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There’s always something to howl about

Archive for December, 2009

Interest rates have been trending upward, but what happens when Uncle Sugar quadruples the sugar supply at Fannie and Freddie?

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Obama administration’s decision to cover an unlimited amount of losses at the mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the next three years stirred controversy over the holiday.

The Treasury announced Thursday it was removing the caps that limited the amount of available capital to the companies to $200 billion each.

Unlimited access to bailout funds through 2012 was “necessary for preserving the continued strength and stability of the mortgage market,” the Treasury said. Fannie and Freddie purchase or guarantee most U.S. home mortgages and have run up huge losses stemming from the worst wave of defaults since the 1930s.

“The timing of this executive order giving Fannie and Freddie a blank check is no coincidence,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee. He said the Christmas Eve announcement was designed “to prevent the general public from taking note.”

Treasury officials couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

So far, Treasury has provided $60 billion of capital to Fannie and $51 billion to Freddie. Mahesh Swaminathan, a senior mortgage analyst at Credit Suisse in New York, said he didn’t believe Fannie and Freddie would need more than $200 billion apiece from the Treasury. But he and other analysts have said the market would find a larger commitment from the Treasury reassuring.

What’s your take? Are we looking at another two years of 30-year fixed mortgages under 5%?

8 comments

Howling for the hard-working dogs: “We interrupt this Christmas Season for the following brief commercial transactions.”

Rich full day today, lots of variety. Working Christmas Eve with me were home inspector Mike Elsberry (two houses), wood inspector Joe Letourneau (two houses) and our handyman, Mark Deermer (one house). We had a plumber working at one of our listings, as well. I could tell by the (lack of) traffic on the streets that a lot of people took the day off, but I am delighted that so many of the people that I work with were working today.

I’m going to work quite a bit tomorrow, Christmas Day. Mail, of course. But I’m also going to service a listing and take a look at half-a-dozen vacant REOs. Nothing terribly time-consuming, more like errands than anything else. But it’s work I want and need to get done, and I don’t want to put it off.

I think this is all part of the revolution incited by these devices — alike unto the idea that privacy is an artifact of inefficiency. I don’t take time off as a binary state event, and it kind of drives me crazy when other people do.

I think it’s insane that too much of the commercial world comes to a complete standstill on special days. But at least we are not insane enough to be consistent. No one preaching the virtue of sacred pretend-poverty wants for the power plant or the hospital emergency room to shut down from now until the Feast of the Epiphany.

Even so, it is simultaneously plausible to me that I might have something to prove: I’m going to celebrate my Christmas, and I am not going to interrupt anyone else’s. But I can do valuable work for my clients tomorrow, and it is important to me to get it done. And, at a minimum, my clients will be ahead of the game and my workload Saturday will be lighter. Everybody wins.

But here’s the thing: I think you’re going to work tomorrow, too, even it’s only to deal with your client email. And I think this is something to be celebrated, not condemned. We work in the pursuit of happiness, as Jefferson had it — the wealth to live well, the comfort of a good home, the bond of security and dependence, conflict and conciliation that is a healthy marriage, a happy family life, financial independence in old age, charity, legacies and the mad pursuits of daily life. We work for money. And the hard-working dogs who are working on Christmas Day are my kind of canines.

I make my money when it’s there to be made. I really like it that so much of the commercial world will be working tomorrow, and I like it that the ratio is trending my way — now and going forward. The change has nothing to do with religion, I don’t think. It’s just people much like me who, by virtue of these electronic devices, feel more and more comfortable living our own way every day.

But this change can’t come fast enough for me. My take has always been that “The West” defined most broadly means anywhere from which you can reliably place a phone call. That’s virtually everywhere, but, seemingly, civilization and utopia are as yet co-terminus: I can phone anywhere tomorrow. (How sacrilegious to make those folks work — except that telephoning is the second or third major activity of the day.) But I can’t get a FedEx pick-up or any kind of air courier pick-up for less than a small fortune.

And this is not quite a “Humbug!” I don’t resent holidays, but that’s mostly because I tend to keep them chained-up in the back yard. Christmas is the only one left that tries to commandeer the whole day. Whatever. I like the Nazarene well enough, and I’ve always liked Christmas. But if there is one meme before all others that has driven my life, it’s this one: “Don’t stop.”

