Monthly Archives: October 2006

Zillow Gets It’s First Complaint

        tantrum.jpg

It was only a matter of time until someone filed the first complaint against Zillow. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition(NCRC) has filed a bogus complaint with the FTC, alleging that Zillow’s property value estimates are misleading, uncool, unsavory, and basically- the devil.

Of course, anyone can file a complaint against anyone, for about any reason, so this may not even go anywhere. Seems to be another example of the “I’m a victim” mentality.

Oh, so Zillow’s estimates aren’t accurate?!?

You mean a 4 second calculation really can’t tell me exactly what my home is worth? Duh…

Zillow is simply a fun tool to look at homes and get a very broad range of a possible value of a property. A professional Realtor will obviously give you a much better idea of a home’s market value, and Zillow knows this and does not claim to take the place of a Realtor. They rely on the real estate agent to advertise on their site, yet many in the industry are so paranoid of what Zillow might do that they whine and complain about everything they do. Why? What’s the big deal with a company giving people a fun way to see a very broad range of value?

I agree with Gregg Swan that this stinks of a shakedown, and the scary part is, many people take this crap seriously.

I say get over it and just focus on giving your clients something they can’t get online.

Building a Defensible Company

        defense.jpg

When starting a new company, one of the critical questions an owner, and eventually the investors, need to ask themselves is, “What makes this company defensible against the competition?” or “How will this company survive out there?” Of course, this is in addition to the questions, “What is our unique selling position?”, “What in the world are we doing?” and “Where did all of my money go?”

I came across a blog that referenced Redfin’s blog, where I read Glenn Kelman’s latest post, which also discusses a great post by Guy Kawasaki discussing this topic.

Glenn, who I have met, and really like, makes some great points, and he has some experience with start-ups. 

Some of the things that stuck with me from Glenn’s post include,

“Worry first about building something meaningful for the customer”-

How great is that statement when starting a new company? That could actually be a great company’s mantra- BUILD SOMETHING MEANINGFUL FOR THE CUSTOMER. Any idea how many companies begin that way but end up being something completely different? Isn’t that what entrepreneurship is all about anyway? And isn’t that what Web2.0 is supposed to be about? Building something meaningful for the customer- transparency, better user-interface, quality of experience…?

 “The [big] competitor you imagine sitting on a pile of money and a hundred engineers is sitting in a meeting right now, terrified of making a mistake…”

I’ve worked at a large corporation and I can say from personal experience that large companies take forever to get things done, and beginning a new, untested project is nearly impossible at many of them. By the time they decide to put any effort into an idea, it’s been done for years somewhere else. Realize that Re/Max just put other brokers listing on their website in the last couple months, years after other companies have been doing it- and that’s their big marketing campaign right now- “We have all broker listings” -

“Only a big corporation would be so out-of-the-loop to think that something that’s been done for years is somehow new and innovative. “

Guy Kawasaki, as many Mac users know, has gone from being a pro-Apple activist to the author of eight books and is currently the managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an angel investment firm he started in the late 1990′s. Guy writes in his blog  about what to say and not to say when a VC or investor asks, “What makes your company defensible?”

First he writes the three things you do not say (his post has explanations about each);

1 “Patents make our business defensible.”

2 “We’re the only guys who can do this.”

3 “[Big-name potential competitor] won’t compete with us; they’ll simply have to buy us out.”

And then gives us the top ten best ways to answer the question;

1 “We know that there are no ‘magic bullets’ that provide defensibility.”

2 “We have filed for patents, but we know that we cannot depend on patents as a major component of defensibility.”

3“We have an x month head start (mention “x month head start” only if x exceeds nine), and what we’re doing is hard. We know we have, at best, a temporary lead. It’s so hard that few established companies would defocus themselves by trying to do what we’re doing.”

4 “We’ve built similar businesses before.”

5 “We’ve amassed a ton of relevant domain expertise because our founders sold to these customers before.”

6 “We used to work at [insert big-name company], so we know it won’t be a competitor. In fact, we quit the company to start this because our management refused to address this lucrative market.”

7 “We don’t know if we’re the only people who can or are doing this, but we’ve already signed up key customers like [insert the biggest names that you truthfully can] to use our product. You’d think they’d know of better solutions if they existed.”

8 “We came to you because we believe that the backing of a firm like yours will dissuade other firms from investing in competitive companies. We also know that you have a world-class Rolodex as well as access to the best talent.”

9 “We expect that there will be competition because we’re not working on a get-rich-quick gimmick. This is a real business that we think is going to be big.”

10 “It’s a race, and we’re going to work like hell to reach escape velocity. That’s the bottom line.”

It’s interesting to hear the perspectives of people on each side of the VC table. My company, BlueRoof.com has not received any angel funding or venture capital, so I have not had to go through the rigors of trying to impress an investor so they’ll give me money.

Any new company is going to have it’s struggles and challenges, whether it’s keeping the investors or clients happy, adding new servers and storage to keep up with your website traffic, or trying to get your fax machines working again- there are some tough days. I’m right in the middle of these days and it’s interesting to hear the industry perspective and compare that with the client perspective.

Last night I went to a great Halloween party hosted by an agent with one the larger brokerages in town. Fun party, with a lot of agents from other brokerages (and some great costumes). It was interesting to hear some of my friends from the industry asking me about my company and what they have made of all the rumors. Some had a pretty good idea, and some had no clue what we are really doing. Everyone was very supportive and I had a lot of “congratulations” and “good for you” comments, but the differing opinions about our business model made me realize how important it is to remember what Glenn says;

“Don’t worry about your competitors”- just “build something meaningful for the customer”-  and then get out there and give it to them.

