Category Archives: Business

Improving Localized Marketing: Simple Suggestions to Improve a Local Profile

With a number of companies looking to build their total marketing profiles online these days, many
businesses seemingly hit the wrong target points. For small businesses and restaurants, a failure to focus
on some local marketing techniques can also lead to a failure to experience full potential and returns on
business development and technology efforts.

Engaging in social media efforts are a must for any business trying to improve its digital footprint these
days, but even more so for those trying to improve their local footprint. With localization of social media
efforts, it’s always crucial to have a profile that’s geared specifically to the customers. With a small scale
company, using these social media profiles should be first used to build a local image.

With social media, one of the growing trends in major marketing is the use of check-in services. These
services have allowed many companies, from restaurants and retail stores, to really build up a larger
local reputation. With check-in services, businesses can offer discounts and benefits in exchange for
check-ins at the location of their business. With a high number of check-ins, businesses will see impact
from two separate ways. First, repeating customers will come back because of discounts and friends of
patrons will see the business throughout social media platforms, attracting new customers.

Along with social media improvements, businesses should also put a large focus on their online profile,
just like companies looking to improve national marketing strategies also do. Local businesses often
struggle to take advantage of some customers because of a failure to build an online presence. Even
though it may not seem normal, local businesses can still find major profits by expanding their websites
and digital footprint.

With a good website, many businesses are starting to look to mobile devices to further spread their
profiles. In a local setting, a restaurant or retail store can benefit from a mobile site by helping to
increase their search optimization. Also, mobile information is critical for potential customers who are
on the go, looking for either information or directions.

Once social media campaigns and a good website are setup to improve brand development, the site
can be spruced up in the content department to reach out to the customer base. The information on
the website can be targeted to remind visitors of the area where the business is located throughout the
site. Also, websites local information can be improved by putting the business’ directions on most of
the pages. By using this strategy, visitors to the website are continually reminded of exactly where the
business is.

A number of businesses are in search of strategies and suggestions on how to properly improve their
marketing footprint from a localized perspective. Many retail stores and restaurants often lack the
proper manpower or knowledge to truly have a great impact in their marketing efforts. For those
companies who may be short on staff or time, using professionals is a great option. For example, a store
or restaurant looking to break into a Florida market could use a Tampa, Jacksonville or Orlando SEO/
Development platform to really kick up their online profile.

-Guest Article by
Melinda Carter
melindacarter204@gmail.com

Social Media is not a Social Life…

Social Media is Still Media


It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity

- Albert Einstein


I remember riding around the neighborhood as a kid, stopping at friends houses until I found someone who could play. I usually didn’t even call first. I just got on my bike and rode.  I would see kids I wasn’t even going to see and we’d hang out and go see other friends together.

The neighborhood was our meeting place. The park, the school, the church lawn, or just riding around until we found each other.

When I was in high school we would meet after school and decide where to go or talk during the day and decide. In the summer there were so many friends around that we always knew what everyone was doing the next day.

Now I spend most of my free time with my family or having a drink with friends.

Certainly Facebook , Twitter and Blogging have become a part of my life and have value for me, but they are not my social life. Many people have began to live their lives through “social media” and I think it is important to remember that social media is still media. It is computers and phones and technology and it helps us keep connections, but there is a difference between social media and a social life.

I email and text message my friends all the time and I am certainly wired into technology. I own a technology company, get my business from the internet,  and I am on my iPhone all throughout the day, but not as a replacement for the real world.

Social, to me, means human interaction. Real touch and connection and dialogue with inflection and emotion. Laughing out loud- not LOL. Social is about feeling each other’s energy and being in the same space together.

At the coffee shop the other day I heard a girl tell the guy behind the counter that she had over 1000 MySpace friends and a few minutes later told someone on the phone that she “had no social life”. But the irony reached its peak when she was leaving and the guy told he would look her up online to chat. He didn’t even ask her email address- he would look her up.

Socia Media is Not a Social Life

I flew to the east coast last month to give a presentation that could have easily been done online with Gotomeeting but never could have resulted in me feeling like I knew the client like I do. Monday I am giving a presentation that could be very big for my company and when they asked me to put together a powerpoint I set up a time when I could show it to them in person.

You can tell a lot about someone by their handshake or the way they smile. The energy of being at a ballgame cannot be reproduced by video. And Twittering four hundred times a day or spending hours on Facebook cannot take the place of simply raising a glass with friends to toast life.

Offline…

How About a $15,000 Tax Credit for HomeBuyers?

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The Senate voted unanimously tonight to include the Isakson Amendment, a tax credit of 10% of the sales price (up to $15,000), for home purchasers buying a primary residence  into the Stimulus Package. This would not need to be paid back and would be available for one year if it passes.

It still needs to make it into the final draft, due to be signed by the end of next week and hopefully this is one provision that will make the final cut.

Fence Sitting

The housing markets across the country could really use a boost and this could help. Many people are waiting to buy even though they are sitting in the middle of one of the best times to purchase they have ever seen and maybe this could help some of those who are on the fence make the decision to buy now, which will help the entire economy.

We can all use some good news right now and a lot of industries are looking for the government to help them, but fundamentally it makes sense to help kick start the housing sector. When more people begin buying homes the economy will benefit. There are so many jobs and companies that are affected by housing. Builders, contractors, road layers, Realtors, loan officers, title people, home inspectors, home warranty companies, attorneys, plumbers, electricians, carpet layers, home furnishing stores, and on and on and on…

Contact your local Senator or House Representative and tell them to keep this in the bill. This is the sort of stimulus we need to get the economy moving again…

**Update- Looks like the compromise is an $8000 tax credit for first time home buyers, who buy in 2009, that doesn’t need to be repaid.

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Tired of a template website that doesn’t bring you business? If you are looking for a custom real estate website with lead management (CRM) system and more, contact BlueRoof360 (http://blueroof360.com) at 888-850-4867 Ext#1 or sales@blueroof360.com.

How the Real Estate Industry Could Destroy the World

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I’ve done some thinking research into what happened to the dinosaurs. How did such a powerful and broad range of species become extinct? Was it a crater slamming into the Earth? Or a volcano eruption that blacked out the skies?

No, it was neither- but something far worse and much, much more dramatic…

And today we are facing the beginning of a similar fate and it is being brought on by the real estate industry!

I attended a couple of closings this week at title companies different from the one I am used to using and I noticed, well, actually remembered, how thick every file is when we are done closing a transaction. The title company has a file of paper about an inch and a half thick, the client gets a copy of all of that so theirs is the same, the agent has a file that might be a half inch thick and the broker has a file that is the same. Then the mortgage company has their file, and the inspection company prints a freaking book report for the buyer, and the appraiser does their report.

Now factor in the “Just Listed” cards and “Just Sold” cards, the home warranty postcards and all the print marketing that it took to get and sell the listing.

Now, figure the gas it took to drive buyers around, the oil and other lubricants, liquids and air conditioning “goo” from every car.

There are millions of homes sold every year- Think of the carbon footprint we, as an industry, are leaving because of our work.

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We all need to do our part to pressure title companies to give copies of the transaction via email, lenders to allow digital signatures on everything, and encourage buyers to do as much home searching online as possible.

If we continue, we will kill all of our trees and all of the atmosphere resulting in extreme weather and lack of oxygen which will kill us all dead. Completely, all the way dead. And not a quick, painless death, but our skin will melt away slowly and we will become ill with disease and vomit and bleed from our eyes and it will be horribly painful.

Sure, someone could make a documentary about it all and probably make a lot of money but they would be dead too so they won’t be able to enjoy it.

And now you know- that is how the dinosaurs died. The plant-eaters ate all the trees and had no more to eat so they died and then the carnivores had to eat each other and their cars were putting out exhaust and burning the gas and it killed the atmosphere and they all died.

I know because I was there…

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Let’s all do our part to print a little less, give copies of documents in emails, and drive less by providing good virtual tours and just encourage each other to think about our carbon footprint as an industry.

Top State Governments

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The PEW Center on the States has released it’s report grading all the states on how well their governments work and accomplish goals and objectives. They look at a lot of factors, including;

• Elected officials, the state budget office and agency personnel have appropriate data on the relationship between costs and performance and use these data when making resource-allocation decisions. • Agency managers have the appropriate information required to make program management decisions.• The governor and agency managers have appropriate data that enable them to assess the actual performance of policies and programs.• The public has appropriate access to information about the state, the performance of state programs and state services and is able to provide input to state policy makers.

People• The state regularly conducts and updates a thorough analysis of its human-capital needs.• The state acquires the employees it needs.• The state retains a skilled workforce.

• The state develops its workforce.

• The state manages its workforce-performance programs effectively.

