Archive for November, 2007
I’m interested for all of the foregoing reasons. I want something that can do to TV news what weblogging has done to print journalism.
This is my first Seesmic disturbance:
Here is a selection from Brian Brady for the theme for BloodhoundBlog Unchained, Bruce Springsteen doing Born to run.
Opening line in the video:
“Remember, in the end, nobody wins, ‘less everybody wins”
and the last stanza of the song:
The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody’s out on the run tonight, but there’s no place left to hide
Together, Wendy, we’ll live with the sadness
I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul
Someday, girl, I don’t know when, we’re gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go, and we’ll walk in the sun
But ’til then, tramps like us, baby, we were born to run
I grew up in Jersey so it biases my selection. If you’re 17, driving down Route 9 to Avalon, and Born to Run comes on the FM, you feel completely Unchained.
Got a different take? Assert yourself by email.
The latest Harris Poll has Firefighters, Scientists & Teachers at the top and Bankers, Actors & Real Estate Agents at the bottom of their “Most Prestigious Occupations” list. This poll has been referenced in many articles on the internet. Here you can see the actual results from Harris.
It is not surprising that teaching is such a coveted job. Just look at the picture and see if you can spot the teacher’s pet?
There have been several interesting conversations going on in my small corner of the blogiverse lately. One was a comment to a Bloodhound post I wrote eons ago. Someone wanted to know if blogging really works for lead generation. Well sure it…Wait. What?
I forget how small the RE.net world is. It’s tiny. I thought everyone knew that blogging works, when in reality only bloggers know that blogging works and probably most people still don’t know what a blog is. It’s hard for me to keep that in mind, and frankly I find myself living in two seperate worlds- the Web 2.0 world and the other world. My conversations and connections in the 2.0 world move quickly, almost instantly. It’s as if, Shazam! You now have made a connection to someone you didn’t know ten minutes ago. Now that person is going to connect you to this person and Shazam! Another person and fifteen minutes have passed.
When was the last Inman Connect? Late July? Much of the discussion was how amazing it was that people could connect quickly through blogging. You all know this is true because you are here on the Bloodhound Blog, in the RE.net world. The truth is that in my nonRE.net world, people don’t know this and I can’t explain it to them, and I’m not sure they care, and that’s the tricky part for me. How do I gracefully move between the two worlds?
If like-minded people move toward each other, and find each other, which I know to be true- after all, we are all busy, we have to pick and choose who we spend time with, how much time do you make for people you don’t like? Wouldn’t it be nice to find like-minded people quickly? To connect in that Shazam way?
I talked to some fellow RE Twitterers yesterday and spilled the beans about my experience on Twitter, so I thought I would share it here as well. I started to Twitter about a month ago. I don’t use the instant updates so I don’t get constant chatter in my phone. Twitter is there when I choose to tweet, and not there when I don’t. I’m not a slave to Twitter, but like I said before, it appeals to me. It’s not unlike being at a party with multiple conversations going on and you are free to jump in and add to a conversation or not. It’s mingling on a large scale, but it’s fast, really fast.
When I started Twittering I followed RE.net folks that I knew well, Maureen McCabe being one, as well as a few I didn’t know at the time, but wanted to see what they were doing with Twitter: Steve Groves, and Andy Kaufman, in particular, but mostly I followed well known geeks or news services. But hey, I gotta eat, and I’m not as dumb as I look. What I really wanted to find were Daytonians. I starting putting key search terms into my tweets, “the weather in Dayton Ohio is cold” or “Open House in Dayton Ohio” and a corresponding blog post url.
Well knock me over with a feather. A Twitterhead in Dayton was tracking tweets with the words Dayton Ohio and picked up my tweets and began following me with a “Hey I’m in Dayton too, isn’t that cool?” Uh. Well. I’ll get back with you on that. If you are a woman, this is sounding tres creepy , isn’t it? But as I started reading this guy’s tweets I realized that he was simply a Twittering geek, connecting to another Twitterhead in the same city. Shazam. He had been tweeting for awhile so he was connected to other local Twitterheads. Now in Twitterland, it’s perfectly acceptable to start following someone for no reason at all, and it’s flattering I suppose to have someone follow you. You can see who someone else is following and you can click over to see if they are interesting and if you are like-minded, you follow them. No big deal. Or you read a tweet by someone you are following, in reply to someone you don’t know, and that conversation looks interesting. So you click the link to see what @whoever is all about, and you follow them, they follow you, and now you are connected to more people in Shazam speed.
