About Greg

I like long walks on the beach and candlelight... oh, wait.... wrong bio

Cross Country Mortgage comes to Utah

It’s rare that a mortgage company does anything new, refreshing or inspiring. But Cross Country Mortgage in Cottonwood Heights Utah has. They have a loan officer concierge that delivers gifts to listing Realtors, they contact home loan borrowers after closing to follow up and ask for business. They have smooth loan processes and all loan types including FHA loans, VA, conventional, jumbo loans, new construction, no down payment loans, etc.

Their marketing is refreshing

BillboardOriginalLOs

FebRealtorMag

From their open-space offices in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, to the Realtor events and continuing education (CE) classes they provide (the one last month included a board-breaking event and social hour afterward), these guys know how to run a mortgage company.

Located at

6975 Union Park Center #420

Midvale Utah 84047

For more information contact April Tracy at 801-918-1306

https://crosscountrymortgage.com/Cottonwood-Heights-UT-3601/

Our new Real Estate Home Search Website Launches

We are excited to launch our new real estate search website, saltlakecityforsale.com today! Find homes for sale in  every city along the Wasatch Front and in Salt Lake, Davis, Utah, Summit and Tooele counties. There are some really great features such as the ability to search by map or list views, or by MLS number. The site is FAST! It loads fast and it’s updated every five minutes directly from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so it has a complete database of all listings.

The details pages are awesome and have large photos (and all photos) or the homes that you can scroll through or use the gallery view, there is great neighborhood and area stats, and you can even get an instant home evaluation for your home!

Of course, you can also save the homes you love the most and save searches and there is a cool back end that is integrated also. It’s pretty slick.

We’ve been in the business for a long time (over 23 years) and been involved in a lot of transactions and have worked with a lot of people and we always look for new and better ways to help our clients. We feel our new website is going to be a great tool for our clients and others to search in a great environment and be able to see all the homes, unlike sites like Zillow and Trulia that only have some of the homes (not to mention leaving homes on their sites for MONTHS after they have sold!)

Come over and check it out and let us know what you think. We love to hear feedback and get to know how people use technology and how they use the site.

Thanks,

Greg

 

The Paradox of Choice in Real Estate

 

Typically, when I am working with buyer clients we begin by looking at a home or two or three. While walking through the properties I will ask them what they think of them and what they like or don’t like about them. I’m trying to get an idea of what they actually like. Not what they say they like or think they will like, but what they do like. The spaces they enjoy being in, the styles that appeal to them, the features of a property that make their eyes widen and causes them to talk a little faster because they are excited. After seeing just one or a few properties I will begin sending them properties to consider and they will send me properties they want to see. And typically my clients end up choosing the home they want to buy within 7-14 days from our initial meeting. This usually consists of seeing 5-15 properties. Sometimes people need to see a few more and sometimes they buy the first home they look at (as I have done myself more than once).

But once in a while the client will get caught up in comparing features of different properties and wanting to find the best features of every property into one, creating the “perfect” property for them. And so they cannot choose because they want it all and think that if they just keep looking, they will find that perfect property. Usually I tell them that they can, indeed, find that perfect property But they’ll need to go up in price or build it custom. Because there is very rarely a “perfect” property or “Unicorn” as I call them. Most people are limited by their finances and cannot afford to just buy whatever they want. For almost all buyers, they can’t take the kitchen of property A and the yard and land of property B and the open floor plan of property C and the game room and theatre room of property D and the master suite of property E and combine them all into one property, unless they go up into a different price range (that they usually cannot afford.)

It can be difficult to explain to some people that because it goes against their thinking, but it is completely true that looking at too many homes actually hurts them. There is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. In his book, “The Paradox of Choice” Barry Schwartz discusses how excessive choice can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, unhappiness and even clinical depression. And this theory applies directly to real estate buyers.

A home is not a soulmate

I can be happy living in probably hundreds of different properties in the Salt Lake City area where I live. I currently live in a home that I truly love living in. It’s my favorite of all the neighborhoods I have lived in, I love our neighbors- most of them are very friendly and we have neighborhood barbecues and gatherings, the location is ideal, I love the swimming pool and the yard, I love the open floor plan with few walls and I enjoy the large master suite and the quality of finishes throughout. It’s a great property and it’s really great for us. But it doesn’t have everything I want. How could it? What I want changes all the time and some of the things I want can’t be combined. At least not in a price I can afford. I would love a view of the ocean and I’d love a view of a big, cool city like San Francisco. I’d love to have a big piece of land and privacy, but I’d also like to not have the upkeep of a big property and I like the idea of being close enough to shopping and restaurants that I can walk or bike to them like I did when I lived in Newport Beach. I love the beach house look and feel, with bright colors and white trim, but I also really love darker, warmer color schemes that feel cozy and masculine. I like dark hardwood floors but I don’t like trying to keep them clean (which is impossible with our puppy).

There is not one perfect property out there for everyone. You aren’t looking for a soulmate. The reality is that you would most likely be happy living in several different homes. And if you don’t end up liking the house you are in, you can move. But sometimes people get so caught up in finding the “right” home that they suffer from numbness and the homes all start to run together and they cannot choose one to buy because they are determined for something to jump out and grab them and be so different or so much better that it’s the obvious choice. And this causes people to be unhappy and unfulfilled. They can’t find what they want because they want everything.

Conversely, when clients don’t have as much choice because they are limited by the market (low inventory or homes are selling very fast) or by geography (wanting to live close to family or work or in a school boundaries) or other things, they are usually much more satisfied with the home buying process. They prioritize what they want, go out and look at everything available and they pick the best one. And they are happy because they know they got the one they liked the most and because they made a good investment (I make sure of that).

9 out of 10 times I meet a new home buyer they tell me they “aren’t in a hurry”, “have a lot of time to look” or “don’t want to rush it”. Or something along those lines. Almost everybody. They probably say that because they don’t want me to push them or rush them into a decision and I totally get that. I don’t like to be pushed.

I don’t push, I pull

There is a difference between pushing someone and pulling them. I’m simply giving them the permission to make a decision quickly. I let them know it’s okay to like (and buy) the first house they see. Or the tenth home they see or the twentieth home. I tell them, “when we find a home in your price range that you love, you should buy it. Even if you think there may be another property out there that you would also love.” I’ve had many times when a client skips on a home because they want to keep looking and by the time they decide it was the best one, it’s gone. Sold to someone who made the decision quicker. I just had this happen to me last week. I showed a couple a beautiful townhome that I had listed. I let them know when I met them at the property that we were expecting an offer to come over later that evening so if they liked it they may want to make a decision quickly. Before even entering the property (as I was getting the key out of the keybox) the husband told me that he would definitely not be making any decisions that quickly. I asked if they even wanted to see the property after knowing an offer was coming in and they said yes they still wanted to see it. So we walk through it and they both loved it. Later that day I let them know that we did receive an offer, just so they knew. No response. The offer ended up being full price (typical in the current market). We accepted the offer and are now under contract. But the day after we accepted the offer the husband called me saying they decided that was their favorite property they saw and they wanted to make an offer. Too late… and since then I have taken them out and shown them about a dozen more properties but they keep comparing everything to my listing and they had emotionally moved into my listing so now they can’t find another one. Not because other properties aren’t as good, but because other properties aren’t my listing. Like if you fall in love with someone who is in love with someone else. Your heart is set so nobody else compares.

