expected Dustin Luther of Rain City Guide to file a post replete with 101 links at midnight last night. I thought it would be a nice commentary on the absurdity of what Ardell and I were doing, and a nice pastiche on his lists-of-10 posts. In fact, he delivered a hugely link-filled post later in the night, most of which still sits on my nightstand, undigested.

    I finished my money-work today with nearly 1,000 unread posts and comments in my feed reader (hundreds were me and Ardell, of course) and over 400 unread emails that accumulated through the day yesterday. The emails endure, a glaring accusation, but the feed reader is clean.

    Here’s proof in 102 links:

    Ardell is back in good form, rocking boats and rattling cages. I think I speak for both of us when I say that there are always plenty enough words to be spoken, to be written, to be weblogged. What is evermore in short supply are ears to hear, minds to wonder, souls to take flight and soar. Welcome to Real Estate 3.0: Ethical, evangelical — all but ethereal…

    Marlow Harris at 360 Digest and Kevin Boer at In the Trenches have been zeroing in on the accuracy of Zillow.com’s Zestimates. This has been Kevin’s project from the beginning, and a visit to his weblog is very instructive.

    My mind was elsewhere, so I don’t know if Marlow was in the lead with news about Trulia’s nationwide expansion. She’s certainly been all over the story, though, along with Trulia’s own weblog, Ubertor, The Real Estate Marketing Blog, Real Central VA and Marlow herself again. Two days later, she followed up with news that Windermere has gone Google. More from Joel on this move. My take: Okay, but an MLS is a tool wherein I can distinguish a slate roof from a tile roof and a true swimming pool from an above-ground pool. By that standard, we do not have and may never have a national MLS.

    And from Galen Ward at Rain City Guide comes a discouraging word on Trulia and the virtue of moral consistency. To give the MarkerMen their due, their riotous quibble was not with listing originators like an MLS system — or Trulia itself — choosing not to commingle co-brokered and FSBO listings, but, rather, with MLS rules that prevent MLS members from doing this, if they choose, with their syndicated IDX feeds. This distinction sits right next door to gemeinschaft and gesellschaft, and you have to be either a drunken German or a philosophy major (there’s a difference?) to wrap your mind around that…

    But the sun always shines at Rain City Guide when Dustin takes finger to keyboard. The man is no Pollyanna, but he always finds a way to help people find the best within themselves. The post I cite here might take hours to work through — link by link — but it will take a lifetime to live up to. That’s a good night’s work…

    Michael Daly at Hamptons Real Estate Blog cites an “International Property Buying Guide” from Forbes.com.

    “Coldwell Banker has come up with an index to compare the price of homes around the country in various locations. They basically ask what it would cost to buy a 4 bedroom, 2200 square foot house in a nice, middle class neighborhood.” So says Free the Drones, reporting on a wicked-cool tool.

    Is Zillow.com punch-drunk? Could be, inasmuch as Greg Tracy at BlueRoof.com is taking on the appraisers.

    Jay Thompson wants tougher real estate licensing laws in Arizona and The Property Monger delivers — in California. It could be that PressReal.com has the best solution: Starve the weak agents to death…

    PressReal also has a smoking article on how to make your house sell faster. To start with, don’t smoke in it…

    In the “Oh, good grief!” department, Zillow.com has grown beyond giving you a bogus number for what your house is worth. Now it will gleefully misZestimate your net worth. The reason that the argumentum ad absurdum is so common is that thoughtless people are blissfully unaware that their arguments are absurd. But if you insist on going to the same well every day, sooner or later people are going to spot the path you’re taking. Maybe I should go short on Zillow after all.

    Two insanely great list posts from Kris Berg at The San Diego Home Blog: Top Ten Signs You Picked the Wrong Real Estate Agent and Blogging – The Twelve Step Program. The first is (mostly) pure fun, the second is great advice cleverly written.

    A more-serious side of San Diego, still insanely great, from Searchlight Crusade: “100% Financing: Buying A Home With Zero Down Payment” and “Forty and Fifty Year Mortgages”.

    And rounding out the San Diego six-pack, Jeff Brown from Behind the Curtain brings us “Real Estate & Financial Planning: Best of Both Worlds,” Part 1 and Part 2. It might be a dry topic, but it goes down easy with Jeff’s dry wit.

    What’s in a meme? Sellsius° aims to find out as “unzillowable” moves from the ivory tower to the hurly-burly of the bourse.

    I absolutely refuse to make fun of RealtyBlogging.com two days in a row. You’ll just have to pick up the slack on your own. (Hint: Number 17.)

    Tim O’Keefe at Real Estate Marketing Blog asks “Who Is Selling All That Real Estate?” This terrible, awful, headline-shrouded, enbubbulated real estate market will be… the third best year in the history of real estate…

    Here are my favorites from Ardell’s 102 Blogoff posts: New Agents vs. Experienced Agents, Motivated Seller!, Home Buying Can Be Easy, Free Agent? Seattle says NO!, 5 reasons people leave their agents, Very Highly Recommended, Double Hits – Twice the Action!, You Might Be Being Unreasonable IF…, How Much is the Earnest Money Deposit?, Why Now After 17 Years?, Real Estate Commissions & Redfin, It’s not the client’s problem, We could fix it you know, LTV means Loan to Value and Would you buy in today’s market?.