At this point, if you are thinking that Twitter sounds like weirdo MySpace freaks, think again. Think about what it really is, or could be- it’s viral marketing. Not convinced? I don’t blame you, but consider this: Within two weeks of being followed by one Dayton Twitterhead, I was sitting down to lunch with 4 Dayton Twitterheads. Now that’s some serious Shazam!
I’m never satisfied with what is. My mind is always looking for what if. One of the Twitter-ers I follow is called Lunch 2.0, and this is why I spend time outside the RE.net and inside the Web 2.0: Lunch 2.0 describes itself as: “A social phenomenon referring to a migration of web 2.0 company employees to other offices around Silicon Valley, sharing lunch and conversation.” That’s what I was doing with the local Twitterheads. Now my mind is moving on this. How can I apply this to RE? I could host my own lunch 2.0 where I bought lunch (pizza, yum) and pitch my business. Would that be successful? I think it could be if done correctly. You are connecting with like-minded individuals, and you are giving them something for their time. Will I try it? Not in the near future, but someday sure why not. Actually, I’m hoping someone else will try it first and let me know how it goes.
I really enjoy Twitter, and I’m trying to find a way to make it work for me. It’s connecting me with like-minded people here in Dayton, it’s a very real and fun way for me to move gracefully between the Web 2.0 world and the real world, and it’s four people sitting down belly to belly within 2 weeks of connecting online…You can debate whether or not it can work if you would like. And while you are doing that, I’ll be tweeting.33 comments
Shaun Mc Lane sells real estate in Orlando. No, strike that. Today, Shaun does not sell real estate in Orlando; he will be opening his own real estate brokerage in December.
Tuesday, Shaun experimented with a racy Web 2.0 offering. He posted a video asking if sex sells. The video was a short slide show of bikini-clad women, in various poses. Should you click through, you’ll see that it isn’t “Betty Grable in a cheesecake” pose. It is a more prurient collection of photographs typically seen on MySpace.
Wednesday, Shaun’s broker laughed about it and asked him to remove the post from his website. Shaun called her bluff and was handed a pink slip. Shaun is claiming independent contractor status, because he pays his own marketing costs, and is visibly irritated with the decision. He’ll be “going it alone” which may have been his intention all along.
Similar controversy gained national attention when Wendy Heath posed with her bulldog, in a bikini, on a billboard in Long Beach, CA. Wendy’s strategy:
“I wanted to set myself apart and kind of shock the shore, and, you know, drive people to my website and increase my business,” Heath told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. “There’s many, many real-estate agents in our area, and it’s hard to break through and set yourself apart. … I am absolutely amazed that one billboard could cause so much attention, but I am absolutely elated.”
Competing female REALTORs dissented:
Well, as a fellow realtor, but also someone with the body to do exactly what she did, I think she took the blonde-bimbo way out. If we, as professional real-estate agents, have to result to using our scantily clad bodies to gain clients, maybe we need to look inside ourselves at what we are lacking professionally. There are many tough real-estate markets nationwide, but when we tear down the image we are struggling so hard to display (which is that every real-estate transaction benefits from the experience and knowledge that only a professional realtor can provide), we essentially lose all that we have worked to achieve. Thanks, Ms. Heath, for destroying all our credibility in one fell, ditzy swoop.
Wendy chose self-deprecation while Shaun was relying on the old Catskills comedians’ fallback, “When all else fails, tell the penis joke“. Laughing at your own imperfections (or in Wendy’ case, perfections) is considered good-natured; laughing at someone else’s is…well…unremarkable.
This isn’t about first amendment rights, broker controlled advertising content, or even taste. I’m sure that Mr. Mc Lane will succeed with Howard Stern fans and Ms. Heath will succeed with Jim Rome fans. Posting nude pictures of Paris Hilton snags hits from Gen Y. Hiring models as real estate agents may allure a wealthy sheik to a Manhattan loft.
