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Archive for November, 2010

I ran today for the first time in sixteen years…

If you’ve seen me in real life, you that know I walk with an ugly limp. I walk fast, but I don’t walk pretty. I was in a car accident in October of 1994, and one of my injuries was the severing of the nerves that control my left foot. Looks normal, works okay, but I can’t push off with that foot, nor curl my toes toward my nose, nor elevate that foot when it’s hanging in mid-air.

I have nothing to complain about. I had truly great doctors, including eight hours under the lights with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Stuart Kozinn, a consistent favorite in Phoenix magazine’s “Best Doctors” feature.

And, since then, my legs have always been very strong. Dr. Kozinn and I were both determined that I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, so I did everything I could to get my legs back under me. I can ride my bike for miles and miles at top speed in the desert heat, because that’s how I got my stride back.

But: I could not run. You have to be able to push off to run, because your toes can’t be dragging on the ground as you are swinging your leg forward. That would hurt — even before you tripped and fell on your face.

I loved to run before the accident. I never cared about exercise when I was young, but I never needed to: I was a high-D in a red-hot hurry. I ran everywhere. I loped everywhere, sailing through the air in nine-yard strides.

So when I couldn’t run any longer, I really missed it. I dream about running, and I love to go to the supermarket so I can run through the aisles, supporting my upper body on the shopping cart.

And all that changed today. Cathleen has been on my case for a while to buy Skechers Shape-Ups shoes. The marketing promise is better fitness, a workout while you walk, but the reality is pretty dramatic. There is so much up-thrust from the heels of those shoes that they replicate the effect of a strong push-off from the toes.

Walking the dogs this morning, I took off running, and it was easy, no problems at all. I was running like a toddler, mind you, always one foot on the ground. But that’s a lot more running than I’ve been able to do since Bill Clinton was courting chubby teenagers.

I’m dying to lope, but I can stand to take my time to make sure I won’t hurt myself. But I can jog. Odysseus doesn’t hate it, Shyly purely loves it, and I’m eager to find out how far I can go.

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    Plan B – The World Doesn’t Need To Know

    How many times have we given thought to a list of outcomes we’d love to make real in our lives? It frequently seems a never-ending process, almost against our will. Once an outcome morphs itself into a goal-worthy project, we apply our energy towards its attainment. Most goals people set aren’t met. Either they didn’t have sufficient desire, or if they did, the strategy invoked was ill equipped or mis-applied, the result being equally dissatisfying.

    Assuming sufficient desire, and that the strategy itself was faulty, not its application, a new approach is required.

    Plan B

    This isn’t about what Plan B is or isn’t. It’s about us deciding whether or not to broadcast it to the world. There are some outcomes and/or strategies almost guaranteed to work better, or more bluntly put, work at all, when kept under the radar. It could simply be that you’d rather keep the desired outcome to yourself. Or, it could be the strategy you wish to keep undercover. The reasons don’t matter. You have your own. We all do, right?

    A case in point.

    In the early 80′s I knew a nice woman who was dangerously over weight. It’d been that way since early childhood. One day it dawned on me I hadn’t seen or heard from her in awhile. I called, but her number had been disconnected. Almost two years later I was dumbfounded, as there she was at a Christmas gathering. She’d lost well over 100 pounds. Nobody except her grandparents had known what she was up to or where she was. (She’d moved to live with them as part of her Plan B.)

    We’d been relatively close, so she confided in me. Everyone insisted on making a huge deal of her weight, whether she was gaining or losing. It’d been emotionally debilitating. She’d resolved to lose the weight, but away from pryin’ eyes. Nobody could’ve interrupted her strategic process if they were unaware of its existence.

    You can’t argue with success, though some insist on trying.

    There are some outcomes, some strategies, for which public knowledge is counterproductive. That judgment is for each of us to make, not anyone else. Whatever the reason, the choice to keep your goal and/or strategy under the radar is your own, and sufficient unto itself. It need not be justified.

    Most of the outcomes I’ve chosen to pursue have been designed to remain concealed and anonymous. It’s difficult to run a train off its track if you’re unaware of its existence. On these pages I’ve shared goals for which there could be little or no surprise. Nobody gives a rat’s patootie if an agent announces a sales or listing goal.

