There’s always something to howl about

Archive for January, 2010

e-ting disorder

it’s not that i don’t want to control my own virtual weight. au contraire, mes amis (i am my own worst higher power). there just isn’t an app for such a thing in the itunes store yet.  i’ve been existing on 140 characters or less for months now, purging what isn’t vital (caps and font size to name a few), and withering away to mere silicon and bones.  when i check my profile in the mirror an unfamiliar bot stares back.  and,  just between us bffs, he looks a bit bulimic since he all but eliminated spam from his diet.

he had me delete all my firewalls and security programs because he couldn’t trust which were real and which were fugazis. no doubt, a 17 year old megalomaniac from the ukraine is stealing my identity as we speak. (the joke, of course, being on him.)  all my listings have mysteriously expired from  good luck with that, comrade.

what i fear now is  this: if  all these ones and zeros ever do bio-degrade and dissolve into the ozone will there even be a digital record of my existence? i lost all my paper records in a basement flood two years ago and never did get that book published. paperback. yuck. too rich.

all my really good thoughts are in the notes section of my iphone; as is my music library, email, contact ppl, precious family pics and vids, restaurants on speed dial, calendar of my life—past, present and future. rss feeds, maps, passcodes, swiss acct #s, etc.  u can listen to  my voice on the greeting if  u wish to get personal although i politely request that u don’t. my battery life doesn’t permit such things and my mailbox is redlining @capacity. but if u must…lv a mssg.

i find myself praying to @god for guidance but alas, nada. i get an instant message that my spiritual tithing has slacked off and that my universal pay-pal account is about to be condemed to….fail.

alert. my karmic credit score has just been lowered.

all i can conclude is: if anorexic realtors hate the way they look on the outside…. @lord only knows what they are saying about mobile-me. #


sent via iphone


Apple tablet computer announcement liveblogging now…

…at Engadget.

It’s called the iPad…

Dear Brad Inman, while you weren’t Vooking, Steve Jobs stole your lunch: “Embedded video inside of articles that can be played.”

Don’t weep, though. It’s a Kindle-killer, too, as expected:

How free does information want to be? The marginal value of digital content is the discounted perceived cost of the hassle and risk of obtaining an acceptable free alternative. Why don’t books sell? They’re priced too high. Steve Jobs will take care of that, just as he did with MP3s.

Note to Richard Riccelli: “You can change the font… whatever you want.”

USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G:

An unlimited data plan from AT&T for $29.99 a month.

How much would you pay? Starts at $499…

ATTN: ZipForms, DocuSign, FlexMLS: Get on this NOW!

No word on multi-tasking, use of the iPad as a phone or syncing/pairing with the iPhone.

But: It rocks as an internet device, with Numbers, Pages and Keynote from iWorks available. Listers can use Keynote to sway sellers, and Buyer’s Agents can live without paper. This is a rockin’ device for any salesperson.

Bottom line: Wicked cool.

New York Times, top-middle of the front page. Take that, Obama!

Kindle? Dead. Nook? Dead. Vook? Dead. Zune? Double-dead.

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Finding versus Discovering

Take me home

Do you still buy magazines and books? Or are you hell bent on reading everything on the internet? Do you love statistics? Has Google Maps got you salivating for bigger and better satellites? Do you love good graphs better than sex? Is a bigger IDX better? Do you want to be completely plugged in, connected, always on line?

Well it turns out that I guess I’m more dog than human sometimes, especially when it comes to what makes a great web presence, and how best to graft a marketing strategy. I’ve spent some time today, you see, smelling other dogs beeeeehinds, and I think I’ve picked up the scent of something y’all might want to bury for a rainy day.

The scent I’ve picked up is either the Finding or the Discovering scent. I think it may be important to think about these two concepts as you put together your marketing, for your Web presence, and maybe more importantly, your belly to belly presence.

Turns out, you see, that people are still buying magazines. Though through the internet we can get all the information on who’s doing what to whom, how they’re doing it, why it shouldn’t be done, and where we can go to get more information on everything we just digested, people are still buying and reading magazines. Wonder why?