This is about being remarkable.
Being remarkable is the goal of our UNCHAINED marketing conference. We want to show you how to create a community of sneezers. People who are wowed by your message to the point that they infect everyone around them with tributes to the remarkable that lives within your soul. We want you to show us how to change the way we connect with consumers
…and we don’t think you have to flash your boobs to be remarkable.20 comments
ARRGGHHH! I would love it if the PAR/AAR/NAR would stop taking my money, but, if they won’t do that, could they at least manage to get the hell out of my way?
So someone, somewhere in the alphabet soup of Realtor associations is selling my email address — or perhaps just giving it away. Realtors all over Phoenix are watching an idiot’s spam-fest, as one clueless victim after another tries to escape the spam spiral started by an agent who seems not to know that we discover properties for sale in the MLS system — that this is what the MLS system is for.
This by itself is nothing. I get at least a thousand spam emails every day. Moreover, I know that a lot of people in my profession get painfully flustered when they sit down at a computer — so worried they’ll make a mistake that they cause a disaster instead.
But I am sick to death of being “led” by morons.
- ZipForms does not work. It is crap software written by crap minds, with its bugs exceeded only by its omission of rational options. It was rammed down our throats by idiots at the AAR who obviously do not themselves use it. And yet, come the start of the year, we will have no choice but to use this piece of garbage — a fate which includes the vast legions of the flustered and the flummoxed.
- And because ZipForms has not been a big enough disaster, the AAR is now preparing to ram a piece of transaction-processing software down our throats — which will almost certainly also be a piece of buggy Windows-centric crap.
- The idiotic gateway software in our idiotic MLS system has never worked in Safari for the Macintosh. We’re getting rid of that crap vendor, thank god, but it is of a piece with the way the chefs of the alphabet soup have operated, that nothing they have promoted, until now, worked properly on the Macintosh.
- They spam me, and they sell or give my email address to spammers — and they charge me hundreds of dollars a year to deliver my inbox up to this rape.
I don’t care that other people don’t thrive at my wavelength. That’s understood. But I do care that they use power I never ceded to them to make my work harder, my life less pleasing.
ARMLS is a technology company, and we are blessed that the people running it are committed to bringing us a better software solution. On the home front, ARMLS needs to understand that it is a technology company, like it or don’t, and conduct itself accordingly.
AAR is not a technology company. Its software choices suck, and it does not have the staff to support them, anyway.
PAR/WVAR/SAAR/SEVRAR/etc. are not technology companies. They don’t know what they don’t know — and that’s fine. All they need to do is stop spamming and stop giving away email addresses.
The NAR is not a technology company. Realtor.com is a spectacular disaster for the actual working stiffs — who are already paying huge dues before they are accorded the privilege of buying back their own listings. Now the NAR is spouting off about new national search systems, as if they have any business in the software business.
I belong to ARMLS to gain access to the database. I share my listings with you, you share your listings with me. The whole idea of shared listings could be done better, but, all in all, it ain’t awful the way it is.
If I could belong to ARMLS without belonging to PAR, AAR, NAR — I would be gone in heartbeat. Different people like different things, and that is fine with me. I am smart enough to solve my own problems, so what I like is to be left alone.
Grand Poohbahs take note: No matter how many votes you got in your kangaroo-court election, no matter how many shiny pins you have on your lapel, you are not qualified to make business decisions for me. I wouldn’t trust you if you were smart — and, believe me, I know by the brain-dead decisions you make that you’re way over your head. I already hate being sucked into this cartel, but everything you do seems to make me hate you more. My private prayer and my public resolve is that you achieve the status of all labor unions in a free economy — a noisome but meaningless redundancy. I would wish you dead, but we all know that vampires cannot die.
Why write this here? Because nothing will make any difference anyway. Organizations run by smart people don’t need me to tell them how to do better. Organizations run by self-satisfied jackasses don’t intend to do any better. That’s why it’s necessary to call them jackasses, so they’ll have a huffy pretext to rationalize their smug inertia.
