There’s always something to howl about

Archive for September, 2011

The Reason for Boundless Optimism

This, from a wonderful op/ed piece in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend entitled: From Phoenicia to Hayek to the ‘Cloud’ by Matt Ridley.

The crowd-sourced, wikinomic cloud is the new, new thing that all management consultants are now telling their clients to embrace.  Yet the cloud is not a new thing at all.  It has been the source of human invention all along.  Human technological advancement depends not on individual intelligence, but on collective idea sharing, and it has done so for tens of thousands of years…

Knowledge is dispersed and shared. Friedrich Hayek was the first to point out, in his famous 1945 essay “The Uses of Knowledge in Society,” that central planning cannot work because it is trying to substitute an individual all-knowing intelligence for a distributed and fragmented system of localized but connected knowledge.

So dispersed is knowledge, that, as Leonard Reed famously observed in his 1958 essay “I, Pencil,” nobody on the planet knows how to make a pencil. The knowledge is dispersed among many thousands of graphite miners, lumberjacks, assembly line workers, ferrule designers, salesmen and so on. This is true of everything that I use in my everyday life, from my laptop to my shirt to my city. Nobody knows how to make it or to run it. Only the cloud knows…

…good ideas can spread through trade. New weapons, new foods, new crafts, new ornaments, new tools. Suddenly you are no longer relying on the inventiveness of your own tribe or the capacity of your own territory. You are drawing upon ideas that occurred to anybody anywhere anytime within your trading network….

That is what trade does. It creates a collective innovating brain as big as the trade network itself.

So far this is already inspiring. We are advanced by the collective brain power of everyone we trade with… need there be any further discussion of free markets and open trade?  Why, other than in pursuit of enslavement, would anyone suggest limiting the “collective innovating brain?”  But there’s more; there’s reason for unbridled optimism.  Not just a positive outlook, not just a subtle feeling that the world will work itself out, but a genuine, over-the-top realization of optimism perfected.

Which is of course why the Internet is such an exciting development. For the first time humanity has not just some big collective brains, but one truly vast one in which almost everybody can share and in which distance is no obstacle.

The power of the one, vast, collective brain found in the Internet is the greatest development in mankind’s civilization since the creation of civilization itself.  Up till now, when areas were “socially networked by the trading ships of Phoenicians, Greeks, Arabs or Venetians, culture and prosperity advanced. When the network collapsed … prosperity stagnated.”  The social networking of mankind is now instantaneous and worldwide.  Even systems that effort to control information cannot control the Internet; information will out because the innovation crossed the tipping point.  Once we became “one truly vast (collective brain) in which almost everybody can share…” we became a force beyond the reach of any man’s desire to control.  What could possibly overcome the innovation and prosperity of one, worldwide collective brain? Only another equally worldwide collective brain, yet this is not possible. The space was filled at the moment of the tipping point.  It cannot be unfilled and replaced with a lack of knowing.  It has happened.  The future is very bright indeed.


What will you be doing next Tuesday morning?

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Video’s are in my arsenal – Lead conversation – It’s battle time

If you were me, you wouldn’t love my annual paychecks. As a matter of fact, I’ve started out far worst that Russell Shaw was for the first nine years of his career, before he got into radio advertising. I’ve been searching for a way to build credibility online. If you’ve ever seen my face, you’d think I’m 21, not 30.  Of course you might be thinking, who cares 30 is the new 21.

Getting a great real estate deal from 365 Palm Beach on Vimeo.

I plan on having video testimonials of former customer so new customers can see that I am in fact a credible Realtor to do business with.  Let me know your thoughts on this video.  Does it need work?  Of course it needs work.  As a matter of fact, my entire business model needs work, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing what I am writing this very moment.  I would maybe writing about how my in house seo team is the best in south Florida.

My hunch is through video’s, I can increase my lead conversation through credibility.  I am playing with the idea of “Forcing Video Registration” as well.  Basically, a customer could watch a 30 second clip, register their info, and then watch the remaining 1.5 minutes of video.  Either way; in the name of getting out of the rat race and taking 1 full day off a week without real estate is the goal I am shooting for.  I know it can be done.

Also bloodhounders if you have any good SYSTEMS for getting repeat business please let me know.  From muggy South Florida down in the real estate trenches I’m Robert Worthington!!!


Was That Your Kid On 2nd Base Lookin’ For You?

