Top Ten Cities to Buy a Home in 2008


Forbes released an article on Feb 7, 2008 naming the top cities for buying a home in 2008. These are “…markets where job growth is strong, foreclosures are relatively low and inventory is high. With these factors in place, buyers can still dictate terms of sale and negotiate prices, but aren’t as exposed to the economic and lending risk problems that have sunk many markets around the country.”

Salt Lake City tops the list, again, as being the #1 place to buy a home this year, saying, “Of the major metros in the U.S., Salt Lake City is adding jobs faster than anywhere. The economic boom in SLC has drawn residents from all over the country, and more than a few home builders trying to make a profit in these otherwise woeful times. Housing supply has gone up quickly, and there hasn’t been a high rate of foreclosure.”

But some of the other cities might surprise you.

For example, the article places Phoenix at #5, saying, “Phoenix has a very high foreclosure rate; there’s no way around that. Based on RealtyTrac’s estimates, there is one foreclosure for every 87 households in Phoenix. Still, our data suggest that strong job and economic growth in many non-housing sectors of the local economy is enough to offset it, and people are still moving to the Valley of the Sun at a quick rate.”

And Las Vegas at #7, saying”Las Vegas is a market hammered by foreclosures, due largely to extremely high speculation in both residential communities and the condo market. Though the housing slowdown has hurt jobs in the construction sector, Vegas continues to attract businesses and job seekers to its growing economy, making its excess inventory (and there’s a ton) less toxic than in other places. ”

The complete top ten cities are

1 Salt Lake City, UT

2 Raleigh, NC

3 Orlando, FL

4 Charlotte, NC

5 Phoenix, AZ

6 Seattle, WA

7 Las Vegas, NV

8 Jacksonville, FL

9 Richmond, VA

10 Houston, TX

Top Ten States for Jobs


Yesterday MSN released a list of the Best and Worst states for jobs based on unemployment figures, and they offer the “mean” wage of each state. Mean wage is a term meaning that half the jobs pay more and half pay less.

Here are the top fifteen states;

1. South Dakota
Unemployment rate: 3 percent
Population: 796,214
Mean annual wage: $30,460
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.9 percent)

2. Idaho
Unemployment rate: 3 percent
Population: 1,499,402
Mean annual wage: $34,810
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.2 percent)

3. Wyoming
Unemployment rate: 3.1 percent
Population: 522,830
Mean annual wage: $34,290
Top industry: Government (23 percent)

4. Nebraska
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 1,774,571
Mean annual wage: $34,300
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (21.1 percent)

5. Utah
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 2,645,330
Mean annual wage: $35,540
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.7 percent)

6. Hawaii
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 1,283,388
Mean annual wage: $38,630
Top industry: Government (19.6 percent)

7. North Dakota
Unemployment rate: 3.3 percent
Population: 639,715
Mean annual wage: $32,440
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (21.4 percent)

8. Virginia
Unemployment rate: 3.5 percent
Population: 7,712,091
Mean annual wage: $41,450
Top industry: Government (18 percent)

9. Montana
Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent
Population: 957,861
Mean annual wage: $31,290
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.5 percent)

10. New Hampshire
Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent
Population: 1,315,828
Mean annual wage: $39,250
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (23.3 percent)

11. New Mexico
Unemployment rate: 3.7 percent
Population: 1,969,915
Mean annual wage: $33,980
Top industry: Government (23.2 percent)

12. Delaware
Unemployment rate: 3.8 percent
Population: 864,764
Mean annual wage: $41,680
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (18.7 percent)

13. Maryland
Unemployment rate: 3.8 percent
Population: 5,618,344
Mean annual wage: $44,030
Top industry: Government (18.2 percent)
14. Iowa
Unemployment rate: 4 percent
Population: 2,988,046
Mean annual wage: $33,250
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.4 percent)

15. Vermont
Unemployment rate: 4 percent
Population: 621,254
Mean annual wage: $36,350
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.4 percent)

Michigan heads the list of “worst states”, followed by Mississippi, South Carolina, Alaska, California, D.C., Ohio, Arkansas, Nevada, and Kentucky.