Trolley Square to be Remodeled

              trolley-square.jpg

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Trolley Square will keep it’s exterior look as it is remodeled, beginning in January. The mall was built in the 1970′s over an old trolley complex, giving it it’s name, and currently has a dark feel with a lot of dead-end hallways and no real identity. With the movie theatres and comedy shows, the mall has strong community support and adds a lot to the area’s culture.

Mark Blancarte, vice president of development for Blake Hunt Ventures, which is partnering with mall owner ScanlanKemperBard in the renovation said better design will add about 20,000 square feet of retail space to the mall, which currently has about 160,000-square-feet.

Trolley Square is not only a state and nationally registered historic site, but sits in a prime location between 600-700 East and 500-600 South. The 97 ft. historic water tower, which was built to hold 50,000 gallons of water, lights up to tell the day’s weather (updated twice daily).

trolleyclear.jpg     Solid blue means clear. 

 trolleycloudy.jpg    Flashing Blue means cloudy.

 trolleyrain.jpg    Solid Red means rain.

 trolleysnow.jpg    Flashing Red means snow.

Blancarte also says there will be some outdoor features, such as water fountains, dining areas, and fireplaces.

About 30% of Trolley Square’s 3 million customers each year are tourists. Renovating such a great landmark will add to Salt Lake’s charm and secure the mall’s future in the area.

Strong Q3 Appreciation for Salt Lake Area

              flex.jpg

Third Quarter appreciation remained strong along the entire Wasatch Front. Salt Lake and Utah counties experienced especially strong price increases, with some areas appreciating as much as 40% but most areas keeping in line with a healthy growth rate of around 10-20% year-over-year.

Many home buyers who have waited, trying to find that one perfect house are going to end up paying a lot more. And interest has gone up a bit and could go up more.

The Utah market is definately not as hot as was this summer or even a month ago, mostly because of the seasonal slowdown as the weather gets cooler and we head into the holidays.

Overall, Salt Lake County prices went up 24% to an average of $283,955. Condominiums rose 17% to an average of $168,562.

Utah County saw a 30% increase in prices to an average of $284,619, with condominiums rising 7.5% to $149,190.

Juab County home sales were up 26% to $165,165.

Weber County home sales were up 14%, with prices rising 10% to an average of $168,417.

Davis County reported a price increase of 18% to $236,723, with condos averaging $137,645.

Morgan County sales increased 50%, reflecting 33 homes being sold in the third quarter this year, compared to 22 homes being sold last year. Prices averaged a 62% increase at $326,408.

In Park City, total home sales decreased 27.5%, and condominium sales dropped 62% from last year. Home prices rose by 14% to an average of $826,802 with condo prices rising 32% to an average of $563,065.

Tooele County reported home sales up 10% and prices up22% to $178,116.

Washington County saw the amount of homes sold down 29%, but prices were up 24% to an average of $351,295. Condo prices were up 6% to $194,767.

The Brigham/Tremonton area saw the total number of homes being sold rising more than 20% with the average sales price rising 8% to $148,623.

The Cache/Rich area prices went up 8% to $175,023

In Carbon/Emery areas sales prices rose 24% to an average of $104,653.

In Central Utah prices increased nearly 17% to $128,861.

The Grand/San Juan area had price increases of 16% to $181,653.

Iron County showed prices up 19% to $247,096.

In the Uintah Basin area prices rose 25% to an average of $182,307.

And finally, in Wasatch County, prices rose an incredible 60% over last year to an average of $384,929.

This is a great time to buy a home in Utah because sellers aren’t all pricing their homes as high and there aren’t as many multiple offers to compete with. And right now interest rates are still very low. We anticipate more strong price increases in 2007 with strong job growth and steady population growth.

Top 40 Business Expansion Markets for 2006

            city-growing.jpg

ExpansionManagement.com released it’s findings yesterday for the Top 40 expansion markets in the country. Heading up the list for growth potential this year is New Orleans with its rebuilding opportunities, followed by Tulsa, El Paso, Burningham and Oklahoma City.

Salt Lake City makes the list at #23, showing the Utah real estate market’s continuing strength. And ranks #50 on it’s list of America’s Hottest Cities. That list puts Nashville at the top spot ahead of Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas and San Antonio.

Describing where the information comes, the company says, “As in years past, the primary sources of data for the Top 40 Real Estate Markets ranking are The National Real Estate Index (NREI), which is produced by Global Real Analytics (www.nrei.info), for the 1st quarter of 2006; Grubb & Ellis’ Office Market Trends and Industrial Market Trends (www.grubb-ellis.com) for the 2nd quarter 2006; and RS Means’ 2006 Construction Cost Index (CCI), a product line of Reed Construction Data (www.rsmeans.com).”

           urban-growth.jpg

The Salt Lake area is already seeing historically low unemployment and job growth that is ranked fourth in the nation.

“Jobs — there seems to be a lot of them brewing in this state,” said Mark Knold, senior economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. “We’re approaching 5 percent employment growth, combined with the unemployment rate continuing to go lower. It really is very low. . . . This is an economy maxed out, an economy going at full speed, 80 miles an hour on a 70 mile-an-hour highway.”

BlueRoof Real Estate Search Engine

Searching for Real Estate Related Topics?

See the BlueRoof Real Estate Search Engine…

  

                                   CLICK HERE

   net.jpg

(Credit Search Engine Watch )  

Patience is No Longer a Virtue…

… it’s a national treasure. In a world of A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. and multi-channel surfing and instant replay and headline news and “feeder”-reprieve and text messaging and go-go-go we are a more efficient populace, but we are definately not patient.