I’m working tomorrow, dogs, and don’t tell me you’re not. The work we do consists of making and keeping promises, and, in any case, this is no day for telling lies. Santa’s still watching, after all.

But: Really: Whatever. I love living in this country because it is so far still lawful for me to be who I am. I want nothing more for you, to have perfect freedom to be who you are. I’m celebrating Christmas tomorrow and working for a while to bust up the day. If it’s important for you not to work, that’s totally cool with me — so long as you don’t in turn try to forbid me from working.

In the long run the world will turn even further in my direction, and you may have to draw a bright line for your clients — like the “We’ll Be Closed” spam you’ve been getting all week.

But just for now, there’s this: Here is a big, rafter-shaking Bloodhound howl for all of the dogs who are working tomorrow. The world doesn’t stop. Why should we? If everyone around you is telling you you’re wrong to work, I’m here to tell you that nothing is more right than pursuing your own happiness.

Merry Christmas, y’all. I wish you health, wealth and happiness. Mix and match ’em at will.

5 comments

My car is not a real estate office. In 2010, my car is going to become a wi-fi-enabled mobile real property exchange and conference room.

This is the car we bought for me in July. It’s a used Kia Rondo, a semi-unassuming wannabe minivan that I have denominated with this demanding appellation: Prometheus.

My favorite god, as you might have guessed, from all of human history. Prometheus, you will recall, stole the fire of the gods from Zeus and gave it to the people. An alternate reading of the Greek cites Prometheus as having borne the gift of mind to humanity, a rendering of the tale I like even better. If you are a life-sucking real estate broker or any other functionary of the life-sucking National Association of Realtors, the memes that move me will tell you a lot about my long-term plans for you.

But: Sometimes a minivan is just a minivan. I chose the Rondo because a client of mine rented one when he was in town, and I realized it was the perfect real estate car. I had looked at more expensive so-called “crossover” vehicles, but we have practiced and perfected the art of being cheap bastards. At ten grand out the door, the Rondo seemed like the optimax choice.

And this has it proved to be. I’m in it a lot, and it is a very comfortable roaming office for me. I don’t know how other Realtors deal with all the lengthy phone calls that go into selling real estate, but I take down a whole bunch of them from my car. I can make anywhere from one to five calls between stops, and if I were not doing those calls from behind the wheel, I wouldn’t be doing them at all.

But wait. There’s more. I bought the Rondo because I knew I would be doing more and more real office work from the car. The vehicle has three cigar lighters, and I have 300 watt 110 volt power inverters plugged into two of them. That is to say, two three-prong outlets in the front seat and two more in the back. I could be working on my laptop, an assistant on another and a client on a third, all of us plugged in to retain battery power.

I haven’t actually had this happen yet, but I’m sure it will in due course. With ZipForms and DocuSign, I don’t need to schlep a portable printer, something I’ve done for years. But I’m sure that, very soon, I will be in situations where an assistant will be sitting in the car writing a contract for the last house we saw while an investor and I are inspecting the next property. When we get back to the car, the investor can e-sign the contract from his own laptop as we drive to the next home.

Which brings us to the next level of integration. Bawldguy Jeff Brown got me thinking about this this week: I want to take a wi-fi router that accepts a 3G wireless card and put that in my car. Prometheus, minivan, will become its own rolling hotspot — and everyone in the car will be able to connect to the internet through the 3G connection.

Don’t tell me about slow transmission speeds. Lo-tech don’t mean no-tech. Housechick Kelley Koehler used a set-up like this to spank the hotel’s in-house wi-fi system at BloodhoundBlog Unchained this year. I don’t need the ideal ultimate best internet connection, I just need something that works reliably as we roll down the road — or, practically speaking, cruise slowly from house to house.

There’s more to my little truck — from the tiny medicine chest I keep up front to Mister Lister in back, my tool box for dealing with signs and flyer boxes — but the essence of the thing is that I will be able to do most of the work I might otherwise have to run back to the office for, all from behind the wheel. When I add an assistant, one or the other of us will be hands-free to work while the other drives — in the HOV lane! My clients will be able to work, too, most especially on the paperwork I will need for them to attend to. And all of us will have wi-fi available for both our laptops and our phones.