Realtors Beware- Learning From Home Depot


Rob at The Notorious R.O.B. (Rob works at OnBoard, a data aggregation company) wrote an excellent post about the damage that can be done to brokers and agents by using Trulia,, Zillow, and other third-party listing aggregation websites.

From Rob’s post;

“[The] consumer then has a relationship (or at least an experience) with Trulia or whoever; it’s how they found the house, and found the real estate agent…

…But the brokerage?  Or the brand?  Just like I couldn’t remember the name of the contractor that did my windows, would any consumer remember RE/Max or Coldwell Banker or whatever?

Would said consumer, upon resurfacing seven years later (on average), remember the agent who took such good care of him the first time around?  Or would he remember the really useful website where he found a house and someone to “install” the house for him?”


Instead of building the brand of these companies, build your own brand.

It’s a great post and a good story, and it has a good message that every broker might want to think about.

Dustin Luther Gets 4Realz


Dustin Luther is the author of one of my favorite real estate blogs, some even call him the “Godfather” of real estate blogging because he put together Raincityguide, which was the first (that I know of) real estate blog with both a consumer focus and with many contributors. It’s also important to note that the contributors are not all real estate professionals.

He has worked with (which runs, and he’s a good all-around guy.

Now, Dustin (along with Jim Marks of Virtual Results) will be sharing his experience with Realtors who are interested in learning about technology. I’ve seen Dustin speak and he is high-energy and doesn’t waste time on nonsense. But the most important reason I like Dustin as a speaker is that he has the most important characteristc- he cares about helping people. And, if he’s anything like me, that’s just as important as the money.


I don’t know what sort of marketing or websites they will be encouraging people to use (Jim’s company does internet marketing), but good education about technology is important in our industry and having good people to tech it is rare, and welcome.


America’s Top Ten Lustful Cities


Forbes has come out with another social list- this time called America’s Most Lustful Cities. Salt Lake City ties with Boise for fifth place, yet the list is not actually a list of the most lustful, it’s a list of the cities with the highest per-capita condom sales. To say that condom sales indicates lustfulness is not only irresponsible, but really dumb.

Most condoms are sold to married couples or other monogamous people in relationships. And to think that Denver ranked #1  and Vegas isn’t even on the list makes the whole thing a bit difficult to believe. I’ve lived outside of Denver and I’ve been to Vegas a lot of times and, while Forbes puts out a lot of great social top ten lists, I just can’t seem to buy into this one.

(h/t Cityburb)

What Real Estate Consumers REALLY Want


Every week there is new set of charts and graphs that come out. They analyze every minutia of data and all the information imaginable. New killer-apps are being released at such a rapid pace it’s tough to keep up with them all. And why?

Well, according to the techno-listing sites, the third-party aggregation websites, like Redfin, Zillow and Trulia, apparently what people really want is…. yep, more data. That’s right- more and more data. Every conceivable number and metric they can think up.

It’s like a race now. Who can churn out the most data, and cram it onto their website, the fastest. Who cares if it’s relevant or if anybody will actually use it- it’s DATA! It’s cool color charts and graphs that can show you everything you never thought possible. Come and see how many times people in this neighborhood walk their dogs on Tuesday mornings or find out the ratio of homes that sold for 1/25th of their initial listing price, during the first 118 hours being on the market, after being sold 2-3 years earlier, that have a redwood deck, and were listed with a Realtor named Sally- all in a cool pie chart.


So, this is where all the investment capital is going with all these techno-listing sites- more data? Millions of dollars are being pumped into these companies by investors who are counting on profits from all this data, yet none of these companies have made any profit. Think about how ridiculous this is. Redfin gets $20Million and it’s whole model is based around the idea that if they give more data and info, people will just buy homes online. The whole Redfin company, with all of their PR, news coverage, and dozens of full time employees and agents, only sold about 1000 homes last year.  For a comparison, I sold 114 homes last year. And these investors keep pumping money into this sinking ship.

