There’s always something to howl about

Archive for April, 2009

Let the Scenius Begin…

Taken 3 Minutes Ago…

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Pre Scenius

Scott Cowan

Don Reedy

-Drunk, Ryan Hartman

Latest Videos From Youtube.Com/BloodhoundUnchained!


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Bar At The Raddison Phoenix?

The Raddison In Phoenix is great so far. Everyone’s friendly. Coffee
was tasty tasty.

But hey, we’ve got like 5 hours to kill before the fun starts at
Unchained. So where’s the Bartender?

It’s noon in Phoenix, but it’s about time for happy hour for those of
us still on the (ET)!

-Ryan Hartman
(Sent From My Fancy Phone…)

Latest Videos From Youtube.Com/BloodhoundUnchained!


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The Perfect RE Investment vs A Million Monkeys

I write this note as a quick reminder. Investors in buyers’ markets as extreme as we’re currently experiencing will sometimes fall victim to what I’ve called ‘Million Monkey Syndrome’. I suffered from it when I was young and thought nothing was impossible for me in a market full of highly motivated sellers. It was through a marketing experience of all things, that I learned to recognize the signs of MMS.

Back in the day, one of the ways I used to market was through very narrowly targeted mail. Only investment property owners were on the list. I quickly found out what generated calls and what didn’t. The problem? It was a tad difficult to always have the ‘perfect’ small income property for sale. 🙂

A solid response rate according to direct mail pros would be 1/2%. Back then my average mailing wasn’t large, maybe 1,500-3,000 letters. The average response rate was almost always at least 1/2%, and many times 1-2%.

Then I sent The Letter.

It generated just over a 4% response rate for 3,000 pieces mailed. The calls started on Tuesday, and by Thursday I’d developed a love/hate relationship with my phone. 🙂 By Friday my assistants were afraid to answer it.

What magic words caused this embarrassment of riches? Turns out I’d discovered what made the East County (EC) small income property investor get very excited. The letter told them of a La Mesa (most desired area in EC) duplex that could be purchased with 10% down. Also, the owner would carry secondary financing. And the duplex needed some TLC, because it was a ‘cosmetic fixer’.

A light fixer in the most desired area, with owner financing and only 10% down! I’ll take a dozen to go please.

There hasn’t been one of those available since the year I sent that letter — 1999.

For the record that very letter generated over $250,000 in commission income. It remains the all time best producing letter I’ve ever sent.

I’m taking the out-of-the-way scenic route in order to say this:

Stop wasting your time and therefore your money looking for the perfect property or situation. The stars don’t align that often. Meanwhile you’ve passed over who knows how many excellent investments because you couldn’t find the right rainbow with the pot of gold that had your name on it. This is especially true in markets heavily tilted buyers’ way, as they tend to get a little cocky with their new found power. It’s a self-set trap into which you don’t want to fall.

There’s a better chance of a million monkeys in a room full of computers writing Romeo and Juliet than you finding the perfect property with all the perfect circumstances attached to it, and owner financing.

Decide what you’re Point B is, and what kind of property will best get you there. Buy the best properties you can locate in a reasonable time. They’ll close escrow. Then….

Live your life.

Repeat until you see the sign for your Point B turnoff.


Send me a card from (insert your favorite ‘paradise’ here) saying “wish you were here.”


Test Post – Unchained Phone Photoblogging Setup

This image was sent directly from my phone and should post automatically to
BloodhoundBlog via flickr and a secret posting email address.

If you’re attending Unchained and would like the opportunity to post drunken
pics of your fellow attendees directly to BHB, let me know. I’ll be happy
to share the top secret address.


(I have a feeling Greg could end up regretting consenting to this…)

-Ryan Hartman
(Sent From My Fancy Phone…)

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This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Comments are off for this post

What Should I Wear To BloodhoundBlog Unchained?

Phoenix in late April is beautiful weather…if you like the temperature approaching triple digits (and I do).  Here’s the five-day forecast for Phoenix; mid-90’s during the day and low-60’s at night.

You can bring a bathing suit because the hotel has an outdoor, heated pool and hot tub.  The hotel has on-site dining and a lounge to unwind with a margarita. Most everything you’ll need is on-site.

Phoenix business casual, in the late Spring or early Summer is typically VERY casual but neat.  Some folks will wear nice golf or walking shorts but most will be in khakis and a golf shirt.  Many will opt for jeans.  You’ll see some sneaker-clad feet, too.

Your instructors will most likely be dressed business casual.  Neckties for men and stockings for ladies might be uncomfortable;  leave ’em at home.   Dress for comfort.

Check out this video if you want to see how folks dressed last year.


Greg Swann’s BloodhoundBlog Unchained homework

Okay, here’s are homework assignments for BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Phoenix.