I’d like to say I feel better, but I don’t. Tomorrow there will be something new to incite my ire. Even so, in the long run it makes no difference. Computing technology is going to drive the idiots out of our business for good and all. It will start with the idiot agents — the ones who don’t learn to conquer their inane fear of computers. But it will take out the entire NAR cartel eventually. What will remain will be smaller, smarter, faster — and much, much cheaper — just like everything in a free economy. They might spam us now, they might afflict us with amazingly stupid software choices, but in the long run they’re done for.
Their demise cannot come soon enough for me.
Weblogging without chains: A BloodhoundBlog Unchained introductory podcast to viral, hyper-specific real estate weblogging
The podcast linked below is a piece of a conversation Brian Brady and I had today about styles of real estate weblogging that make sense in the onrushing world of social media marketing.
Brian cites a post of mine from the first of this year, Think globally, blog locally: If you want local leads from your real estate weblog, pursue local interests. I wrote about this because I had mentioned it in the first-ever Phoenix-area weblogging salon that Brian had organized the day before. The ideas discussed in that post formed the skeleton for Real Estate Weblogging 101.
What you’re getting here is just a small taste of the material we will cover at BloodhoundBlog Unchained. I think people have pretty low expectations for trade shows and business conferences. I know I do. What we want for you to understand is that we intend to deliver a rich curriculum, rooted in a deep conceptual framework, that will help you break free of the chains of competitive pressure. But just for now, if you’ll give us 38 minutes of your time, we’ll show you snapshots of a whole new world of marketing.
Now I Know Why Nice Guys Finish Last
This isn’t the first time this has happened…
A potential listing client called me up several months ago to come out and talk to her about her property. She grilled me about what I would do to sell her property and how much I would charge her.
To be perfectly honest – I left there hoping I wouldn’t get the listing.
And I didn’t. Well, for the most part I didn’t.
For the last several months, I have received a call at least once a month from her – asking for my take on a variety of issues regarding the sale of her home. I finally had to ask her, “If you value my opinion so much – why didn’t you list with me?”
“Because [insert agent’s name here] is only charging me $500,” she blurted out.
And then it dawned on me. While I was thinking that maybe this potential client might have thought she made a mistake… and that she might become a real client… I was wrong. She was getting her home listed for practically nothing – and getting the advice of myself (and probably others) FOR FREE.
I could kick myself. Count another lesson learned.
The following video of writer Harlan Ellison pretty much sums up my rant. There is a great deal of similarity if you think about it. (Warning – Some Strong Language)24 comments
This dawned on me the other day as I was filling out my Inman Connect Speaker Information email that they’ve sent me 4 times now but I hadn’t properly synthesized it until now and while it is an axiom as old as time it is something worth remembering every day: Be remarkable. Why remarkable? Because remarkability wins. Because remarkability is what makes you stand out from the white noise that impinges on success in every competitive ocean out there. Because with out remarkability you are just a part of the landscape; and no one that I’ve yet to meet likes the prospects associated with that business proposition.
It’s said a million different ways, but it all amounts to the same thing: a purple cow, a free prize inside, an unique selling proposition, are all imploring us to do one thing – something remarkable. It’s as simple and as complicated as that all at once. See different and remarkable are interchangeable in language but not in action. Being different is easy, being remarkable is hard. Being different doesn’t win and doesn’t necessarily have any attached benefits to the customer; in fact being different can have adverse affects on them – but being remarkable is a different story.
Being remarkable is about being different to a point where that person you are trying to impact takes notice and is so moved that they make an effort to tell someone else. Seth Godin illustrates and “riffs” on this beautifully in the above mentioned titles but allow me to indulge just a bit further. There are examples of remarkable things across the real estate and mortgage space and they range from the mundane to the spectacular. A mortgage broker that discloses YSP on a GFE and explains it (sadly, not as mundane as you would like to believe) is remarkable. A Kris Berg post is remarkable. A Zillow Zestimate is remarkable. The NAR home sale forecasts are remarkable. (You can see that being remarkable is a powerful force for both good and bad). Remarkability is what gets noticed, what rises above the rest, it is the short tail of a very long line of competition; and it’s rewards are plenty.