It’s plausible to me that I could spend 1,000 hours — or more — in my car in 2010. Thanks to tiny, low-power computing hardware, my time on the road will be more productive than ever.

23 comments

Why Being a Real Estate Agent Is Like Being a BaseBall Umpire

Ever umped a baseball game at any level? It’s a rush. You haven’t lived ’till some stud has winged a 95 mph fastball your way. It literally takes a couple of ’em before your brain adjusts to the velocity. First one I saw? Told the hitter and catcher it sounded good to me as my right arm went up signaling a strike. True story. Most umpires never get past youth ball, even fewer to high school, and only a trickle get the experience NCAA baseball offers.

There’s a cliché in baseball that says when the game’s over and you really didn’t notice much about the umpires, they did an excellent job. As is true with most clichés that’s a pretty accurate statement. In fact, the only reason folks should notice umps is if they’re able to do their job with a little flare, a little passion — but it’s not required or even necessary. Just deliver the goods.

Same goes for real estate agents. Just as the excitement is in the ball game itself, the excitement for your clients is moving into their new home — possibly after movin’ outa their old one. Our job is making sure the excitement happens the way it’s supposed to.

One of my favorite memories on the diamond was a day I was to ump the plate in a junior college game in a pretty highly talented league. JC’s don’t get four umps, just two. As you might imagine, with only two men, hustle and seamless, preordained teamwork is a must, not a luxury. There’s simply no room for anything short of that when you’re part of a two man team umpiring at the college level — even junior college. Anywho, in the second inning, my partner became ill, and had to leave.

Me ‘n You, Lord.

As luck would have it, things remain more or less quiet. I’m runnin’ around like crazy, but it’s doable. Before we resume the game, I call both head coaches to the plate for a quick powwow. I tell them in no uncertain terms I’ll be in no mood for any crap from their dugouts. I’m alone, will hustle my ass off, and give them the absolute best I have in me. One of ’em was a pretty funny guy, and said, ‘That’s what you called us out for?’

Then, it happens.

The home team’s rabbit hits a laser beam down the line in right. I hafta do all kinds a things at this point. Haulin’ ass down the line I must make a fair/foul call. It’s fair. Did the runner touch first? Second? Oh, crap on a cracker! He’s goin’ for three. I sprint directly over the mound to the third base cutout, doing a popup slide as I arrive. (Still don’t know what the hell possessed me to do that in full plate gear.) Almost immediately the runner, the ball, and the third baseman’s tag happen almost simultaneously. I was in perfect position so could easily see that the third baseman tagged nothing but the ground — touching no part of the runner. I made a very loud call of ‘ He’s safe! There’s no tag!!’ while dramatically giving the ‘safe’ sign with my arms. There was no doubt to anyone there about what I saw.

The third baseman’s head coach popped outa the dugout, calling time as he came towards me. He said, “You know why I’m out here Blue, I had no choice.” True enough. Continuing, he said, “I’ve got no complaint about the call. Just wanted to tell ya, great hustle, good call, what the hell’s with you and that slide?!”

I was dumbfounded, and just started laughin’. We both did. I learned something that day, and I’ve been able to apply it to my business.

Our job is to keep things moving the way they’re expected. The bottom line for any buyer or seller is, did the job get done in time, without hassle, and with professionalism? We’re not the excitement, the property is. The transaction is. The closing especially — but not us.

Sometimes, like that day on the field when I suddenly found myself umpiring a college game solo, you find yourself seemingly alone in a transaction. Just like the players that day, your clients don’t care about you, relatively speaking. They care about the results you deliver.

In other words, did you skin their particular cat, or not?

It’s about excellence — which isn’t about meeting the standard. It’s about setting the standard. It’s about making your clients’ experience insanely enjoyable, which in ClientSpeak translates to easy — cuz you delivered. You did it better, faster, and with better quality than they’d ever hoped or expected. When things got crazy, you ran over the mound, executed a perfect popup slide, and made the right call.

You set the standard. Other pros hafta measure up to you. Folks do business with you cuz they wouldn’t have anyone else — you’re indispensable. Your not the best choice, you’re the only choice.

It’s about insisting to yourself that anything short of insanely, wicked good performance misses the mark.

If you’re able to get yourself into that frame of mind permanently, you’ll kick more 2010 real estate ass than you ever thought possible. Folks out there are desperate for agents with that mindset. They’ll knock down your door to do business with you.