    On the other hand, making some goals public, even semi-public can either tip your hand, resulting in the reduction of potential results, or worse, roadblock the attainment of the sought after results altogether. Do you really want your competition on the lookout for your new marketing materials? Have a new concept you’re absolutely positive will blow the doors off? Keep it to yourself. Perfect it without distraction from those who would derail your plans. Their intent is completely irrelevant.

    Derailed is derailed.

    Whether it’s business, personal, or floating on the endless sea of gray found in the middle, I ask myself if there’s any likelihood whatsoever that the goal’s chances for success will be enhanced by making anyone else aware of its existence.

    Sometimes our goals are protective or defensive in nature. When your agenda is your own, others can’t sabotage you, whether well meaning or with bad intent. A good friend of mine once decided to set up a team. HIs office offered many solid candidates, but he didn’t wanna risk losing any of his A-List choices due to anyone else beating him to the punch. To this day he’s convinced keeping his goal to himself was crucial to landing the agents he wanted most.

    What goal are you contemplating that might be more easily accomplished or attained earlier if you just kept it to yourself? Folks can’t sabotage your efforts when they have no idea there’s an agenda in play.

    Food for thought. More goals are created and planned for in the last month of each year than at any other time. What advantages/benefits might be gained if you choose stealth as part of your strategy? Find out how cool it feels to accomplish a goal before anyone even realizes it was on your radar.

    The world doesn’t need to know everything you’ve put on your menu — does it?

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    How do you say goodbye to Thanksgiving?

    The Last Waltz, of course. Insider’s tip: Listen for Levon Helm to holler, “Don’t you know that I wish that I could yodle like Yoko!” Doesn’t stream, alas, so if you don’t have the DVD, you’ll have to wait for the postman to bring it to you.

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    GM IPO= $ 4 UAW

    Here is yet another example of how the sharp noses of the Bloodhounds, caught a whiff of the stench, before the media did:

    Do you remember how Sean Purcell was confused with the mathematics behind the GM IPO?

    You know, I seriously don’t mind when others try to mislead me and I’m not much offended when I get force fed a whole bunch of obfuscation from the government , but when you mess with the math you insult me on a much deeper level.  (Note: I may hold math a little more sacrosanct than most.  I see in math the core of philosophy, music and precision; I look at math and I see poetry.)  Listen, it’s not like this is differential calculus; it’s basic multiplication and division.  Don’t stand there and tell me 2+2=5!  As Mr. Brady is fond of saying: “I am cursed with the knowledge that two plus two does, in fact, equal four.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not buying shares in a company run by people who think they’re so smart math doesn’t apply to them.  In the end, the math of the free market does apply, and it is always right.

    Well, Patrice Hill from the Washington Times had a problem with the math as well.  She was more conclusive than our Mr. Purcell.  Ms Hill called the prestidigitation what it was; a payoff:

    Thanks to a generous share of GM stock obtained in the company’s 2009 bankruptcy settlement, the United Auto Workers is well on its way to recouping the billions of dollars GM owed it — putting it far ahead of taxpayers who have recouped only about 30 percent of their investment and further still ahead of investors in the old GM who have received nothing.

    The boon for the union fits the pattern established when the White House pushed GM into bankruptcy and steered it through the courts in a way that consistently put the interests of the union ahead of many suppliers, dealers and investors — stakeholders that ordinarily would have fared as well or better under the bankruptcy laws.

    “Priority one was serving the interests of the UAW” when the White House’s auto task force engineered the bankruptcy, said Glenn Reynolds, an analyst at CreditSights. The stock offering served to show once again how the White House has handsomely rewarded its political allies, he said.

    Bloodhound Blog might be a disquieting place but, as the old maxim goes, if you want an omelet

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    “Thanksgiving was a holiday established by productive people to celebrate the success of their work.”

    That’s Ayn Rand, from Atlas Shrugged. I love that quotation and I love this holiday, second only to Independence Day. I’m working today, because that’s what I do, but I’m celebrating, too, because I have worked so hard and so well.

    Here’s to the dogs — to the people who write, comment and read here. Living anywhere near my world can be a disquieting thing, I know, but I hope you never doubt my gratitude.

    And here’s to another year of hard work — and to the Splendor that comes from working wisely and well.