When I search on Google I am told how many gigaseconds it took to find my results as if 0.00013 seconds means something different to me than 0.00045 seconds does. I mean, really- what is the cut-off point between fast and slow?

      fast.jpg

If I’m using a website I want it to be fast. And when people use my website they expect it to be fast, I know this because I get emails all the time complaining that it was too slow this time or that it was so fast the last time. Here is an excerpt from an email I received yesterday…

“…but having the best user-interface means less if it’s too slow. My last search took 17 seconds to load 102 houses. I suggest increasing your bandwidth, adding an additional server, or increasing the memory on your current server.”

First of all, we’ve added additional servers and increased our server’s memory several times to keep up with our growing traffic. But as anyone with a website knows, traffic is not a steady stream, it is a tidal wave followed by a trickle. One minute the site may take 17 seconds to load and then next it could take 5 seconds to do the same search.

And on a side note- if you’re on dial-up don’t complain to me about the speed- you wave all rights to complain by having dial-up. That’s like complaining to your car-dealer that your mini-van doesn’t handle well.

But 17 seconds isn’t really that long. Loading over 100 homes, including photos and detail information, and placing them on a map, takes some calculations. Let’s see you do it, smarty pants…

There is a contigency out there that supports Web 1.0 sites, or as I like to call them, “really boring template sites” because they are “fast”. So if I understand this arguement correctly, they would rather have a webpage that looks like a spreadsheet, has no substance, and is clogged with links and meta-tags if it will save you a few seconds of loading time?

Not me- I’d rather have all the goodies and a site with some soul. I like websites that are visually appealing, easy to use, and fun. And although I’m a pretty busy guy, getting all of that is worth an extra five or ten seconds.

Realtor.com to Lose More Listings?

            

unhappy.gif

Realtor.com has a lot of listings- millions of them, from all over the country. But, contrary to popular belief, they do not, and never have, had them all.

Some companies have refused to allow the website, which is sponsored by the National Association of Realtors, to have access to their listing information. Many Realtors and brokers don’t like that they have to pay if they want information about their listings to show on the site, and many consumers go to the website thinking they will see every listing and get good information, only to be disappointed by the lack of information and overwhelming array of advertisements.

                     news.jpg

Realtor.com is not a good tool for finding a home-

Go to Realtor.com and search for homes and what you’ll get is a bunch of listings without addresses, virtual tours or agent contact info. A few listings have these things, but only the ones that the agent has specifically paid for the upgrades.

And now Marlow Harris at 360Digest reports that Realtor.com is about to completely lose its MLS feed from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service because the region’s MLS states, “a majority of the Board of Directors felt that it was inappropriate for the NWMLS to provide a service to a for-profit organization that is outside of their sphere.”

Realtor.com has been lame from the beginning because it has never been about the consumer, it has been about profiting from agents- taking their data and then selling them advertising and the leads that come from the site.

Allen Dalton, president of Realtor.com recently criticized Rich Lloyd of Zillow.com, likening “the site’s trademark Zestimates of home values to a carnival weight and age guesser.” Dalton also stated, “The whole notion of suggesting to people that they can find out what their home is worth without a Realtor offends me.”

Which is funny, because right in the middle of the homepage of Realtor.com they have a Home Valuation function that asks, “What’s Your Home Worth” and says, “Immediately review recent home sales in your area” – so people can try to assess their home’s value based on recently sold homes in the area online, without the help of a Realtor.

Only difference is that on Zillow you don’t have most of the results page taken up with a paid advertisement from a Realtor. Zillow is more organic than that, and although some agents don’t like Zillow, at least they are honest about what they are as opposed to Realtor.com acting like a public resource, and the Internet face of NAR, and hiding the fact that they are actually one of the biggest pimps in the industry, selling every piece of the site they can.

Sure, it makes it easier to swallow if you can get a piece of the disintermediation pie that’s in your flavor, but it’s still taking leads from Realtors by using those Realtor’s listing information and selling the leads back to them- exactly the same way those other crappy lead-gen sites do.

Zillow is completely innaccurate, but Zillow is just an entertaining site that allows people to get a range of value on a property and charges for ads. It’s a private company trying to make money- Realtor.com is not just another private company- it’s the offical website for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) which means that it inherently has an advantage over every other website because it gets access to most of the listings simply because of that relationship.

What’s the difference between Zillow giving a value range and a Realtor selling a home with value-range pricing? Does it mean that the Realtor doesn’t know the value of the home? Does it mean that the agent is bad for the industry and we should all call for an end to them? No- it’s simply a way to sell a house, just like Zillow is a fun tool for people to snoop around on homes and get a range of what their home might be worth before calling their agent.

Realro.com shoul dhave all addresses and tours and contact information for all the agents because the consumer deserves it and the members of NAR deserve it. Make your money from ads like all the other top sites do.

I’ll take Zillow or BlueRoof.com over Realtor.com anyday…

Utah’s Job Growth Among Nations Best

        jobs.jpg

The Salt Lake Tribune reports Utah’s job growth is continuing its record pace. According to Workforce Services the state has added over 58,000 new jobs during the past twelve months.

The article aslo reports that Utah’s unemployment rate is now at 2.8% which means, “Utah is basically in a state of full employment – meaning most anyone who wants a job can find one. “

People Love BlueRoof! (or hate us)

I was reading Inman Blog and came across a post from Tuesday (no linkbacks) that mentioned this post from Real Estate 2.X which talks about how companies are buying the domain names of their company with the word “sucks” after it so people can’t buy that domain name. So, of course, I went and bought www.blueroofsucks.com because, like I mentioned on RE 2.X, if anyone’s going to talk about how much I suck, it’s going to be me. And then in my emal this morning Mike (our prez) sent me this photo from a fan, which I actually like quite a bit (ahem…)

               nakedfan.jpg

And it got me thinking about how some people get so threatened by new competition, especially when you are doing things that are better for the consumer.  