Zillow just got another $30Million and Trulia has now received almost $18Million. And the business models of these companies is to get advertising (more stuff to put on the websites). I guess they figure at a certain point people will just become so buried with all the data on their websites that they’ll just have to fall over and surrender to them. When these companies run out of money (like they all keep doing), they simply come up with some new graphs and heat maps and show the suckers investors how this new data will finally get them some of that “profit” they keep hearing so much about, but alas… it does not come.

I receive a lot of advice on what I should add to my website. I have had no less than twenty companies approach me to sell me some cool new data field or information feed.  And I like data, and using it to give people good information, but enough is enough.


 People don’t want more data- they want a great experience.

I don’t want to climb over piles of charts and graphs to find what I’m looking for. If I’m thirsty I don’t really care if the glass has twirling lights and does my taxes- I just want the water that’s in the glass. The next cool drinking glass that has dancing girls and live-streaming music might be hot for a little while (like these tech-sites), but in the long run I believe that people will always use simple, easy to use water glasses. Because when they are thirsty they want the water, not the glass.

My point is- don’t cram your website with as much stuff as you can find. Instead, use good data and information, and present it in a way that offers a good, fun experience for your consumers. Give them a presentation that is visually appealing, as well as powerful and technologically advanced. Don’t forget that people make decisions based on emotion, and we always will.

Give me a great experience and I will give you my business.

Companies That Need to Be Founded


I’m in the middle of launching my own new company, but if I had the time and the know-how here are some companies I would love to start. And maybe someone out there will someday…


A social network that is much better. A place that has more features than Linked-In (which has none), and is much easier to use than Facebook (Can they make it any more difficult to simply send a message?), but that is more grown-up than MySpace. I’m talking about a social network where I could go to and keep up with people, chat, share photos, etc. And it needs to be simple and easy to use and understand. Make it simple!!! And without all the stoopidness of MySpace, you know the blaring hip-hop and porn on people’s pages. Why not a calendar that I can share with my network that we can all share events and birthdays, an easy way to rate and recommend local bars and restaurants, and a clean, simple design that is intuitive and fun to use.


A Twitter that was much better. This wouldn’t be difficult to build, either and if I had time I would probably just do it myself. Take the basic idea of twitter, but make it so I don’t have to read all the responses to messages I can’t see and make it so I can choose channels or areas to be in. So maybe I can be in a business section where I’m not reading about people feeding their dog or whatever, but actual business ideas and messages. And why not let people drag-and-drop photos, videos, music and other stuff? Also 140 characters could easily be expanded to 500 so I could finish a thought… that would be nice.


A search engine that utilizes human judgement- at least for the top commercial website ranks. Keywords and meta-tags ruin the results on existing search engines. SEO kills good design, making website creators (and their clients) to choose between a good website design that they need to pay for all the traffic to, or a wordy manifest with keywords repeated ad nausea and no design appeal in order to rank high in organic search results. For the top commercial website results, at least, human judgement should be used to ensure relevance, but also, that the best websites rank the highest.

Just because something new comes along, doesn’t mean it’s been done right. Instead of just doing more of the same or only looking for the next, new big idea, we need to take existing ideas and make them better. Remember, when a company becomes big, it becomes slow and less willing to take chances and make improvements. There are a lot of opportunities out there for people who are willing to take the chance and put in the work. People don’t want to be sold anymore, they want to be inspired.

Trulia- Tech Guys in Realtor’s Clothing


The real estate industry has been in a major state of flux for two years now, with new technology and innovation entering the market constantly. It’s truly an exciting time to be in this industry. Some of the technology has really benefited the consumer and real estate agents alike. Many agents are becoming much more efficient and are offering much better service than ever before. Some technology (virtual tours, online fax) has become so common and accepted that many would not want to think of working without it.