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    California’s Long Term Real Estate Outlook

    Even though we can’t be sure of what our income tax rate will be for 2011, we do have a kinda sorta idea of the high side, right? Lookin’ for more to be thankful for this Thursday? If you don’t live in California, trust me, be thankful as you anticipate tax day.

    Those who’ve worked hard to produce, often employing breadwinners in the process, will be payin’ almost half of each dollar earned at the margin, if the current federal rates aren’t renewed. In my town you can add the constant irritation of a 9.5% sales tax. Is it really a mystery why so many people and businesses are puttin’ the Golden State in their rear view mirror?

    The seeming paradox is that the population continues its upward trend. That trend has been more or less a net economic positive since the end of WWII. However, in my opinion, that is rapidly changing, and has been for quite awhile.

    The producers are hittin’ the exits. New producers aren’t arriving in nearly large enough numbers to make up the shortfall. Smart folk don’t run into a tax chainsaw on purpose.

    When whatever ya wanna call normal finally returns to the economic scene, CA will still be a tax tax tax state. And, lest we forget, history shows that those who love taxes also love spending — taxpayer’s money.

    The price of a home will still be, relatively speaking, far more expensive, and much of the time older than their counterparts in other states. Lifestyle? Weather? The last few years has shown that those who have the financial option to leave, and many who simply can’t afford to remain, are hittin’ the road, Gettin’ Outa Dodge.

    At some point, even great weather and lifestyle become overpriced.
     
    I speak as a CA native. The trends of the last 20 years or so have saddened me. To each their own, but my view of CA’s real estate future, especially investments, is not positive. I think many have allowed their micro view to override the macro realities. When a state transitions from producer friendly to a taker state, the economy predictably forces those who create wealth and employment to go elsewhere, if only to avoid being bled to death. We have higher than average unemployment now, and the future, in my opinion, will continue to be one of producers fleeing. 

    This irritates the takers. Go figure.

    There are those who’re bullish on California real estate in the long term. To each their own. But to those whose rosy outlooks have them planting their investment capital here, I ask the following questions.

    1. As more and more of the producers and biz owners leave the state, how are the weather, beaches, mountains, and general CA lifestyle gonna keep attracting doers, those who produce, when they’re outnumbered by those who covet their fish?

    2. In your opinion, does the election of Jerry Brown, along with a legislature ruled by a large liberal majority, now armed with the need for a mere simple majority vote for budget approval, bode well for producers? If so, please explain it to those of us who can’t connect the dots.

    3. As California’s population grows in number as it simultaneously loses IQ points through out-migration, how will that make real estate investors see the state as a solid home for their investment capital?

    4. Given California’s economic ‘leadership’ the last 20 years or so, including the most recently elected bunch, what points would you make to convince your favorite uncle to invest his hard earned money into its real estate?

    To those bullish on California real estate I ask you to make your case.

    Meanwhile, lest we forget our obligation this Thursday, I remind you to eat WAY too much, followed by mountains of various desserts. It’s the law.

    I wish you and your family a very happy and loving Thanksgiving.

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    Fathertonge instant communication ideas on the web.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fLQ9ATx7n8

    The above is not embeddable, but a demo-y version of this lovely song:

    yeah, I been through a lot and you can’t scare me/go on baby, if you just dare me/i’ll break through any wall–just gimme a call/….i’m a prize fighter.

    Fathertongue For the Web

    I know that this shorthand isn’t totally innate.  Still,we have, for the most part, been on the web regularly for a decade or more, there are some conventions that signal “what happens next” to people.  It’s not true nose-to-anus father-tongue, but it’s not far off.

    Anyway, some Fathertongue ideas as I understand them.  Quick, symbolic shorthand ideas to communicate, in broad strokes, what happens next.  After reading Greg’s post last week, I was thinking of the practical: how can I more properly communicate in my own business (and by extension that of my clients) what will happen when working with me.

    That post got me thinking about websites, and quick shorthands for approval, welcome and other things.  That post got me to do stuff to my own business (and I’ll report on the results at the bottom of this post).

    How can I create a “scent trail” that’s big and loud?

    I started with the green checkmarks in various places–to signal approval.

    Check-icon.png

    success-check.png

    These are, of course familiar to all of us that have bought something.  They are there to get us to buy things.