Leaving the corporate environment of a large brokerage and founding a start-up is an interesting experience. Some people at my previous brokerage have been insanely negative about what we’re doing, probably because our business model is threatening to theirs.

Others have been really supportive and understand that there is room in the industry for different models.

Kind of goes back my last post about Good Realtors and bad agents…

But the best part about our new company is all the support we get from our clients. The consumers like what we’re doing because we are a new business model and most consumers really don’t like the traditional real estate models.

When I meet with people and show them our model and how we can help them they get excited about our model. We’ve had people tell us they were going to name rooms in the home after us and they send us incredible testimonials and they refer all their friends to us, which is the greatest endorsement they can give.

We’ve had other brokerage’s agents send clients to us to list their home because their broker wouldn’t let them do the same things we can do and we’ve had agents at other companies call us to ask if it was okay to put their home on BlueRoof as a “For Sale By Owner”, which of course we support. We’ve had title reps (and these guys know all the companies) in the area refer their friends to us. Last month we even represented a husband-wife Realtor team from one of the largest brokerages in town buying their property.

Many people have contacted us to tell us that they are not buying or selling right now but just want us to know that when they do they will be using BlueRoof.

It’s been overwhelming and humbling and very encouraging and we appreciate all the support we get. But just to be clear, we are not striving to get business soley because of lower commission rates- we are building our brand on our value proposition, which includes service. Some say you can’t have it both ways, good service AND a better value proposition, but we believe you can.

It’s really great that so many agents are so supportive. I have a lot of friends at other brokerages and I have a lot of respect for them and their business. There are a lot of good agents out there and I know that my model won’t work for everyone. Maybe someone is offended by the color blue- they won’t like BlueRoof.com.

And some of our advertising is silly and adolescent, but that’s only because our company is still adolescent, plus our president is basically just a little kid running around like an adult. We’re just in our infancy- we’ve only been a brokerage for three months now. We’ve done really well and had more success as a brokerage than any other new brokerage model I know of. Already in our first three months we’ve listed 45 homes and sold 42 on the buyer-side. That means we’ve already average about a sale a day.

 We’re trying to be different, and a little disruptive, because that’s what the industry needs and most importantly- that’s what the consumer wants.

The Difference Between Good Realtors and Bad Agents

          

goodevil.jpg

First off, let me say that there are a lot of good Realtors out there, with many different brokerages. There is not just one brokerage that is good and there is not only one good Realtor out there. Many go to work every day taking care of their clients and doing the best job they can.

Many real estate agents are not good at their work- not good for the industry or their clients. Of all the Realtors in the three states (Utah, Colorado, California) I have been a broker in, I would estimate that about 5 to 10 percent of real estate agents are what I would consider to be really good Realtors. The majority of brokerages and agents either put themselves above their clients, or are simply average at what they do, selling a few homes eachyear to family or friends, but not excelling in their field. The good ones learn their business well, continue to grow and always put their clients first.

If you call three agents, even from the same office of almost any real estate company and ask them to present you with a market analysis and marketing presentation to sell your home you will almost certainly get three completely different marketing plans and three different values for you home. And these are three people in the same office of the same company. Why?

Because each agent decides how much money they want to spend marketing a home based on any number of factors, including how much money that agent has, how much time they want to spend creating marketing, how much they think they will make from the sale of the home, how talented they are marketing, the resources available to them, the culture of their company, the seller’s needs and demands, etc.

The opinion of value will vary because each person has their own opinion and use their own comparables, but also because some agents want you to believe that your home is worth less than it really is so they can get a quick sale and some agents will tell you your home is worth more than it really is just to get the listing, while other agents will be fair and honest with you.

And if an agent doesn’t want to pay for a virtual tour do you think they are going to say to the seller, “I’d rather not pay for a virtual tour, even though it would really help us sell your home, is that okay with you?” Of course not! They’ll tell the seller that they don’t need a virtual tour or that tours don’t sell homes or they just won’t bring it up at all. But no matter which of these options they choose the seller loses. The seller, their client, is the one who is hurt. And this is from the person they are asking to help protect them.

The agents usually want to price it right and put it on the MLS. “Price it right” usually means to price it for as low as they can get the seller to price it. So they are actually trying to get the seller down in price, working against their own client, before they even start.

And then they “put it on the MLS” hoping that another agent will sell the home. The lowest priced home in any group of comparable homes will theoretically sell first. But who wants to be the lowest priced home in a group of comparable homes?

I teach our agents to always put the client first. And this includes giving the sellers the very best information on pricing so we can price the home to get the seller as much money as possible, even if it takes us a little longer and costs us a bit more to sell. Because that’s what the client wants- as much as they can get. If the seller wants to price it lower for a quick sale than that’s their decision, but it won’t be because we pressure them into it trying to make a quick buck.

Flexibility in marketing homes= BAD. Making sure every home has a full marketing package= GOOD.

Using a below-market price as the marketing plan= BAD. Helping a seller decide the highest price they can get and then marketing the home to get that price= GOOD.

      Our company, BlueRoof, has standards that are higher than most brokerages when it comes to representing a seller. When we market a home we start by representing our clients.

scale.jpg

 

We are a full-service real estate company. We do not do “entry-only” or ‘limited services” listings. We represent our clients- all of our clients. We schedule the showings and present the offers and negotiate on behalf of our clients and we coordinate the entire transaction, all the way through closing. We market like crazy and work on nights and weekends and we (gasp!) answer our phones.