That’s why, in my rookie year in the NCAA I was put on the coach’s preferred list for post season work. One coach actually wrote, “I want Brown, period” on his request sheet. And yes, he was the same coach from the above story. 🙂

Great performance generating the client’s desired results can’t be trumped by anything. They don’t want you, they gotta have you. Once you get yourself to that way of thinking, your potential for success will literally fly off the chart.

Lord, I miss umpiring.

Merry Christmas!

6 comments

From the Files of Captain Obvious: Five Fundamental Real Estate Business Truths

I. am. not. BawldGuy. And I don’t play one on this, or any other blog. Okay, now we’ve got that (not-so) deep dark secret out into the open… If you are approaching BawldGuy status, God Bless You, and keep on truckin’ and you go girl! You can move along, because this is for those of us who are working on real estate at the ground floor level.

I’ve been given the gift of time in 2009 and looking back and looking ahead, I see some obvious truths about the real estate business. Some of these are based on mistakes I’ve made, but as long as we learn from them, I’m okay with sharing.

Truth #5: I like twitter. I don’t like facebook. But who cares? Without a goaldriven plan to use either for a very specific reason, then I’m wasting time on both, and I’ve wasted time so you don’t have to. Use them to chat, or use them to market, or use them to sell, but understand the difference and if you are going to use them for business, have a plan and follow the plan. Don’t get sidetracked, and do stay focused. If you are a lender or a vendor then you might want to network with real estate agents, but if you are an agent, then stop talking water cooler and find people who can tell you to go to hell.

Truth #4: You don’t need social media to do a great job in real estate. You don’t need to  blog, or twitter. You don’t need to go to conferences. You can. You might learn a nugget or two, but it’s entirely unnecessary to your success, and it just as likely will be a huge waste of your time and energy.

Truth #3: To be successful in real estate, you need to meet as many people as possible. Lucky us, people are everywhere, and we can find them through any means- the method is really unimportant to getting to close. What’s important is that everyday you get up and do something, and if you do the same thing every day- blogging, or door knocking, or postcard sending, open houses, or google ads, or chatting folks up at the local coffee shop- if you do this every day, and you pay attention to responses, you are going to close something. Hooray.

Truth #2: If you are not satisfied with the “close something” part but would like to close something specific, then you have to apply some marketing.  So we put our thinking caps on: Who is your perfect client? Go find them. Everyday. Find your perfect client everyday. Are they twittering? Are they really? Or do you just hope they are?  Are they on facebook? Are they at the synagogue? Are they on the golf course? In the local book club? Just go find them and talk to them.

Truth #1: Talk to people appropriately. Market to them effectively. Sell to them in ways that add value to their lives. Don’t be ashamed to be a salesman. Apply as needed, which means consistently. Lather rinse repeat.

Here’s to making 2010 the best year ever!

On a personal business note: I’m actually looking to team up with some sharp savvy souls who would like to share goals and keep each other focused for 2010. I don’t want people who will cut me slack, so if you are nice and sweet, that’s not going to work out for this. It’s just about making and meeting weekly, monthly, quarterly goals, nothing more, but nothing less. If you are interested, drop me line.

9 comments

Need Big Bear Bloodhound for a Listing

A couple I am fairly close to, both personally and as fellow investors, are going to sell their second home in Big Bear.  I can proudly say their expectations have been raised and they are well versed in the Bloodhound way.  If you are – or know of – an agent in that area who leads the pack in marketing and listing activities based on the great foundation of “WHY,”  I have a listing for you.

4 comments

DS Drops A WP Spider Bomb…

Looks like DSIdxpress,a wordpress idx plugin that allows indexaspiderability of mls listings, is in beta.

Neat stuff. I really like DS. Enjoyed tapping their feeds to autofeed content and game search engine results in my own practice late last year. Enjoy integrating their solution in client sites today. They’ll probably make a bunch of sales based on this innovation, which is cool. “You’ll have thousands of listings indexed on google” is a great pitch…

Or at least it used to be?

What I think this really means is that the days when IDX works as an effective lead capture tool are actually coming to a close. Spiderability doesn’t seem like it’ll be such a big deal anymore when everybody’s hip and got it implemented.