Turns out that people simply like to discover things, not just find them. Magazines, you see, lie around waiting for just the right moment to spring into our consciousness. Sure, you want the 4 bedroom, 2 bath home in Elevado Hills, with view, pool and lots of land, but sitting in front of an agent’s IDX (even the good ones) just isn’t the same as opening “San Diego Magazine” and seeing a home just like the one you imagine living in. Or you’ve been watching the statistics from a great blog site or newsletter from Brian or Scott or Mark or Tom on rates and terms and the market in general, and you’re educated and knowledgeable because of this. But then, at the hair salon, you reach down randomly, pick up a Slate Magazine, and read an article about the economy that makes you think the mattress might be a better investment than a home.

I’m curious as to whether you’ve thought about making your web presence more like the Discovery Channel, less like CNN Financial; more like going to the Comedy Store, less like watching a sitcom. I’m just thinking for today. I love it when my clients discover the home they want, much more than when I help them find the home they want.

Think about it. As many of you say here, if the shoe fits, wear it. Is there an SEO component to discovery versus finding? Can you skin more cats if you help your clients discover the truths behind the numbers? Has Ryan always known that this is the way into a buyer’s psyche? What about this concept in the context of Greg’s DISC theory?

I dunno. I do know that like Geno Petro I’m not afraid to be discovered, but maybe I’m afraid to be found out.


Some Fun – Keynes Didn’t Give Full Value To Human Behavior

It speaks for itself.


Shimmers of the shadow: Is your local REO inventory going up?

Strictly anecdotal — and I would be delighted to be wrong about this.

First, the inventory of the homes I track for investors has been rising slowly but steadily since mid-October. Not an obscene increase, but sales are way up as prices have wallowed in more or less the same place since last March or April. A lot of investors are calling “bottom!” with their cold, hard-to-come-by cash — and yet available inventory is going up, not down. And prices? In December, way down.

Then consider this: I have an REO negotiation going on in a condo community where the quantity of the one floorplan my buyers are interested in jumped 50% in two weeks, from 13 to 20 units just like that, all of them priced right or within shooting-down distance.

It seems to be getting easier and easier to get just the right deal for buyers. Even in overbuilt Phoenix, last summer and early fall played like a seller’s market, but by now it feels to me as though the table is swiftly turning.

And all of that leads me to wonder if we’re finally seeing the much-hypothesized, much-denied shadow inventory.

Am I seeing my own shadow, or is there something going on?


Battle for the Future of the American Mind: Jobs versus Obama

Which will be bigger news on Thursday morning, President Barrack Obama’s State of the Union speech or Steve Jobs’ introduction of the Apple tablet computer?


Obama finally admits the obvious?


Let’s Play the Trulia Valuation Game! Prizes to the Winner!

I was thinking this weekend about all of the rumors about Trulia and Google buying them and all of that. I was thinking as well about how both Trulia and Zillow are both seeming to be angling to be the next…

What does that mean…trying to be the next….hmmm…my mind hearkens back to a certain Russ Shaw post here in October of 2007…something about a pencil sharpener. When they say they want to replace, they MEAN it! It is about folks standing in line to take money from REALTORS…right? If not that, then what?

If Trulia is not lining up to give us a ..ummm…sharpening (dare I say that?) then their valuations should NOT include ANY REALTOR MONEY. So here’s the contest:

This contest is for someone to explain in the comments below HOW Trulia is going to generate enough revenue to justify a $300 Million valuation (that is an arbitrary number – just guessing here, boys!) given their current burn rate AND

The contest winner cannot allow ANY revenue to come from REALTORS. Revenue can come from current CPM rates for ads on their site, but how much of their site would need to be covered with ads to generate that revenue? Not sure but my offhanded guess is about 125% of the above the fold area. Revenue can come from other creative ideas. Just not from the REALTORS wallet. 😉

The Prize: 1 hour SEO consultation with me.

See- I don’t get it. I wouldn’t pay $150MM for Trulia let alone $300MM or (heaven forbid) $500MM …so what gives?