What snuck up on me however is that being remarkable has a great deal to do with two seemingly contradictory constructs: remarkability is often organic and intentional at the same time. I have found that they often work in harmony behind the scenes to arrive at a remarkable conclusion. This is what dawned on me as I was filling out the speaker card for Inman’s Connect conference. I am on the panel called Beyond the Written Word: Podcasting and Videocasting. Why? Because when I started my blog I put together a long-running series of podcast interviews with leading real estate bloggers, media folks and heads of the industry. While they’ve slowed a bit lately they have become a remarkable part of the RE.net. Whether you’ve personally listened to them or not doesn’t matter. They did several things that turned my dreary old mortgage blog in to a remarkable entity and made me a purported subject expert on real estate podcasting. Thousands of people have listened to my podcasts and brought visitors, referrals, email list subscribers, RSS readers, you name it – they have helped make my blog remarkable.
I say that it is both organic and intentional at the same time because when I started my blog I said “I want this blog to be remarkable” and I also decided that there was too much noise in the blogosphere to just gain notoriety and readership by writing my fingers to the bone in an attempt to slug it out against superior literary discourse – hence the podcast idea. So that part was intentional, but it also had an organic element to it as well. It wasn’t a strategic decision that podcasting would be the avenue of difference that would lead to remarkability; podcasting was just one avenue of opportunity that was explored to meet that goal. The fact that it worked and grew upon itself as the guests lined up and my collection became a who’s who of the real estate space was organic and really happened “by accident.”
I look back and it could have been podcasting or it could have been something else. I chose intentionally to do something different, to attempt to be remarkable, but then when I found something that worked I trusted the process, I trusted the growth and I trusted myself enough to know that I had found something that I could stake a claim to and call my own.
And it indeed has become remarkable. I am being asked to speak on my success with it at Inman, I have interviewed incredible people, my site has received thousands of unique visitors because of them, and I have generated real income as a result. I am not bragging for I am constantly humbled and grateful for what a seemingly small, transient decision to try podcasting has done for my site; but what I am saying is that the need to break out and do something remarkable is now more important than ever. And the beauty is that whatever that remarkable thing is doesn’t have to be forced. You can feel your way to whatever remarkable means to (and works for) you. And if it doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board and try something different.
The bottom line is please, please, please be remarkable. Please make an attempt to be remarkable and please help the process along by giving it a chance to succeed. Being remarkable is the best way to earn business. It’s the best way to earn respect and readership and whatever else you are hoping to achieve. It starts with a commitment to being different and then feeling your way through the process to identify something that works, that is comfortable for you and that truly makes you remarkable.4 comments
This is my choice for the theme for BloodhoundBlog Unchained. Teri Lussier has a different idea, which I’ll share with you tomorrow. If you think both of us are all wet, say so by email, telling me what you think our theme should be. Be assured that there will be music. It it’s too loud, you’re too old.
This is Tom Petty again, covered by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. The song is I won’t back down — in many respects the theme song of my own life. Petty has hundreds of letters from people who turned to this simple little shit-kicker song for strength when they were confronted, by threats or temptations, with the prospect of betraying their own souls. I can’t think of a more important job for art to do than to lend people the courage to be who they are, damn the consequences.
I received an email from a friend this morning…the essence of it was that Trulia is now “offering” us REALTORS the opportunity to enhance our listings for a modest fee…and I started preparing to post almost immediately. Then I noticed Bramlett had beaten me to the punch.
As Bramlett correctly pointed out, we saw it coming. (That’s nothing to brag on…Heck, Ray Charles could have seen it coming.) They (Trulia) are a business after all and sooner or later, we REALTORS who have given Trulia those listings were destined to become Russell’s pencil sharpener. I even commented on his post about it. I am actually sad to be right.
Mind you, I am not mad at Trulia. They are in business to make money and God bless them for it. I DO have an issue with a real estate community that turns a blind eye or simply doesn’t see the same pitch coming that it got hit with a few years back. What’s the saying about fool me once?
Same stuff different day.
Bend over. Here it comes again. BOHICA.