Over 90% of listed homes sell because of the MLS and internet. Either another agent finds it for their buyer or the buyer finds it online. This is where much of the marketing value comes into play, but we market everywhere (including print, postcards, and radio) because we don’t want to miss any buyers out there.

     

percent.jpg

We market homes for less commission than some brokerages, and more than others. I know what my services are worth and that is what I charge. When it comes to personal services, you get what you pay for. Hire an attorney or a landscaper and you’ll find the same thing- the best charge more because they are worth more.

             Bad agents sell homes as quickly as possible, good agents sell homes for as much as possible.

housecloud.jpg

 

Bad agents tell you what to price your home at, good agents help you determine the highest price possible.

Bad agents are hard to get ahold of, good agents are easy to get ahold of and have an assistant to help.

Bad agents take a listing and then you don’t hear from them, good agents have systems and are accessible. They coordinate the transaction.

Bad agents count on other agents to sell your home, good agents market directly to buyers as well as the MLS.

Bad agents do as little as possible, good agents do as much as possible. Bad agents try to convince you that the higher their commission is, the more money you’ll make, good agents negoatiate a commission that works for you, and explain that buyers and selers determine the final sales price, not the agent (or their commission).

Bad agents do not like their competitors, good agents appreciate working with other people in the industry and realize that these people help them, and their clients, when they work together.

There are some major differences between brokerages and agents, and there are good Realtors and bad agents in every market. It’s always good to know your options…

National Foreclosure Rates and Rankings

RealtyTrac’s list of foreclosures per Metro-Area ranks Salt Lake City 17th, with a foreclosure for every 163 houselgolds. At the top of the list is Indianapolis with a foreclosed property for every 69 households and Atlanta with one in every 70. At the bottom is Providence, Rhode Island (1 out of every 48,000 households) and Madison, Wi with one on every 9020.

Here are some of the other metro areas in the top ten.

Metro Area % of households in foreclosure in Q1 1 foreclosure for every #households
1. Indianapolis 1.45 69
3. Dallas 1.01 99
5. Denver 0.95 105
7. Jacksonville, Fla. 0.75 133
9. Canton, Ohio 0.72 140

Chasing Tail

     woman-climbing.jpg

In business, we’re all chasing after something, or should I say, someone…

Whatever your business is, whether it’s real estate or racquetballs, swimming pools or politics, it relies on the consumer- the customers and clients. And whether or not your company puts most of its resources into marketing or none at all, what the public thinks of your organization is important to its survival and growth. And this is where the act of marketing comes in.

Magazine spreads, radio, television, Internet banners, pay-per-click, pay-per-call, pay-per-Digg, pay-per-view, pay-per-text, pay-per-blog, pay-per-lead, word of mouth, direct mail, billboard and outdoor signs, bus wraps and benches, public relations, newspaper, movie theatre, packaging, cross-promotion, point-of-sale, airplanes writing messages in the sky, balloons, and every other type of marketing can have an impact on your business. Some marketing is purchased and some is earned, but it all has an effect.

Different types of marketing have different advantages and challenges. Cost, reach, frequency, impressions, interaction, static, image, targeting, timing, etc. When deciding on a marketing campaign it’s important to look at the different factors and what you are trying to accomplish. I’ll give an example…

When launching BlueRoof.com in July, I decided that long-term branding was just as important to me as achieving fast results. I wanted to get business, but I also wanted to build a brand identity. So I invested in different types of marketing to accomplish different types of results.

I ran some television commercials on Fox News (targeting the highly Republican population in Utah) and HGTV (targeting women) to get me reach, I paid for three billboards, and now we have four (two along I-15, the main freeway, one on Highway 201, or 21st South freeway, and one on 3300 S off Redwood Road) to build long-term brand awareness, a half-page color ad in City Weekly newspaper (targeting the young, liberal, and urban demographic), newspaper ads (targeting the older demographic), and every month I pay a substantial amount toward Internet advertising in the form of PPC, banners, and sponsorships of Zillow.com and KSL.com. We are also a major sponsor of the Utah Jazz basketball team for the upcoming season, which is important to us because we feel pride in the community’s only professional sports team, and it also reaches a demographic that is mostly families. The Internet marketing I do brings me instant traffic to my site, while having billboards on the freeway helps people remember who we are. Sponsoring the Utah Jazz helps me get my message out to families, while the City Weekly ads are more risque and edgy.

So far, it seems that our marketing has been effective. Our brand awareness has grown very rapidly and our website traffic continues to grow very fast. But for all the facts and figures about cost-per-thousand and demographics, one of the most important pieces of our marketing is long-tail marketing efforts. or efforts that may not make as big an impact up front, but over time will cumulatively impact our business.

       long_tail.jpg

Basically, Long Tail describes how smaller amounts of a lot can equal larger amounts of less. If you go to a supermarket you’ll notice that most of them sell tens or hundreds of thousands of items. They probably sell a lot of bread, milk and butter. Those are a few of the big sellers. But they probably make as much money selling at least one of every other item in the store every month.

Amazon and Ebay are classic examples of the power of long-tail efforts. Amazon says that about a third of their business comes from uncommon and less-known book and movie titles and eBay grew into it’s success by marketing millions of people’s “junk”. Of course both of these companies sell popular things as well, but neither would not be as strong, or reach nearly as many people if not for their long-tail sales efforts.

Long-Tail can also apply to marketing efforts.

Blogging is a long-tail marketing effort. Each time I post a new entry it will be seen by a few hundred people during it’s first few days, but over time it may be seen by tens of thousands of people via search engines, discussions, comments, links and archive searching. Some posts are even picked up and submitted to news sites, which can lead to even more longevity.