Please submit contest entries below!

One last thing: The only thing “stoopider” than a Trulia valuation of that size would be’s valuation of $1.81 per share (it was down at $0.89 when Russell Shaw proposed buying them out…)


My Tried and True Rules For Political Debate

I love talkin’ with people. My heroin if you will, is the first couple conversations I have with a prospect or new client. It’s a fix I need often, and greedily seek. Political discussions also interest me. I love the rational give and take of a spirited political debate. What I can’t stand though, is the emotional claptrap, the avoidance of facing tough questions head-on, and the favorite technique of empty headed smart-asses, answering a question with a question.

Obviously, liberals and conservatives are both guilty. My experience however is with libs, who sometimes seem literally incapable of addressing simple questions asked in plain, one to two syllable words. I’m to the right of Atilla the Hun, and make no bones about it. The only reason I twice voted for Reagan was cuz Goldwater didn’t run. And HE wasn’t conservative enough. 🙂

Back to political debate.

I’ve developed some hard and fast rules. If ya wanna play with me, you abide by them, or we don’t talk politics. It tends to get libs’ panties in a bind, but it works well. Those who agree to them, usually end up admitting it made for a much calmer, more honest, and certainly friendlier give and take.

The Rules

1. If I ask you a question, you must answer THAT question — nothing more. Take as long as you need, but you must limit your response to the specific question. It works both ways.

2. Without exception — NO answering a question with a question. It’s almost always the way out when you have nothing to say. Either give the other guy the point, or make your case.

3. No personal attacks. The discussion ends there, without warning. You’ve obviously shown your gun is loaded with blanks. You’ve embarrassed yourself. Quit while you’re behind.

4. Don’t dress up your opinion as fact. You look foolish, and it’s an insult to my intelligence. It’s either fact or not. The intensity of your belief doesn’t make it so.

Here’s a recent example of a talk I had with a lib in Starbucks the other day. It was a great example of what’s possible.

We were standing in line and began talking about the Scott Brown win. He was appalled by it, and I was elated. We hit it off, so he invited me to share a table and chat about it over our coffee. Cool.

Although ‘John’ was a little surprised at the ground rules, he smiled, and readily agreed.

We started, at my suggestion, by establishing our core beliefs. He admitted to being an avid Obama supporter. I said I was to the right of Reagan. Then it was on.

He went first, asking me what I thought of W’s presidency. I told him with the exception of the tax cuts and national security (no attacks on his watch), his presidency was an abomination to conservatives everywhere. John was taken aback by that response, saying, ‘Man, nobody can accuse you of not tellin’ it like it is.’

I then asked him, “Values matter. Are you hoping your 13 year old daughter follows the example of the entire Kennedy family, and/or Bill Clinton when it comes to marital fidelity?” I love that question cuz it’s an easy one to answer if you’re gonna be honest.

John began to answer with a question about Republican sexual scandals, but I put my finger to my lips while shakin’ my head no. Answer the question, Big Guy. He smiled, then to his credit, said, “My heart would be broken if a daughter of mine treated marriage that way.” Good answer — honest to be sure.

This went on for over an hour. Every time he thought I’d get squeamish, I looked him in the eye and answered him directly. Nixon was an embarrassment. Both Bushes were spineless when going against Dems. Any war is a mistake if we don’t go in to wipe the enemy out, and damn quickly. Kill ’em all if that’s what it takes.

John, as time passed, became more and more comfortable admitting his misgivings about the libs over the years who’ve disappointed him. Neither one of us changed our core beliefs. I’m still the most conservative guy most folks will meet — a Neanderthal in John’s eyes. He’s still mixin’ the Obama Kool-Aid — a hopeless Kumbuya groupie. 🙂

Yet, we became friendly acquaintances talking about a topic most folks avoid like the plague. We promised to look for each other whenever we’re in that Starbucks. And I think the Rules made that possible.

What think you?


Why Stop With the Bath Water When You Can Throw Out the Baby At No Additional Charge?

Full disclosure: I’m neither Democrat nor Republican. I’m neither Mortgage Broker nor Mortgage Banker. I am a consumer – just like you.