It’s a lazy Saturday here in Paradise, um, San Diego. The last week or so I’ve been running into more than my share of people from my local baseball past, bringing a flood of fond memories in each instance. In Vons last week I ran into a kid I both coached (for and against) and umpired countless times. Yesterday in another local store there was a parent ahead of me at the cash register. “Jeff!! It’s Cheryl, how ya doin’?” “Super, Cheryl — How’s little Stevie?” “He’s a CPA now, living at the beach.”

Wow — Little Stevie’s a CPA? How the hell old am I anyway? Over the years I’ve had so much fun on the field, enjoying the heat of battle, both in the dugout and as an umpire. From the time my own son was eight, till he was a sophomore in high school, I was in the dugout. That includes post season tournaments, and all-stars at every age group.

Guess how many many millions of dollars I’d trade for those years.

The on-the-field stories I have, interesting, funny, and sometimes deeply poignant, go from 1988 through 2000, my last year umpiring NCAA ball. I saw my son’s first homer. Was in the dugout for his no-hitter. Same for the day he stood on the mound so triumphantly, having won the local city-wide major league championship in front of his old buds and their parents. Who, for the record, were cheering wildly for him, while lookin’ up at the announcer’s booth at the black hat who’d chased us out the year before to another league.

How sweet was that? In that moment, how much was the look on his face worth? Or seeing another league’s folks standing up and cheering for their involuntary prodigal son? Or, having the memory of that look and those cheers till I die?

I’ve umpired college kids I’d seen play since they were fifth graders for Heaven’s sake. Some of the stories are fall down funny. Some are pure baseball, and most are made up of success, failure, and the value of endless hard work producing results. For a very few, those results included playing Major League baseball. Still have a couple left playin’.

Ask those kids the value of learning the lesson of hard, almost anonymous work turning into positive results. They’ll have those catskins on their walls for life.

It’s Dad though, who so often make the pivotal difference merely by their consistent presence. Experience shows far less than 5% of Little Leaguers even make it to third string bench warming status in high school. Fewer still ever get as far as casting a shadow on a college diamond while wearing a uniform.

But when asked, virtually all the ones with fond memories can tell you stories with Dad playin’ a critical role. Can every guy be a coach in their boy’s sport(s) of choice? Fact is, most can’t. They either don’t have the skill sets or are simply too busy puttin’ food on the table. But they break their butts to be there for the games, to show their kids it’s important.

Wanna know the saddest thing in youth sports? It’s the kid who doubles in a run, then, after sliding safely into second base like their favorite Major Leaguer, the crowd cheering wildly, they casually (no really) cast their eyes in the direction of the bleachers, searching for Dad, who’s not there — again.

Lord knows none of us are perfect parents, but Grandma was right. On the first visit to show off our newborn son, she said 95% of successful parenting was being there. As usual, I learned she’d been right.

Allow me one umpiring story

I’d made the decision to retire from NCAA umpiring. Not cuz I was tired of it, perish the thought. I simply couldn’t afford the time away from the office.

Anywho, I’d chosen a pretty much meaningless game to be my last. It wasn’t even between four year schools, but junior college. The catcher for one of the teams was a kid I’d coached/umpired since he was in sixth grade. His nickname was Butt. My son had played with and against him, mostly against since he was 11. In the ninth inning, when his team was on defense, I told Mike this was my last game, I was hangin’ ’em up. I’ll never forget his response.

He stood up, makin’ his pitcher pause on the mound, and said, “Thanks for tellin’ me Jeff. I’m glad I was the catcher.”

Tell me how much that memory is worth.

I’ve gotta million stories, ok, dozens, about single parents workin’ 2-3 jobs, still figurin’ out how to at least catch half a game when their kid was playin’. Though I’d never claim the highest value isn’t the affect, the impact your presence will have on your son, the memories you’ll get in return will make it the bargain of a lifetime.

Be there.


South Park on Sixty Minutes: Is CBS chasing relevance, or are we about to find out how to monetize new-media content?

When I saw the bags of Cheesy Poofs at WalMart, I knew everything was about to change for South Park. After all, the boys told us that they were looking for ways to make new-media content pay. First the movies, then the South Park Studios web site, then the Broadway musical lampooning Mormons, known the world over for smiling benignly through the rudest of derision.

Now CBS is hopping on the South Park bandwagon, with a segment on this season’s premier of Sixty Minutes:

Frankly, I like the idea of a South Park that Sunday-school teachers and TV reporters deplore. There is nothing courageous about mocking Mormons, and if CBS thinks it’s cool, you know for sure it isn’t. I like to see the boys getting a day in the sun, but, as we are seeing with Glee, popularity and raucously rude jokes are rarely found together.