When looking for a home give yourself permission to buy when you find what you want. Give yourself permission to decide and then be content with your decision, knowing full well that there are other properties out there. And that’s okay. Give yourself permission to be happy knowing that you found a great property and a great investment. And make  start making memories that will make it your home.

How to Fill Out an Online Form

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For years my real estate team has closed a lot of transactions from home buyers and sellers we met through our websites. And now, also owning a company that builds websites for real estate brokerages and now hosting over 13,000 real estate websites I’ve noticed that a lot of home buyers seem to have a real challenge filling out forms when they want an agent to contact them.

Many online forms have pre-populated comments to give the home buyer an example of what to ask/say to the agent. These is very generic text that basically just says something like, “I am interested in the property located at…” or “I would like to know more about the property located at…”

ImageThis text is not meant to be the completed text that a home buyer sends in to the agent. When a home buyer sends in this generic text the agent that receives that contact form has absolutely no idea what information the buyer wants or how to help them. Almost all of the information you could want about a property is online now, so the agents don’t know how to respond. Usually, the agent will respond with a questions like, “Thank you for visiting my website. I received your request for more information about the property at 468 Vine Street. Would you like to take a tour of this property or do you have any specific questions I can help with?”

And you would think that would be the best response an online home buyer can get. It’s letting them choose whether they want to see the property or if they have anything they want to know about the property this is the perfect opportunity to say so. But the interesting thing is that usually the home buyers don’t respond when they receive this email reply, even when the reply is sent within seconds of the home buyer sending in the initial request.

I try to put myself in the position of the online home buyer. I’m searching for properties on a website. I’m looking at dozens and dozens of homes, comparing the homes and locations and browsing the photos and reading the remarks. Then, I find one that I’m really interested in and I see the form on the side that lets me asks a question about the property or schedule a showing. I see there is pre-populated text saying, “I would like more information regarding this property” and I enter my name and my email address (which is always required) and click SEND without entering my phone number or any specific information. The agent responds to me within a minute or so asking if I would like to see this property that I’m so interested in or if I have any specific questions and…. and I just ignore it?

What’s the point of that? I’ve just wasted everyone’s time and accomplished nothing. The agent wants to help and the buyer is clearly interested in the property so what is the problem here?  Perhaps the forms should not have pre-populated text and instead require the buyer to enter some text? We all hate being forced to fill out anything so requiring another field doesn’t seem like a good idea. Maybe the forms should say something like, “If you are going to send in this form, please tell us when you want to see this property or let us know what information you want” or something similar?

It’s an interesting challenge… any thoughts?

Why Tech-Savvy People make the Best Realtors

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How do you choose a good Realtor? After all, it seems like you could pick a name out of a hat or use a referral from a friend and your experience will be relatively the same across the board, right? Wrong. If you’re serious about buying or selling in this market, you need a Realtor with a bit more clout. One that has a leg up on the competition.  And the best person for this job is a tech-savvy realtor. What does tech-savvy mean exactly? It can mean a variety of
things. However, there are a few tried and true factors to look for when selecting a technologically skilled agent.

The first thing you should always check for is a website. If you hear of an agent from a referral and you can’t easily find his/her website, you should move along. Other home shoppers are going to click on one of the first websites they see, so if you’re agent isn’t showing up when you search, chances are other people won’t find them either. In addition to simply having a website, your realtor’s site should be easy to use and have a nice design. Your realtor should be connecting you with other buyers or sellers (depending on what side of the transaction you’re on.) So if their web design is scaring off other people your chances of finding a buyer or seller become much slimmer.

Social media engagement is another key element of a tech savvy realtor. Granted, your agent doesn’t have to post, tweet, or like something daily. But simple interaction in the social sphere shows that your realtor knows how important online communication is to modern day buyers and sellers. After all, a good agent can utilize tools like Facebook or YouTube to further communicate their thoughts and ideas with a wider audience.

Finally and most important of all is a solid home search option. Research shows that nearly 95% of all homes sales now begin with an online search. That is a huge percentage of the market and must be catered to accordingly. This data tells us that what almost every homebuyer wants when they are searching a real estate site is a good search option. If you’re Realtor’s search option is difficult to find, or even worse- nonexistent, then you are definitely not working with a tech savvy Realtor. An online home search option is the most important weapon in a techy realtor’s
arsenal, so make sure your realtor is well equipped.

As you can see, finding a tech-savvy realtor is not terribly difficult- you just need to be aware of what you’re looking for. Simple adhere to these pointers and you’ll find the right tech-savvy realtor in no time. Good luck!

Guest Article by @AndrewHill- www.austinhomelistings.com

You’re Not Just Buying a House, You’re Buying a Neighborhood

Everyone is familiar with the cliché that the only thing that matters in real estate is location.

As you browse through local real estate listings though, it may be difficult to consider what the practical application of that advice actually is. Put simply, when you purchase your home you are buying into the neighborhood it is located in. Consider these tips for making a successful move into a new neighborhood.

Ask Questions

Ask questions about any neighborhood that is home to your potential new housing. Is it on the way up? Are there good schools? Are there active neighborhood organizations? These are all very important questions that help determine exactly how a neighborhood functions and who chooses to live there. Thankfully, the answers are likely to be readily available online or in literature found around the neighborhood. It is important to remember not to be too quick to judgment. No two neighborhoods are exactly identical, so it is unlikely that you will be moving in somewhere that is entirely like your old one.
Any new neighborhood you are moving into will have its own vibe and it is important to evaluate that honestly.
Match Personalities
Simply taking a look at local businesses will give you a good sense of whether or not an area is a good fit for you. If you enjoy crafting and the neighborhood is home to a lot of cute boutiques, you are much more likely to enjoy living there. Similarly, if you see kids out playing, you might be spotting some new pals for your own children. There is no exact science to figuring out what kind of neighborhood matches with which kind of personality. There are certain things that are obvious though, such as trying to find an area with people who are similar to you in age. These kinds of similarities foster a sense of community in
a neighborhood and will help you fit in from day one.
Do Research
Researching any potential new home should also entail researching the neighborhood it is located in. Many neighborhoods keep detailed and up-to-date websites that catalog events and goings-on. You can also research the history of a particular neighborhood and possibly discover something that appeals to you.
Ultimately it is crucial to realize that neighborhoods are constantly evolving and it is ok to try living in a place that is slightly outside of your comfort zone. Considering the neighborhood you are moving into simply means taking the blinders off and looking around you at your potential brand new neighbors.
About The Author: Hughes Real Estate Group is a Boise real estate team serving buyers and sellers in Idaho. If you’re looking for a great home in Idaho, you can visit Kevin’s website where you can search real estate including Boise homes, Meridian homes , Nampa homes , and Eagle
homes.