    I then took my checkout page and changed the field entry order and put a lock by it “visa number”.  I also threw in a lock in several places:

     

     

     

    Screen shot 2010-11-21 at 3.36.27 PM.png

    The lock, in both places, was stock images from  somewhere, the lock by the credit card button is said to decrease abandonment.  My cart is a two step cart: I send people to a page where they enter their name and phone number first, and then if they chose not to, I can now call ‘em and ask why.

    Now, before I did this, and added our ‘fathertongue tail wags”  I had an ugly cart and 1-step checkout process.   “Here’s a big-ass form, go nuts with it.”  My form that sometimes (often) took a long time to load because of some of the particulars of dealing with Hostgator from a sysadmin perspective.   I had something over 99% abandonment of my cart, well over, and I didn’t even get the lead.  Sometimes 300 people would click the cart and nobody would buy.

    I had to change that.  Hence, the father-tongue.

    Since I started giving people more approval, checkmarks and locks?  9% of the people that start and click the “start your site” button (not hotlinked) finish the task.  (By the way, that’s really, really good for our industry).   70% of them become leads that I have followed up with to help finish their task. (I get the phone number, YAY).

    A caution about these results: as I was building and dealing with this (still a work in progress), I shut down the PPC and shut off my mailing list.  That means that generally speaking, I had what would seem to be better quality people coming through.  I also upgraded (and am still upgrading) my landing page and blog post footers to sell and sell some more.

    Some other things/notes:

    Impact Page Builder

    I started using the Impact Page Builder, not an affiliate link…and that’s a must-have wordpress plugin that I’m bundling with all of my sites.  Why?  Because it allows you to, in dead simple, brain-off way, build WordPress pages that look radically different than the main page.   It’s a plugin. You can make your “Dan Kennedy Yellow Highlighter Style”  squeeze page in a minute, with whatever widths and sized fonts you want.  You can do it with theme like Thesis or whatever else you’re likely to use.   The potential of this thing is unreal…because of the speed and lack of clutter.  It allows different sidebars, widgets, padding, etc….and it’s simple enough for a non-coder to use.

    What we’re testing is if people complete the process with the general look of our site, or if a white, “Applesque” sparse design will have the best pullthroughs.  We’ll see.

     

     

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    For All You Georgia Warhorses Out There…

    This is probably a bit too swampy for the Valley of the Sun, but I really enjoy JJ’s backwater juke joint sound.

    A Tribute to those who get the job done and refuse to die:

    My shell is hard, my hooks like steel
    My wings are fire and you cannot break my will
    All these years you’ve tried to kill me
    Boy you ain’t made a dent

    See I’m a Georgia warhorse and I ain’t easy to kill

    A bigger man than you he stepped on me
    He put me under shoe, just to see…
    What it’d do to me, but I always roll out alive

    See I’m a Georgia warhorse and I was built to survive

    JJ Grey & Mofro

    Owning your own business is brutal in this market, but it’s also the sweetest thing…

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    Glee: What’s in it for you?

    All this and Gwyneth too…

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    I just “feel” that mortgage rates could drop, for a short period of time

    Didn’t I just tell you mortgage rates will be rising,  ten days ago?

    I sure did, and I think I offered a pretty solid, fundamental explanation of how the bond bubble will pop.  That hiss you heard, directly after my post, was the rapid escape of helium from the bond balloon.  Back then, the 4.0% FNMA bond was trading at 102.75, while today, that bond is trading at 101.50, after reaching a low of 101.25.

    What’s that mean to your customers?

    The very same $300,000 loan, they could have locked in with no points, on November 8, 2010, will cost that customer about $5,000 extra, in closing costs, today.

    I “feel” they’ll have a shot at getting close to that no-point pricing before the month is over.  Let me explain the difference between “feeling” something and “being pretty certain about” something.  I’m pretty certain that the sun is setting over the yardarm of below 5% mortgage rates but I’m having a little difficulty reading the sun dial.  I know it’s sometime between 3PM and 8PM for this mortgage rates rally.