Going to conferences, such as Inman Connect and various Board and Association conferences are a long-tail effort for us, as Realtors. The initial benefit of introducing ourselves are not nearly as important as the lasting impressions and relationships we can make that can affect our business for years. A perfect example of this is the last Connect we attended, this last summer, which caused a stir and got us attention that continues to bring up our name in discussions.

This is also why we use controversy and humor in marketing. The affects of the ads can last much longer than the ads themselves. Even if the ad has nothing to do with what it is selling, if you remember the ad, and the ad ties together with the product, you’ll remember the product (or service). And that lasting affect doesn’t cost you any more. You pay for the ad space, air-time, or function, regardless of whether or not the ad causes discussion. Sometimes the resulting discussion markets your business more than the ad did.

      pie-chart.jpg

When mapping out your marketing plan and deciding on your strategy, consider the shelf- life of your marketing and how you can incorporate long-tail efforts into your upcoming campaigns. The pay-off may be more than you think.

Creating inertia for a business, image, or brand can be tough. It can be costly and time-consuming and happens easiest with some luck. But it can happen for anyone with the right planning, focus and effort. It begins with something great and then continues with momentum caused by the effects of our work and marketing. And one of the best ways to keep momentum going is through long-tail efforts.

National Real Estate Market Showing “Signs of Life”

     new-day.jpg

The National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) chief economist, David Lereah, says the housing market is “showing signs of life” and says, “Many potential home buyers who have been taking a wait-and-see attitude or taking their time and being methodical in the search process are being enticed by lower home prices.” He continues, “Given a positive economic backdrop of lower interest rates and job creation, we expect sales acivity to pick up early next year.”

Existing-home sales are expected to drop 8.9% from last year, still making 2006 the third strongest year for sales behind the record-setting pace of 2004 and 2005. The national median home sale price is expected increase 1.6% to $223,000 in 2006, while the median new-home sales price is expected to drop 0.2% to $240,500, mostly due to home builders offering incentives to move unsold inventory.

New Home Sales Up in August

The Associated Press reports that sales of new homes, after falling for three months, rose 4.1% nationally in August. Analysts were surprised but unimpressed with the August numbers, noting that sales are still 17.4 percent below the pace of last year’s record pace.

Salt Lake Real Estate Market Continues to be Strong

The latest appreciation rates show the Salt Lake market continues to be strong across the board with every zip code showing at gain of no less than 10% year-over-year, and many cities showing gains of more than 20%.

Of course reading the numbers only tells part of the story, and there are many factors that may contribute to an area gaining so rapidly. Many area’s numbers look incredible because of homes being bought, remodeled, and re-sold, which can give home’s a value increase of 50% or more in just a few months.

The overall picture is a brisk, strong real estate market that is now slowing because of the season and weather, but continues to be a very good investment.

The Healthiest States in America

The United Health Foundation ranks Minnesota as the healthiest state in the country, with Vermont, New Hampshire, Utah and Hawaii rounding out the top five.

Below is the description of their components used for the rankings.

Risk Factors

Description

Personal Behaviors

Prevalence of Smoking

Percentage of population over age 18 that smokes on a regular basis.  This is an indication of known, addictive, health-adverse behaviors within the population. (Table 18)

Motor Vehicle Deaths

Number of deaths per 100,000,000 miles driven in a state.  It is a proxy indicator for excessive drug and alcohol use within a population. (Table 19)

Prevalence of Obesity

Percentage of the population estimated to be obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher. Obesity is known to contribute to a variety of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and general poor health. (Table 20)

High School Graduation

Percentage of incoming ninth graders who graduate in four years from a high school with a regular degree.  It is an indication of the consumer’s ability to learn about, create and maintain a healthy lifestyle and to understand and access health care when required.  (Table 21)

Community Environment

Violent Crime

The number of murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults per 100,000 population.  It reflects an aspect of overall lifestyle within a state and its associated health risks.  (Table 22)

Lack of Health Insurance

Percentage of the population that does not have health insurance privately, through their employer or the government.  This is another indicator of the ability to access care as needed, especially preventive care. (Table 23)

Infectious Disease

Number of AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention per 100,000 population.  This is an indication of the toll that infectious disease is placing on the population.  (Table 24)

Children in Poverty

The percentage of persons under age 18 who live in households that are at or below the poverty threshold.  Poverty is an indication of the lack of access by this vulnerable population to health care.  (Table 25)

Occupational Fatalities

Number of fatalities from occupational injuries per 100,000 workers.  This measure reflects job safety as a part of public health. (Table 26)

Health Policies

Per Capita Public Health Spending

The dollars spent on direct public health care services, community-based services and population health activities as defined by NASBO.  This indicates the actual financial commitment a state has made to public health. (Table 27)

Immunization Coverage

Percentage of children ages 19 to 35 months who have received four or more doses of DTP, three or more doses of poliovirus vaccine, one or more doses of any measles-containing vaccine, three or more doses of HiB, and three or more doses of HepB vaccine. (Table 28)

Adequacy of Prenatal Care

Percentage of pregnant women receiving adequate prenatal care, as defined by Kotelchuck’s Adequacy of Prenatal Care Utilization (APNCU) Index.  This measures how well women are receiving the care they require for a healthy pregnancy and development of the fetus.  (Table 29)

Outcomes

Description

Limited Activity Days

Number of days in the previous 30 days when a person indicates their activities are limited due to physical or mental difficulties.  This is a general indication of the population’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis.  (
Table 30)

Cardiovascular Deaths

Number of deaths due to all cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and strokes, per 100,000 population.  This is an indication of the toll that these types of diseases place on the population. (Table 31)

Cancer Deaths

Number of deaths due to all causes of cancer per 100,000 population.  This is an indication of the toll cancer is placing on the population.  (Table 32)

Total Mortality

Number of deaths per 100,000 population.  This is an overall indicator of health of a population as it measures death from all causes.  (Table 33)

Infant Mortality

Number of infant deaths (before age 1) per 1,000 live births.  This is an indication of the prenatal care, access and birth process for both child and mother.  (Table 34)

Premature Death

Number of years of potential life lost prior to age 75 per 100,000 population.  This is an indication of the number of useful years of life that are not available to a population due to early death.  (Table 35)

The report shows that Utah, ranked fourth overall has a low prevalence of smoking (ranked #1), low rate of cancer deaths (ranked #1), high rate of high school graduation (ranked #4), and low rate of infant mortality (ranked #6). Utah also ranks within the top ten states in 11 of the 18 measures.