 

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

BlueRoof360 Launches Blog Network Unlike Any Other

BlueRoof360 Blog Network

Blog networks are pretty common now, but the BlueRoof360 Blog Network is different in two main ways- first it’s widgetized, meaning you can put blogs anywhere you want on a website- on any page, and in any size, and put all the different components you would want to have (featured properties, blog search top posts, images, videos, text, etc) anywhere you want around it. So you can build pages of blog content and decide exactly how you want the page to look and feel.

Even if you get a custom WordPress blog- you can’t change and edit it like in our system. With our patent-pending technology it’s all drag and drop. Want a video? Drag and drop it on the page where you want it. Want instant chat or featured properties or a weather report? Drop them where you want them. You don’t need to pay for, and wait for, a professional programmer to do the work- it’s easy and free in our system.

The second way it’s different is the network. Everyone wants blog but many agents don’t want to have to write it all. With our network you can have blogs that write themselves- or rather automate themselves with articles by other bloggers, or by the professional writers we pay to write content for the network.

And if you write a great blog post you can push it to the network and allow other agents to use it, and you get an inbound link from their website. One agent gets the content and the other gets the inbound link- everyone wins!

And of course, this is just one more new feature on our system and there is no extra fee for our clients to have this. They can build as many blogs and put them on as many pages as they want.

It’s all part of the BlueRoof360 system… if you would like more information about our custom website system- just contact us at greg@blueroof.com.

Using SEO to Strengthen Your Brand

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Seth Godin writes another incredible post explaining how utilizing SEO can be much more than trying to own mainstream keywords and delves into the territory that I live in, the territory that I have used to grow BlueRoof.com for three years now. Utilizing SEO as a way to strengthen your brand and help people find you when they are trying to.

When someone is looking for a good real estate buying experience in our area, many of them have heard of BlueRoof.com and the BlueRoof experience from their friends or family members. And when they Google us I want them to find us- and that is the only way I care about SEO for my particular website. I don’t pack keywords and links into my site because people don’t want to use websites that are pack with keywords and links- they want a great experience that is all about THEM, not about getting people to ME…

So, I have to pay for my Google ranking with Pay Per Click. And that’s okay because most of the traffic that comes to our site now is referred traffic- traffic that we have very worked hard to earn by offering the best experience we can to our clients. Helping them find the right home and negotiating and educating and working for the client above all else.

I want to own the keyword BlueRoof and the keyword BlueRoof.com and even Blue Roof (with a space), but not because I want to get any traffic, because I want to help those who are already looking for us to be able to find us easily. That is the best traffic because they already want to work with us  and we want to help them.

Utilizing SEO to get new business can obviously be a good thing, but landing on the front page of Google for any good keywords can be very difficult. It’s important to build your own brand and putting some focus into that might be the best strategy you can take- it’s worked well for us.

BlueRoof360 Launches Mobile Search and Much More…

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In February we launched our new mobile search feature which work on any mobile device with internet. Every BlueRoof360 website has mobile search now by simply adding the suffix of /mobile or/m after the URL (prusantafe.com/m)

Every listed home on the MLS is in the search and each listing includes all the photos directly pulled from the MLS.

Also on the home page of the mobile search there is Quick House Number Lookup which allows someone sitting in front of a house to simply type in the house number and easily find that property. If there are more than one result for that particular house number, our clients listings sort to the top (since those will be the properties with sign riders telling people to type in the house number.)

So, by going to prudentialfloridarealty.com/m on my mobile phone and typing  [a listed house number] into the Quick House Number Lookup it takes me directly to that Prudential Florida Realty listing.

Properties can be saved to your account, just as if you were on the website, and it’s easy to schedule a showing or contact the agent.

But our mobile system is much more than search- agents can access their contacts, see the showings and feedback on their listings, access documents associated with each client, and send documents, all form their mobile account.

And, even better, the agents clients can access all of their listing and escrow information, checklists of items that have been accomplished and deadlines that have been met, or are still pending, they can see all their showings and feedback from their showings, and the clients can also access all of their documents and send them from their mobile device.

BlueRoof360 gives our clients, and their clients, a true mobile “hub” where all the contract, listing, and escrow information is accessed and shared from a central place on the agent’s website.

Inman, showing signs of slipping in their reporting of new technologies first, wrote a too-late article April 10th about a new innovation that we launched along with our mobile hub over a month ago, allowing people to find homes quickly by typing in a house number while they are in front of the house or wherever. Just another innovation we came up with before they even noticed.

Watch for new features we will be launching soon that continue to innovate and lead the industry…

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…

What if Twitter Got Serious?

what-if-twitter-got-serious

I enjoy seeing new technology and I love change. And I like to see new apps and ideas change how business is done. These are exciting things for me. But Twitter, with all of its potential, is just not very useful.

Using Twitter is like slamming my head into a wall and then eating some delicious ice cream, and then slamming my head into a wall again- It’s really great and really painful.

I understand certain applications for it and how they are valuable (sharing experiences about a convention or family trip, feeding your updates to a website, audience participation during a speech or discussion group, sharing quick thoughts and insights), but on a day to day basis it is frustrating to sort through hundreds and thousands of conversation pieces for the precious few tidbits of information I actually want.

What’s really frustrating is how easy it would be for Twitter to make the thing very useful.

If Twitter had a simple category or tagging system or channels where I could look at “business” tweets or tweets tagged with “real estate” or something- that would be very valuable to me.

I use a Twitter feed on BlueRoof now but I had to create a new account where I would only post items relevant to the website audience. If there were channels I could simply use that one channel from my same account to feed to my website.

With dozens of employees I have no idea what Twitter programmers do all day. They obviously are not creating a good search function or a way for people to get better use out of the product.

I am hopeful that one day Twitter will make some investment into the usability of the product, or that someone else will launch of much-better product of their own.

As a side note- all the ridiculous “Tweet” and “Twit” names are just freaking annoying- Tweets, Twits, Tweetle Dee, Twitterooza, Twit’n Tweeters Tweedling Twadoozles… enough already!!!

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

home-buyers-need-help

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.

SEVRAR Technology Fair Coming to Phoenix- Jan 27th

SEVRAR Technology Fair

The Southeast Valley Association of Realtors (SEVRAR) is holding it’s first annual  Technology Fair this month on Tuesday, January 27th and it looks like it’s going to be a great event.

There are speakers (including myself) and discussions touching on a number of relevant topics, including SEO, social media, blogging, websites and more. It’s good to see the booths and see what new products are available for Realtors, learn from the sessions, and I’ve always liked the networking that happens when you get people who have common interests but new ideas.

I’ll be speaking about Website Strategies,  discussing website design, current and future trends, and how to build your website into a brand, as I have been able to do with BlueRoof.

Lunch will be served and they are even going to have technicians available to give free laptop check-ups.

Phoenix Technology Fair

If you live in the desert and you like real estate technology- this is the place to be Jan 27th.

Most Active Online Home Shoppers

People Searching Online

The real estate industry has reluctantly been pulled online during the last three years and today most agents and brokers know that people are searching for homes online.