I haven’t been over here to play as often as I’d like because of some other projects I’ve been passionately pursuing.  My bad, because this is still the place to be for people with a take.  And I’ve got a take:

What the American public doesn’t know is what makes them the American public, alright?

– Dan Akroyd as Ray Zalinsky in the movie “Tommy Boy”

For the rest of this article to make sense, I’d ask that you take 2 minutes to read this letter authored by Sen. Jeff Merkley to Fed Chair Ben Bernanke dated Dec. 24, 2009.

Here’s the cliff’s notes version the way I read it:

  1. Mortgage brokers are crooks.
  2. The subprime debacle happened because consumers were “tricked” into loans they couldn’t afford to repay.
  3. Eliminating the Yield Spread Premium (YSP) will fix our problems.

To support his argument to kill YSP, Merkley cites a NY Times editorial piece painting the mortgage broker as unethical and the root of the subprime debacle.  Here are a few questions I’d like to pose to the pound for thought and discussion:

  1. YSP existed in its current form up until Jan 1, 2010 – when the new Good Faith Estimate and RESPA rules took effect .  By the way, is there still such a thing as a “subprime loan”?  What banks are writing “subprime loans” today?  Six months ago?  A year ago?
  2. Did it EVER make any sense that a bank would knowingly extend a loan to a borrower who had demonstrated a propensity to default and thus would be more likely than normal to default on their mortgage?  Where is the mention of the “stated income” loans in Merkley’s letter.  Certainly THAT didn’t contribute to the subprime mess, right?
  3. FACT:  today, the mortgage broker CANNOT earn YSP.  YSP belongs to the borrower and may only be rebated to the borrower.

I’m going to repeat that for effect.

  1. Senator Merkley, less than one month ago
  2. Authored a letter (co-signed by approximately 20 other Senators)
  3. In the guise of consumer protection
  4. Calling for the elimination of Yield Spread Premium
  5. Which today belongs to nobody but the consumer
  6. Because this will help us solve the subprime crisis
  7. Which solved itself as soon as the banks realized that a borrower with a 480 credit score earning $34,000 annually might not be able to afford a $450,000 home (Stated income loan?  Are you kidding me?  Who was the Einstein who thought THAT was a good idea?).

The Merkley letter, both in content and in timing, shows a level of ineptitude I never thought possible – even for an elected official.  Today, mortgage brokers must disclose their compensation up front and in full on the new Good Faith Estimate.  Any yield spread premium earned MUST be rebated to the borrower.  This, folks – is extremely consumer friendly.  Elimination of YSP HURTS the consumer in several ways:

  1. It further skews the competitive playing field in favor of depository banks.  Yes, the BIG banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
  2. It limits consumer choice.  Now, instead of hiring a trusted advisor (who has already disclosed what his fees are up front) to act as your fiduciary and find the right mortgage for your needs, you’ll be on your own to shop the banks.
  3. It’s dangerous precedent.  Do you think the movement to eliminate YSP stops with the broker?  Immediate pressure will begin to fall on the regional mortgage banker – the lender who borrows its funds on a “warehouse line” and is eligible for back-end compensation in the form of SRP (service release premium).

Who’s next when the government’s finished telling mortgage professionals what they ought to make, and how?  You think the idea of limiting what a Real Estate Agent might sound juicy in a letter to Congress?  I’ll close with another movie quote:

And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.

– Michael Douglas as President Shepherd in the movie “The American President”


Barney Frank: “I believe this committee will be recommending, abolishing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their current form and coming up with a whole new system of housing finance.”

To say anything at all would be way too much. From the Wall Street Journal:

“The remedy here is…as I believe this committee will be recommending, abolishing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their current form and coming up with a whole new system of housing finance,” said Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

His comments initially rippled through bond markets on concerns that the government might pull away from the mortgage market. Many believe that’s unlikely and that any revamp would include continued government involvement. The government took over the companies in September 2008 as loan losses mounted.