Just to keep the right balance, in discussions of South Park, here’s an NSFW clip that CBS won’t be running:

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Connecticut State Supreme Court Justice: “I would have decided the Kelo case differently, but I had my head up my ass.”

Alas, the judge wasn’t that honest. But he actually apologized for being instrumental in stealing the homestead of an innocent family under the color of law. The next time you look at your paycheck stub, just think: Sooner or later, some well-heeled gonoph in a Brooks Brothers just might apologize to you for ripping you off week after week. Won’t that be nice?


Warren Buffett’s Secretary – An Open Letter

Dear Ms. Warren Buffett’s Secretary,

First, and on behalf of everyone who feels as I do, please accept our heartfelt condolence that you have been thrust onto the stage of national demagoguery and class-warfare.  I can’t imagine being constantly referred to as: “Warren Buffett’s Secretary” on the national news and in speeches by the President of the United States of America.  Having your personal income tax rate not only held up for scrutiny, but co-opted as the basis for raising taxes on someone else (someone who’s done you no harm that you are aware of), must also be an uncomfortable position indeed, made all the more so by the fact that your own boss put you there.  Having said that… I feel compelled to answer the question that has thrust you into the hot spotlight of public scrutiny and in so doing, I hope to stop this before you become, like Farrah Fawcett before you, the poster child of prurient interest.

The question: Why do you, Warren Buffett’s Secretary, pay a greater tax rate than your boss Warren Buffett?

This was less than ably restated by the President of the United States of America today in his speech on raising taxes… I mean taming the deficit: “Warren Buffett’s secretary should not pay more in taxes than Warren Buffet.” You see, this is how demagoguery can get out of hand and the next thing you know, you are thumbtacked on bedroom walls all over the nation.  So, before we can explain why you pay a higher rate than your boss, we must first help POTUS understand the different between a tax rate, and taxes paid.  Mr. President, Warren Buffett’s Secretary pays a higher rate (a higher percentage) of her income in income taxes.  This in no way suggests she pays more… as a matter of fact, Warren Buffett pays a great deal more taxes than his Secretary does; he just pays a lower combined rate.

To answer the specific question then: You, Warren Buffett’s Secretary, pay a higher rate of tax on your income because you, even being the hard working and integral part of Warren Buffett’s operation that you most assuredly must be, are trading time for money… That is to say, you show up each day willing to trade a certain number of your hours working for Warren Buffett, in exchange for money.  If anyone hears a negative connotation in that statement, you are mistaken.  There is absolutely nothing negative about working for a salary or on an hourly basis and, as it so happens, it’s quite necessary: one person may figure out a new sprinkler system that saves substantial water, but it means nothing if there isn’t someone else to dig the ditches.

In your specific case, Ms. Warren Buffett’s Secretary, you are taxed for collecting a salary.  (The validity and morality of that coerced confiscation of your income by the government is another conversation altogether.)  Mr. Buffett, on the other hand, is taxed for collecting a profit on an investment (again, we’ll leave the validity of that confiscation alone for purposes of this discussion), and that tax rate is lower.  This is beginning to make sense now, right?  The tax rate for return on investment is lower than that on ordinary income because investment is what creates our economic engine.  When a person is willing to trade their time for money, they are taxed one rate.  But if a person is willing to trade their capital and their expertise… if they are willing to risk that which is theirs, and invest in creating more, they merit a lower tax rate.  You see, to the degree that tax policies are used to influence behavior, one wants to incentivize entrepreneurs over income collectors.  Put another way: those who take risk are wealth producers, whereas everyone else (e.g. salaried employees) are… overhead.  As a matter of smart economic policy, we encourage production and note its impact on the economy as superior to that of overhead.  (Present administration excepted…)

I hope this letter has helped you understand why you, as Warren Buffett’s Secretary, pay a higher income tax rate, but much less in actual taxes.  And if despite this explanation, you do find yourself trapped in the class warfare demagoguery being advanced by the President, remember to wear a red bathing suit… it worked for Farrah Fawcett!


Boston Globe story on Social Media and Real Estate

With Jeff’s post below still fresh in my mind, I read a story in the  Boston Globe Real Estate section over the weekend that attempted to sort of let buyers and sellers know that brokers and agents are adapting to social media:

Although it’s hard for Bourgeois to quantify just how many sales have come through social media, he believes that anecdotally it’s working.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Anecdotal ROI is worth about as much as having Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny create an account to use your IDX search.