First, until this week I had no idea how deprived folks in the Windows world are. Just about everything I do is built around the idea of truly robust FTP software, and it turns out that this does not even exist for Windows users. Y’all are stuck behind the Iron Curtain and you don’t even know it.

The vast suckage that is Windows FTP drastically affects my plans, but I’ll work it out.


If you don’t have one, download and install a decent FTP client. Core FTP LE isn’t awful, and it’s free.

You’ll also need a decent text editor. Komodo edit is actually quite good, and it’s also free.

I’m going to be helping Mark Green talk about CRM and automated database solutions. If you want to play along with some of those ideas, sign up for the free demo of Heap CRM.

Heap is not all the way there as a real estate CRM, but it is adequate for the ideas we’ll be discussing, and a 31-day demo is free. Note that the link above goes to my Heap affiliate account, the vast proceeds from which my wife spends on food for stray animals.

But wait. There’s more.

I upgraded engenu today with the mapping software I talked about here.

You will need to download and install engenu on your file server.

If you have previously installed engenu, you won’t need to install a new copy of engenuPageDex.bin (your password file). (Likewise, if you have a customized “skin,” don’t install engenuComponents.) Even if you don’t want the mapping software, you should install the new version of engenu. First, there have been dozens of small bug fixes since the last official release. And second, I want you to get comfortable with your FTP client.

Do you need some remedial help with engenu? Cheryl Johnson is the world’s most unlikely super-hero, but you can see her heroic efforts at making engenu more understandable here.

And: We’re ready to rock. Class schedules are up.

Students are split into two groups, Alpha and Omega, and you can discern whether you are the aboriginal specimen or the living end by navigating your way here.

If you have questions or problems, hit me or Brian by email. Don’t let things wait. We’re only going to have 72 hours together, and we’re going to try to cram a year or two’s worth of results into those three days. Take tomorrow to review this note and those from the other instructors.

We’ll have time Tuesday to plug any gaps, but let’s all be good Cub Scouts and Be Prepared.

Can’t wait to get started!

Greg Swann

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Unchained Melodies: Here’s what our world sounds like to me tonight…

Everything I see lately of what was once so decisively “our world” just looks to me like intramural patty-cake. That’s as may be, by now. It is what it is. I am not in it. I am not of it. And I am quite a bit less interested in it than I was when this was still an avoidable fate. But I know — and in a year’s time everyone will know — that BloodhoundBlog is what’s left outside the walls of the Praesidium. We are free because we understood that chains can be forged from burnished gold and not just pig iron.

But I am a rude dude in a rude mood, tonight more than most nights. We’re four days away from BloodhoundBlog Unchained, and I am profoundly inspired by all that we are going to do. And I look around me and I realize that “our world” is what it has always been. It doesn’t matter who chose to kneel for those “glittering prizes and endless compromises.” All that matters — all that ever mattered — is who didn’t.

Here’s what our world sounds like to me tonight.


Social Media Marketing Homework for BloodhoundBlog Unchained

Ready for the big week ahead?

I’m Brian Brady, one of the co-founders of BloodhoundBlog Unchained.  I’m that guy with the suspenders on Facebook, LinkedIn, ActiveRain, et al.  My goal (and yours) will be to establish a ubiquitous presence on these sites so that any past or potential customer can find you.

Some homework before you come:

This is about five hours of work but I suspect many of you already have these profiles established.  If you run short on time, don’t fret.  Brad Coy and I will be on hand, Tuesday and Wednesday night, to help you get the work done for my sessions.

I’m totally stoked to meet all of you and ready to help you DOMINATE social media, locally.  You’re gonna feel a tad weird if you’re new to these sites because your teenagers know more than you do.  Ask them to help you get ready.

See you Tuesday!

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What a Completely Virtual Real Estate Solution Looks Like

Per my earlier post regarding the evolution of technology driven real estate solutions, I believe the next generation of buyers and sellers will be more empowered to search, purchase and sell real estate themselves, without the services of a real estate professional.

At the highest level, the success of an entirely virtual solution rests in its ability to clearly and confidently shepherd a potential buyer or seller through the process of buying and or selling.  Very few sites provide a path to success.  The irony for me was what I found while reviewing do-it-yourself real estate sites/services.  In my opinion, provides decent content regarding the “how’s and what’s” of buying and selling.   I am not holding Help-U-Sell as a beacon of light, but merely a site which provides far more content regarding the “how” of buying than the “what” to buy.

The focus of technology solutions has been too highly skewed towards the data and not the content nor the process.

Clients are not looking for listings – they are looking for homes.  Do not underestimate the connotation or meaning of home.  Data is not the answer – it is part of the solution.  The solution is achieved by execution.  Execution requires clearly defined, repeating steps – a process.