Hopefully this will be the year that brokerages start building great websites- and hopefully they will hire a great website design company like BlueRoof360 to do it.

But which areas are people most actively looking online for homes? Using Google Trends we can see which states and cities are the most active searching for different terms. Let’s look and see where people are really looking online…

Real Estate For Sale

For the term “homes for sale” Salt lake City ranks at the top, followed by Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa, Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver.

sell-my-home

For the term “Sell my home” the top states are Arizona, Florida and Utah, followed by Missouri, SC, Georgia, Tennessee, Colorado, NC, Texas.

The term “Search for Homes” ranked like this;

1. South Carolina, United States
2. Arizona, United States
3. Nevada, United States
4. North Carolina, United States
5. Georgia, United States
6. Florida, United States
7. Oklahoma, United States
8. Tennessee, United States
9. Maryland, United States
10. Colorado, United States

Since I’ve posted about  this before, let’s look at where people are most actively searching for other popular terms;

Term                                        Area most searching for that term

Family Activities                          Salt Lake (and Utah) by a landslide

God                                             Tennessee

Jesus                                          Alabama (and Tennessee is #2)

Hell                                              Kansas

Porn                                            Kentucky

Foreclosure                               Miami, Vegas, Tampa

I am afraid                                Philly, Boston, Orlando

Self improvement                      Salt Lake (and Utah) by a landslide

Teen problems                           Iowa

Politics                                       D.C. (surprise), followed by Maryland, NY, Connecticut

Singles                                        Salt Lake (and Utah). followed by Denver, Phoenix, Tampa

Go to Google Trends and try for yourself- you might be surprised at what people are searching for in your area…

Healthiest US Cities For Women, Men

healthiest-cities-in-america1

MSN just released a report, in conjunction with Men’s Health, naming the healthiest cities in America for women and men.

From MSN;

To compile our first annual survey of America’s Best & Worst Cities for Women, we joined forces with Men’s Health to analyze how 100 U.S. metropolises stack up when it comes to health, fitness, and quality of life. (Check out this month’s issue of Men’s Health to find out whether your city is guy-friendly, too.) Our number-crunching team tallied 38 factors, including cancer rates, commute times, air quality, and the number of residents who swipe their gym passes regularly. When the dust finally cleared, a few of the cities had trounced the competition.

According to the report, the top cities for women are;

1. Salt Lake City

2. San Francisco

3. Seattle

4. San Jose, Calif.

5. Denver

6. Minneapolis

7. Fargo, N.D.

8. Madison, Wis.

9. Manchester, N.H.

10. Aurora, Colo.

For men the report states the top ten cities are;

1. Madison, Wis.

2. St. Paul, Minn.

3. Salt Lake City

4. Seattle

5. Aurora, Colo.

6. San Jose, Calif.

7. Lincoln, Neb.

8. San Francisco

9. Boston

10. Minneapolis

New BlueRoof Website Includes Phoenix and Denver Markets

BlueRoof expands to Denver and Phoenix markets

Since BlueRoof first launched three years ago we have accomplished a lot- we’ve been voted “Best Real Estate Website” three years in a row, we’ve won the W3 Award (Silver in 2007, Gold in 2008 ) for Best Homepage, Visual Appeal and Navigation, we’ve sold hundreds of homes/year with only a few people, and we’ve built a strong brand in the Utah market with very devoted clients.

And although I have been offered (over two dozen times) to expand into new markets, I haven’t. Don’t get me wrong, the plan has always been to grow, but so far I have not had the chance for a few reasons- first of all Prudential bought the BlueRoof brokerage (but not the website or technology)  just 5 months after I started it, back in 2006, and I had to sign a contract stipulating a few things that prevented me from doing anything else. Then we started BlueRoof360 (in April of 2008 ) and in the last 8 months have built over 1200 websites for agents and brokers around the country, which has obviously taken my focus.

BlueRoof Agents

But the most important reason I did not expand BlueRoof sooner was that I needed to decide what was the best way for me to grow the brand while ensuring the client experience would not suffer. I’ve watched as other brands have grown to other areas but I didn’t want to grow in the same ways.

Roost partners with a company in each area, meaning the leads are going to any of the company agents, some of whom will do a good job for the clients and some will not (every company has good and bad agents) so they are basically selling leads. Redfin hires their own agents in each market, but that would require me raising capitol and they hire agents who are relatively inexperienced (top agents don’t want to be a desk jockey for another company). Estately refers leads out to other agents and although I like that they have say in the quality of service these agents provide, these agents don’t have an investment in the brand so they aren’t going to promote the brand or be dedicated to it.

I did not want to franchise the name because that would risk the brand being diluted by bad agents/brokers or not being marketed properly and I would have no control over it. I did not want to open my own brokerages in other markets because I would have to bring in investors to raise the necessary capitol and then have other people who do not know the brand, or the real estate business, telling me how to run it. And I didn’t want the website to simply be a lead generator. .  I wanted BlueRoof to be represented by people in each market that were invested in the promotion and growth of the brand and the overall experience the client receives working with the BlueRoof team.

I needed to find good, strong, established Realtor teams to work with. Teams who have a lot of experience and can handle the new business that will come, would be dedicated to growing the brand, and also offer excellent service to their clients. People who shared the same vision I have that technology should not only be used to get new business, but to improve the home buying/selling experience of our clients.

Today, I am excited to announce that I have found these teams to partner with in the Denver and Phoenix markets. Teams that I am proud to have represent the BlueRoof brand. And today we are all together  launching a new version of the website with some  cool new features and upgrades, but have maintained the overall look and feel of the original, award-winning, design.

Bob Maiocco

Our Denver, Colorado team is led by Bob Maiocco with Keller Williams. Bob got into the business in 1992 and he and his team have a lot of experience working with online web visitors, in fact has been a speaker at Keller Williams technology events discussing best practices in utilizing technology. Bob’s team averages $12-$15 Million/year in sales.

Nate Green

In the Phoenix market our team is led by Nate Green, also with Keller Williams. Nate was named the agent recruit of the year in 2004, Rookie of the Year in 2005, was ranked #10 in the nation for volume at Keller Williams November 2005,  in 2006 he was named “Cultural Icon” , in 2008 his team were spotlighted in Residential Executive magazine, and the last two years they have been the top agent and team in their office of 120+ agents and have consistently closed $12-$15 Million in sales.

BlueRoof Client Area

Our new backend system gives our clients tools that are unlike anything else in the industry, including the ability to follow their entire transaction as it happens and see showings and feedback on their listings immediately as it is left. Our new search is, in my opinion, the best in the industry- with the most visual and fun home searching experience online.

I believe that design is the most important element in a website. And by design I don’t just mean looks. At BlueRoof360 our philosophy can be summed up by a quote by Steve Jobs,

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like, design is how it works.”

We still have a lot of cool social and mobile features we’ll be adding soon, but we wanted to get the new site launched so we can begin promoting it for the spring season and using the cool new back end system for our clients. By the way, I realize that having a landing page that is a map is so… Web1.0, but I wanted the actual site to be able to represent each area separately, but also allow the web visitor to select which area they are interested in.