Money• The state uses a long-term perspective to make budget decisions.• The state’s budget process is transparent, easy to follow and inclusive.• The state’s financial management activities support structural balance

between ongoing revenues and expenditures.

• The state’s procurement activities are conducted efficiently and supported

with effective internal controls.

• The state systematically assesses the effectiveness of its financial operations

and management.

Infrastructure• The state regularly conducts a thorough analysis of its infrastructure needs and has a transparent process for selecting infrastructure projects.• The state has an effective process for monitoring infrastructure projects throughout their design and construction.• The state maintains its infrastructure according to generally recognized engineering practices.

• The state comprehensively manages its infrastructure.

• The state creates effective intergovernmental and interstate infrastructure coordination networks.

That’s a lot of criteria and a lot of research. So, how did the state’s rank?

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The top state governments in information (with A’s) were Utah, Washington, Missouri, Virginia, and Michigan.

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For handling money the best government was Utah, which took the only A in the nation, follwed by Washington, Nebraska, Virginia, and Delaware, with A minuses.

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Infastructure, again Utah was the top state, and the only state earning an A. With A minuses were Florida, Kentucky and Michigan.

The report says of Utah, “there’s a lot to cheer about. Utah manages itself with savvy business acumen. Financial decisions are made wisely, with an eye toward return on investment and long-term performance in all facets of state government.”

Of Virginia, the reports states, “Virginia proves that tracking data—and holding employees accountable for outcomes—can work wondrous efficiencies.”

And of Washington, the report says, “Washington has been a consistent leader in results-based governance. It was ahead of nearly all other states in controlling spending by keeping track of where investments were and were not paying off.”

New Hampshire had the worst grade in the country, with an overall D+. The study says, “The governor, who serves a two-year term, doesn’t necessarily appoint—and cannot remove—his own agency heads, who serve four-year terms. So the governor can spend lots of time banging heads with other members of his own cabinet. “The basic system of government is designed to make it difficult to transform anything,” explains one former state official.”

Point2 Agent Shaken Up- Good For Consumers and Agents

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I don’t know as much about Point2 Agent  as a company as many agents do, but I am a member and have used the system. It seems to me to be an entry-level type service with a template website given and then you pay for add-ons and additional services. One thing I do know is that the company, as far the real estate piece of what they do, is centered around template websites. I think it’s important for our industry to evolve and maybe it’s time to begin to step-up to a higher level of website than templates offer.

There are better options than templates.

For most agents, a template website is their only on-line presence- either a template or an “agent page” on their broker’s website. So consumer’s see all these template sites and it affirms to them that agents don’t know much about technology. Often the consumer ends up going to the better websites (clean user-interface, enjoyable search experience, etc) that they can find, and in most areas Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia are the best they can find.

Problem with Trulia, Realtor.com and Zillow is they are not real estate companies- they are technology companies. They take agent information (listings) for the purpose of selling ads and leads to agents. Their purpose is not to help consumers find homes, it’s to sell ads or leads. Obviously that’s not the best business model for the consumers (or agents)?

Now Point2 Agent is getting all shaken up and people are talking about it. I don’t wish bad on them at all, in fact for many agents they have been the only a good solution, but I think this shake-up may a good thing in at least one way- maybe it will open some discussion about different and even better online solutions for agents.

Instead of creating well-designed websites that offer real value to the consumer, agents usually either get a cheap  template just to have a website or they pay a technology company (Trulia/Realtor.com/Zillow) for leads. I understand why- it’s a lot easier and much less expensive than it is to build a custom site. Custom websites can cost a lot. I spent well over six figures on BlueRoof.com, and it’s tough to pay that kind of money, especially if you have no experience converting online leads and have no idea what sort of return (if any) on your investment you’ll get. But help is on the way.

Point2 and other template sites serve their purpose, to be sure, but I think many agents who have a Point2 websites would like to have something better.

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In February there will something much better.

See it here:

http://blueroof.wordpress.com/2008/01/18/blueroof360-industry-best-realtor-websites-lead-and-client-management/

Fed Chops Half-Percent Off Rates/ Utah Job Market Still Strong

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Pick up a copy of the Tribune today and the whole front page talks about the .5% rate cut the fed just announced and how Utah’s job growth represents 5% of the entire country’s job growth. What does this mean for our local real estate market? Not much, actually. People with adjustable-rate mortgages will have some relief and people will get lower rates on home-equity loans and, but our job growth has been leading the nation for over a year, interest rates are a very low 6.25% right now (locally) and our local economy has been super strong for a while now. Local unemployment is still at all-time record lows for the state and people are moving into the area. But none of that really matters because many people need to sit and wait, wait and see, see and watch, watch and wait…

Our challenges are not interest rates- it’s inventory levels, lender restrictions, and the overall “Chicken Little” message the media is pumping out about the sky falling. Every factor is strong for our economy and real estate market, but these thiree things are causing people to stall. So it will take a few months of the media shutting up and things to calm down until people will be able to see how great a time this is to buy.

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About the news today;

Ben Bernanke, of the Federal Reserve, cut its benchmark interest rate by a half point, which caused the Dow to shoot up more than 300 points (it’s biggest one-day jump in over five years).

Last year 54,500 jobs were created in Utah, representing 5% of all jobs created in the country. Not bad for a state that only has 1% of the total US job force. When jobs are created and unemployment is 3-4% how do you fill all these jobs? People move into the area. And where do these people buy homes? Locally of course. So if people are moving into the area to fill tens of thousands of jobs that are being created, do we have a housing slump?

Just because every listing isn’t flying off the shelves the first few days they are on the market doesn’t mean everything is bad. It’s not supposed to take two days to sell a house. In “normal” healthy real estate markets it takes 30-90 days to sell good homes. What is our “average” time on market right now? It’s 36 days- not exactly sky-is-falling, but up ten days from the beginning of the year when things were crazy. 

Every day there is some other news about real estate in mass media and that itself is the problem. The market can’t be normal because it’s getting too much attention. It creates excitement- good and bad, and strong opinions from dads and sisters and uncles and friends who all “know” what they are talking about and all have different opinions they are telling buyers and sellers. “Offer 90% under market-value” or “things are going to get worse” or “Buy anything with at least 8 bedrooms”. This advice makes them feel important as though if not for their input these buyers would make the biggest mistakes of their lives and it’s good thing they get this valuable opinion information.

Those of us who know the market and watch indicators and trends and have been through market cycles know better. We know the stability inherent in housing (everybody needs a place to live) and the appreciation of real estate prices over a sustained period of time (all land in populated areas will go up in value). Real estate is an appreciating asset, and right now buyers can find some great homes with good prices in the Salt Lake area and with such a strong local economy and job growth, it’s a fantastic financial investment to buy right now- just make sure you have a good agent so you buy smart.

Utah Job Growth Shows No Sign of Slowing

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Utah has been atop the country’s lists of states with major job growth for the last couple years and the unemployment rate in Utah has been at record lows. Now local employers are saying that things are only going to get better (or, would that be worse?)

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, released on Tuesday, shows that 52% of Utah’s employers plan on adding to their staff during the next six months, while only 3% would be decreasing their numbers. Much of the news surrounding the area’s job growth has centered around certain companies and industries, but this survey is over the breadth of business categories, meaning it will affect most of the population.

In the Orem area, over 60% of employers will be hiring, in the Ogden area 50% will be adding to their ranks and in Salt Lake County 47% will be hiring more people, 53% say they will remain the same, and zero said they plan to reduce staffing levels.

From the Deseret News

The strong Utah figures are in contrast to the national survey results. U.S. fourth-quarter hiring pace is expected to remain unchanged from the July-to-September period but be a little off last year’s fourth-quarter pace. Among the 14,000 U.S. employers surveyed, 27 percent foresee an increase in hiring activity and 9 percent expect a decline in the fourth quarter. Fifty-eight percent expect no change, while 6 percent were undecided.

From the Salt Lake Tribune

“Utah continues to buck the national trend and is even outperforming most of the rest of the West,” said Katz, director of Utah operations for Manpower, a Milwaukee-based global staffing firm. “It’s been that way for about two years, but when you get up around 50 percent of the employers who plan to hire, that’s one of the top rates in the nation. “The state created 57,000 jobs last year and it appears it could create another 57,000 this year so long as there are enough bodies to fill them.”

Strong job growth has been one of the main reasons for the area’s strong real estate market. People moving into the area for jobs and raised income levels help the economy and the real estate market in the area by adding to the demand for homes. Currently the Salt Lake real estate market is stronger for buyers and with high inventory levels, a nation-leading local economy and low interest rates, this is a good time to buy.

There’s No Room at the Top for Wimps

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We’re all prone to having our moments of weakness, where things aren’t going our way or everything seems to be falling on us at the same time. Especially in a sales industry like real estate, with the financial ups and downs and the pressures that come with it, it can be draining emotionally.