Some Republicans have argued that the companies should ultimately be reduced in size and privatized, while at other end of the spectrum, some analysts have recommended turning the companies into government agencies. But several industry groups and academics have suggested that the government is likely to continue playing at least some role in the future of the companies.

One such report came from analysts at Standard & Poor’s this past week. “It’s hard for us to imagine” how enough capital could be attracted to replace Fannie and Freddie with stand-alone private companies that would be able to offer low-cost funding for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, the analysts wrote.

Some analysts have argued that starting from scratch could create more problems than they would solve, in part because Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee around half of the nation’s $11 trillion in home mortgages. “Blue sky ideas are great, but they take a long time to happen,” said Mahesh Swaminathan, senior mortgage strategist at Credit Suisse, at a conference last month. “When you have $5 trillion of agency mortgages, you can’t really orphan them.”

Mr. Frank, who didn’t elaborate on forthcoming recommendations, said last month that one possible revamp could merge some functions of Fannie and Freddie that overlap with the Federal Housing Administration into the government mortgage-insurance agency.


My “Jim Casey” take on the FHA’s Policy to Address Risk and Strengthen Finances

“Before I knowed it, I was sayin’ out loud, ‘The hell with it! There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing.” – (Preacher) Jim Casey / Grapes of Wrath

Here’s my take on the FHA 1/20/10 press release and the 1/21/10 Mortgagee letter as posted on my blog on January 21st, 2010:


PRESS RELEASE: January 20th, 2010 – Deciphered into (highly biased and subjective) English by me on January 21st, 2010.

I basically cut out a lot of the stuff that doesn’t matter and tried to just talk about what will affect you. If you really want to torture yourself, here’s the original release.

The FHA statement in italics – My translation looks like this…easy to read. Ready? Cool, let’s get down to business then….

New Measures Will Help FHA Better Manage Risk, While Maintaining Support for the Housing Market and Access for Underserved Communities

FHA is hemorrhaging cash due to fraud, rapidly rising defaults and basically because the sleazy sub-prime guys ran around announcing that FHA was the “New Subprime” when everything collapsed in 2007 after Wall St. decided to take the stance that it wasn’t a good idea to allow brokers, lenders and loan officers to give away loans to people that couldn’t afford the payments (even though they started the whole damn thing in the first place).

Who would have though that would come back to haunt them huh? (file this under “ya think?”)

WASHINGTON – Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner David Stevens today announced a set of policy changes to strengthen the FHA’s capital reserves, while enabling the agency to continue to fulfill its mission to provide access to homeownership for underserved communities. The changes announced today are the latest in a series of changes Stevens has enacted in order to better position the FHA to manage its risk while continuing to support the nation’s housing market recovery.

Ok, blah, blah, blah…We’re making changes to FHA to make it more expensive to get an FHA loan so that less people will use FHA loans. IF you do still use an FHA loan (because we know it’s the only game in town with a low down payment) we get to collect more of your money so that we can pay for all of the fraud we’ve allowed in the past.

The FHA will propose to take the following steps: increase the mortgage insurance premium (MIP); update the combination of FICO scores and down payments for new borrowers; reduce seller concessions to three percent, from six percent; and implement a series of significant measures aimed at increasing lender enforcement. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan previewed the changes in December of last year, noting that the FHA would announce additional details before the end of January.

The credit score thing…no biggie. They basically said that if you have less than a 580 credit score, you must put down at least 10% down payment before FHA will insure the loan.

Real quick though – FHA does NOT lend money. They only insure against the event of default. Lenders stopped allowing loans to borrowers under 620 like a year ago….Good one guys, couldn’t ya be a little more relevant maybe? Maybe even just pretend like you know what the rest of us are dealing with?

The rest of this talks about very real changes that will affect your ability to use FHA financing in the future. I’m going to wait until they go into specific detail to give you my two cents though….let us continue, shall we?