If you have a few minutes to spare, stop by and look around. I’m always interested to hear what people think.

Here’s to the economy stabilizing, a new presidential administration that actually cares about people who don’t give them money, the Utah Utes crashing the BCS party again, and to a fun and prosperous 2009!

Greg

Business Card Design Makes an Impact (or not)

Good Business Card Design

Many real estate people will be traveling to conventions this year- big ones, small ones, technology, real estate, blogging, design, etc. I really enjoy these conferences because they give me a chance to get away, meet some interesting people with interesting ideas, and enjoy a tax-deductible vacation. Sweet!

When I return home I will surely have piles of business cards from all sorts of people from different companies and positions. Some I will want to keep in contact with, and some I will want to remember the conversations we had. And while I am perusing the assortment of cards I will, no doubt, be impressed by some of them and disappointed by others.

I offer my suggestions…

Use a high quality paper– flimsy cards just suck. Spend the extra ten dollars and get good paper.

Use the standard size- when you use a card that is larger or smaller (especially) than normal, people cannot stack or organize it with the others. Smaller cards get lost and become a pain in the ass. Be different by using good imagery or design, not by having an odd shape or size.

No standard clip art– Using images that come from standard clip art makes your card look generic, but even worse, it makes it look like you were trying to not be generic and failed.

Have a credible email address– If your business email is lizzydizzy@hotmail.com or disneylover@gmail.com or even jennifersmith3245@yahoo.com you really need to get with a company that will provide you with a company account.

Watch for typos– If you can’t spell your name right you need to go back to school. Pre-school.

businesscard51

Use Color– A bit of color makes the card much more pleasant. Tie-die or rainbows aren’t necessary, but some color can really give your card some punch, or at the very least it won’t be as boring as monochrome.

Have a blank back– When people receive your card they’ll want to write notes on the back about you or your company or your conversation. Or maybe you can write the address to a great local bar so if that person ever makes it to your city they’ll know where to go.

Have a URL– In today’s business world you should have a website to send people to. Whether your business is plumbing or software, have your URL on your card. If you are embarrassed about your current website, or you aren’t totally excited about it, go here.

Business Card Design- Tear Off

No fold-overs or tear-offs– Cards that fold over get caught on things and take up extra space in my pants pocket. And if you do some clever thing like a pop-up or tear off tab, once that cute feature has been done, the card now has a flap hanging off of it and it doesn’t fit anywhere. Remember the first rule in marketing, which is my next thought…

Keep it simple– We don’t need to name call here, but keep your message simple and clear. Have a clean design that is easy to understand and makes a statement.

Readable Fonts– Lettering should be easy to read and, with the possible exception of the heading or logo, consistent throughout the card.

Have an actual designer create your card- Don’t jump on to Publisher and draw up a design. You want it to be polished and look good.

Funny Business Card Titles

Silly Business Card Titles

No stupid titles– We’ve all seen the start-ups where every employee has some “cool”  title like “VP of Fun” or “Director of Computer Stuff”. Having something clever to say is good, lame titles are just lame. And besides, I’m not going to remember every person so if you are the head of technology but your card says “Emperor of Digital Awareness” I won’t know your function and will most likely toss the card.

Simple Business Card Design

Think it through. Many of us have heard of Matt (creator of WordPress) Mullenweg’s business cards that simply say: “1. Go to Google. 2. Type ‘Matt.’ 3. Click ‘I feel lucky.’ ” That’s pretty cool until your google ranking crashes, like Matt’s did and now it goes to another Matt.

Good, Simple Business Card Design

Have a card that shows your image and has some fun. Good design makes an impact. Well, so does bad design, but good design makes the impact you’ll want.

It is good to get creative with images and show your personality, just remember after the novelty wears off your business card needs to serve its purpose so it is prudent to put good design and imagery over novelty.

Now let’s go have a great year!

The Most Digital Cities in the Country

most-digital-cities-technology-real-estate

Government Technology released this month its annual Digital Cities report naming the cities in the nation that are the most “connected” to the populace. Some familiar cities made the list again this year (Aurora, Colorado and Lincoln, Nebraska both topped their categories last year as well.)

The first-place winners in each of the four population categories are:
• Aurora, Colo. (250,000 or more population)
• Lincoln, Neb. (125,000 – 249,999 population)
• Roanoke, Va. (75,000 – 124,999 population)
• Lynchburg, Va. (30,000 – 74,999 population)

Tuscan and Mesa, Arizona both made the top ten in the 250,000+ category and Salt lake City, Utah came in second in the 125,000-249,999 category.

The states with the most cities making the list are Virginia (nine), Florida (eight) and Colorado (seven).

According to the survey, “Cities are incorporating newer technologies such as Webcasting, podcasts and blogs while continuing to use IT to enhance delivery options for citizens and businesses.”

Top Ten Suburbs to Sell A Home

best-markets-to-sell-a-home

MSN today posted an article about a Forbes.com article that lists the Top Ten Suburbs to Sell a Home right now. To make the determination of which cities were the top, they took data from Altos Research. They took suburbs in the country’s 75 largest Census-defined metro areas based on the last 90 days of sales activity, then narrowed it to those cities with an inventory of at least 75 homes on the market.

They then eliminated suburbs where it currently takes more than 125 days to sell the average home and eliminated any suburb where year-over-year price declines were steeper than 10% or where more than 50% of sellers had reduced their asking price to sell their home.

Cities that make the cut include;

10. Montclair, N.J.

Location: 13 miles west of New York City

9. Waltham, Mass.

Location: 26 miles west of Boston

8. Encinitas, Calif.

Location: 28 miles north of San Diego

7. Matthews, N.C.

Location: 12 miles southeast of Charlotte

6. Midvale, Utah

Location: 13 miles south of Salt Lake City

5. Sugar Land, Texas

Location: 20 miles southwest of Houston

4. Kennesaw, Ga.

Location: 28 miles northwest of Atlanta

3. Venice, Calif.

Location: 16 miles west of Los Angeles

2. Bedford, Texas

Location: 22 miles west of Dallas

1. Berkeley, Calif.

Location: 14 miles northeast of San Francisco

The article says what was left wasn’t a set of awe-inspiring hidden gems where sellers are awash in bidding wars. Nationwide, low-interest rates and low prices caused existing home sales to rise 5.5% in September, but in many areas of the country, sellers are finding relatively few buyers. But, “If you have to sell a house, sell in these places,” says Michael Simonsen, chief executive of Altos Research.

Top Ten Healthiest States

Healthiest States in the Nation

Vermont is the healthiest state in the nation for the second straight year, according to MSN. According to the report, Vermont scores high with these stats;

 

Prevalence of Obesity (percent of population): 6

Air Pollution (micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter): 10

Lack of Health Insurance (percent without health insurance): 10

Immunization Coverage (percent of children ages 19 to 35 months): 29

Primary Care Physicians (number per 100,000 population): 5

Poor Mental Health Days (days in previous 30 days): 14

Cardiovascular Deaths (deaths per 100,000 population): 10

Cancer Deaths (deaths per 100,000 population): 13

 

The rest of the top ten are;

2- Hawaii

3- New Hampshire

4- Minnesota

5- Utah

6- Massachusetts

7- Connecticut

8- Idaho

9- Maine

10- Washington 

The unhealthiest state honor goes to Louisiana– Georgia, Nevada, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina and Mississippi didn’t look so good either, being at the bottom of the list.