Sometimes I need to retreat and spend time with family just to keep my sanity. Sometimes the pressure turns to anxiety and it’s tough to stay focused on the road ahead. But I know that’s precisely what I need to do to make things right and take care of my responsibilities.

This is one of the traits that I believe seperates those at the top of their game from the rest- the ability to focus under pressure. We’re all busy and we all have pressure, but it’s what we do with that pressure that makes the difference.

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Do you fold under the pressure or do you focus?

Most people fold. They crumble and become less useful in every area of their lives. Most people have the inherent flaw of retreat during those times that they are most needing to perform. But in business this causes anxiety and stress and simply furthers the problem. Curling up into the fetal position and bawling like a baby will not help things get better, and while I can understand the natural tendency to do so, and can even relate to some degree- I keep a discernable barrier from the emotion of it all because I choose a different way of handling my pressure.

I see people throwing their hands in the air and giving up all the time in this business- sometimes for a day or a week and sometimes for good. People leave the business or go into hibernation because a deal went south on them or several deals fell apart at the same time. Or because they are going through a tough stretch with no business.

I have these same stretches where business seems to flow in rapidly and times when it seems like things are slowing down. When things aren’t coming in though, I go out and I get business. And I think others who are at the top of their game, and the best in their fields do the same. They get out there and they take the bull by the horns and get things done.

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-If you find a man at the top of a mountain, he didn’t fall there-

I don’t know who first said it, but I like it. Here are some things that I personally do to push through pressure…

Stay flexible in my approach but focused on my result.

I decide what the result is that I want and become determined to make that result happen no matter what. It’s imperative to stay focused on the result I am looking for so I have direction and a way to clearly see whether or not I am moving toward that result.

My approach might change several times. Think of water finding it’s way down a canyon side. It’ll change direction a bunch of times but eventually it will find it’s way to the lowest ground- and that’s how I look at my approach and the way I reach my result. If something isn’t working I’ll change what I’m doing and then change again and again as long as I’m moving toward that result.

Take time.

When things catch up to me and the pressure gets heavy I take time, maybe ten minutes, maybe two hours, to relax and clear my mind so I can return to the issues from a different perspective. Sometimes I’ll go to a movie in the middle of the day to forget about everything for a while and then when it’s over I’m calm and can look at things again more clearly. Sometimes I take ten minutes and sit at a park or at home in silence and just think about the stillness and how big the world is around me and remember how small these problems are to the rest of the world. Somehow putting things in perspective against time and history helps me look at them in a better frame of mind.

Utilize my energy.

The pressure and stress I feel is all energy and I can choose to take that energy and use it to make me move. Sometimes I take that energy and turn it into anger because anger is such a strong emotion. I wouldn’t suggest doing this unless you can compartmentalize well (as I do) so you don’t end up taking out stress on those around you, but I’ve been able to take my energy and use it to get me off my butt and out there working.

Swallow my pride.

Sometimes I don’t want to do the work because I don’t like it. I don’t like cold calling or knocking on doors anymore than the next guy, but when I need business I’ll go out in the rain and knock doors asking for business if I need to. I’ll call five hundred people in a day or hand out business cards to everyone I come across that day. There are usually more productive ways to spend my time, but I will exhaust every option and do whatever it takes to keep things going strong. This is the business I am in- sales. And in sales I am responsible for my own success- I have to go find it and that’s what i signed up for when I took the career I did.

Reach high.

I don’t suffer from low amibition. Sometimes I like to take a break and spend more time relaxing, but I keep my standards high and I maintain results that I can be proud of. Some people reach their goals well, but their goals are far too low for their ability and situation. Hey, if you need more- go out there and get it. Having high standards motivates me and keeps me from being feeling average.

Don’t whine.

I can’t stand when people stand around whining about how unfair things are and expect their lot in life to improve without putting in the work. Don’t stand there and shout about it- get up and do something about it. I’ll raise my voice if I think it’s going to help my cause, but I’m not going to complain just to complain- I’ll have a solution or some opinion I think will help the discussion. Whining is for suckers and the people ot the top of their game don’t have time for it.

Keep my frame of mind.

It’s important for me to stay in the right frame of mind and sometimes that means to just toughen up and stay numb to some of the distractions. I try to remember my talents and why I believe in myself. Not affirmation- dedication. And this can make all the difference in the world for me.

There will always be people out there that does more business than I do and make more money and have more time and blah blah blah- so what? I work hard because it makes me feel good taking care of my family and having success. And I like my work. Big reward often comes with big risk, and being in a commission-only sales position is risky, but rewarding for those who get off their butts and take charge of their career.

No matter what area of your life you find challenging right now- decide to change it and go do the work. If you expect to reach the top, any “top”- your “top”, whatever that is for you, you can’t be a wimp getting there.

Your first home should be a good investment

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Actually, all of the real estate you buy should be a good investment, but first time home buyers often overlook the investment for the emotional pull of upgrades, proximity to friends and decor. A home is a personal thing for sure, but the reality is- buying a home is not like finding that one true soulmate you will spend your forever with. Rather, there are many houses in any given area that one could buy and be very happy living in.

A house is a shell of wood, brick and windows- it’s the people that make it a home. It’s the memories and the drive home after a long day of work. It’s calling it “my place” and spending time and money and energy fixing the faucet and mowing the yard or putting your favorite colors on the wall. It’s waking up there and creating your own space.

When buying home for the first time it is especially important to get a good investment because chances are, you won’t be staying more than a few years and you’ll want the equity from the home to buy your next place. Buying a home that is a good investment can be a major part of a solid financial standing. The tax benefits and equity earned can have a huge impact for people.

I bought my first house when I was 20. It was not a nice place, but it was a good investment. I actually bought it to flip. I figured I would take the money I would make from flipping it and buy a home to live in but my wife wouldn’t have it- she wanted out of the apartment lifestyle as soon as possible. So we remodeled and moved in. I sold the house a couple years later and made around $40,000. Not a ton of money, but for someone in their young twenties who is starting a family it’s a fortune. I could not have saved that much by putting away a little from every paycheck and clipping coupons.

Real estate has been my best investment. The stock market hasn’t been bad for me, but the investment/return on my real estate blows away my stocks. I can buy a home for zero out of pocket and make tens of thousands of dollars just by living there. Everybody’s paying a mortgage, either their own or the landlords. I might as well be the one making the money, right?

If you are in the market to buy, or have been sitting on the fence, undecided about whether to buy a home thake my advice, find one of the best Realtors in your area and let them help you find a good, solid investment as your first home- you’ll be glad you did.

Real Estate Marketing- Good, Bad and Ugly

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Let’s face it- not all marketing is good. A lot of marketing is horrible, some is simply bland, some is very good and some should be burned immediately. Good marketing people are not always easy to find, and once you do find them they are often very busy because of the aforementioned difficulty in finding them to begin with.

Selling real estate effectively requires marketing. It takes people looking at your ads so they see the homes. Whether it’s on the internet, magazines, newspapers, postcards, or wherever- sellers want buyers seeing their property and buyers want to find good homes. The right marketing can have a significant impact on the amount of traffic a property gets.

Sometimes good companies have bad marketing, which makes them less-good, but this could simply be the result of bad taste from management, or designers who are either getting revenge on their bosses or are just wasted on crack. Either way, as important as marketing is in the real estate industry, I would think that more companies would care about the look of their brand, which also speaks of the brand of their clients.

I have no doubt people who work for companies with ugly marketing will say that it’s not important what your ads look like, but all things being equal most people would rather have their home appear in high-quality ads and represented by a professional looking brand. And more people look at those ads so it does affect traffic.

Here are some examples of what I consider to be bad real estate marketing.

The whole pilgrim thing is way over-done

Constipation is not sexy

Drugs- I’m 90% sure

In bright daylight causes blindness

Even the kid thinks it’s lame

Bad on so many levels

Not prestigious at all

Will never sell a high-end home

Judge books by their covers

Pray for a new design

Animal pornography is just wrong

All dressed-up for the big photo shoot

When accountants do design work

 

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$495,000 for a doghouse?

 

And now to recognize a couple of special companies and their design and marketing. Usually once a company becomes national, or large they get enough input to change bad marketing, or have enough money to hire good designers and consultants. But apparently, not all companies;

Ugliest National brokerage marketing goes to these two;

It’s almost as though they’re trying to be ugly

 

Sad thing about Exit’s marketing is, they actually think it looks good

And here is some real estate marketing that I think is very good and should be used as examples of good taste. There are many companies that have good marketing- here are just a few that come to mind. For more great internet design work in real estate go to Posh’d)

Obviously, if I didn’t think my own  logo and look was good I would change it

Sellsius guys  have a cool look

Re/Max -Always recognizable, often imitated, and the balloon gives them options

Prudential- Rounded top and the rock symbol differentiate, good font and color.  I think the blue is friendly and inviting.