There is a lot of chatter regarding how to keep potential prospects “stuck” on your site.  Many believe that IDX property search is critical.  Important?  Maybe – but if you are relying on search capability as your differentiator, you’re wrong.  I argue spending a majority of your time and effort building content around the process – mapping out the steps – one by one – specifically what needs to be done to get from beginning to close will get them stuck – FIRMLY – on your site.  Everything else is secondary to the process.

So what does a completely virtual solution look like?

First and foremost, it assumes that there is no real estate professional involved with managing the process – or providing “services”.  If you’re recoiling from that last statement, I merely ask, have you mapped out the process step-by-step and defined what you do at each step?  Moreover, do you sit down and walk through the process with your clients – even review it daily?  Do your clients know what your services are?  So many agents argue that consumers require full-service brokerage.  What is full-service?  Does every one of your clients require full-service?  Some do – some do not.  Perhaps this sole issue alone is why I believe a total virtual solution is not only possible, but probable.

The current paradigm of buying and selling real estate assumes that a real estate professional is a given – you can’t have “full-service” without one.  Without a real estate professional, a consumer is left to fend for themselves.

New paradigm perhaps?  Consumers can have full service without a professional.

What’s the first step for buyers?

Amazingly enough, it isn’t search.  Step one is forming and confirming buying criteria.  Buying criteria is delving into how a buyer(s) lives – likes, dislikes – lifestyle attributes:

“I like to run in the morning, ideally along a path in a park.  I love coffee.  I like to eat organic and want to be relatively close to a farmer’s market.  My daughter goes to Montessori and I want a good program within 10 minutes by car etc.”

Some buyers are not as specific, but they still need to consider how they want to live.  Budget constraints need to be reviewed and established.  Critical to the budgeting process is a tutorial on financing – what a mortgage is – how rates and different financing options affect monthly payments.  Maybe there is a social media component which allows consumers to go out and ask the “expert” for input, whether they be mortgage professionals or other consumers.  Buyers should have access to a pre-approval process.

This buyer profile needs to be built and used as the basis for how properties are searched, aligned and essentially weighted to provide a meaningful results to potential buyers.  Again, most search engines provide visually interesting results, but they are simply presented by property attributes.   Today buyers and/or real estate professionals need to sort through the results to see which ones make most sense.

Onboard Informatics has created the first Lifestyle Search Engine, aligning how people live with property search results.  Rentwiki is building a similar renter profile to better link how people live with potential properties.   In my opinion, this is how search must evolve.  The sorting and matching process is traditionally an agent’s role.  With a more technology savvy buying population entering the market, more sophisticated “lifestyle” search engines could leave traditional agents completely out of the property search game.

Will everyone buy into this search process?  No, but I suggest many will.  The more accurate the results – the better aligned the results are to actual criteria, the more confident buyers will become.  Trust and confidence are weighty intangibles, however, Millenials readily use technology solutions and trust and admire brands and sources that identify with their unique needs and wants.  Honestly, I am not sure that is limited solely to Millenial.

Ok – of the hundred or so properties that are available, twelve or so properties are close matches to a buyer’s lifestyle preferences.  Tools like Trulia or Redfin provide Open House schedules for available properties – this process would be no different.  The buyer decides to work his/her weekend schedule around the times the properties are open, viewing each one.  Upon completion of each viewing, the buyer completes an on-line worksheet assessing how each property matches their criteria.  Maybe the search criteria needs adjusting – maybe broaden the criteria etc.  Perhaps the buyer runs a few scenarios and narrows down the choices to 3 specific choices.

The next step would be analysis – maybe a valuation tool like Zillow which provides an estimated value as well as access to the actual sales comparision data.  Perhaps the analysis will include a tutorial on how to objectively evaluate the numbers – an explanation from a source with no bias towards the outcome.   Instead, maybe providing a probability of success for buying at a certain price, due to current market time etc.  Again, maybe accessing  a social media function which seeks advice from others specific to the issue of evaluating and assessing value.

Once a property is selected:


This is where the buyer parts with his money.  The buyer answers a series of questions, not unlike Turbo Tax or Legal Zoom which begins the process of dynamically building the sales contract. How much does this cost?  Somewhere between zero and 6% of the value of the property to be purchased.  I suspect it is a lot closer to zero than 6%.

Maybe the dynamic documentation leverages ZipForms endorsed by NAR for real estate legal documents throughout the US.  Data specific to the property is pulled from IDX data sources.  Each key area of the contract is reviewed via tutorials, explaining the relevance of the language and providing access to legal advice.

The basis of navigating through the process is to provide a well defined set of tutorials which provide the backbone of the process knowledge, recommendations, tips – gotchas.  This is where the rubber meets the road and where the real value is.

