Will Zillow Begin Competing with Itself?

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Rich Barton, founder of Zillow, has raised a few $Million (along with however much of his own money) and is launching a new company called Glassdoor, which some are speculating could be a real estate-related venture. That does make sense, after all, “The name itself suggests transparency within real estate” and Glassdoor’s website points out right from the beginning that it’s founders “are a team led by ex-Expedia and Microsoft executives that have a history of using new technology to rewire old industries.”

If they are doing something within the real estate space, my guess is that it would be on the brokerage side, because anything not on the brokerage side would fall under Zillow. What is interesting is that Rich Barton, if the company is a real estate brokerage, would be the CEO of two competing companies, and would probably disenfranchise all the brokers who are currently using Zillow as an advertising model, bu now competing with them while at the same time asking them to fund his other company (Zillow).

Of course, it’s all speculation right now what they are launching because they are saying. Some suggest they are creating a social network and some think it’s a real estate brokerage. And neither a real estate brokerage or social network would fit into the description of what they claim is going to be something “pretty unique”.

It could be a glass door company for all we know. Barton obviously likes the idea of starting a new company and getting free publicity by not saying what it will be. If you hear anything about it, leave a comment and impress us with your keen investigatory skills.

(h/t 4realz)

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Utah Liquor Laws- Oh, My My My…

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The LDS fanatics state legislature has decided to “simplify” the incredibly ridiculous Utah state liquor laws again. Will this stupid and absurd “musical chairs” of liquor law rule-swapping ever stop?

Under the new rules, the limit to how much alcohol that can be poured into a drink has been increased from 1 once to 1.5 ounces. That’s the only sane part.

But, now you can no longer order a “sidecar”, or an additional shot of that alcohol that we locals have been forced to order so we can “spike” our drinks and give them a normal ratio of alcohol.

You can have a shot of liquor in front of you with a drink, but now you can not have a shot of the same type of alcohol that is in your drink. So, if you are drinking a Margarita you can have a shot of vodka or rum or bourbon, but not a shot of tequila.

Smart…

Now, I’ll just order two shots of Jack Daniels and a regular coke and pour both shots into my coke. These are the stupid things we adults need to do in Utah to have a normal drink.

Also, wine coolers and flavored malt beverages will only be sold in state liquor stores, so now that $6 six-pack of wine cooler (which are just as weak as beer) will cost you $9 with the state liquor store mark-up of over 40%.

The reasoning is that if kids see fruity drinks in the grocery store they will;

A) Steal the drinks (meaning kids here are all thief’s)

or they will

B) Simply want to drink because they see these tempting fruity drinks. Because that’s why kids drink alcolhol, right? For the fruity taste! I mean, they can’t get fruity drinks anywhere else, right?

So now, thanks to our intellectually-challenged state legislature, kids will not be drinking anymore in Utah because they won’t see fruity drinks at Albertsons…

And, of course, you still cannot ship wine into or out of the state and beer is 3.2% alcohol unlike every other state, where it’s 6%, because our lawmakers get a kick out of changing laws and rules about things they know nothing about (which is most everything).

Here is my solution;

Why not let adults drink whatever kind of alcohol they want, and let bars make the drinks the way they want, like in  other states, and then punish alcohol-related crimes much more severely? Isn’t that supposed to be the whole goal, to get rid of the bad things that can happen when people are drinking?

Here’s the ironic part of the whole thing- telling me I can’t have a shot of tequila on the table at the same time as my margarita does not make me drink less tequila, it makes me drink more. When the waitress gets to my table with my shot, I have to “chug” my margarita so I can then have my shot. And then I have to order another margarita because I just chugged mine. Most people don’t drink shots, they drink mixed drinks or beer and they order a round of shots that sit on the table until everyone takes the shot together.

In Utah, we have to do shots of our mixed drinks and beers so that we can do shots of liquor. Our legislature is so smart…

The Carnival of Real Estate

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Welcome to the 81st Edition of the Carnival of Real Estate! Step right up and get ready for a wonderland of writing styles and topics. Reading through the entries I was reminded of the last time I hosted the Carnival back in September 2006, and how much blogging has grown, especially in the real estate industry, since then. Five years ago when I started blogging nobody read my blog and I didn’t read anybody else’s. Today blogging has become a legitimate, and important, means of communicating between large spectrums of people.

The Winner’s Circle for this Carnival includes four well-written posts that I think were both informative and interesting. Here are the four posts I am placing in the Winner’s Circle…

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*Kevin and Monica Ray’s Real Estate Blog discusses radon and the risks associated with it. I think it’s great how they included information about fixing the problem and safe levels.

* Joe Manausa of Tallahassee Real Estate Blog gives us a comprehansive comparison of “Rent Versus Ownership” and details the investment potential of owning versus investing money in the stock market. Even without including the tax benefits, he makes a compelling case.

*Nigel Swaby of Salt Lake Real Estate Blog gives a report on “Ruthless Walk-Away’s” and some very good insight and opinion around the practice.

*Marcus McCray from Hook Me Up! explains “Why Professional Referrals Are Overrated!” There’s some great logic in this post and it’s written well.