    Still, before the last ray sinks into the sea, we’ll see some rallies.  Here’s why I “feel” that way:

    • The Fed is buying between $600B and $900B worth of bonds.  It is resolute that this sort of monetary policy is what is needed to lower unemployment.  So certain is it that it is fighting back against political criticism of QE2.
    • The GM public offering was received very well yesterday.  Investors jumped at the chance to own the electric car company so much that GM expanded it’s offering and is trading higher, post-offering.
    • The Irish bond bailout appears to be happening.

    Traders are calming down, and trusting the power of central banks’ and governments’ bailouts again.  A trader’s loyalty is about as reliable as a lap-dancer’s love but, for the near-term, bond traders think  QE2 just might drive bond prices higher.  They ain’t selling too much and they ain’t buying too much.  Expect them to watch what happens through next week, then pile on the bond train, hoping to make a quick buck.  That’s good for mortgage rates, in the short-term.

    Eventually, the bond traders will flatten Bacon, the dam will crack, and mortgage rates will be a lot higher than today.  There will be some opportunities to hold out for a better rate, though.

    I think I feel that there’s a chance it just might happen this way…kind of…but don’t hold me to it.  I’m definitely not certain.  Call it a hunch.

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    Wheeere’s Johnny?

       I happened upon an HGTV re-run the other morning while waiting, impatiently, for the French press water to boil. I stood before the ubiquitous 42 inches of plasma in our kitchen (itself, a residential multi-plex food prep/family room, laptop wireless docking station, and occasional espresso/dessert/wine/tapas bar for ourselves and the ever present house guest, or two, or six…) and recalled a simpler domestic time, back in….

    The Day

       In the 1960s, the Petro family kitchen was barely big enough for two grouchy adults, three kids, and an AM radio. Our infrequent household guests were offered Maxwell House and served spaghetti and meatballs on big clunky plates. We had one army green rotary telephone attached to the wall, used mostly for sending and receiving bad news. When it rang, everyone’s heart dropped.

       Our dearly beloved Emerson TV/HiFi cabinet was reminiscent of a thick mahogany coffin. It had its own dedicated wall, in it’s own dark paneled viewing room beneath one of my mother’s oil paintings. The setting was proper, solemn, and predominately prime time. Back then, ‘wireless’ meant, well…it meant there was simply never any wire when you needed some. It was more of a bad thing than a good thing. You know what I mean. 

    Reality Bites

       I steeped the morning nectar and settled in to watch an older segment of  House Hunters. At once I was cyber-sucked back to a virtual real estate WTF of a housing market long since past; a pseudo-realistic scenario starring three perfectly staged, non-foreclosed, dream homes, a deer-in-headlights couple with one in the oven, and a Stepford wife Realtor named Roxanne.   I laid back, clicker loose in hand, and unwillingly suspended my post-housing bubble disbelief.  I gazed on as my iPhone pinged an endless wave of inedible Spam (the even worse kind).

       Roxanne, the star of this particular episode, was strikingly unfamiliar. What is with all the famous nobodies on the tube today? If you’re a casual, part-time channel surfer, as I am, then it’s even more confounding.

    Where’s Johnny?

       Back in the Day you had your Lawrence Welk, your Walter Cronkite and your Johnny Carson. Three totally different dudes on three separate channels. There was no confusing any of those guys with each other. And for the record, there always was, and ever will be, only one Johnny. (Sorry, Sirs Depp, Knox, Knoxville, Winter and Walker.)  Only God knows how many Roxannes there are.

       And nobody judged anybody on their dancing ability, either.  In those days you were either a dancer or you weren’t.  And  what does dancing have to do with anything anyway?  You had your  Ted Mack Amateur Hour and that was enough.   All the talent in America; dancers, singers and jugglers, could easily fit into one 60 minute segment per week, including commercials. And real commercials, too. Commercials about liquor, tobacco, and Corvairs. Commercials about shit that could kill you. There were none of these new age mother and daughter vignettes walking along a beach, holding hands, discussing their less than fresh moments with each other at sunrise.  There was no such sharing back in the Day.  You had your Ozzie and you had your Harriet.  He drank Cutty. She used Kotex.  End of story.