“If everyone is hanging out at the donut shop, that’s where you would go to get business. That’s where people would meet in the old days,’’ said Haley Brooks.

This would be a typical real estate section non-article if it weren’t for Brook’s observation about the donut shop. She is right: Facebook, or a blog via Google, is where people who already know you or about you go to find you these days as opposed to the Lion’s Club,  a little league game or, yes, the donut shop.

This is born out by  NAR’s 2010 Survey of Buyers and Sellers (click on the image to make it big enough to read):

48% of the people who bought in 2010 found their agent via a personal referral. “Internet Web sites” (as opposed to what other kind? Print Web sites?) is a distant 2nd with 10%, and I’m guessing that refers to traditional listing syndication and broker sites, not blogs or Facebook.

Still, 10% is 10%. Clearly, you want to make sure that whatever you are doing on the Web to cement 50% of the leads from referrals works for the 10% who find you by accident or design. The bigger the operation, the more important picking off that 10% becomes, so the broker or the franchise should focus on what it takes to compete for people who are shopping without an agent in mind, and agents should be working to make sure they are the agent that people have in mind no matter what site they happen to use.

As is often the case with these NAR reports, they tease you with generalities but don’t reveal specifics that would actually tell us something. In this case, that whopping 48% begs two questions:

  1. How did buyers contact agents who were referred by a friend, neighbor, or relative?
  2. Did buyers research agents referred by a friend, neighbor or relative before contacting them? If so, how?

As Donald Rumsfeld so succinctly put it, we don’t know what we don’t know, but what I suspect is that the highest and best use of real estate blogs and a social media is to create a good first impression that cements a lead that was originally generated by a referral.

Of course, that is not how the social media carnival barkers sell it. The emphasis is  on using social media to generate *new business*, which is the virtual equivalent of going to the donut shop to randomly hand out business cards to people who have never heard of you, and probably about as effective.

The skills and the amount of hard work it takes to build up a repuation that generates real estate leads haven’t changed in 50 years. The difference is that today’s agents can take advantage of Internet publishing to start putting their best foot forward before they meet a prospective buyer or seller in person. That’s it. WordPress and Facebook are not panaceas or silver bullets, they are tools that, in skilled hands, extend an agent’s ability to sell themselves as opposed to creating it.


3 Things You Need To Know and 1 Thing You Need To Be To Blog Successfully

Having begun blogging in the summer of ’06, I found that many considered me one of the so-called pioneers in ‘online’ real estate. Frankly, I think that’s both true, and completely false. True, cuz inside the tightly defined real estate community I was a pioneer. Even now some of my local agent buds are taken aback when learning I’ve been blogging over five years now. On the other hand, the real pioneers in real estate blogging were doin’ their thing online back when I thought it was cool that I knew how to send email — and no doubt before.

What’s funny is when my friends ask me why? When I tell ’em how much my blog has produced in terms of closed business — skinned cats — they’re almost always a bit incredulous. Then they try to be Columbo with questions designed to appear innocent, but based upon obvious disbelief. Sometimes it’s been comical.

Why some blogs work and the vast majority don’t

Before beginning, it’s important for readers who don’t know me or of me, to realize that I’m President for Life of TechTards Anonymous. I know virtually nothing about SEO. If you were to find ‘key words’ in any post I write anywhere, it’s an accident every time. … _ _ _ … is the only code I know.

Content is King! is the battle cry for blogging, though recent history shows many who’ve valiantly tried to discount that principle. I’m here to tell ya, with whatever respect is due blogging detractors, content is King of the blogging universe — at least of the one in which I live. And please, pretty please with sugar on top, don’t come up with the whole, “Yeah, Jeff, but you’re in investments — it’s different for you.” crappola. It’s not. There are literally hundreds of real estate investment sites lookin’ to create business, most, at least in part through blogging. I’m not the Lone Ranger, the exception that proves the point.

House agents who blog, and write solid gold content consistently are succeeding wildly. Ask Greg if he thinks his company’s site would do as well as it does without his priceless content.

Fact is? You must actually be pretty damn good at what you do, or it simply won’t have legs. Apply cliché #27 here — ‘not rocket science’, etc. Any business coming my way via online efforts is exclusively from blogging, no exceptions.

I bring it up now as an encouragement to those who’re genuinely expert at what they do. Blog well, consistently, and often. Share your experience, your hard learned lessons. Explain how things work in a way that isn’t Romper Room revisited, or, for you younger folk, not Mr. Rogers. What do I mean? Stop writin’ in terms that’re either profoundly in search of a Duh!, or cartoonishly simpleminded. As bloggers we’re not the only three digit IQs in the room. Explain things the way experts in any discipline would — in plain English, but not as if their audience just made it through kindergarten unscathed.