The state has slipped from it’s 1997 high of being named second-healthiest on the list, but during the last ten years has been named within the top ten states every year.

Mississippi comes in as the most unhealthy state to live in, followed by Lousiana, Tennesee and Arkansas.

 

Outdoor Smoking Ban Considered for Salt Lake City

                

Smoking in public places is getting more difficult in Salt Lake City as the city begins phasing in it’s new law banning the activity inside any public place. And now the city counsel is considering an ordinance to ban smoking from city-owned outdoor places as well.

The ordinance would prohibit smoking in most public places within the city limits, including  all 72 public parks, Library Square, Washington Square, the city cemetery and city-owned ball fields. Smoking would also be banned within 50 feet of public gatherings where 500 people or more are expected to gather for at least two hours, like the Jazz festival, the State Fair and the Arts festival.

Only 10.4 percent of the population in Salt Lake smokes, which is one reason Utah ranks fourth in America’s Health Rankings by the United Health Foundation.

Many other cities arond the country already have similar bans, including over 80 California cities such as L.A. and San Francisco. A two-year-old survey shows about 87-percent of the people living in Salt Lake County support an ordinance banning smoking in public areas.

Is Blogging a Job or a Hobby?

When I began blogging a few years ago my posts were basically just me describing things in my personal life and how I felt about them. Nobody was really blogging then, so there wasn’t much chance that anyone I knew would ever read my blog. I didn’t get too personal, but it was certainly much more personal than I would write about now. I would share my views on parenting or things my kids would do, and I also wrote about business some. But it was a hobby. It was something I did once in a while, like once a month.

                 

Today there are millions of people reading and writing blogs every day and people are reading my blog and commenting on it. Now it is an extension of my website, which is the central part of my business. Now I feel an obligation to write. And not only write, but to write about things that people may want to read.

I do not write every day, but I write more days than not. And some days I post more than once. I don’t go nuts and write over 100 posts in a day, but I’ve written two or three.

So now I feel like blogging is part of my job. I enjoy blogging- it gives me an outlet, and those who know me know that I like to preach share my ideas about business and real estate and everything  other things.

We all have talents. But they are not all the same. I am horrible with details. Small things, like accounting and keeping up on business records. Sometimes I make an effort to be involved and help, but usually I mess things up and have to apologize for my “help”. If it were not for other people, people with a talent for the details, I could not have a business.

Some people who blog are very good at it. Just click on the links on my blogroll to see some of the best in the real estate world. Some of these blogs are amazingly good.

            

Sellsius and Future of Real Estate Blog  are probably my favorite on a day-to-day basis because they have the best content and they write about real estate stuff along with technology, business, and other things. Greg Swann at Bloodhound Blogis an industry blogging standard, with insightful views and even when I disagree with some of his views, I enjoy reading his opposing view because he always has some good points and it is always written well. I like Rain City Guide for the debates that go on in the comments, Realty Thoughts I usually agree with, Derek Rey at ReyEstate does’t post nearly enough, but when he does I’m entertained. Kris Berg at San Diego Home Blog is another excellent writer and in my opinion the best female blogger in the real estate realm. Hot Property and Inmanare corporate blogs, so they keep me grounded some, and Todd Tarson of MOCO Real Estate News  keeps me interested with an inside look at dealing with his local MLS and his business.

All of the above-mentioned blog as part of their job because people are reading them consistently and are looked at as industry experts, or at the very least, industry insiders.

Other people who blog are not very good at it. Many people who are not good at it think that they are, so they continue to post and submit and comment. Not that there’s anything wrong with them blogging, and some get better as they practice, but some are just annoying. Really, really annoying. Some post too much and comment all over the place with stupid points that make no sense. Many of these people not only wrongly think they are good citizen journalists, but desperately try to be clever with ridiculous stories that are boring and have no point whatsoever. I will not name any of these people, which is actually a shame, because they don’t know who they are, but they aren’t difficult to find.

ActiveRainis a real estate industry network and has some great real estate bloggers, but they also have a lot of crappy ones who post up to a thousand posts every day trying to earn points on the network.

Anyone thinking of getting into blogging as a job, I would refer to the blogroll so you can read some of the best, then I would counsel you to go Blogger, Technorati, and ActiveRain  and search around so you can find some that aren’t so good. This will allow you to consider whether you are willing to put in the work, and also allow you to think about whether you have a talent for writing or not. If you don’t have the talent for it at least read some good ones and get some tips before posting a dozen times every day to write about how you had to bring your dog to your open house or how much you like your new chair at the office.

         

There are a lot of great writers out there who haven’t yet begun to blog and when they do we will all benefit, especially when they begin to blog regularly, as a part of their job.

Downtown Salt Lake City Gets Major Face-Lift in new City Creek Center

slc-downtown.jpg

(Photo: Salt Lake Tribune)

Downtown Salt Lake City is in for a major face-lift to be completed in 2011. The project named City Creek Center will encompass 20 acres right in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City between 100 East and West Temple and 100 South and South Temple.