It is the shared knowledge, managed through a repeatable process that adds confidence and builds trust in the solution.  In addition, the aspect of social media can be more specifically leveraged at key points in the process.

This is just a brief view of what buyers may do – I believe it can be just as comprehensive for sellers.

Will it replace real estate professionals?  Maybe not, but do I believe it will change the landscape for buying and selling real estate.


Redirect: HeyCentralPa.Com –> CentralPaLiving.Com

301 Time — I’ve Found A Guinea Pig! What a relief… I think I’ll take the daily updates over to HouseYourMom.Com, posting only a high quality weekly update here, and sparing everyone the daily gory detail midnight rants…It just feels a little awkward hogging up everyone’s feed readers with this stuff. Seems more appropriate to do it on my own dime I guess…


So anyway.

Here’s Walt Wensel, RE/MAX Patriots (York Pa) responding to my pitch earlier today:

I like it, with some reservations. Can we effectively create what you want without alienating my customer base? Pictures of you and the orangutan taking a dump are cute, but not who I’m going to trust to make a $400K deal. I think we need fun and edgy, but we need York edgy, not Philly edgy.

Can you believe a guy with a pic like this sent me a response like that?


I’m just busting Walt’s chops. He’s exactly right, and I have no problem with a tone down now that I’ve got what I was looking for. A tech-literate open minded team leader with an eye toward creating value that will result in organic, sustainable expansion.

So check it out: HeyCentralPa.Com now 301’s to CentralPaLiving.Com [I spent an hour or so last night in CSS heaven cloning Walt’s soon to be delivered IDX portal being provided by Terabitz. Sorry again Dwellicious. I tried…(again…)]

So thanks everyone for bearing with my nuttiness over the past week or so…If you’re actually interested in the nitty gritty day by day posts and screencast chronicling how this thing is taking shape, please feel free to use the form on my subscribe page to receive the HouseYourMom.Com daily email updates.


Go ahead, Google me and see what happens

Really.  Google “me” in your search bar or Google home page and see what happens.

I was going to post about this yesterday and I’m glad I didn’t, because as of today, searchers who enter only the word “me” in the search box will be given an opportunity to set up or edit their Google Profile.


The personal profiles are not new.  I did share some of my thoughts on this in Unchained in Seattle.  They’ve been around for a while now, it just seems that every time I take a look at them they add more features.  First with a curious name verification process, then just last week with custom URLs.  They now support a pretty good amount of info on someone depending on your settings.  Numerous links to sites, an ‘about me’, contacts, and a Flickr or Picassa feed for photos.

None of this might be relevant except for the fact that Googling you is what people do.   Even my wife (against my personal preference) told someone to just look me up on Google the other day.  That person found me in a heart beat.

Profiles are already showing up at the bottom of page 1 search results and for those with common names there G will sport 4 profiles per page.  I suppose the more you share on you profile the better your results.   So far, there’s only one of “me“.

While the big G says they are not having a run at Facebook’s social network action,  google profiles still would be a good place to stake your claim.  Especially if you like using any of their other services, such as Maps or anywhere else your profile will be linked to…


Now if all that’s for nothing, then consider this.  I reviewed my first message via my profile that simply read Loved looking through your material. When I decide to move back to SF, I’ll give you a call.”

Create your profile

Update For promotion, Google is giving away 10,000 sets of 25 business cards to go with your new profile pageGet em’ while they last.



Feeling Overwhelmed? Turn To Ayn Rand

Again, I found this:

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours. -Ayn Rand

If your reading this, chances our, the world is yours.  Don’t get discouraged by the losers, mediocrities and mealy mouthed pieces of excrement that want to homogenize the best among us.


Sin IDX (6 of 365)

The best leads I get at PropertunityKnocks.Com are direct inquiries in response to my vids. And now on HeyCentralPa I’m going to take a stab at not measuring a real estate internet marketing campaign’s success by the daily number of “Mickey Mouse” and “Heywood Jablome” registrations.

In tomorrow’s episode, I’ll hedge my bets by begging for e-newsletter subscribers via AWEBER, but for today, I’ve grabbed a 30 day Dwellicious Pro trial and integrated it into the Hey Central Pa Property Search Page.


What’s everyone think? If our content is plentiful, dynamic, and populated with not so salesy lead capture elements, can we forgo an IDX integration? Can we get them to hang around just because they like us?

Is this Real Estate Tech Blasphemy?

I don’t know, but the Dwellicious integration could be interesting. I mean, the content better be darn good, right… because we’re telling people to go search elsewhere?

Will I be able to get agent contributors on board with this strategy?

Might I have a squabble with fee seeking local MLS boards on my hands? (Have there been any MLS v. Dwellicious run-in’s nationwide?) Or has the real estate search + social bookmarking experiment not yielded enough adopters to even be seen as any kind of threat?


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