I’ll use another industry to illustrate.

I know a local clothing designer who, in another life was a well known interior designer in the midwest and east coast. She’s done all my offices for me, and any local listings I take. How good is she? Every time she’s finished one of my offices, the other tenants line up to be next. My listings? The next one she stages takin’ longer than a week to sell will be the first. She’s a bona fide expert.

I once watched her explain to a client selling an income property why she was having him spend five figures just to prepare for the market. 60 seconds after she began talking you could see the change in his attitude. He was dealing with someone who flat knew which way was north on the map. He stopped her in mid sentence, grabbed his clipboard, and began taking notes.

That’s exactly how effective a blog is when the writer is truly a master at what they do. You can’t fake mastery. People see that before it crests the horizon. But, I know there’s one more reason you’ll throw up to me to obviate the positive potential of a blog.

“People pick agents they already know, or through networking.”

True enough — no argument there. It’s my contention, however, that that is now, and has been changing the last several years. Those who bombard us with the mantra about how, ‘124% of homebuyers/sellers begin their search online’, can be assumed to be factual. But as that has become the norm, it also means, by definition, that they’ve also been discovering which agents know their stuff.

How better to learn that than through reading thousands of words that agent has written — and on subjects buyers and sellers are starving to read?

Folks will use an agent to find them a house, or sell their home for them, cuz their buddy at work, brother-in-law, or trusted neighbor gives them the heads up. But if during their time online they run across you, an agent giving them one killer informational post after another — turning hopelessly confusing issues into completely understandable procedures?

I guarantee you: An acceptable percentage of them are gonna make your phone ring, or your email ding. People like feeling comfortable — and nothing makes us feel more comfortable than vastly superior knowledge, expertise, and experience on display. Said another way . . .

What makes us more comfortable than a real pro, who explains things we don’t quite get, in a manner leaving no doubt all bases have been covered, and that this ain’t their first rodeo?

If you can look yourself in the mirror and confidently say you’re that agent — you need to be blogging, and should probably start some time around 4:30 yesterday afternoon.

Blogging works

You don’t need to know anything more than I do. I know how to type — what I’m talkin’ about — and how to push ‘Publish’. If you can do those three things consistently, your blog will also fill your office with cat skins. Like the man said — “It ain’t rocket science, folks.”


SEVRAR puts the brakes on ARMLS über alles, at least for now: Arizona-wide MLS hits a roadblock.

I wrote about this in July: The Arizona Association of Realtors wants to buy ARMLS, the Phoenix-area MLS system, in order to create a statewide MLS. This looked like the kind of sleazy insider self-dealing we have come to expect from Associations of Realtors, so I had assumed it was a done deal, all over but the staged performance of voting.

Not so. For some reason, the Southeast Valley Association of Realtors (SEVRAR) voted to decline AAR’s offer — which was at least five cents on the dollar what ARMLS is actually worth, given the notion that is worth a billion dollars.

But: I assume nothing. I have no idea why SEVRAR voted against what was obviously the party line. The cynic in me suspects a shake-down, but I really, really want to believe that some of that Mesa Tea Party spirit has found its way into the NAR.

I left a comment on AAR’s weblog, but so far it has not been moderated. Those folks aren’t interested in hearing from me, anyway. Realtors and brokers from all over the country talk to me about real estate marketing, technology and law, but the local practitioners, to all appearances, have nothing to learn from me. Their loss. Here’s my comment, in any case:

If you were at the SEVRAR meeting on September 9th, I’d love to hear why the sweetheart deal of the century was voted down.


Wow… Could Obama be hounded out of office?

We see this too often in our little world, a mob pile-on of snarky observations, continuous and hugely public. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. This is classic drama in action, all dressed up in modern gladrags.

Tell us what you think. I’m off-topic, but the whole world is off-topic…


The Next Big (Tech) Step in Real Estate?

I watched the following video earlier this week and was blown away.  The basics of what’s described (kind of a mobile computer/projector/app device) are not that complicated; as a matter of fact, the mock up is made from off the shelf components.  Imagine when these are combined into one sleek pendant hanging on a stylish chain…

The video shows some of the more fun uses (draw a temporary watch on your wrist with your fingertip, take a picture by holding up your hands to frame an image, “see” social media key words associated with anyone you meet… in real time, the list is amazing), but I was struck by how powerful this can be for real estate agents.  I listed a few ideas below – watch the video first though.