  • Mortgage insurance premium (MIP) will be increased to build up capital reserves and bring back private lending
  • The first step will be to raise the up-front MIP by 50 bps to 2.25% and request legislative authority to increase the maximum annual MIP that the FHA can charge.
  • If this authority is granted, then the second step will be to shift some of the premium increase from the up-front MIP to the annual MIP.
  • This shift will allow for the capital reserves to increase with less impact to the consumer, because the annual MIP is paid over the life of the loan instead of at the time of closing
  • The initial up-front increase is included in a Mortgagee Letter to be released tomorrow, January 21st, and will go into effect in the spring.

FHA will increase the Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) by .50% of the loan amount. The current mortgage insurance requirements is 1.75% upfront – which can be financed into the loan, and .50% of the loan amount which is paid monthly.

The rest of the bullet points basically say that they will petition congress to split up the mortgage insurance premium between the Upfront and the Monthly. If I had to choose a middle ground on this I’m thinking 2% upfront and .75% monthly, but the Mortgagee letter that they released today says otherwise – it will be an upfront cost.

HUD Mortgagee Letter 2010-02

I still wouldn’t rule out the FHA trying to split it up the .50% increase between the upfront MIP and the monthly MI….let’s see.

  • Reduce allowable seller concessions from 6% to 3%
  • The current level exposes the FHA to excess risk by creating incentives to inflate appraised value. This change will bring FHA into conformity with industry standards on seller concessions.
  • This change will be posted in the Federal Register in February, and after a notice and comment period, would go into effect in the early summer.

Ok, so the long touted benefit of FHA loans has been that the Seller can contribute up to 6% of the sales price to the Buyer in the purchase transaction to be used toward the closing costs or interest rate buy down.

Reducing this from 6% to 3% “to excess risk by creating incentives to inflate appraised value. This change will bring FHA into conformity with industry standards on seller concessions.” is an interesting statement since this “industry standard” is the standard set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when they were only Government Sponsored Entities (GSEs) and not under a Federal Government Conservatorship.

Now, there’s an interesting take on this part that may actually not be so bad for the consumer. There has been talk of adopting the Fannie Mae HVCC policy which prevents lenders from communicating with home appraisers. This has been a huge headache for home buyers for more reasons that what I can go into now.

It’s possible that if FHA saves the world by reducing the incentive for evil real estate people to bloat the sales price to finance the closing costs by reducing the allowable seller concessions, that we may be able to avoid the move to adopt this failed conventional lending policy being adopted by HUD. Let’s hope.

If you are really interested in how HVCC has affected Home Mortgage Lending – first, read the rest of this article, then come back and check out this Google search I did for “The problem with HVCC

There’s more to this PRESS RELEASE, but it’s all sort of government jargon and hyperbole justifying the bold moves they’ve taken to insure that FHA financing is available as a source of affordable housing financing for families for years to come…eh, I have to resist the urge to be sarcastic here….so I’ll just say….Good job protecting us from ourselves. Couldn’t have done it without ya!

There are also some VERY STRONG words about coming down hard on fraud and deceptive lending practices….I really don’t have the energy to launch into a rant about my opinion of this….maybe later…let’s see how I feel about it next week.

Timelines You Need to Know

Hey, let’s give a big ‘ole cheer for FHA committing to a time line we can actually plan around…here is the actual verbiage in the press release:

  • Mortgage Insurance Premium Increases – Will go into effect in the spring
  • Updated combination of FICO scores and Down Payment (which is totally irrelevant in this market) – Will go into effect in the early summer
  • Increase enforcement on FHA Lenders – (Protect consumers against fraud by lenders) would go into effect in early summer

Seriously, way to nail down those time lines so that borrowers can effectively plan for what lies in store for them if FHA is looking like the most likely option.

There’s no way I could make this stuff up….Stranger than fiction, I know – Go ahead and read the links to the actual Press Release and Mortgagee Letter is you like.

Here’s the bottom line the way I see it (in my not-so-humble opinion):

  • Don’t buy a home unless you can afford to make the payments.
  • If you’re a lender that provides home loans for folks, don’t rip them off or commit fraud.

Again, I find myself lacking the energy right now to eloquently embark on an intelligible rant that will only result in pointing out the obvious silliness of it all.