There are obviously many companies that have great marketing, logos and looks that are not mentioned here, but you get the idea. Many Realtors create their own marketing with only the brokerage name attached (which is required by law), and that can be good or worse, depending on the agent.

Good marketing also includes the copy of the ads, and how a home is presented on the MLS, in the remarks and having accurate information. Homes that have no photos are shown many times less, and a virtual tour helps even more. The quality of the photos can make a big difference.

Agents that snap a few shots of hallways and cabinets with their phone-cams are doing a disservice to their clients, while agents who hire a professional photographer who knows camera angles and lighting techniques will be presenting a better product and ultimately have more people looking at their listings.

Here’s an example of two photo tours, which one showcases the home and compells you to see the home more?

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This is a home I just put on the market. I hired a professional photographer to take the photos and create the tour.

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This is the complete tour provided by an agent on a home that is about the same price as my listing, has a bit more square feet, same size lot, and an extra bathroom.

More buyers will look at my listing than the other simply because of the photos, which means the seller of the second home is missing out. It’s a good home that is not being represented well.

MLS and marketing copy makes a difference as well. Here’s an example;

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These are the remarks on the MLS for a home listed by another agent. I brought a buyer who bought the home last month for $170,000 with the seller paying $6000 for the buyers closing costs, so the net price to my client was $164,000. Here’s the thing- the home actually wasn’t in that bad of condition and certainly not as bad as those remarks make it seem. It had granite counters, a huge yard, a new roof, a jetted tub and all new vinyl windows. But none of that was mentioned in the remarks. This home appraised for $188,000 and probably would have appraised for $200,000 if that was the selling price. We made a low offer because the sellers were obviously expecting a low offer. Their agent did a horrible job representing them and the MLS remarks brought people looking for an investment, like my buyers. Different marketing and they could have attracted people wanting to live in the home who would have paid $200,000.

My clients paid $164,000 (after the $6000 credit), put less than $10,000 into the home for paint, carpet, and some other upgrades, and we will sell it for $220,000, which is actually a good price for this home with the upgrades.

The best agents coordinate all the little things and have the expertise to bring in top dollar while branding the property well and making the whole transaction go smoothly. Getting a quick sale for top dollar with as little inconvenience as possible to the client. Good marketing takes more than a clever tag-line or some “unique” idea- it takes an understanding of the target audience and what appeals to the largest group of them as possible.

In my opinion simple is always better than complicated. If you can say it in twenty words don’t use fifty, use images to elicit a favorable response, not because you just like the image, and colors matter. Look at the overall brand and what it says about you, because that’s what marketing is really all about- delivering the message of what your brand is, what it is you have to offer, and what you’re all about.

I don’t know that a bad yard sign will keep a buyer from calling or not, but I think a nice one may make it easier for them. Beyond signs- I think the overall image of an ad makes a huge difference in the traffic it generates and the overall image of a campaign can make a significant impact on the business and clientele of a company.

Look at Alain Pinel in the bay area of California. Everyone in the area knows of their name and brand. They attract high-end clients and agents and their branding is a major reason for it. Obviously facility, personnel, training and leadership all play roles as well, but the branding impacts the pride people take in their company and the image they themselves take on when meeting with consumers.

As an agent I prefer to be with a company that I associate with being a high-quality organization. Whether or not the yard signs bring me business is not the point- I do more business because I’m proud of my service and my brand. Everything else being equal- I will do more business, and enjoy a better brand of business by having a high-quality image and having marketing that conveys that image. It gives me confidence and I believe it gives my clients confidence and pride as well.

People are the biggest contributing factor to success, but don’t underestimate the power of branding and the effectiveness of good marketing.

Believe in What You Do or Don’t Do It

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Driving home today I saw a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) directional sign directing people down a particular street. On the sign was a phone number and the words “owner/agent”. I recognized the phone number as belonging to an agent who used to work for me. What does this tell me? It tells me a few things…

- I didn’t teach him well enough to believe in what he’s doing

- His clients are losing out working with someone who doesn’t believe in what’s he doing

- He may want to re-think his career choice because currently it has no integrity

I don’t trust salespeople who don’t believe in their product or services. I wouldn’t trust an atheist minister, a vegetarian butcher or an environmentalist who drives a suburban either. At the end of the day your integrity is worth more than a paycheck and if this agent doesn’t believe in his companies marketing and service then he may want to evaluate which company he is with, or whether this is the right career for him, either way- have some integrity in your selling.

Update- On 6-26-07 I spoke to this agent about it and told him I was blogging about it and he says he has a FSBO sign up for two reasons- the home is not ready to go on the market yet- he’s a couple weeks away, and he wants to get some buyer leads and interest while he’s finishing the remodel on it. He doesn’t have a company directional sign up because it’s not listed yet.

Five Things About Successful Salespeople

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I’ve heard it said that we’re all in sales, in one form or another. And there’s probably some truth to that. Having children means selling them on the benefits of brushing their teeth and going to sleep at a good hour and sometimes we try to sell our friends on why we should eat at this restaurant or to try out this new golf club or go see that movie that we thought was so good.

But for actual salespeople, or those of us who’s work it is to assist people in the actual sale of a product or service, there are some things that I believe are fundamentally important to being successful at what we do, and they aren’t necessarily the same things that are important in other professions.

There’s a difference between acheiving success and being a successful salesperson- this post is about the latter. Five things about successful salespeople;

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They like people. We’re all different and for every type of personality there is someone who wants to work with them. But I believe the truly successful salesperson enjoys other people and wants to do well by them. They have a social element to their personality. I don’t think they need to be especially outgoing, but if you genuinely like people you’ll want to be around them. It’s interesting to observe people at parties or gatherings. Next time you’re at a party watch how some people naturally float around talking to everyone and some people stay next to the people they came with.

They lead.  A good salesperson can assist their clients in making decisions. Often times we need someone to make it okay to make a decision. Good salespeople give us options, help us to decipher all the information, and then they encourage us to go ahead with the purchase. Sometimes people need validation on their decision or a push in the right direction. Nobody likes a pushy salesman, and that creates the problem. Nobody wants to be a pushy salesman because then they’d have to hate themselves. But there’s a big difference in that fine line between pushy salesman and successful salesperson.

They gain our trust. It takes time to earn trust or respect, but it takes a lot longer for some, because they don’t actively earn it. If I’m looking for a new HDTV I want the salesperson to have answers and offer them to me. I want them to show me the difference between differest technologies and tell me if some models or brands get a lot of complaints or returns. I don’t know the right questions to ask because TV’s aren’t my thing. I want them to tell me what I should know and give me reasons to buy one brand or technology over another. I may not know the person when I first enter the store, but by the time I leave I might trust them completely when it comes to buying a new HDTV. And if I do, that’s a successful salesperson.

They learn. Imagine sitting down with your accountant to prepare your taxes and they don’t know any of the new tax laws for that year. Successful sales people continue to learn and educate themselves in their field. They know the new products or technologies or statistics and can recite them at will. They know the current trends and the causes behind them.

They’re comfortable. People who are comfortable are comfortable to be around. A salesperson who is nervous or desperate makes me uncomfortable and when I’m shopping for a service or product I want to be comfortable. If I meet an attorney for the first time and they are dressed in shorts and a Tommy Bahamas shirt I may be surprised, but if they’re comfortable and these clothes match their personality that’s better than if they’re wearing a three-piece suit and look completely uncomfortable and stiff. They speak comfortably and they don’t force their smile. Successful salespeople help you feel comfortable with them and the sales process and that starts with them being comfortable with themselves.

They put me first.We’ve all heard stories about Nordstroms and their great service, but I’ll tell you my own. There used to be a guy named Seth who worked at the downtown store. I liked Seth because he knew my name, my size and my taste in clothes. I could call Seth and tell him I wanted to buy a few shirts and when I came in he’d have seven or eight shirts laid out for me to try on and they would be shirts I would like. But the best part about it was a couple of the shirts wouldn’t even be from Nordstroms. Seth would go to other stores in the mall and find shirts he thought I’d like and get permission to show them to me. He didn’t make any commission if I bought those shirts, but he wanted me to find what I was looking for. One day I bought some clothes as gift for my girlfriend and asked Seth if he could have it delivered for me and just charge me the delivery fee. Of course he agreed, but he didn’t have it delivered- he delivered it himself because it was “on his way”. Seth was transferred to be a manager at a store in another state but I’m sure he’s providing the same service for people wherever he is.

Okay, that’s six things, but I’m giving a little extra. The most successful salespeople are unusual and that is why there are so few who are truly successful. Sales can be extremely challenging, especially when you make your living completely on commission- but it can also be very rewarding.