Retechudamus says: As older school brokers scurry to grab the next “get rich quick” property search tool thats better than the guy’s down the street, the steady and sure content creators will continue to build a loyal fan base, poaching said brokers’ referral bases along the way.

Either way, good shit DS, this is still a nice move and I look forward to playing once it’s ready!

(Shit bomb inspired by Ken Brand, who’s dropping some eloquent “douchebags” and “bullshits” over at AG..)

4 comments

Real Estate Investing For Retirement – 2 Schools of Thought

There surely are more than just a couple schools of thought when it comes to using real estate as a vehicle to get them to an abundant retirement. The two that almost always garner most of the attention are Buy & Hold for cash flow from Day 1, and Capital Growth First THEN a transition to cash flow upon anticipation of imminent retirement.

Will either one get you there? Yep.

The real question is — do you want your Social Security check to be used for groceries, or spending money? And yeah, I know, what SS check? 🙂

Proponents of the Buy & Hold school are from the Old Old School. Don’t try to talk them outa their strategy. Show their results side by side with the Capital Growthers though, and they really get loud.

I urge you to check out a comparison I’ve done over at my place. Caveat: It’s over 1,600 words of reading. It goes into clear detail. So far, folks who’ve read it, have been pleasantly surprised at how much solid info they understood and can now apply.

If you’re a real estate investor, or wanna be one, this ‘case study’ is for you.

Merry Christmas!

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Darth Vader With a Toothache – A Better 2010

Ever looked over at the agent down the hall and wondered how they get from home to the office without hands-on help? They usually didn’t get past the front door back in the 1960’s, at least in our offices. I remember vividly that you were tough or you found another place to work. Cream puffs generally didn’t get too far into Dad’s job interview before they knew they weren’t in Kansas anymore. There was no such thing as laser beams back then, unless he was starin’ right through ya.

Dad used to conduct what I’ll call no nonsense weekly meetings back in the mid-20th century. Attending my first one three days after my virgin day at the office was, um, eye opening. It was Tuesday, October 21, 1969. Dad was his usual toned down Zig Ziggler self, with undertones of Darth Vader nursin’ a toothache. It was the first time I’d ever seen how others perceived him as a boss.

They soaked in every word as if he was readin’ off the third tablet Moses lost while coming back down the mountain. Though I could believe it cuz he was hugely successful (1,000 sides/yr), and arguably charismatic, I wasn’t sure about ‘why’ he was viewed this way until much later. One thing for sure, you worked for him or you took up space elsewhere. Even though the firm did so many sides a year, he never had more than 28 full timers, complimented by a dozen or so part timers. To this day I’m convinced the profile of his typical agent was ‘assassin’.

This is all prelude to explaining how a one act pony like Dad (his words, but painfully accurate), went from zero to over a 1,000 sides yearly in just over a year. Ryan Hartman’s excellent post about dominating the market struck a deep chord with me. Not just because it reminded me of the ‘good ol’ days’, but because I think he may have found the key to the mint.

That aside, the plan, whatever it may be, is secondary to the combination of unflappable belief and consistent, long, uninterrupted periods of hard work.

Here’s a Captain Obvious Axiom: The one guaranteed common denominator shared by successful real estate agents is the number of people they talk with each day. The more successful they are, the more folks they’re yakkin’ with. Agents um, not as successful? The only people they ever talk to are other loser agents. Surveys have shown conclusively this has never been a winning strategy.

Seriously, your 2010 can be pretty productive even on a cheapskate budget. I’ll give you a BawldGuyGaurantee: Spend 50-75% of your first quarter days talkin’ with folks who can either tell ya to go to hell, do business with ya, or refer someone, and your year will be better than last year by July 4th.

Once the money starts rollin’ in you can make use of all the cool marketing stuff here. ‘Till then? Don’t make excuses — make good.

Merry Christmas!

1 comment

Looking for the beacon of progress for American cities? Forget Portland. Forget Houston. The road we’re on leads to Detroit.

From PJTV.com, a bone-chilling exposition of how the entitlement mentality killed one of the great American cities:

There but for the grace of god? Not quite. Detroit is just the leading edge of a wave of entitlement thinking that is engulfing what was once the beacon of human liberty for the whole world.

We scorn philosophy at our peril. For more than a century and a half, Americans have been asking profoundly important philosophical questions — and giving the wrong answers.