Another way to lighten your wallet as REALTORS. Another interloper doing what we can and should do for ourselves. In my opinion, people in the end do not care whether the real estate site they are searching on is national or local. They want it complete. As many local listings as possible and as much information and photos as possible are the ticket. We are providing that as REALTORS in spades in most locations. IDX does provide that, especially in the hands of skilled webmasters who do not require registration to view listings. We can do everything that they can do and do it with local relevance and intimate knowledge of our markets…When combined with microfocused niche blogs (or hyperlocals…) we can provide AMAZING amounts of information to potential clients. With an ever expanding internet mindshare, that’s more important than ever.
Can we at least on a local level (and it CAN IMO vary from location to location) agree to only provide listings where it is well and truly warranted by true market presence.
Everytime we provide our listings to ABC Bot, Inc. or XYZ interloper, Inc. (where they do not have a significant presence in the market) we are providing our BEST site content to them for use where they WILL (eventually) charge us for it.
Yes, I like Trulia’s ideas and platform much better than R.com…and their pricing (at least for now…)..is not offensive (again…yet). I really think they are creative and talented. My problem is with them charging us for our own stuff after we’ve provided them the listings in the first place.
If we do not draw the line somewhere, then we end up in the same position (pun intended) as the Iowa State cow…or Russell’s pencil sharpener…no fun in my book.48 comments
I’m a Countrywide watcher. It’s size and reach in mortgage loan origination is worthy of any mortgage originator’s respect and admiration. I had a lot of confidence in Countrywide as it marched to becoming America’s largest originator of home loans. I liked ’em so much that I had a piece of the joint, in my IRA, until April 1, 2007.
It was no April Fool’s Day joke when I announced that they were in trouble because of the Pay Option ARM product. For the Series 7 types, I went from long to cash within 24 hours of writing that post, then short ( not in my IRA) 24 hours later. I was nervously wondering when Wall Street would catch on to the problems and decimate the stock; I felt it would be worth less than ten bucks a share. Alas, I chickened out and closed the short position to raise cash during the liquidity crunch of 2007; I figured that profit would pay my daughter’s tuition when the market slowed.
Wall Street still thinks Countrywide is a twenty dollar stock, even as it trades below nine bucks a share. Are they being fooled, like the Enron debacle, or do they know something that we don’t? While Wall Street fiddles the Mozilo tune, pundits think CFC could file any day now. I don’t think a Countrywide bankruptcy is likely. I thought it made sense for the Feds to bail out Countrywide; two days later they opened the discount window.
How are the Feds bailing out Countrywide today?
1- Certainly, as Countrywide has moved it’s fundings to its federally-chartered bank, any Fed market activity benefits them.
2- I said that they way out of the mess was for Countrywide to originate new loans in less risky programs. CFC has rolled out a major reverse mortgage program and is compensating brokers to refer those loans to them. While some people believe its actions violate the spirit of HUD laws, there are no HUD guidelines specifically forbidding this practice. Reverse mortgages are three times as profitable as conforming loans and carry little or no risk to the originator because of the HUD guarantee.
3- Finally, aggressive use of the FHA and VA loans are being practiced by Countrywide underwriters. The word in the mortgage brokerage community is that CFC is the place to go if you have a dubious guvvie file. We hear that CFC underwriters are primarily focused on the ability to repay the loan as opposed to a demonstrated ability to repay the loans. That’s lender talk for “if the guy has jacked up credit but can afford the payments, send it to CFC”. The word on the street is that CFC is approving those loans. Guvvie loans are twice as profitable as conforming loans and carry no risk to the originator.
We can dissect this any way we want; this is essentially a federal subsidy to bailout Countrywide Financial. It is not a direct bailout but an “accommodation” of sorts. The Fed loans them money cheap, guarantees their risky loan underwriting, and steers them to more profitable business by looking the other way…for now.
I can say that I blame them. Mozilo is the “little mortgage broker who could”. He built his firm into a powerhouse by pushing the edge of the envelope these past thirty years; I don’t expect him to lay down and play dead now. I think they originate their way out of this mess with implied government assistance. I think we’ll eventually see a merger with B of A, sometime next year, and that merger will happen in the $14-$18 range. That makes CFC a bargain at nine bucks a share, right?
Not for me- I’m just too damned chicken!
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