How the Real Estate Industry Could Destroy the World

real-estate-industry-destroying-the-world

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.

real-estate-recycle

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…

but-seriously-now

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.

Leaders, Visionaries, and Great People in Real Estate- A Top Ten List

Leaders in the Real Estate Industry

There are many great people in, and around, the real estate industry. Some lead by example, some inspire with their words, and others lead with their ideas. There are great companies and people all around the industry right now and as a whole (partly because of these people and these companies) the industry has grown more in the last three years than in the previous twenty.

Here are ten of the great thinkers, leaders and of the industry right now;

4realz Dustin Luther

Dustin Luther has not only pulled blogging into the mainstream for real estate agents and pioneered the first great collaborative real estate blog, but he has done something even more incredible- he has given people an enthusiasm for blogging by his constant thinking, creating and now by his training.

RealEstateTomato- Jim Cronin

Jim Cronin creates beautiful blog sites and teaches agents how to use them effectively. Neither of these feats are small. Great design is only easy for those who have a talent for it, and Jim obviously has in it spades.

Sellsius Real Estate- Joe

Joe Ferrara at Sellsius gives us a fun, interesting blog for sure, but there are many of those. Sellsius was a great blog before Rudy left for Trulia, but instead of pack up and move on, Joe decided to re-invigorate the blog with a fresh new life. And who else could give us “Real Estate Porn” and at the same time, the “Top Ten Women Bloggers”?

Dougan Jones

Dougan Jones has been the owner, president, and/or broker for many large real estate companies. And in each company he has brought something that cannot be bought or taught… he has brought culture. I believe the way you can tell a great leader is by how many leaders they develop and by this account, Dougan is among the very best. There are dozens of real estate managers and leaders, including myself who trained under Dougan in Utah, Colorado and Michigan. He is also one of the most charismatic and incredible people I have ever had the privledge to meet. Dougan completely energizes people around him and people are naturally drawn to him because of his magnanimous charm and wisdom.

activerain

Active Rain has given real estate agents a platform to leap beyond themselves in a sense. Most Realtors who blog on Active Rain would not be doing so without Matt and Jonathon starting the joint. I don’t know if it’s profitable, but they are keeping it relevant by hosting parties at conventions and continuing to grow their brand organically.

1000 Watt Consulting- Marc Davison

Marc Davison is leading by another means. Marc leads by showing. Showing other leaders how to think differently, how to be creative, and why that matters right now. Marc and I don’t always share the same opinions or ideas, but we always share the same motives.

bloodhoundblog

Greg Swann is a brilliant, brash, and blazing writer who, love him or hate him, gets people to stand up for (or against) things. And that is not easy or unimportant. He has built one of the most formidable blogs in the industry by inspiring people to write their guts out and not hold back. If you’re in the mood for some opinions, occasional music videos and lots and lots of words, he’s got you covered.

InManConnect

Inman Connect has brought technology and real estate together during the past few years unlike anything else. And although it is becoming too political, it still attracts a lineup of great speakers and innovators and if it can pull back the reins on the money-grabbing it just might be able to use it’s clout and momentum to lead the industry in more ways than its conventions.

Rudy Bachraty- Social Planner

Rudy Bachraty is now the mascot voice social director or “guru” for Trulia and has become a sort of bridge for many agents to find and meet other agents. Sure he has his day job and he is one of the best at utilizing social media and gaining an audience, but what sets Rudy apart is what he does at the conventions and shows. He acts as a social director for the whole industry. Want to know where the parties are? Call Rudy. Want to know who is speaking about what? Call Rudy. Want to get a drink with a really great guy? Call Rudy.

Realtors with Technology

Great Agents with Technology are the most powerful force in the business today. Being a great agent means having a deep knowledge of your market, extensive experience with contracts and the escrow process, and a true desire to help your clients and put them first. When these agents really utilize technology they can offer better service and a better experience for their clients. Powerful custom websites that get their message across and back-end systems that give greater transparency to the transaction for their clients will propel these agents while others fail in the coming years.

I’m proud to call many of these people friends. But more than friendship, I, along with many others, enjoy learning from them and watching as they continue to grow and help shape our industry.

Cheers!

Realtors Getting Screwed and Listening to Idiots- A Top Ten List

Almost daily I am again reminded at how ridiculous the business of selling crap (services and ideas) to Realtors has become. The real estate industry has enough problems right now- we don’t need people trying to screw us over and so many idiots preaching about stuff they don’t know anything about.

Here I name ten of the worst offenders. From people preaching to agents about the business to companies that are screwing you over- I’m going to spell it out…

10. Inman News and Rismedia charging hundreds of dollars/year to become a “member” so you can read their articles or watch videos or read the “breaking news”. It’s not enough to slap as many ads as possible in every possible place on their site, with some, like the first big-ass ad on Inman as you go to the site, are the most annoying ads EVER. No, they also need to charge just to read stuff. Reminds of me the old (failed) business model newspapers used when they first went on-line.

9. Bloggers that think if you whine and bitch about how bad things are than it proves you are trustworthy. Many bloggers, and “bubble” bloggers especially, think that because they constantly preach about how prices are crumbling and everyone will lose all their money that somehow that makes them trustworthy, like, “See I’m telling you bad news so you can trust me.”

8. Realtor.com– One of the biggest, lamest business models ever. To be a Realtor, one must subscribe (and pay $100’s/year) to their local, state and national Realtor Associations. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) collects millions every year from memberships from agents who go out and actually do the work of selling property. Realtor.com is the “official” website of NAR and, because it is the official website has access to all the listing data that its members provide. But instead of using that data for the benefit of it’s members, it sells listing placement, promotions and ads to its members, effectively selling leads back to it’s members by using the data that those members have provided it. And the members don’t have a choice- either pay your membership dues (and give your listing data to Realtor.com) or you cannot be a Realtor.

7. MLS’s– I could go on for hours about how much MLS’s screw over agents. Not only as a Realtor, broker and owner of real estate companies, but having websites and now owning a company that develops custom websites for agents and brokers, I have seen a lot of ugliness in the MLS systems. They regulate and fine and give out ridiculous fees to their members, then if you want to use that data for your own website you have to pay the MLS’s for that right. Some MLS’s are so pompous and self righteous (Denver’s Metrolist and Bostons MLS) it could make you sick. And some charge so much money (Utah’s Wasatch Front MLS and Phoenix’s charges $12,000/year!!) to use their data for your website that it should be criminal.

6. Template website providers– most of these templates are so ridiculous that I’m surprised anyone buys them. Many don’t include MLS searches, many have very little customization, and most are completely worthless as a source of getting new business (their primary objective) or in improving service for clients. Some of these, like Number #1 Expert charge thousands of dollars to sign up , plus hundreds of dollars/month and sell you on being part of their “network” of suckers agents.