One of the areas that has seen major growth is in the third-party, tech-guy’s turned real estate entrepreneur’s, arena. First there was HouseValues, which was an innovator in that it saw how weak real estate agent’s were at attracting business from the internet so it capitalized on that weakness and got it’s own internet leads and sold them to real estate agents. Then, Lending Tree jumped in with it’s bid-for-mortgage business model becoming a bid-for-anything-real-estate-related model, and it now sells leads to agents as well.

And was actually doing this before any of them. By being the official website for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) it was given exclusive access to all the content from all of the MLS’s across the nation. So, did it take this MLS data and use it to further the industry and pursue noble Realtor causes? Of course not, it sold leads back to the agents, just like the other guys. used to charge $1000’s to be the “designated” Realtor for an area and get those area leads. Now it charges agents to place their listings at the top of the results and to have the agent contact info and property address shown.

Today we have Trulia, among many others, who have a new business model- Give it all away for free and be the agent’s best friend, grow really big until the agents depend on you, then charge them and make a bundle.

Trulia takes the listing info and sends the leads back to the agents with no charge. Everyone loves that. But when you have VC money you’ve got to make profit and giving stuff away doesn’t bring in any profit.


Trulia has always sold ads on their website, and at the beginning claimed they were only interested in making money from those ads. But, now that they have grown and are getting a lot more traffic (and have investors), Trulia is changing, as I thought they might. They are no longer just making money from advertising. Now Trulia sells placement of listings to the agents, just like the other guys. And it’s only a matter of time before they begin charging agents to be a “designated” or “premier” or “showcase” agent, and then only a matter of time before they charge for the leads.

Not that’s there’s anything wrong with that. They certainly have a right to have their business model, and their search function and information is superb. They offer a lot of info and have some really cool tools on their site. But it’s just data- they have no real estate knowledge or expertise because they are not real estate people. Trulia was founded, as most of the other websites, by tech people. Just a couple of tech guys- not real estate guys, tech guys.


A better alternative for brokers and agents (and the consumer), would be to have their own destination website that is not only full of rich content and great search functionality, but offers the individual agent’s local knowledge and personality. Because, while real estate technology is expanding and becoming global, the transactions and business are still based on relationships and personality and trust between Realtors and their clients.

It is wonderful to have great data and technology, but a successful real estate business still needs to be founded in service and relationships. And no national website can offer people the personal touch of a local agent, with their intimate knowledge of an area and the excellent service they provide to their clients.

There is a difference between information and knowledge. These mega-websites can offer tons of data and graphs, charts, statistics, reports, and other information, but at the end of the day- none of them can advise a local buyer like I can.


Agents and brokers could, as an alternative to feeding the machine of these mega-sites, create their own online brand, their own online real estate destination, and offer the same cool data and technology, and fill it with their own personality and their own knowledge and experience. Instead of contributing to a mega-site knowledge base, they could offer their own, local knowledge bases. If I am buying a home in Salt Lake City I want to know about the Salt lake City area and local market conditions and get expert advise and guidance for that area and I really don’t care about who is the top agent in Grand Rapids or what ten agents say about the market in Boston.

My founding BlueRoof360, stemmed from the dozen or so monthly emails and phone calls I receive from agents and brokers asking me if I can help them build a website or help them convert online leads or help them with their online services. 

Agents can now have their own websites and blogs and have innovative technology and cutting-edge search tools and data, and keep their business for themselves and offer their own personality and knowledge, without spending $100,000 and twelve months designing a custom website. I’m not just trying to be noble- I want to make a profit, just like the next guy. But I’m doing it in a way that helps, not hurts, the agents and brokers in the long-run.

Unlike Trulia, or Zillow, or Redfin, or many of the other real estate sites- I am not a tech-guy trying to make money in real estate. I am a Realtor using technology to offer better service for my clients.

And now I’m using technology to help other agents grab hold of their fair share of the internet business that so many of the tech-guys are trying to take from them. Using these mega-sites is not bad, but it shouldn’t be an agent’s only source of online business.

Real estate professional know real estate better than tech guys or anyone else, and with the right technology won’t need these outside mega-sites because they will be one of their own.