I know a lot about my work and I think I’m among the best in my field. I know the service I provide and the success my clients have working with me. And at the end of the day I feel successful and that makes my work worth doing.

Does Your Website Make the Grade?

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Most of us who own websites like to get as much feedback as we possibly can, especially if it’s from someone we don’t know. Well, here’s an online website evaluator that will test your site in less than 30 seconds.

Testing BlueRoof it says that the Google pagerank is 0, when it’s actually 3, but other than that it’s probably pretty accurate about its assessment (which is obviously an on-paper assessment, not taking into account design, UI, or programming).

(H/T Newspapergrl)

Blogging Stats, Facts, and Growth

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Millions of people have registered blogs, almost 800,000 on WordPress alone, but there are 300 million people in America and billions around the world.

How many blog? What are the trends? What are the numbers?

C|Net says

30% of People Blog

52% Believe bloggers should have the same rights as jounalists

80% Do not believe that bloggers should be allowed to publish home addresses and other personal information about private citizens

72% Favor censorship of personal information about celebrities

68% Favor censorship of personal information about elected or appointed government officials

39% Say blogs are less credible than newspaper articles

According to PEW/Internet

By the end of 2004- 8 Million people had created a blog

27% of internet users read blogs

5% said they used RSS

12% had left comments on blogs

62% didn’t know what a blog was

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Technoarti says that they are currently tracking 55 Million Blogs and in 2006 the blogosphere was 60 times larger than 3 years earlier.

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Technorati also says that a new blog is created about every second and of those, 55% of new bloggers are still posting after three months.

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And, in 2006, there were approximately 1.2 Million new posts/day or about 50,000/hour.

Prudential apparently doesn’t even allow their employees to post blogs. From the company Feb/March issue of PrudentialLeader magazine, “Prudential policy prohibits creating or posting to blogs, no matter the content.” Not that it makes much difference, according to the magazine, only 5% of their employees read blogs daily.

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And we know Apple doesn’t blog from fear of someone letting out company secrets, and the company uses secrecy to generate interest and garner publicity when it will help sales. Is corporate blogging an American thing?

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In contrast, Microsoft has long used published plans of future products to generate publicity. Microsoft encourages it’s employees to blog. As do many other companies. If you are thinking about starting a company blog, here are some do’s and don’t’s for you to consider.

Blogging can bring traffic to a website but that’s not the point of it. The objective of good blogs is to be a resource of information and frank discussion.

Website Design Flaws and Pet Peeves

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Some websites are getting pretty fancy and some are remarkably plain, yet we all have our own taste for design and functionality so there is no definitive design solution. Having said that, there are definitely elements that annoy most people and should be avoided.

Here are my top five website pet peeves;

1- Pop-ups. I don’t mind a box already on the site that asks if I want to take a survey or something, but pop-ups are horrible.

2-Requiring registration to get information. Give me value and let me decide if I want to register.

3-Websites that have no design. Template sites that are link farms or just huge pages of text.

4- Long, scrolling pages of text. If you have a lot to say about a subject, use topics or categories

5- Music that auto-starts and isn’t easy to turn off. If I want music, I’ll turn on my own. Having subtle sound effects can be fun, but they need to be subtle and only on a few items.

According to Hostway’s survey of more than 2400 Internet users;

The top 5 things that bother people most when visiting a website are

Pop-Up Ads (93% !)

Requiring them to install software (89%)

Dead Links (86%)

Requiring Registration (83%)

Slow-Loading Pages (83%)

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Startup Nation has a forumtitled, “Website Pet Peeves- what annoys you most?” The pet peeves noted by the participants included;

- Websites that blast music or any type of audio as soon as it loads.

• The only thing worse (at this moment) is the same site that also doesn’t let you turn it off!!!

• Flash that has no value besides to be “flashy”.

• Sites that fall apart in Mozilla, Firefox or Opera.

• Sites that use popups, popunders, or any advertising that scrolls / blocks the actual content.

• hyoog (sik) blocks of text with no paragraph breaks, and text on backgrounds that make it almost impossible to read whatever is in that text.

• sites that are built for the PC user and not the Mac user in mind.

• Sites that make you search all over to figure out how to contact someone, for the answer to a simple question.

• websites that are one big image!

• typos and bad grammar.

• Neon colors

Nancy Barney, owner of WritingPlanet.com posts her top ten pet peeves at 123Interactive (also at Self SEO and Web4to40)

10. Websites with nothing on the home page to identify itself.

9. Flashy, sparkly, swirling intro pages.

8. Music, or any other sound, that starts up when you click on the home page and you can’t turn it off.

7. Excessive drop down menus.

6. Too many moving parts.

5. Web page that is too long or too big.

4. Totally invalid search results

3. Websites that look like they were shot out of a shotgun.

2. Text size that is too small or too large.

1. Content is hard to read because of text and/or background colors.

Useit lists their top ten mistakes of web design

10- Not answering user’s questions

9- Opening new browser windows

8- Violating Design Conventions (not being consistant with how majority of sites navigate)

7- Anything that looks like an advertisement

6- Page titles with low search-engine visibility

5- Fixed font size

4- Non-scannable text (sik)

3- Non changing color of visited links

2- PDF files for on-line reading

1- Bad search

Maureen at WebAngelDesign has four pet peeves;

- Stop using CLICK HERE as a link to another page, instead use the words of the page you are directing people to as the linkable text

- Using frames

- Long, scrolling pages

- Blinking

FastCompany published it’s 5 Fatal Flaws back in 1998

1- Don’t try to lure users to your site by bragging about your adoption of new Web technologies.

2-  Don’t turn pages into orphans.

3- Beware of Blink

4- Break with Frames

5- Long download times

When creating a website it’s important to give it your personality- be bold and creative. Just keep in mind these top annoyances and flaws so people who visit your site will enjoy it as much as you do.

Investing in Student Housing

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As a broker for a large real estate company in Boulder, Colorado I learned the benefits of investing in student housing when my agents would tell me about their clients. Parents who would buy an area property, rent it out to the friends of their kids, and then sell it after their child graduated for a lot of profit. Many times their kids didn’t even need to pay any rent because it was covered by their friends renting rooms. And having a student with friends is better than any property management company when it comes to finding students looking for a place to live.

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(MSN- Data from US Census Bureau)

When investors call and want information on buying rental properties in the Salt Lake area, one of the first places I advise them to search is close to the University of Utah. Being close to the University gives them a higher probability of finding a renter.

Sure, college students can be tough on a property, but so can anyone. I’ve had renters who seemed like salt-of-the-earth people, but once moved in and comfortable began destroying the property with their lifestyle and poor judgement.

And it’s not only students who want to be close to the University. The energy and culture that surrounds the area attracts alumni and people who enjoy an active lifestyle. This includes families, you ng couples, single people, and out-of-state people who want the liberal atmosphere that usually comes with living close to U.

The Real Estate Bloggers write about this saying, “the market for student rentals tends to be recession proof as a college education is never going out of style.” Good point. The blog also direct us to a post from the LA Times, which says, “According to the National Center for Education Statistics, college enrollment will grow by 11% between 2003 and 2013. Higher education is less affected by economic trends. When times are bad, more people seek a college degree to improve the job prospects; when times are good, a sheepskin becomes even more important. Moreover, children of the baby boom generation are taking longer than their predecessors to graduate, so they need housing for a longer stretch.

Next, toss in the fact that rents for student-housing properties have been rising at a higher rate than at conventional apartments, according to the National Multi-Housing Council, and you have the makings for what savvy real estate investors call a “good niche opportunity.”

Carl Peppers writes more here

eHow offers tips on how to invest in student housing properties

Daily Californian writes Students Try to Find Housing-to Buy

MSN writes Student housing gets good investment grades

Inman News Interviews BlueRoof

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Glenn Roberts of Inman News interviewed me recently for an article discussing company blogs, which was published today. Along with BlueRoof, the other company blogs included in the interview were HotPads, Zillow, Zip Realty, Sellsius, and The Real Estate Tomato.

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Roberts also covered the launch of BlueRoof back at the beginning of August 2006 and has written a ton of great articles about the industry and where it’s heading.

Blogging gives a company, a group, or an individual a public voice. One of the great parts about blogging is the direct connect it has with readers, the communication and feedback. Blogging can change the way one thinks about their topics and why the blog in the first place. And blogs can be updated as often as the owner wants, so checking back with a favorite blog throughout the day you might find more than one new post.

I think it’s important to give blogs a personality and not stick with only factual postings. Most major blogs have their share of criticizing and opinions about new trends in the industry and that’s part of the attraction, or as Sellsius calls it Magnetism (the ability to bring people back). Even if that means some people don’t like it.