    If there is an award ceremony for The Sellsius° 101 Blogoff Challenge, Jon Ernest of The Property Monger will need the only tuxedo: He’s more than funny enough to serve as Master Of Ceremonies, and he stands to win all the awards for weblog coverage of the event. His raucous, incendiary posts, linked below, are an unequaled achievement all on their own.

    Here’s all the Blogoff news, the quick way: The Property Monger 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Sellsius° 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Real Estate Snippets, NELA Live 1, 2, Curbed LA, Rain City Guide 1, 2, 3, The Phoenix Real Estate Guy 1, 2, The Real Estate Tomato, moco real estate news 1, 2, Altos Research, Real Central VA, 360 Digest, In the Trenches 1, 2, 3, 4, Transparent RE.com, Charlottesville Area Real Estate Blog, BlueRoof.com Blog, Free the Drones, True Gotham, The San Diego Home Blog, Pittsburgh Homes Daily, The Future of Real Estate Marketing, The Boston Real Estate Blog, The Mortgage Reports.

    Ardell’s Blogathon news posts, linked for completeness: The Blogathon Challenge Match and Just Warming Up.

    BloodhoundBlog’s Blogathon news posts, linked for completeness: Coming Tuesday, the real estate webloggers blogoff, Even if we both can turn left on the runway, can we swallow 101 hard-boiled eggs?, Do you think you know who will win the Sellsius° 101 Blogoff? Here’s your chance to bet on the outcome, First the snooze-off, then the blogoff.

    If I’ve missed your weblog entry, let me know and I’ll amend this list. The whole thing was a blast, and I don’t want to leave anyone out of the fun…

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  • 4 comments

    A Zillow.com dead pool . . . ?

    real estate 2.x:

    If the real estate market continues downward, do you think Zillow’s traffic will go up? I am pretty sure that Zillow’s traffic will be directly related to property prices. Everyone loves to see how much money they are making — it is fun, but most people are not going logon each day to watch their zestimate go down (accurate or not). Personally, I find the site quite boring…one visit seems like enough.

    My fourth question would be — if the validity of their purpose has been picked apart, and their revenue model is full of fatal flaws — when do they run out of money?

    Maybe we should start a pool?

    I’m thinking they probably have a business, if only because Realtors will always throw away money on advertising that is easy but useless. On the other hand, I’m suddenly flush with play money

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    Digg? Dig a better foundation for real estate instead . . .

    Homethinking has a new Digg-like social bookmarking service called RealEstateVoices. Once you register, you can submit real estate news stories or weblog posts that you like, vote for links submitted by other people, or RSS-syndicate the results.

    I haven’t had time to play with it (I have to run to Mesa), but the site is clean and understated, as you would expect from Homethinking.

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    Smaller lot sizes: “It lets the builder provide a finished home at a lower overall cost.”

    This morning brings a very thorough story by Betty Beard in the Arizona Republic about shrinking lot sizes. For my money, Betty Beard is the best and least tendentious real estate reporter at the Republic.

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    Blogoff Post #102: Who’s the most competitive . . . ?

    They laughed when I sat down at the keyboard, but, when I know what I want to say, I can write faster than my fingers can type.

    When my son was younger, I used to drive around with my car full of kids. Once I taught a bunch of four-year-olds to sing Tell me what’d I say, the Ray Charles classic.

    But our all-time favorite car game was called “Who’s the most competitive?”

    “I’m the most competitive.” “No, I’m the most competitive.” The game could last for hours.

    This is post number 102. Who’s the most competitive? I’M the most competitive…

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    Blogoff Post #101: Taking the espresso bus . . .

    We have the graphite version, very elegant. I buy the beans out of the silver bag at Starbucks, never the pre-packed stuff. Number 2 grind. Number 1 (Turkish) works, but it’s too easy to pack down, and then it burns. The number 2 grind is on the edge of being too loose, so sometimes the crema is a little foamy, but the flavor is excellent. I make double-shots, two of those for me, plus half-a-cup of steamed milk. A very eye-opening cup of coffee…

    Thanks to everyone who came to watch us play. If you’ve left email or comments for me, I’ll get to them Wednesday.

    Thanks Ardell.

    Thanks Sellsius°.

    Thanks Kevin.

    Thanks Jon. The Property Monger Rocks!

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    Blogoff Post #100: Beginners guide to SEO . . .

    From SEOmoz.org, a beginners guide to SEO:

    What is SEO?

    SEO is the active practice of optimizing a web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines. Firms that practice SEO can vary; some have a highly specialized focus, while others take a more broad and general approach. Optimizing a web site for search engines can require looking at so many unique elements that many practitioners of SEO (SEOs) consider themselves to be in the broad field of website optimization (since so many of those elements intertwine).

    This guide is designed to describe all areas of SEO – from discovery of the terms and phrases that will generate traffic, to making a site search engine friendly, to building the links and marketing the unique value of the site/organization’s offerings.

    For a “beginners” guide, this is a very robust, step-by-step approach to improving your SEO performance.

    Bookmark the page. You’ll be back…

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