5. Advanced Access– I think I’ve covered why they suck…

4. Point2 Agent– These guys give you a website for nothing. And that’s what it’s worth! They will give you a crappy template site and then charge you for any upgrade they can and refer you to their business partners “preferred partners” for anything else. Instead of an MLS search, they give you an “Agent Handshake” listing feed. So you can display listings from agents who are members of their service and who have agreed to allow you to display their listings. That’s right- why show web visitors all the homes for sale when you can show a very small percentage?

3. Diverse Solutions– Because they copied BlueRoof’s sliders (except made them much worse and slapped them on a bad map-search) a long time ago when I wouldn’t partner with them and now actually tell people they had something do with the design of BlueRoof . Yeah- right!

2. Craig Proctor– This is an agent who sells websites that are the most painful things to look at ever. Try reading one of these things, they are basically just thousands of keywords and hundreds of forms to fill out, which are ways to try and get people’s information so you can then spam email them until they die or just give up and throw their hands in the air with surrender and buy something just so you’ll leave them alone. Ironically, they will get even more emails because Proctor’s system now identifies them as a complete sucker. It’s not just the system I don’t like- it’s those painful, ridiculous websites!

1. SEO Companies that guarantee placement. If an SEO company tells you that they can guarantee your website will be on the first page in Google search results, you should invite that person to meet you in person, and then when you meet them, SLAP them! It is a hoax, a fraud, a sham! Nobody can guarantee placement on Google- not even Google.

There are a lot of good leaders, speakers, consultants, and people in the industry. People like Ed Kraftchow, Marc Davison, Dustin Luther, Dougan Jones, and Gretchen Pearson. There are good agents doing good work and there are many good products, brands, and services. I’ll write about them later- right now I’m heading off to the NAR convention to meet up with some of these good people. Hope to see you there…

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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.

The Best and Worst Cities for Jobs Right Now

MSN published a report today naming the best and worst states in the nation based on unemployemnt rates. Some of the areas may surprise you. Just as real estate markets are local, so are economies. Some areas have better run governments, different zoning and business licensing laws, better access to resources, or events that happen (military base closing, new company moving in, major employer cutting back or hiring, etc) which cause job demand to fluxuate.

Eight of the worst cities are in California, while three of the top cities are in Utah.

According to the article, here are the top 15 cities for jobs based on unemployment rates;

1. Bismarck, N.D.– September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  2.5

2. Casper, Wyo.– September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  2.5

3. Logan, Utah– September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  2.5

4. Sioux Falls, S.D. – September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  2.5

5. Morgantown, W. Va.– September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  2.6

6. Ames, Iowa– September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  2.7

7. Fargo, N.D.– September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  2.8

8. Iowa City, Iowa– September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  2.8

9. Rapid City, S.D.– September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  2.9

10. Lincoln, Neb.September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  3.0

11. Provo-Orem, UtahSeptember 2008 Unemployment Rate:  3.0

12. Billings, Mont.September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  3.1

13. Charleston, W. Va.September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  3.2

14. Midland, TexasSeptember 2008 Unemployment Rate:  3.2

15. Salt Lake City, Utah – September 2008 Unemployment Rate:  3.2

And the 15 Worst Cities are;

1. El Centro, Calif. – September 2008 Unemployment Number:   24.5

2. Yuma, Ariz.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   20.5

3. Yuba City, Calif.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   11.2

4. Merced, Calif.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   10.9

5. Flint, Mich.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   10.8

6. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   10.6

7. Modesto, Calif.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   10.5

8. Palm Coast, Fla.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   10.3

9. Stockton, Calif.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   10.2

10. Sebastian-Vero Beach, Fla.– September 2008 Unemployment Number:   10.1

11. Fresno, Calif.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   9.6

12. Rocky Mount, N.C.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   9.6

13. Monroe, Mich.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   9.5

14. Punta Gorda, Fla.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   9.5

15. Redding, Calif.September 2008 Unemployment Number:   9.5

For a more complete list and more information visit MSN.

2008 Election- Obama/McCain Proposed Policies Explained in Plain English

BusinessWeek published a really great non-partisan article that clearly explains the differences in the two candidates proposed policies. Whether or not you are decided, and especially if you haven’t yet decided, this is simple guide to the man who will soon be our next president…

From the article;

Where the Candidates Stand

As Nov. 4 draws near, many Americans are still undecided about for whom they will cast their vote. While many elections in recent memory have been close, none seems to be quite so momentous. Not only because of the historic implications of electing either the nation’s first black President or its first female Vice-President, but because never before has a Presidential election coincided with such economic uncertainty.

In fact, such previous hot-button issues as Iraq, terrorism, and abortion have been all but forgotten amid the raging debate surrounding America’s, and the world’s, financial health. Unsurprisingly, the candidates differ widely on how they would go about responding to the current crisis, and how their policies would impact voters. To help Americans decide, BusinessWeek takes a close look at John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s positions on taxes, jobs, education, health care, the financial crisis, and retirement. First up, taxes…

I think most Americans will agree that this is among the most important elections of our lifetime. With the economy struggling, major wars in two foreign countries (and the possibility of additional wars), radically different views on taxes, health care, and education, and the difference of a democratic president and congress or not, there are major reasons to feel strongly about this election.

I know I do…

The Most Important Stat to Track on my Website

There are a lot of statistics for me to follow with my website, BlueRoof.com. Some things are interesting to watch (what states people are visiting my site from, what web browsers they use, etc.) and every stat has some value (where to spend marketing, which browsers to optimize my site for, etc) but some stats are more significant for me to watch than others.

There are some stats I watch more than others. Here are the things I check daily:

Overall Traffic (and compare to the following Day, Week, Month)

Unique Visitors (and compare to averages and following Day, Week, Month)

Average Time on Site

Traffic Sources

Now this last one, traffic sources, tells me something very important. In fact it is one of the most important things for me. It tells me how many people are coming directly to my website by typing in the URL, meaning they knew where they were going.

You can see about 70% of my traffic comes from people going directly to my website. This figure continues to grow. Two years ago none of my traffic was direct because I was a new company and website. last year I was reaching for 50% of my traffic to come directly, and now I’m about 70%. And I’m spending about 25% of the marketing I did last year, getting the same amount of traffic and the same amount of leads.

I also check the top ten keywords people searched for to find my website because that also shows me how many people searched for my website. You can see that most of the people who find my website by search engine already knew they were looking for BlueRoof.com.

This is important for me to know because I want to see how many people are being referred to come to my site. Most of the traffic I get to my site now is direct traffic (about 70%) or people who are searching for my site. BlueRoof.com is not a name you would necessarily know to type in to search for homes unless you knew what the website was.

If my marketing budget stays the same and the my traffic rises, or if my marketing budget goes down but my traffic and leads increases then I am getting referral traffic, and that is what I really want because it tells me people like my website enough to refer it to people they know.