So, what do you think – Am I off base? Did I read this wrong? Am I a flaming jerk for injecting my opinion into this fine effort to protect us from the evils of those that wish to harm us and protect us from ourselves? Let me know – drop me a comment and let’s talk about it more.


Gaining control of your schedule just got easier with TimeDriver

So this is the year that time management is going to be crucial for me. If I cannot gain control over my time, then I’m likely to stay mired in my own particular mode of real estate mediocrity, and that would suck rocks.

But, not to worry for I have found a tool that I think will be helpful to Realtors, and while I’m just getting started with TimeDriver, the response from clients and colleagues is “Wow! I love that.” And that’s plenty reason to keep a tool around, but I’m beginning to see how I could use it for a lot of real estate applications. Bloodhound Disclaimer: I don’t get any kickbacks for sharing this. There’s no affiliation program that I’m aware of, and I’m not in contact with the company except I signed up and use it. I simply want to share a tool that I’ve found useful.

TimeDriver is called a personal scheduler. From their site:

TimeDriver is a revolutionary appointment invitation system that will compel your customers and community to schedule time with you. By embedding a “schedule now” button in email messages and on Web pages, you’ll drive more appointments with fewer hassles than ever before.

Basically, it’s an online calendar that you set up to schedule time as you want. Your clients can then access the calendar through a unique url, and they can schedule time with you themselves, bypassing the flying email and phone tag time sink. It gives the client control and that’s a good thing in a real estate transaction, right? You can also push clients to schedule their own appointments with “Schedule Now” embeddable buttons. TimeDriver will then sync the appointment with your Outlook or Google Calendar, with plans to bring SalesForce and Lotus Notes on board as well. Butwaittheresmore! TimeDriver will then send you an email, alerting you when an appointment is scheduled, and reminding both of you when the appointment is approaching.

The first time I saw TimeDriver was when I called a photographer to schedule an appointment. She sent me the link to her TimeDriver calendar. It was an empowering experience to schedule my own appointment, and that’s been the reaction of people with whom I share my TimeDriver links.

I can see using this in real estate applications to schedule phone calls, office meetings, property showings, closings, inspections. I’m preparing to list a property that is going to require some maintenance prior to listing. I’m going to try it as an individual property calendar, creating a unique calendar url for that property, and send it out to anyone who needs to schedule time at the property, also keeping the client in the loop, as I create and share Google Calendars for my clients.

There’s a 90-day free trial waiting for you, after that it’s a reasonable $29.95 annual fee.

Anyone else using this? What’s been your experience? If you do use it, now or in the future, please let us know your thoughts.


They are Smarter than you, Better than you and they Know More than you

I’m a mortgage guy.  Mortgage guys (and gals) will often talk about how highly they regard and respect the professionalism and expertise of Real Estate Agents, and they paint thise adoration with a very broad brush.

Real Estate Agents have a big ‘ole brush as well as they sing the praises and glory of how efficient, communicative and quickly Mortgage folks do their job to ensure a speedy and worry free transaction.

(The sarcasm should be about waist deep by now)

And you know what? (this applies to both groups)  They are Smarter than you – at marketing to their services to thier prospects, they are Better than you – at doing their job, and they Know More than you do – about their business (most of the time!).  Here’s the kicker….we have the exact same clientele.

Here’s a question: What can you learn from someone that’s not in your line of work that will make you better, smarter and cause you to innovate?

A couple of years ago I read a book called the Medici Effect that quite effectively makes the case that true innovation is realized at the intersection of different disciplines.  There are no new ideas, only new ways of looking at things that already exist…maybe just not in your world.

If you think about it, mortgage types and agent types are different disciplines.  Some people can pull off both and make a good living at it, for the most part however, these are two different personality types.

The very best in one field of the Real Estate profession is rarely the very best in the other field as well.  We’re not talking about having competence in either discipline.

I’m talking about being cutting edge, innovative, kick-ass, gonzo marketing fools.  This isn’t vanilla agent or loan officer stuff we’re talking about.  I’m talking about raising the bar and being a thought leader in your market.