Planned for the project is 2 Million square feet of leasable office space, 928,000 square feet of retail space, 5600 underground parking stalls, over 400 high-rise condos (not including additional future residential development), a sky-walk over State Street and more than 6 full acres of open-air pedestrian walkways and paths, including a glass-roof arcade, gardens and fountains. Water will flow throughout the green space, descending more than 47 feet from one end to the other.

The LDS church owns most of the land and, along with its development partners Michigan-based Taubman Centers Inc (which will develop the retail space), Utah-based Cowboy Partners (which will develop the housing), and Property Reserve Inc. (building the office space), will develop the property. And with the church financing the more than $1.5 Billion project, no public money will be used. The malls will be closed on Sundays, but some restaurants, many with liquor permits, will remain open seven days/week. And because the land is privately owned, public demonstrations are out.

The developers say they want the open space to have the “same ambiance we have on Temple Square”. Taubman Centers Inc owns and operates 23 malls in 11 states, including California, Colorado and Arizona. The publicly-traded company is “very choosy about the communities they go into,” says Bob Cannon, supervisor of Clinton Township, Michigan, where Taubman is building a 640,000 square foot mall. Typically the company builds in affluent, growing communities. Cannon adds, “You’ve won the lottery.” Mayor Rocky Anderson, once a critic of the proposed downtown renovation, is now a huge supporter, saying “It’s the most positive thing for our downtown that’s happened in my lifetime. The project will help revitalize our downtown area like nothing else could.”

The church will gather public comments this month via a website, www.downtownrising.com , and with open houses throughout the city.

Take Our Poll

Acheiving Success

 

“You’ve achieved success in your field when you don’t know whether what you’re doing is work or play.” – Warren Beatty

Ah, Success! We all want it- countless books are written about it, companies strive for it, athletes push their bodies to exhaustion and celebrities go days without eating for it, yet most people have no idea what it truly is. 

What does it mean to be successful?

The question, of course, does not have a correct answer because the answer is different depending on who you ask. But most many people do not know what success is to them. I mean, really have a clear definition or goal. So, since this is my blog I will tell you what success (in business) is to me.

To me, success means to grow and excel in your highest and best use, maintaining your values, and be well-rewarded for your efforts.

   

Growth is an imperative part of success. Growth is one’s trajectory. The result of vision, effort, direction, and goals. It inspires us to leap beyond ourselves and become better. The energy we realize from our growth fuels our creativity and gives us purpose. In my opinion this is one of the most over-looked, yet critical, pieces of success.

   

Excellence is the standard to which we hold ourselves. Without it, people settle. It is surprising to me how many people go day to day without giving themselves a benchmark. Show up to work, punch in, do my time, punch out, go home. Living for the weekend. Working to live instead of living to work. As though you can only do one or the other. Others discover how great it is to push themselves at what they do and become great in the process. When we excel in our work our work is no longer a job.

 Lincoln plassen var den endelege møteplassen for demonstrantane.   NY2005 - Central Park - John Lennon Memorial

Finding our highest and best use is so critical to being successful because it gives us the environment to achieve our success. To excel in mediocrity is hollow and unrewarding. Imagine Martin Luther King spending his life working as an accountant. He might have been good at it, but would he have been able to succeed the way he ultimately did? Think of the loss it would have meant. Imagine John Lennon as a school bus driver. He may have been great with kids and become the best in his district, but would he have felt the success he did? These are two obvious and extreme examples, but both of these men found their highest and best use and found a success they otherwise could not have found, regardless of their proficiency at other work. The environment in which we place ourselves  makes a significant contribution to our success.

            

We each have our own set of values, and while most of us agree on certain ways of conducting ourselves and morals we adhere to, there are myriad opinions about what is proper, appropriate and right. Some attractive women use their good looks to market themselves and feel it is only using their strengths while others think that is cheap and tacky. Some believe working twelve-hour days before going home to a wife and children is putting in a solid day’s work, while others may think this schedule is selling out your family, while others may feel that twelve hours is not enough. Our internal gauge of morality and values give us the boundaries we need to keep ourselves feeling right about what we do, and without doing what is right we cannot be successful.

 

Reward gives us the sense of accomplishment that validates our success. And reward can be in so many forms. Financial reward with paychecks, salaries and bonuses. Maybe you are rewarded with perks, like free things or being introduced to people you admire. Reward is having fun at work and friends. Reward is time off to some, or maybe to you it means more responsibility, as in a promotion or advancement. It can be a pat on the back, or a “good job” from someone you like or admire. Maybe it’s having a title that you value. Maybe reward is spiritual to you, and you feel rewarded spiritually doing what you do. Maybe it’s sacrifice or charity. Participation in a worthy goal, being part of a winning team and the comraderie that you can only get in a group. Maybe it means being respected or acheiving professional fame. Or personal fame. Maybe you strive for celebrity or popularity. Whatever reward means to you, without it you won’t be successful.

Those in my company and family know the reasons I have for leaving the very comfortable position I previously held to start my company, BlueRoof.com, and all of my reasons can be found in this post.

For me, one of the best things about being around successful people is hearing their stories. People that are successful have passion for their success and usually have some incredible stories to tell. And when I listen to their stories I grow, and so begins my success

New BlueRoof.com Homepage

  

               logo.jpg

We just put up a new version of our homepage. As always, it’s a work in progress, but I’m looking for any suggestions, comments, ideas or critique’s.

If you have a minute to spare, check it out and BlueRoof.com and then either leave a comment or email me at greg@blueroof.com.

                duckyxk6.jpg

Take Our Poll

Thanks for your time… Greg