The legs of blog posts are probably the most amazing part of blogging to me. Check out the daily hit report on this post I wrote about Feng Shui.

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As you can see it I wrote it back in August and when I first posted it there were a few people a day who found it, then it went unread for months until January and then this month it just began being read and is averaging between 6-8 searches per day. Not a top post, but it shows the legs a post can have.

The chart represents people who go directly to that post from a search engine or are linked from another blog, not total reads, so you really get an idea of how topics will have interest all-of-a-sudden and will cause people to search for them.

Other posts have similar trends…

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Some are consistently sporadic…

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Other have interest from something in the news- months after they’ve been written

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You just never really know when a post is going to get attention- many times I’ll post about something and it gets read for a few days and then is forgotten…

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but you never know when it will come back again.

Top 200 Websites for Your Attention

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Compete.com gives us a new metric for measuring websites- attention. The Compete Attention 200 is a list of the top 200 websites for length of visits.

MySpace, YouTube, eBay- I understand how people spend a long amount of time on these sites, but what are people doing on paypal that takes so long?

Realtor.com is the only real estate site on the list at #66- most of that time is spent trying to figure out how to find the addresses of properties and/or contact info for the listing agents, which, of course, doesn’t appear unless the agents pay for it- and obviously most don’t.

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Hat Tip to Seth Godin

Where Realtors Really Make Their Money

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Being in the real estate industry for over a decade I’m aware that the general image of real estate agents could be much better. Especially now, with all the people who have jumped into the business in recent years, with its low barrier to entry and all the tape peddlers “self-made millionaires” on the television and radio infomercials. Historically the real estate professional has ranked in polls somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to professional trust and integrity from the public.

Poll Question: Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields — very high, high, average, low, or very low?

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(From Gallup Poll)

Being paid by commission and just being a sales profession are both contributing factors, but some wonder about the scruples of agents. There are agents out there working in the field that will not only represent you well and assist you through each detail, but with their expertise, knowledge and experience, will eventually be worth a lot of money to you and your family.

Nigel Swaby of Salt Lake Real Estate Blog wrote a fantastic post recently asking if Realtors can be trusted. An excerpt:

Let me be real direct about real estate transactions: everyone gets paid for their services. In a normal sale the seller gets paid, the real estate agents get paid, the mortgage broker gets paid, the lender gets paid, the title company or closing agent gets paid and the city, county and state get paid taxes. Everyone gets paid.

That’s the way it works. Consider a different transaction like buying lunch at McDonalds. The cashier gets paid, the cook gets paid, the manager, the manufacturer of the french fries, the farmer that grew the potatoes and the city, county and state get paid their taxes. Everyone gets paid.

He also illustrates the point that the real money being a Realtor is not in selling someone a higher-priced home or by trying to get a higher commission on a deal. The money is in the referrals.

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If I surprise and delight one client I will be paid several times from that transaction. Considering the average homeowner moves every seven years I can sell that client’s home and help them purchase a new home three or four times (6-8 transactions). Now, factor in all the people they know at work or church or groups they are in- all the people in their lives- and how every time one of those people begins thinking about buying or selling real estate they will talk about it. They will talk to their friends and their family. They will talk to my client. And now my client will tell these people that they need to call me and they will share their experiences with these people and over the course of a lifetime I may gain another 2-3 clients- all from that first client that I did such a good job for.

If each of those referrals bought just one home with me, that would be a total of 8-11 transactions that I would have as a result of doing a great job for my clients and taking care of them. Now, what if each of those referrals gave me 2-3 referrals? And so on…

This is where the money is in being a real estate agent, or any other service provider. When it comes to personal services, whether it is a landscaper or an attorney or a Realtor- choosing the right person to work with can make all the difference in the world.  In every profession there is good and bad, but one thing I have learned is it’s not the profession, it’s the person.

So how do you choose a good agent? Choose a real estate agent who is a Realtor, which means they subscribe to the code of ethics of the National Association of Realtors, someone who has the experience you want and someone you feel comfortable with. Ask for referrals or testimonials. And ask your agent questions about their experience and how they work so you’ll know whether they are the type of agent (aggressive, easy-going, full-time, busy with business, specialist in a certain area, etc.) that you want to work with. Good agents aren’t going to work with just anybody- they aren’t just looking for a quick buck. They’ll want to work with people who are looking for what they have to offer, people who want to work with them, so they can begin to build a solid relationship with them.

Those are the agents who are successful because they understand where the money really is.

Utah to Add Over 1300 Jobs in Outdoors Sector

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The already record-low unemployment rate of 2.5% in Utah may be in for another shock as three companies announce the addition of 1335 jobs to the state.

The announcements came yesterday at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show. Utah already has about 36,000 people employed in the outdoors industry, contributing a direct annual impact on the state of $4.5 billion, according to trade show president, Frank Huegelmeyer. “The best incentives are free in the state of Utah.” he said. “If you want to own the mountain, you have to be on the mountain.”

Backcountry.com, which already employs 430 workers in the state, and sells more than 250 brands of outdoor gear, will spend $4.8 million expanding its Park City and West Valley City operations, adding 1250 jobs. The company says 274 of the jobs will be high-paying jobs well above northern Utah’s average wage level.

Smith Optics makes and distributes ski goggles and helmets and will be opening a 120,000 square-foot operation in Clearfield that will employ 60 people.

Peregrine Outfitters is a distributor of over 6000 outdoor accessories and will be opening a distribution center in Ogden on March first with 25 employees.

Additionally, Amer Sports recently announced that it is making Ogden, Utah the headquarters of its North American winter sports division. The company owns the brands Suunto, Salomon, and Atomic among others.

HouseValues Feeling the Pain

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Real estate lead-generation siteHouseValues.com is not doing too well and their trajectory is looking pretty bleak. They lost $1.5 Million in the third quarter of 2006 and on the 24th of this month they announced they are laying off 60 workers, or 12% of their total workforce and they eliminated the COO position altogether.

They also announced they are doing away with their mortgage lead-generation business and said they will be “scaling back or eliminating initiatives that are not critical to its real estate agent customers.”

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of their business model, but it’s not easy to hear of people losing their jobs. And more losses should be expected.

Sound like the company is treading water? Considering that Realtors and brokerages are getting wise and catching up with the consumers want for information over the internet, I’d say HouseValues is a sinking ship.

BlueRoof + Sellsius =

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A photo- op apparently. 

And I still can’t figure out to get that cool little degree symbol at the end of their logo. So Rudy comes in town to ski in Park City over holidays and we get a drink. And he tells me about Sellsius (degree symbol) and shares some of the company’s history, which is interesting.

So we all got the Meme that was passed around a couple weeks ago but this is my reverse meme

Five things you don’t know about Rudy Bachraty III at Sellsius (degree symbol)

1- Rudy hasn’t worked in a year

Dude must be loaded- can you imagine taking a year off? I can hardly manage five days at a time for a vacation. A full year would be… well, I dunno what it would be- but Rudy does.

2- Rudy actually knows how to make little symbols in text

It’s like putting emoticons into his blogs and emails. Even in personal emails there it is- that cool little degree symbol at the end of the company name. When I asked Rudy about this he had an answer about how to do it rather than say what I would said, “I have no idea, my web guys put it there.”

3- Sellsius has some pretty cool marketing materials ready to go

And I’m not just talking about the shirts (thanks by the way). The promotional items he left with me looked pretty good until I got home and realized that it opened up even more and the gloss and print was great- and then it hit me- they’re actually serious about this company thing they’re doing. And his wife designed the marketing so they’ve got access to a great designer who probably cares about doing a good job for them (and may push him to get to work sometime this year).

4- Rudy is a pretty cool guy

Once you get past the fact that he is about seven feet tall (maybe 6’5) which is taller than me, you realize that he’s a down-to-earth guy that’s fun to hang out with. We’ve all been to conventions and got into a conversation with someone and wished for an emergency reason to leave. And with the internet you never really know how socially adept someone is going to be because some people can hide behind cleverly thought out text and their studied and spell-checked blog posts but can’t hold your interest for five minutes. Rudy’s a fun guy to get a drink with and he seems like he really cares about what he’s doing, and I don’t just mean he cares about not working all year (he probably cares about that, too), he cares about promoting other people. He wants to be the voice of promotion for anyone who needs/wants/deserves it.

5- He knows how to work a meeting

He brings me a bag of gifts (good first impression), remembers things about me from my blog (does homework or has good memory), chats it up (not socially retarded), remembers to bring a camera (I always forget), clears the drinks off the tables for the picture (there were many) so we don’t look like drunks, and then remembers to blog about the experience right afterward (he has nothing else to do all day).