       Now compare it all to today: Heidi, Spencer, Speidi,  Kate, plus Eight, that Octo-mom lady, JLo, LiLo,  ShiLo, Brangelina, TomKat… Im telling you, It’s a big multi-media mess. Throw  in all the Jennifers, Jessicas, and Kristen/Kristins and it’s downright confusing. Which one is married to Ben Affleck again? And what happened to him anyway? From what I’ve gathered from my weekly cocktail dose of  TMZ and Entertainment Tonight, there are at least fifty nobodies more famous than him these days, including his baby brother, whoever he is. My guess is big Ben is wandering around with all those misguided Vanessa avatars from the 1990s. He’ll no doubt be back soon.  Dancing.

       And it doesn’t help that I always get the names wrong.  I seem to have inherited this middle aged trait from my father who went to his grave thinking our current President was some guy named Bako Moreno (and he was a Democrat).  My pop was a man who epitomized the Day. He never cared for ‘any of that RoeBuck’s scented coffee.’ Sanka was good enough for him. He was a man of very few channels.  Good solid channels with simple numbers like 2, 3, and 5. None of that artsy fartsy upper band HD nonsense.

    They Tried to Make Me Go….

       And then there’s rehab. I basically made the decision to quit drinking on my own, for free, sometime during the previous century so this is another present day televised phenomenon I don’t quite get. Now Charlie Sheen, hookers, and jail time? For some reason,  I get that.  But moving on…..

       Anyway, back to House Hunters and all those other real estate shows on the upper band cable channels that were the rage five years ago.  It all seems passé now.   Nothing is more painful than watching a pre-meltdown episode from the glory years of this early housing Millennium. No negotiation, no short sales,  just yakety-yaking nobody Realtors showcasing pre-bubble properties and making fake ass, full price offers. I watched the Roxy Realtor dissolve into a commercial break with un-smart flip-phone in hand, and in the 60 seconds it took the ghost of Billy Mays to totally piss me off with that orange crap he’s always hawking, she was magically back with a signed and fully accepted contract from an invisible seller.  Voila!  Another lockboxed, no haggle deal on the books. (BTW, good luck with that B of A.) 

    Behind the Green Door

       It’s  painful to watch, I’m telling you.  Almost as visually painful as The Early 1970s Porn Network on Channel 669,  or so they tell me.  And if  a time stamped imprint of a bearded Billy Mays between money shots isn’t enough of a buzz kill, all that other unruly Nixon era hair surely is.  Anyway,  I know it when I see it….you know what I mean.

    G
     
     
     
     
     
     

     

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    How smartphone users see each other…

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    Greg Swann is Just a Twit-Head and Other Common Knowledge

    Greg Swann is dead wrong:

    I say that trying to sell real estate via Twitter/Facebook is a waste of time — and it is anti-marketing even if it seems to produce some results. Why?

    I’ve said it, in public.  And I’m only being mildly gratuitous.  Because it’s fun.

    It is productive to be on Twitter all day long.

    It’s also productive to be on Facebook all day long.

    Especially in comparison to the selling behavior of the average Bullpen Agent(tm).  That’s being on facebook and twitter bitching about their lack of business and appraisal issues.

    Now, listen also to what I’m not saying: I’m not saying that it’s the most productive possible use of time. I’m not saying that the ambient, distracted entitled connectivity lifestyle is something to be. I’m not saying that the way the practitioners teach it is sensible.  It’s not prudent to crow-plain about every bit of work that they do as if each ordinary real estate transaction is this death struggle that only you can close because you are $(array_honest,kind,connected,smart).

    I’m not saying that I’d follow an example of any of the Twit-Lumin-ati.

    I’m saying that in damn near any market, a smart agent should be getting 12-14 deals a year via twitter.

    They are there, daily.

    And you can snatch them out from under the entitled noses of those folks that are “pillars of the twit-munity,” with ease.   With ease.

    How?

    1.) Search.Twitter.Com:  This is a godsend.  This is amazing.  ”House hunting” in your area “realtor” in your area.  Say hi, send ‘em to a squeeze page.

    2.) MarketMeSuite.Com (disclosure: they are a paying client of ours). Geotarget local people.  Autofollow and autoengage.  Make contacts and add to your sphere.  They have an auto tool that lets you quickly add and kill it.

    3.) TwitterFeed.com when I used TweetSpinner to build up my account (and the ratio of bots/humans is about 4:1) I noticed that my bit.ly links got more clicks.  Others had similar results, and if you happen to be blogging and cataloguing your city brute force style, you do it.