Here are the rest of the posts, enjoy!

Christopher Smith at Real Estate Investing in the Real World writes the beginning of an article about investing in real estate long-term. I really enjoyed the article until it suddenly ended. It should have been a completed article. The beginning paragraphs were intriguing and well written. Too bad it was cut short.

DaltonsBriefs presents a post that references a Zillow post about activists doing damage to property to bring notice to their cause.

MyNewPlace discusses the Casulo, a bedroom set in a box. It’s not available yet, but might be a great idea for students or people traveling abroad.

Nathan Blair of Salt Lake City Utah Real Estate Blog thinks aloud about what is “classic” in architecture.

International Listings presents an incomplete, and questionable (they forgot to mention the best real estate website) list of real estate websites that are 2.0.

Purva Brown, the Sacremento Real Estate Gal, brings up three mistakes first-time home buyers fall victim to.

Silveral of Celebrity News and Gossip talks about celebrity homes and the characteristics many of them share.

John Lockwood of Sacramento Real Estate Blog lists the “Seven Deadly Misktakes Buyers Make in This Market.”

Dee Copeland of Texas Realty Blog writes about the trend of “Boomerang Buyers” moving back to the Austin area.

Charles Woodall of Dotham Home Search suggests that “Days on Market are Irrelevant” and makes some good points. I have posted on this topic myself and think it’s a good topic of discussion with buyers, especially in areas that are in buyers market’s.

Dan Melson at Searchlight Crusade suggests that “The Mortgage Loan Market Controls the Real Estate Market.” His thinking is that as loan products go away, so do buyers who need those products to buy, and when rates go up, the buyer pool of a price range gets smaller.

Lenore Wilkas of Hillsburough, Burlingame Luxury Home Sales says “Be Sure to Ask Your Agent How Long the House Has Been For Sale.” The post discusses the practice of re-listing property to manipulate the days-on-market for the listing.

Raymond at Money BlueBook gives his reviews of the house-flipping shows currently on television.

Joe also gives us a look at some of the Tallahassee market’s pricing and sales trends.

Silicon Valley Blogger at The Digerati Life asks “Who’s To Blame For The Subprime Mortgage Mess?” With responsibility distributed between many people involved in the real estate transaction, he wraps up with some good advice to the buyers who, I believe, are ultimately responsible for signing contracts on homes they can’t afford.

Steve Leung gives us the “Consumer’s Rights When Purchasing New Homes”. He talks about warranties, having your own representation and protecting yourself.

Steve Faber at DebtBlog wonders, “Property Foreclosures- Is It Really as Bad as They Say?” Steve goes over some of the statistics showing some states, including Nevada, Florida and California have high foreclosure rates, but also had some of the highest run-up’s in prices over the last few years.

Cynthis Holt from Real Life Real Estate shares her frustrations with buying a short sale property in “War Zone”.

Kathy Koops from The Cincy Blog explains how the “3 Key Words in Real Estate” may not be as important as price.

Geordie Romer of  Leavenworth Washington Real Estate Blog presents  his “Top 5 Ways to Shoot Your Leavenworth Condo Project in the Foot.” He actually goes the extra mile and gives six, including “Don’t dismiss the internet as a fad.” Good advice.

Brian Block of Virginia Real Estate News says, “I’ve Officially Run Out of Room on My Business Card” and shares his experience breezing through the broker’s exam and the designations he holds.

Craig Schiller at HOME STAGING, Rants & Ravings presents “OOPS Goes the Staging!” The post is written well. There a lot of bold words, but the post shows how video can help make your point. It would have been great to have some more specific tips and even some examples on good staging. Hopefully that will be in the next post.

Rebecca Levinson of Connect2Agent presentsDo consumers want rock stars or real estate agents to sell their home?” She tells the story of another agent’s attitude and the impression it left on her.

Cliff Jacobson at WebHome USABlog presents, “Realtor Dirty Tricks” where he discusses Glenn Kelman and the NAR.

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Thank you to everyone for participating in this week’s Carnival of Real Estate. Next week look for it over at The Matrix.

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.”

Carnival of Real Estate Comes Home to BlueRoof

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The Carnival of Real Estate will be here, on BlueRoof, again, next Monday, March 10th. As some of you may remember, BlueRoof hosted Week 4 of the Carnival, way back in September, 2006. Now we’re on Week 81 and between then and now there have been some amazing posts, and from every good real estate blogger on the web. I’m excited to see posts from bloggers I have gotten to know, and maybe some I have yet to meet.

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For those not familiar, the Carnival is where real estate bloggers submit their best blog posts, and the “winners” for the week are posted at the host blog (this Carnival it will be BlueRoof Blog), so everyone can see some great writing, and be directed to some great real estate blogs.

This week’s Carnival is up at The Real Estate Tomato, and Jim Cronin does not dissapoint, adding his personality and wit to the event. Jim’s been a great real estate blogger and coach for a while now, teaching agents how to have a successful blog and how to find their voice.

You have all week (until Sunday, March 9th) to submit your your posts so don’t be shy- build your blog traffic and contribute to the online real estate community through the Carnival and let us all see you shine…