For the past few years I have belonged to Vistage, an Executive Coaching and Business Leadership group that promotes “better leaders – decisions – results”.

My group is made up of 12-15 CEOs  from different businesses and industries and we meet once a month for 8 hours to talk about issues and opportunities as well as other business building skill sets and ideas.

Viewing the trials, tribulation and triumphs of the past two years from a non-industry perspective was an essential ingredient in my recipe for success through a challenging market and economy.

One of my favorite events over this past year have been attending Real Estate Barcamp (REBarcamp) accross the State of California.  I attended 5 this year.  I found it fascinating to learn and understand the challenges that Agents perceive and the innovations Agents have created to survive the past few years….it was different than what most mortgage types are talking about.

Neither of these groups are about mortgages or lending and yet I take black pearls from each meeting or event I attend, innovations that others have applied to their own business, and modified it to apply to mine.

Some of my best ideas come from places that have absolutely nothing to do with lending or mortgages, sometimes not even the Real Estate industry.

So next time you you get an opportunity to join a group, or attend an event that is NOT about doing your job better – Jump on that opportunity.

I guarantee that you will take away more cutting edge,  innovative ideas than you ever could by attending this year’s Goliath industry event designed to tell you how to do your job better and by the way, here is a nifty new product/system we created to help you improve your business – and if you buy today…….You get the idea.

1 comment

Heckuva Job Brownie

I believe in change.

I do not believe in politics as usual.

Horse trading behind closed doors isn’t change.

Has Scott Brown’s election defied the norm that all politics are local?


Does Scott Brown’s victory represent change?

Jury hasn’t even been seated.  However, I suspect it may actually be the first green chute to all of this change business.

I can honestly say that I was pleased with the results.  Not because I am in alignment with his Republican cohorts, but because voters sent a message – not just locally, but nationally.

Now I openly profess that I voted for Obama despite the Neo-Con rhetoric bombarding me at home.  In my short few months living back home in Texas, my father has almost convinced me that our President’s name isn’t Barack Hussein Obama, but God Damn Obama.  While he hasn’t quite branded me with the cast iron “liberal” prod on my backside, he has broadly casts his brush to paint me with the same blue color – “you and your liberal friends” … needless to say, perhaps I put a smile on my father’s face after admitting Brown’s victory was a good thing.

I think I am more in alignment with the 51% of Massachusetts voters who identify with the Independent political affiliation … they are still in Massachusetts, let’s not kid ourselves – perhaps they’re not blue – maybe light blue.

I’m happy with the results because I want change.  I buy that health care reform is a priority, but the option(s) presented by Congress today represent neither change nor reform.  Again health care reform is important.  I personally agree it’s a priority, yet under our current economic turmoil, is it job number one?


In this morning’s Dallas Morning News I read an interesting article that may share a common theme with Scott Brown’s victory defying the politics is local norm – maybe all real estate is NOT local.  While it doesn’t come as any surprise to all of us – except perhaps Congress – jobs do play a fairly significant role in driving the housing market.  In fact, when people are employed, they tend to purchase homes.


According to the article “Jobless Held Back by Homes”, those who are unemployed and seeking employment elsewhere are unable to sell their homes because they simply can’t afford to cover the mortgages on their homes.  People’s ability and mobility are being significantly impacted.  Perhaps the most dramatic prediction in the article was that the stagnant workforce may raise the long-term trend for unemployment by one percentage point and lower economic growth 0.3% a year through 2012.

In fact, the lack of mobility has already contributed to as much as 1.5% points higher in terms of the jobless rate, clocking in at around 10%.  15% in Michigan alone.

That’s over 1M people.

That’s a lot of houses.

I think maybe Scott Brown might want to talk a lot more about jobs, maybe health care second?

Just one more thought – I’m glad Scott Brown drives American.  A Chevy Colorado I believe.

Mr. President – next time, you may not want to endorse the candidate, but you should at the very least endorse the truck.

It’s American.

It’s a Chevy.

You own the company.

Er… we own the company.  Next time I want to buy GM stock, I’ll call my broker, not the US Treasury.


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