“What do the rights of the individual matter when people are starving?”

“How can you worry about private property rights when people are homeless?”

“Health care is a collective responsibility. Why should you be free to escape it even if you can pay your own way?”

“How dare you claim a right to personal autonomy when your personal autonomy is destroying the planet!?!”

Don’t bother to ask yourself what America will look like when the concept of individual rights has finally been eradicated from our philosophy. We already know the answer to that question. It will look like Detroit.

23 comments

Who’s Afraid of Redfin.com?

Bob Haywood, an Owasso, OK real estate agent makes a case for why you should be aware of Redfin.com.  Bob articulates, from behind the cloaked wall on Active Rain, why Redfin.com is the REAL agent of change in the real estate industry.  Read what Bob has to say:

You should pay as much or more attention to Redfin and what they are doing than you do to Zillow. Am I saying we should ignore Zillow?  No!  But the group who has the potential to really change real estate is Redfin, not Zillow.  And here’s why…Zillow is just an information source.  So they give lots of information.  Yippee.  The information real estate vault is now open to the public.  Zillow is just one of many players in the information delivery game.  And guess what?  Zillow exists at the 20,000 foot level.  Their information is not very accurate.  You and I exist on the ground level.  We know our local real estate market in ways that Zillow will never know.  We know what actually sold.  What it sold for.  What it is actually worth and often, what is about to come onto the market.

Fear Zillow.com?  “Not so much”, says Bob and I agree with him.  Zillow introduced the  Zillow Mortgage Marketplace and it has had no impact on my business these past 18 months.  Only one consumer has referenced Zillow’s mortgage rate quotes in their negotiation with me.   That consumer did speak a lot about the Zestimate and its inaccuracy; that inaccuracy actually helped me in the negotiation with the consumer because it threw a shadow of doubt upon the accuracy of the mortgage quotes they offer.

And that is why you should watch Redfin. Redfin is a ground level company.  They are attempting to take the information and link it to agents on the ground.  That’s what makes them dangerous.  If they ever get their feet under them and decide that they actually want to be a player nationwide, they could just change the way real estate is bought and sold.  And if they do, they could end up owning (many of) us.  Already, there are agents becoming Redfin agents in the markets they serve.  And as I understand it, when you work for Redfin, they set your commission.  Their marketing pushes out the idea that the consumer saves a ton of money by NOT having to pay the standard commission to agents.

Redfin.com is a completely different story.  They have built an incredibly strong following among tech-savvy, do-it-yourself types.  Moreover, they set expectations of and limits to their service offering and (here’s the important part)… Redfin sticks to them. Consumers fully understand those limitations and expectations and understand the trade-off between perceived service levels, performance, and price.

I can think of a hundred things Redfin could do better.   I could think of a thousand things full-service real estate agents could do better and a million things lenders could do better.  What Redfin does very well is define what it will and won’t do for the money it charges a customer and that appears to be what consumers really want today.

**********************************************************************

PS:  Republishing content without permission, from behind the Active Rain “Members Only” wall is a violation of its terms of service.  I’ve secured permission from the author,  Bob Haywood to republish his parsed commentary here in Bloodhound Blog.

9 comments

Are email drips equal in ROI to snail mail drips?

When I established Worthington Realty about 1.5 years ago,  I wanted to always be experimenting with what I could do to convert leads to closed sales.  So I set out to have the best email drip campaigns as well as the best snail mail campaigns.  I have had much more success from a snail mail campaign than I have had from an email drip campaign.  I often question myself…what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong!?!

The snail mail has a thick stock cotton style envelope.  Inside is a high definition business card, high definition tri-fold resume & a typed letter about me on one side & how I can help on the other side.  I feel the presentation even though I’m not in person and doing this by snail mail is so powerful that customers call; about 2 out of 100 mailers to be exact.  Generally speaking, I usually list and sell the property.  I ask myself the question, what if I implemented a follow up snail mail campaign after the initial mailing?  I will report back with my results in a future post.  Can I close more snail mail sales as opposed to just one mailer, why not 3 or 4 snail mailers, especially on quality listings?

The email drips seem to have less response than a snail mail campaign.  Surely I have closed leads off of my website and then referred from those sales.  BUT, my conversion rate is far less than 2% like the snail mail.

