There’s always something to howl about

The Odysseus Medal: Keeping pace with a very fast crowd

I am in love with this idea, The Odysseus Medal competition.

We judged ordinary Carnivals several times, and I was persistently underwhelmed with the overall quality of the entries. We judged hard, so the winners were truly worthy of their honors. But too many of the also-ran entries were just link-bait, entered solely to get the link back from the judging weblog.

We have none of that. I cut pretty ruthlessly to get to the short list, but we get nothing that is wildly off-topic or trooly stoopid — or stolen from another site. Instead, we’re seeing some insanely great posts, and picking just one winner is proving to be a very welcome but very difficult task.

It’s that way for you folks, too. I can tell by the People’s Choice voting, which is always broad and deep.

Together as writers, readers and judges, we are building something that matters, something that calls enduring attention to works of the mind that might otherwise just scroll away. The winners are worthy of note, to be sure, but simply to make the short list in this competition is a mark of excellence. If you make it this far, you’re keeping pace with a very fast crowd, an achievement hard to match.

And with that, to the winners:

Jeff Turner wrote an excellent post on why real estate video is unlikely to supplant virtual tours. I agree with his take and then some, and it’s something I’ve been meaning to write more about. But there are other, better uses for video in real estate. I’ve discussed a couple — videotaping your first tour of a home at the listing appointment, or taping the final walkthrough as a gift to the buyers. Russell Shaw brings us another, using video as a real estate sales training tool. Russ is just getting his sea-legs in the oceans of do-it-yourself video podcasting, but his initial effort won him this week’s People’s Choice Award.

Who is not rapt paying attention to the world of mortgage lending? Yesterday at open house, seemingly, it was all anyone wanted to talk about. As the Times rundown on Countrywide makes plain, there is plenty of room for meaningful reform among lenders.

All the usual suspects are screeching for new laws, of course, but this will serve only to enshroud the worst of practices under the cloak of government. Lenders could start by making lists of questions to ask when comparing loans — but good salespeople can “yes, but” those lists to death. A spreadsheet would be harder to fool — but harder to use, too. The ideal solution, I think, is a very rigorous Seal of Approval system, an Underwriters Laboratories for mortgage lenders. High and ever-escalating standards, with a strong marketing push to kill the remaining appeal of banks and brokerages unwilling to hew to those standards.

Short of that, weblogging may be the best way for lenders to convey their integrity to borrowers. This week, David Porter proposed an idea for saving buyers money on the purchase of a home. The idea itself wasn’t bad — use a seller contribution to buy down the interest rate — except that David’s presumption is that buyers will stay in their new home for 30 years — without refinancing. His idea might be profitable anyway, assuming a more normal tenancy, but it would require a more rigorous but less definitive calculation. On the other hand, Mortgage Planner Dan Green suggests a different financial strategy with a more-reliable pay-off — using a cash-out refinancing to invest your equity in something other than your home. Dan’s idea wants a spreadsheet profitability analysis, too, along with an examination of tax consequences. Even so, with a practical hedge against declining home values, Dan wins this week’s Black Pearl Award.

And: Picking an Odysseus Medal winner this week was not easy. Kris Berg was there with, count ‘em, two great articles. Michael Wurzer knocked my socks off with a very through explication of the conflict between an orderly creation of a national MLS system and the hurly-burly of the Realty.bots, the Web 2.0 real estate start-ups. Monetary policy, transparency, moral uplift and how to avoid self-inflicted spam — the menu was dizzying — and deliciously appetizing.

But: In the end, there is only one best. The winner of the Odysseus Medal for this week is Jay Thompson, with The Sacrosanct 6% Commission — How About 12%?! I’m a sucker for ethics in real estate, of course, but Jay takes the ethical argument even further by showing what weblogging can do at its best. By taking the reader all the way through every part of the philosophical argument against bonus commissions, Jay not only shows his readers why they should be doing business with him with respect to this one issue, but why Jay is a better choice in every possible respect. He is explicitly taking away one objection — “What if you are secretly offered extra compensation to betray my interests?” — but in doing so, he is taking away every conceivable doubt about his honesty and integrity. This is the kind of marketing that really matters — the kind that isn’t marketing at all but which is, rather, a code of honor made manifest. And because of that — because the honor is real, and because Jay has committed himself to it by spelling it out — it’s the kind of marketing that produces continual and enduring results. And if that ain’t worth saluting, nothing is.

Congratulations to the winners — and to everyone who participated. Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon PDT/MST. You can nominate yourself or any post you admire here or, more easily, here.

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    6 Comments so far

    1. Jay Thompson August 27th, 2007 1:13 pm

      Wow. I’m humbled and honored. Seriously. There were some fantastic posts this week (and last, and next I’m sure).

    2. [...] Not quite the prom queen, RE Revealed was named to be NEAR the top of Greg’s list for Odysseus Medal recipients (and although I’m being silly, I am so excited that bacn is getting so much traction!)!!! [...]

    3. Brian Brady August 27th, 2007 2:47 pm

      Congratulations, Jay. There were some great pieces this week and Jay delivered the goods.

      I love Jeff Turner’s critique.

      Good work, Odysseues!

    4. [...] … were announced earlier today at the Bloodhound Blog. [...]

    5. Erik Hersman August 28th, 2007 12:38 pm

      I’m a tech guy, so I think that Michael Wurzer’s article should have won. That’s why you made it a autocracy though I guess…

      Man, what a mind bender that one was!

      (not taking anything away from Jay’s article, that was excellent too)

    6. First Ever Nacho Blogger Award « September 17th, 2007 4:18 pm

      [...] 3. He is an award winning blogger- Odysseus, Posh’d, Bawldy, Thinking Blogger and more.  Plus, he’s one of the few Realtors using a 3-column WP theme- he’s a smart cookie!  He’s also an early adopter of blog technology, widgets etc. so if you see it on his blog, chances are you should have it on yours (or he’ll continue to take more of your market share!). [...]