Sellsius (degree symbol) was already one of my favorite blogs and now I like and respect them even more. Their business model seems like a good idea and the marketing I’ve seen looks great so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the cover of Realtor magazine soon, either for establishing the blog and company, or for showing how long people can actually go without working, which would totally appeal to the Realtor crowd.

The Internet Makes Giants of Us All

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Every Saturday morning millions of kids all across the country lay on the floor watching cartoons. Usually they are so glued to the TV programming that they don’t even realize they are also seeing hundreds of commercials for toys, hamburgers, other TV programs and whatever else can be pushed at them.

Once in a while they remember the ads because they feature a character or person they recognize or the ad is funny or cool or something. And these ads work. They sell a ton of product and services. And all day long people are watching TV programs and seeing powerful ads that are funny or interesting, and once in a while a 30-second ad is so powerful that it can actually make people cry.

So why doesn’t everybody run TV spots for their product?

Because it’s really expensive, that’s why. For the most part, television is out of reach for most companies. Even using Spotrunner you have to pay for the airtime and anything on network is going to run you over $1000 per spot.

So how can someone reach the public, as though they were on tv, but without the budget of television?

Print advertising is more expensive than ever, even with its value plummeting, and with direct mail you have to catch attention and do it multiple times before it matters. Billboards are mostly for long term branding and radio has a higher cost-per-thousand than anything.

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But the Internet…

The Internet makes us all equals. We all have the same amount of space on these monitors to get our message across. It’s what we do with that space that matters.

Some websites (YouTube, Google, eBay) have programming that make them great, but even those began with little money. Craigslist began with almost nothing but it filled a niche and is now one of the most-visited sites on the net.

With a free account on wordpress a blogger can go from nobody to having thousands of daily visitors within a few months. Some of the top watched people on YouTube don’t spend any money on their videos but get thousands of people subscribing to them daily.

Teenagers with no money can battle industry giants- and win!

Many sites that rank high on the search engines are actually really crappy sites with very bad user-interfaces because Google and other search engines can’t tell good ones (with good content and design that is visually appealing and fun) from bad ones. Instead they look at meta-tagging, links and keywords and other technical things to decide which sites are the best. So you have these template sites and link-farms that are the same as thousands of others ranking at the top of many search terms simply because they used that same amount of moniter space differently than other people did.

Some bloggers who are otherwise just regular people getting no real attention become quasi-celebrities in months. Some people are looked at as authorities because of their blogs. And usually we actually judge people/companies by the look and feel of their website.

We have worked with dozens of clients who decided to work with us before they ever met us because they liked our website best. Hopefully they got some value from the site and learned about us enough to make that decision, but it goes to show the power of utilizing that same amount of monitor space. One of my websites cost me a few thousand dollars to build (have built- I’m no programmer) and with some on-line marketing has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for our team of agents. Of course we need to do the work and earn the business, but we got the leads from the site.

And I’m the same- when I’m looking for a product or service I go to the internet and I look around for a site that looks like it represents people or a company that I want to work with. A company or person’s website tells me a lot about them and the image they are projecting. If a website offers me no value, but just wants to collect my information I usually go elsewhere and have a bad impression of that company or person. But if a company site gives me a lot of information and I enjoy being on their website I feel better about that company and want to work with them.

My first website was built in 2000 and cost me under $1000. Within a few months it had climbed to the #1 position on Yahoo (the dominant search engine at the time) for its relevant keywords and I sold it for many times my investment. I utilized that space better than others had. Today it is (sadly) almost the exact same site that I built and sold six years ago and still ranks in the top 5 organic results on Yahoo for many of its keywords.  

With a few hundred dollars anybody can create a website and do minimal promotion which can result in a phenomenal ROI. Millions of people have websites and the ones that get the most traffic are not always the ones that cost the most or represent the biggest companies. NO other medium will allow someone to get the exposure of the Internet with a couple hundred bucks, or sometimes without any money.

The Internet is the great equalizer in marketing, promotion, and communication. Utilizing it properly can mean the difference between being a leader in your field and struggling to make an impact.

Could Google’s Success Be Its Undoing?

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Google became successful very fast because it offered a simple solution to a problem we all had, namely finding results on the internet. It gave us the best results and it was extremely simple to use. And these reasons for success could also be ways for someone else to take that business.

Today there are many search engines that do the same job, and some arguably give better results than Google. And they are all just as easy to use and offer a similar UI.

This is why Google is investing in so many auxillary programs such as spreadsheets and money managers, and offer them for free- so people will continue to go to Google for their needs.

Dharmesh Shah has a post about this topic which is very interesting. It really would be easy to switch from using Google to another search engine for most consumers. Dharmesh brings up some good points about why it would be so easy to switch;

Low Training Investment:

Low Customization Investment: 

Easy Experimentation:

Better Results Are Obvious:

Obviously other search engines have been trying to woo people away from Google, but they’re offering a similar product. What if MSN or Yahoo or Ask or another search engine actually developed a better user experience with better results and promoted it- would it be difficult to move away from Google?

What Do Home Sellers Want?

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I have taken hundreds of listings in my fourteen years in the business. And I’ve sold my own homes so I have been the home seller myself. I’ve had successes and failures and through the years I’ve tried to gain a better understanding of the consumer and see the trends.

But one thing I have learned is that home sellers don’t really care about price, they care about value. And I include myself in this assessment.

See, lately I have been focusing on price (commission), and we’ve taken a good amount of listings (70 in the 150 days since we launched BlueRoof.com) but most sellers are focused on something else. Sure, they would like a lower commission, but I think what they really want is security. To know that their home will be sold quickly and for top dollar.

We all make decisions based on emotion, whether we realize this on a conscience level or not. When I go through the drive-through at Wendy’s I’m buying food that will make me feel good- some food maybe makes me feel healthy or comfortable or happy or full. When we buy a car we are looking for something that will make us feel safe, important, frugal, excited, etc. And when we decide to work with someone we make that decision based on how we feel about them. They are aggressive, laid-back, sharp-minded,  easy-going, tall, beautiful, successful, eager, or whatever else we are looking for. But on some level they are someone we feel good about.

Some people want to work with someone who cares about their home and will protect it. Some people want their privacy and don’t want to be inconvinienced. Some want every penny they can get and others want to sell very quickly- and of course most people want a variety of these things. So if they meet someone who they feel will accomplish their goals and take care of them, they will want to work with that person. As an agent, we simply need to find those people who want to work with us.

Bloodhound on the Tomato

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Jim over at The Real Estate Tomato has a great interview with one real estate’s premier bloggers, Greg Swann of BloodhoundRealty.

Swann has amassed a cool collection of writers to contribute to his blog, which I think is the way to go. I would do this as well if I could figure out how to do it on wordpress- you know, for someone who is online so much I am completely dumb to programming.

My favorite line in the interview, “Buyers seem to me to pick their agents in the same way teenage boys pick their girlfriends: The one who smiles back first wins.”

BlueRoof, Our First 100 Days – Part 1

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When we first opened as a brokerage at the end of July we knew this would be a ride, but it’s been even crazier than expected. We’ve had a lot of fun and a lot of stress, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

BlueRoof began by accident, really. I had decided to do a re-design of a website that I’ve had for a few years, but after meeting with my web-developer and seeing some mock-ups I decided I would build a new website altogether. So I did a ton of research on names and logos and everything else and put together the plan for what I believed would be the very best real estate website possible. I figured if I was going to spend my time and resources, I’d go all the way with it. Whether it actually became the best real estate site or not it would, at least, be my favorite.

As the website starting to come together and I thought more about it I considered starting my own company. I had always wanted to. And I was always complaining that I could do things better. So why not see what I could do? The timing was right with the consumer begging for change and the local real estate market booming. I discussed it with my wife and a close friend and decided to do it. I approached Mike Shehan, who was the Director of Marketing for Prudential Utah (and by far the best marketing person in the business) and asked him to be a partner. Mike had owned his own company before and has a good business mind. Mike also has a lot of strengths where I don’t, so I thought it would be a great fit. Luckily for me, he agreed to come on board.

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Building a good company from the ground up is tough, but with the demands of launching a major website, BlueRoof.com, and the fact that our business model is challenging the traditional real estate establishment- well, it’s been interesting.

Before we launched, I had already began to get to know some pretty innovative people in the industry. I had been in contact, through blogging with Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s CFO before they launched and I was one of the people searching for clues about what they were doing, which led me to a bunch of other innovative websites and companies. At the end of May I attended the TechCrunch party in Seattle, co-hosted by Redfin and met Eric Heller and Glenn Kelman and some other Redfin and Microsoft guys that let me pick their brains.