Imagine walking your clients through a home with this device.  Want to look at the neighborhood comps again? Why crowd around my Pad when we can just sit down in the dining room and see everything laid out on the table itself.  Curious how a room would look if it weren’t painted Jimi Hendrix purple? Go ahead and stand back while I bathe the room in light close to the color you prefer. (Foam green?  Really?)  Don’t know if your entertainment center will fit on that wall?  No problem, I’ll project a 3D image and we’ll check it out while we’re here.  Prefer a guided tour of everything that’s right with this home (and maybe some of what’s wrong)?  Great, the owners themselves are here virtually and will discuss each room as we walk into it.  Want to write an offer?  Great, let’s just step over to the living room wall here and sign your name using your finger.

Those are just a few ideas from a non-tech guy.  What would you do with this device?


Mine, Mine, Mine! Are Defaulting Homeowners Criminals When They Take the Stove?

How many of you have seen foreclosed homes damaged or stripped of wall lighting, appliances, even kitchen cabinets, countertops, and toilets? I’ve even seen homes stripped of their copper wiring (I mean, really?!)  Indeed, we’ve probably all at least heard stories of homes being damaged as the occupants depart after default.  With the ongoing recession, I think this will continue to be a problem – especially in the most depressed markets like Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Seems like the powers that be in my state (Nevada, one of the nation’s foreclosure meccas) agree, and they’ve decided they’re not going to take it.  Under AB373, which takes effect October 1, homeowners who purposefully remove or destroy real property while the home is in default may be charged with a misdemeanor crime and subject to arrest and prosecution.

To be clear: If a defaulting Nevada homeowner wants to remove the bathroom medicine cabinet or dismount the marble mantel and take them, the homeowner may be arrested. In property law, the cabinets, countertops, mantles, fixed appliances, etc. are “affixed” to the real property because they are installed – they are either screwed, nailed, cemented or bolted to the real property and thus are a part of that property. Whoever owns the property, owns the fixtures. When a home is foreclosed, that home – and all of its fixtures – become property of the bank.

For whatever reasons defaulting homeowners feel “entitled” to damage their homes, they do more than just bring bad karma. Neighbors are negatively affected by that kind of bad behavior too. Homes that are damaged make neighborhoods look bad. Property values already decline because of the foreclosure, and a damaged home just adds insult to injury for the neighbors.

Plus, banks are not typically inclined to repair REOs, and a badly damaged foreclosed home is often much more difficult to sell than an intact one, which even further stretches out the time it will take for surplus inventory to clear and the real estate markets to find their legs again.  What’s more, fair or not, homeowners insurance premiums often increase as criminal activity in the neighborhood increases – which can further dissuade new buyers.

So trashing the home after foreclosure does more than just “stick it” to the bank.  Homeowners who do it are hurting their neighbors too.  As of October in Nevada, at least, they won’t be doing it without possible consequence.  What do you think?  What have been your experiences with homeowners damaging the home after foreclosure?  What are the related laws in your state?


Introducing, an eye-candy-view of some of the most breathtaking homes for sale in Metropolitan Phoenix.

I am introducing today at I’ve been working on this, in my spare time, since Steve Jobs announced tabbed browsing in the iPad version of Safari, and it’s time to draw further inspiration from Mr. Jobs: “Real artists ship.”

There is added functionality still to come in this software — and for something that looks like a web site, there is a ton of software under the hood.

Even so, the essential algorithm comes down to software-encoded art. That is a hint to Realtors in Phoenix: Your dipshit vendors can’t copy this. They’ll tell you they can, but they can’t.

If you are a Realtor in any other town, we can talk about licensing the underlying technology.

Meanwhile, here is my release announcement:

Here’s a screen shot from, a new web site we are launching today:

Ascende is a wish book, not a full-blown search tool. We already run the best real estate search site in Greater Phoenix. Instead of bombarding you with everything, Ascende gives you a small subset of available homes, an artistically-chosen selection of the best homes, the most stunning homes, the most impressively-marketed homes.

The purpose? To dream, to plan, to hope — and to capture. The homes featured in Ascende may not be for you, but they sure will give you ideas…

Got an iPad? Ascende will work on any normal browser, but it’s orientation-sensitive on the iPad. There will be more iPad integration to come.

Play with it and let me know what you think. I like looking at big pictures of gorgeous homes. I think you will, too.


Paint My Heart and Take Away the Sadness

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