    4.) DMs.  These are where Twitter rocks.  Build relationships, make sales.  Don’t hesitate, go balls out.

    5.) Upgrade the relationship.  In my online course, we use a meme called S.S.E.T.H.  Seach/Social/Email/Telephone Human.  That is the upgrade path.   You always want to meet the people you want to meet.  So, coffee once is better than 10,000 @ messages.  Coffee with 4 guys and a once-a-month “hiya” @ is fine.

    Now, look, the fun thing about twitter is the asynchronous nature. Twitter will wait, and the customer will respond to the smartest answer.  Hint: it ain’t likely to be from an agent wanting to buy–or sell–you a home today.

    So, in 10-15 focused minutes, 3 times a week you can have better results than the Twitterati will get while dissipating themselves on ambient connectivity. The people that tweeted about their twitty landlord?  They haven’t heard anything smart yet from all the Twealtors®.  Be different and smarter.

    (I google phone numbers and call people, and that works, but you all may be stuck with the do not call registry–since you aren’t usually B-T-B).

    Now, is it smart if you’re a realtor in PHX to talk to a Realtor in LAX?  Maybe on occasion.  But really, the point isn’t to hang out.  Ride the wave that is made and be smarter.

    I’ll leave y’all with this point:

    Is it productive for a fisherman to be at a lake with lots of fish?  Sure.

    What about for the fish?  is it productive for the fish to be in the pond?

    Who outnumbers whom?  What are there more of and which are you acting like?

    The “tweeting” I do is largely self indulgent pablum.  It has very, very little to do with the work I do on twitter.

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  • 9 comments

    A warning to loudmouths everywhere: Cathy’s into pain compliance . . .

    [Kicking this back to the top. Cathleen is trying to get the very willful Ophelia to walk to her heel, and that put me in mind of this song, which I wrote almost four years ago. --GSS]

     
    So: This is a long way in…

    First, Ophelia, our newly-adopted Redbone Coonhound, gets all over the nerves of Desdemona, our English Coonhound. A deafening racket ensues. Fortuitously, Odysseus the TV Spokemodel Bloodhound, who is in fact the loudest dog on Earth, doesn’t add much to the cacophony.

    But: We were running out of seconds of silence in which to place hurried phone calls. This is not the ideal way to run a real estate business.

    I try not to be one of those guys who pretends to have three testicles, but, nevertheless, it usually falls to me to be the bad guy. When there’s constabulary work to be done, the constable’s lot is a terrible one.

    So this Monday just past, I decided more or less unilaterally that Desdemona was going to get a shock collar to control her barking. Cathy was all in favor of painless solutions, but we have tried all of these, at considerable expense. I knew that I was going to have to take the blame for inflicting pain on poor Desdemona, but we were all but entirely unable to communicate in our own home.

    So: We got the collar. Desdemona moderated her behavior almost immediately. And, biggest surprise of all, my dear sweet tender-hearted Cathleen has become the world’s most vocal champion of pain compliance for dog training. She’s so happy with the results Desdemona is exhibiting that, yesterday, she bought a remote-control training collar for Ophelia.

    All this is hugely funny to me, and it all seems to fit so well with with the rest of our insane lives, so I wrote a song about it — up-tempo and loud. And with all that as introduction, here are the lyrics:

    Cathy’s into pain compliance

    Don’t bark, don’t bite
    Don’t growl at night
    Don’t post anonymous tripe
    Don’t sniff, don’t snivel
    And spare us your drivel
    You’re hardly the last word in gripes
         Attorneys yearn to cluck defiance
         But Cathy’s into pain compliance

    Don’t spout vague theories
    Disguised as queries
    Don’t spin like the hands of a clock
    Don’t poison the room
    With flatulent doom
    Or you might just be in for a shock
         The Bubbleboys mount a strange appliance
         ’Cause Cathy’s into pain compliance

    Don’t whine, don’t flame
    Grow a spine, grow a brain
    Put a name to your claims and stand tall
    Don’t gather in gangs
    For your noisome harangues
    Or she’ll joyfully vanquish you all
         She’ll perforate your unholy alliance
         Now that Cathy’s into pain compliance

         She’ll swing her sling at any giants
         Now that Cathy’s into pain compliance

         You won’t be cured by Christian Science
         Now that Cathy’s into pain compliance

         And those looky-loos? They’re all her clients!
         Now that Cathy’s into pain compliance…

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  • 11 comments

    Looking for a Realtor designation that really means something? How about this? “Too Outspoken For Redfin.”