My take is simply this.  Email drips do work, but are easily forgettable to consumers.  Snail mails are more expensive but since the consumers are physically touching quality materials, they are not easily forgettable as apposed to emails.  Your thoughts?  So much for my quest to go paperless…

10 comments

Yelping Googly Trulia! Is Google is doing some last minute Holiday shopping?

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All this week there has been a lot of buzz around the interwebs about Google’s possible acquisition of Yelp.com. The local reviews website has been wildly popular almost everywhere I have been in the country and could stand an image makeover in my humble opinion. One big enhancement could be the business user side to there social networking and business placement. Something Google is doing a good job of with their “Place Pages” for Google search and maps (example: San Francisco Real Estate Services )

With Google Place pages, business owners have the opportunity to have a publish the content of a business page, including video, where as “Yelp for business owners” seems to be geared towards offering buy up features such as advanced profile control and targeted advertising to the tune of $300-$1,000 a month. I’ve never really cared for this option too much as an advertiser or a consumer and think that Google might do a much better job of providing what’s best for the consumer. Yelp’s approach has been, in my experience, at bit heavily controlled.

Yelp for Real Estate has been at best an ongoing resource of placement for you business, à la Citysearch, and some seem to think a resource where Reviews of actual agents should be found.

What else might be under the tree?

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Even Bigger news for Real Estate on the Google front broke just last night when Kara Swisher from All Things Digital posted about talks going on regarding the acquisition of Trulia.com.

It is unclear what price Google (GOOG) would pay, but sources estimate that Trulia’s valuation ranges between $150 million and $200 million, although there could be a big premium on that.

Rumors about Google’s interest in the real estate search market–and specifically in Trulia–have been rebounding around Silicon Valley for the last year.

But Google has pulled the trigger on a number of acquisitions of innovative start-ups recently and, sources said, will continue to do so.

There’s also been a lot of chat about Google’s interest in Real Estate in the online Real Estate space which is mostly about us looking inward. Google, in my opinion, is far less interested in anything involving something like an MLS, an RPR, or anything else as much as eyeballs and ads, same as it’s ever been for them.

These are interesting developments in what is all about Geography and Placement. I find it of particular interest when some of my own favorite apps have everything to do with the GPS in my iPhone.

Any other ideas out there about what little elves could be working on in Santa’s workshop?

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Unchained melodies: Real Estate’s 50 Most Inconsequential Online

Apparently I have been voted onto the Inman “News” list of Real Estate’s 50 Most Inconsequential Online. I have no direct evidence of this, just a bunch of tweeted twaddle that Tom Johnson turned me onto last night. Needless to say, I don’t plan to spend $80 to feed my already quite corpulent vanity.

This is my third or fourth year on the receiving end of this evolving “honor,” and, with some exceptions, Inman’s list is comprised of a company I am less and less comfortable keeping. BloodhoundBlog has always been about the consumer for me, and about practitioners who know how to put the consumer first. Alas, the RE.net by now just looks like more of the same — more sleazoids looking for ways to sucker broke-ass agents into paying three bucks a pop for rotten eggs. Deadwood was a fun TV show, but I don’t want my name soiled by the real estate equivalents of Al Swearengen.

I do want to take a moment to apologize to Brad Inman, though. I have offered up what I thought was sound business advice to the man — coated, to be sure, in what might seem to be a bitter pill. But I had assumed that Inman was a grown-up, and, as a demi-billionaire, presumably capable of dealing with a certain amount of acerbic wit. It turns out though — as certain lyrical twitterbirds have pointed out to me — that Brad Inman is in fact an infantile encephalic retarded paraplegic with a harelip — and thus my jibes aimed at him were not sporting. This, at least, is the only conclusion one can draw from the plaintive tweeted bleatings about my criticisms of Big Bad Brad that have emerged from other names on Inman’s list of Real Estate’s 50 Most Inconsequential Online.

Which is, just by itself, a good reason to say to hell with the whole magilla.

Meanwhile I can think of only one tune so perfectly suited to the occasion, Big in Japan by Tom Waits:

If you want to do right by your clients, you have no need to lean on me as an “influence.” If you want to screw consumers or other real estate professionals by hustling them with useless crap, I’ll thank you to leave my name out of it.

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12 Days Of Christmas – Mortgage Edition

Great job putting this together, Jonas!

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