Right after we became a brokerage we attended the Inman Connect convention in San Francisco July 26-28. We went to the convention to accomplish three things;

-Get the BlueRoof name out in the industry

-Discover and Learn

-Have a Blast/Meet Fun People

And we had huge successes with all three. The first hour of the first day we attended Michael Harrington’s opening address about the state of the industry, where he described how the industry needs to change because it is broken and where he thinks the industry needs to go. We were listening and realized that he was describing our business model. One of the things he talked about was how the MLS’s are too controlling with the information and there should be a place where people can see all listed homes AND For Sale By Owner (FSBO) homes at the same time. BlueRoof.com had this. So I stood up and announced that we had every listing from every brokerage and FSBO homes on our website and you could search for them and see the results together. He asked how we did that when the MLS would not allow it and I replied that we just did it. A few minutes of back and forth and a woman toward the front of the audience stands up and says she is with the local MLS and we weren’t allowed to do that. It was a beautiful moment. Everyone held their breath or laughed, laptops were opening our homepage throughout the room and now we were given a villain to make us look even better.

So after that first meeting people were talking about what happened and about BlueRoof all week. People were coming up to us and telling us how great it was that we were doing what we were doing. They would ask us about our company and we would over-hear people discussing it- it was great.

We went to the convention booths and found some great technologies. Some we have implemented into our business and some we will implement, and then some didn’t work for us, but it’s good to see the “new stuff” anyway.

Mike’s girlfriend flew into town and with my wife we met a bunch of people and had a lot of fun going out (very late) every night and playing around in the city. We drove out to wine country and ate at some great local restaurants and enjoyed our time quite a lot.

It was a great trip for us. When we got back home our work was about to begin…

HouseValues Loses Big in Third Quarter

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Crappy Real estate lead-generation website, HouseValues.com says in its recent press release that it lost over $1.5 Million in the third quarter of 2006. Probably because its one of the lamest business models and websites in the known universe of market conditions, costs associated with additional support staff, and the increased cost of marketing.

Look, here’s the thing about HouseValues. It is a lead generation tool that deceives the public into thinking they are getting free information about the value of their home, but really just collects their information and sells it to the highest-bidding real estate agents. And it’s not like they give the consumer’s information to a highly-trained and qualified Realtor that has passed a thorough screening process. No, they just sell it to whoever will pay.

Do they qualify these real estate agents to make sure that they are good, hard-working, decent people? No.

Do they check for the qualifications of the agents? No.

Do they care at all about the agent, other than their ability and willingness to pay for the leads? No.

I’m not saying that it is their responsibility to. They developed a company based on a need and they have grown very fast because they filled that need. What I am saying is that the company sucks and nobody should pay them for leads, but instead spend their money marketing themselves and generating their own leads. And do it with some integrity.

What made HouseValues successful was their recognition of the fact that most real estate agents/brokers were way behind the times with using the internet to attract consumers, turn those consumers into leads and those leads into sales.

What will cause the company to ultimately fail is the fact that as brokers slowly embrace the potential in the Internet and continue to create tools that are better, and as the public becomes more aware of these sorts of practices, the amount of leads generated by these types of whore-companies disintegrate. And the industry as a whole and the entire general public is better off for it. Who better to design information portals for real estate consumers than real estate companies and their clients?

Update (11-10-06)- See Andy Denton’s post about this same topic.

When a real estate site has lead generation as it’s focus, the consumer will not be served well. But if the focus of the website is to give the best tools and information available, then the consumer is taken care of first, and there will be plenty of ways to make money once the consumer is taken care of. Goole did it, MySpace did it, YouTube did it- and that’s why they became embraced so quickly and have become so successful. Obviously not all websites will be as big, but wouldn’t it be great if more sites took that approach?

The Power of Reputation

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The real estate industry is interesting.

One way it is interesting is that each agent, with each company is actually competing with each other for the same business. If a home-buyer is looking to buy a home and meets three real estate agents from the same office of the same company, they are handled the same way as though they met three agents from three separate companies. Each agent wants that business and is competing for that business.

Realtors and real estate agents are independant contractors, so each have their own business and do things a bit differently than the others.

And although we are competing with each other, we have to cooperate with each other, and even pay each other, to facilitate transactions. So I might meet a young couple at an open house and walk them through the home and feel pretty good about them and think they feel pretty good about me. I might ask them if they would like to meet me tomorrow morning at my office to go over their needs so I can help them find a home and have them agree to meet me. I might then get a call later that evening from an agent in my office saying they have an offer for me on a home I have listed down the street from the one I held open and when I get the contract see that the buyers are the young couple I had met earlier at my open house.  Now, not only do I not get the sale, but I now will be paying another agent to represent the buyers that I thought I would be representing. That’s interesting…

So while we, as Realtors, are in the business of competition and cooperation, or co-opetition, the way we do business can have a major impact on our client’s success.

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“All things being equal, agents will choose to show or not show homes based on who has it listed.”

There are some agents in my market that I know are unscrupulous. There are agents that I know are liars and will say and do almost anything to get business and I know that working with them means a transaction full of deception and non-disclosed items and problems. There are agents that I know do not care about their clients at all, but instead care only about their own gain.

And there are many agents that I know who are very good people and care very much about their clients and also care about each transaction being a win for everyone. Some agents work very hard and make sure that everything goes smoothly. Dates are met and everything is disclosed and they are always a pleasure to work with.

There are agents who I know usually under-price their listings, so I know that it may be worth showing if for no other reason than because my buyers will probably get a good deal (even if that means their sellers lose money). There are some agents that I know their assistants more than them because that’s who I deal with when I sell one of their homes.

And I also have judgements about some companies because of the experiences I have had with their agents, or because I know they hire so many new people and often have complications in the deals, or because I know the broker is a jerk and can not be reached and if there is a problem it’s going to be fight because of the broker. That deosn’t mean I don’t ever show that companies listings, but it does effect which homes I may show first.

And I also know of some agents that put homes on the MLS and that’s all they do. So I know if my clients buy that house I’m going to end up doing the work on both sides. And that puts me in a horrible situation because I only represent my buyers, but if disclosures aren’t filled out properly and the other agent is not helping the sellers, what do I do? Do I allow my clients to buy a home without the necessary disclosures? No way! So I need to make sure the sellers fill the disclosures out properly, but I can’t advise them or imply agency. This is sticky and can potentially open me up to liability.

So, if I have a buyer who is looking for a four bedroom rambler in South Jordan with a three car garage and vaulted ceilings, along with some other details, and I do a search on the MLS and find that there are 47 homes that meet that criteria, which ones do I show first?Obviously I cannot show them 47 homes in one day. I can usually show about 10-12 homes in a day, depending on how much time my clients want to spend in each home, and how far apart the homes are and what time of day we are looking (rush hour traffic) and whether we are driving together or if they are following me because they have a car full of kids (which takes even longer).  So, I’ll go through the list and pull out the top ten homes to show them. And I will base these top ten on if they have virtual tours where I can see that they are homes my buyers will like, whether the homes have some upgrades or features that may be appealing to my buyers, and sometimes I will choose because I know the agent and like the agent and I know the transaction will be a good experience if my clients buy that home.

Obviously if my clients don’t like any of the first ten, I’ll show them the next best ten, and then the next, and so on. Sometimes I need to show them every house on the market, including the homes listed by agents I don’t like. And sometimes the buyers still won’t find what they are looking for and so we just have to keep looking at every new home as they come on the market. But many times my clients find the right home in those first ten.

So the sellers of those homes benefited from listing with an agent who has a good reputation.

All things being equal, agents will choose to show or not show homes based on who has it listed. If it is an agent they know and like they will want to show that home. If the agent is someone they know is dishonest, or it is a “limited services” listing, where the buyers agent has to do a lot of the work for the sellers, many times agents will not want to show those listings first, or at all.

I don’t like showing homes that are “limited services”. I don’t like it at all. I would prefer to never have to show one of these listings again and I would prefer that none of the agens in my company ever have to show one of these listings again. I know that we eventually will, but it would be great if these listings were not around. And I know that sellers who list their homes with agents who offer “limited services” listings are losing out on many showings. I know that many agents won’t want to show those homes, or at least they won’t show them first, which sometimes is the same thing.

If I have a home listed and we receive multiple offers and I know one or more of the agents I’ll always tell my clients what I know about them or what my experience working with them has been, so my clients can use that information as part of their decision on which offers to respond to or accept.

Reputation within the real estate community is very important because reputation tells our story. It is important to work well with other agents and to care about getting things done efficiently. And it is important to make friends with agents at other companies and to care about them and their success also.

There is plenty of business to go around, and there are a lot of different business models and brokers and cultures and there is no one right or wrong place to work. But our reputation is important no matter which company we work with, and for the sake of our home buyers and sellers some of us make that a part of our business plan.

Top 40 Business Expansion Markets for 2006

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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).”

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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.”

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…)

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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.

Chasing Tail

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.