    Redfin.com is in the long, slow process of firing us from their referral partnership program. I’ve known this was going to happen since last Tuesday. It’s what I was writing about in my most influential voice in the on-line world of real estate post:

    • They piss and moan to each other about me behind my back.
    • They campaign with each other to try to damage my interests.
    • They pester contributors here to try get them to abandon BloodhoundBlog.

    The actual coup de grâce hasn’t happened yet, but Glenn Kelman placed a sweet call to me last night to apologize to me, as a friend, for not countermanding the bold policy initiatives of his middle managers.

    This is nothing to me, for a lot of reasons. I grew up hiding from my poor long-suffering mother, so she wouldn’t have the opportunity to tell me what to do and not do. I spent the first half of my working life hiding from my employers, doing truly remarkable work, like a cobbler’s elf, after the bosses went home. This is why I don’t have a job now, and haven’t had one for decades. I know from experience that if I have anything that looks at all like a job, sooner or later, my fated role will be to serve as the rag doll in someone else’s self-destructive fit. I actually felt that gloomy foreboding twice, on the way into Redfin’s referral plan, so it’s not as if I can claim to have been taken by surprise.

    It’s a stupid thing to do, of course, but, while I’ve been fired several times in my life, I’ve never been fired for a good reason. Cathleen and I responded rapidly to every inquiry Redfin sent us, even though many of the referrals they passed along were from loosely motivated, suspicious folks with serious qualification issues. I tried to explain to them that, even though I sell a lot of cheap houses, I’m selling most of them to millionaires, while Cathleen almost always works with very well-heeled homeowners. That entreaty hit a corporate policy wall, with the result that any financially well-qualified buyers Redfin heard from in our referral territory were being sent to a cute couple who have not closed a house in two months. Every broker reading this will understand the error, but I not only didn’t get anywhere with the argument, I think I just annoyed the folks I was dealing with.

    I don’t know how we stacked up as money-makers for Redfin. I’ve only closed one Redfin transaction, so far. I have one more in escrow right now, and Cathleen has another. Her deal is going to be profitable, and the client looks to be sold on us for life. My own transaction has been fun for me, and it’s always an honor to help a first-time home-buyer. But my net per hour, at closing, will turn out to be less than minimum wage. We have lots more in Redfin’s pipeline — I have eight short sales awaiting approval — but the conversion yield and the net profit on Redfin’s referrals argues that we’ll make better money without them.

    I doubt that’s true on their end. We’re the most productive agents they have, overall, in the Phoenix referral program, and our ratings from both our clients and their customers are off the charts excellent. I know a lot of agents in other cities have been willing to consider partnering with Redfin because of my involvement with them, and that benefit will go away now. And, obviously, my own very blatant devotion to the interests of consumers, as against Realtors, was a nice fit for the public image Redfin has sought to establish for itself.

    I tried to explain to Glenn last night that, by caving in to the irrational demands of the mob, he is not just making Redfin yet another tentacle in the NAR octopus, in this instance at least, he is also telegraphing to that mob that Redfin can be pushed around. Firing us is bad for his business, in pure bottom-line terms, but it’s bad for Redfin in the long run, as well.

    No traction, and I didn’t expect any, but I was doing my best to be a good friend to him.

    Anyway, that’s the news. If you’re a time-wasting TwitBook addict and you think this represents some kind of victory for your cause, scan the check you got as a result of your campaigning and post it for the edification of inlookers.

    In other words: Urf. Who cares? I actually liked working the Redfin referrals because they were hard to close, and, hence, they were good closing practice. But I’m an entrepreneur because I know that, when I have a job, someone can always take it away from me — always for a stupidly self-destructive reason.

    I feel bad for Glenn, frankly. He’s the Atlas imprisoned by the burden he’s taken on, knowing that everything he fought for fifty-odd months ago will eventually be ground down to tapioca. As for me: Further proof, and press on regardless. If I weren’t right, none of this would be happening.

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  • 7 comments

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