My website is very visual so there is not a lot of content (text) for search engines to grab onto and determin rank. I haven’t packed it full of links and text so it is not optimized for search engines at all. And because of that I’ve had to pay for my traffic by using pay per click (PPC). But once people get to my site they enjoy being there and I get business. And I can see that people like it enough that they are referring people to the site.

This tells me that my strategy is paying off. My strategy is not the same as everyone else when it comes to how to design my site and what to put on it. My strategy is to make the experience the best I can for the consumer and they will choose to work with us because we offer them value.

Watch for a new release of BlueRoof.com to launch in a few weeks. We’re making some upgrades in usability, function and information. The most important thing to me is the user experience (design) so I’m excited to add new features to BlueRoof.com while maintaining great design.

Warren Buffet’s Advice- Buy While Others are Feaful

Warren Buffet wrote an article for the New York Times yesterday where he explains where he is putting his money right now and his philosophy on when to be greedy. In short, Buffett says;

“Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”

It makes sense. The best time to buy is when the prices are low and the best time to sell is when prices are high. Or as Buffett says,

“…if you wait for the robins, spring will be over.

A little history here: During the Depression, the Dow hit its low, 41, on July 8, 1932. Economic conditions, though, kept deteriorating until Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933. By that time, the market had already advanced 30 percent. Or think back to the early days of World War II, when things were going badly for the United States in Europe and the Pacific. The market hit bottom in April 1942, well before Allied fortunes turned. Again, in the early 1980s, the time to buy stocks was when inflation raged and the economy was in the tank. In short, bad news is an investor’s best friend. It lets you buy a slice of America’s future at a marked-down price.

Over the long term, the stock market news will be good. In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.

You might think it would have been impossible for an investor to lose money during a century marked by such an extraordinary gain. But some investors did. The hapless ones bought stocks only when they felt comfort in doing so and then proceeded to sell when the headlines made them queasy.”

This is true in financial and in real estate markets. The best time to buy is when prices are low. Let me say that again- The best time to buy is when prices are low. Currently, prices are low….

BlueRoof.com Wins W3 Awards Again

With BlueRoof.com about to be re-launched  with some cool new features, we are very pleased to announced that the W3 Awards were just announced and we were notified this morning that BlueRoof.com has won some more awards. Last year we won three silver medals, with Zillow taking the Gold for Visual Appeal (the award I really wanted).

This year we take the Gold Medal for “Visual Appeal”

We also won Silver medals for these categories;

Overall Real Estate Website

Homepage

Structure/Navigation

Watch for a new BlueRoof.com to be launching in the next few weeks…

BlueRoof360- Industry Best Realtor Websites, Lead and Client Management

blueroof360.png

Custom Websites for the price of a template…

In 2007 we closed 114 homes because of our website. Last year, in 2008, we closed just under 100 without me selling (my buyer team agents did the selling).

While the majority of real estate agents were seeing their businesses slow down significantly and the overall market lose energy, our business has stayed, and is still staying, very consistent.

You may not even want to be a top-producing agent, but I’m sure you wouldn’t mind an extra sale or two each month.  Technology does not take the place of personality and personal contact but, when utilized correctly, it can help us connect with our clients and also bring us new business.

Understand, I am not a technology guy getting into real estate. I am a Realtor (over 14 years) who uses technology very well.

As a real estate agent, if you want to get business from the internet and offer real value to your clients what are your current choices? You can use Point2, Advanced Access, Homes.com or myriad other template websites, you can (even worse) just have a page on your broker’s website, or you can spend a lot of money building a custom website and hope the people building it know anything about real estate and design. This has been the challenge for Realtors and brokers.. until now.

Now, finally, there will be another choice that brings the power and design of a custom website, the newest, innovative technology, a simple and intuitive back-end system, and client services technology, for a price that is lower than many of the templates.

advanced-access-and-point2-can-not-compete.png

Enter BlueRoof360

BlueRoof360 costs only $100/month and is a complete online solution for real estate agents and brokers. Attract new business, offer better service for your clients, give more value to the consumer, and grow your team and your bottom line.

I have been the managing broker for several large (100+ agent) real estate offices. I have become a student, learning what consumers like and want when searching for homes. By meeting buyers from my website and working with them I have been able to learn a lot about how to use the internet for real estate over the last five years. And because I am a real estate agent and I have managed, recruited, trained and hired hundreds of Realtors, I understand what real estate agents need and what they like and want.

Paying for a template website because it’s cheap is not always the best approach.

As Greg says, “If 10,000 people exhibit a casual interest in your product, you will have earned nothing, whereas if one person actually buys, you will have earned a huge pay-check.”

Consumers want a better overall experience including value, service, interaction and information. They want to feel as though they are being taken care of but that they have good information and still run the show.

Agents want simple tools that enable them to focus on the relationship and they want business that comes to them without referral fees.

To offer real value to the consumer and get real business from the internet I believe you need to have a few very important pieces that all work together. It all begins with a destination website. Not a form-filled, SEO-crazy, template website, but a website that is designed well, has cutting-edge technology, is fun and easy to use, and has great information for the consumer.

Next you need to know how to drive traffic to your website. How to make it seen and how to make it a place that people will want to come back to again and again, and tell other people about.

real-estate-agent-websites.png
When someone asks for help or requests a showing on a property you need to respond very quickly- 15 minutes or less (under one minute is ideal). You need to have a near-immediate connection. People do not want to wait and they won’t wait. They’ll usually work with the first agent to get back to them.

You need to be able to stay in touch with your leads, clients, past-clients, family, associates and friends. You need to give the consumer (your current and potential clients) excellent service. You need to WOW them.

You need to continue to grow and learn from others who are doing it. 

And it has to be easy. It has to be simple to do. Real estate agents do not like complicated, difficult programs and hours of learning how to use stuff. We like fun, easy and simple.

custom-realtor-websites.png

BlueRoof360 will give you a custom website. Not a template website, but a custom website. A template gives you pre-defined spaces that you can change text and images in. We give you a custom website and if you ever want to modify or add new pages (you have unlimited pages) you can add them anytime, and it’s simple.

You can have instant chat, videos, podcasting, widgets or whatever you want.

real-estate-lead-management.png

You’ll also have a complete, but very simple to use, lead and client management system and a notification system. When someone requests to see a property you’ll be notified immediately by text message and email and that person’s information is automatically entered into your lead management system for you. Assign an email keep-in-touch campaign with a click. You can make new campaigns or edit the campaigns and make them your own anytime you want.

We have tried “Top Producer” client management system twice, but both times our team would not even use it because it was so complicated. We paid over $90/month and it just sat there. We’ve designed ours to be simple and easy to use.

You can allow your clients to log in to their own account and see their file. A listing client can see everything you have done on their file and when. They can see when the magazine ad went out and when the sign was ordered and every showing. They can see all the feedback from their showings and your own personal notes. This doesn’t take the place of your personal communication, but it helps you to stay in touch with them even when you are busy and it helps them stay connected to the transaction in a new and interactive way.

Keep doing what you are doing now and just use this to add some extra deals every month. Or go full-out and close hundreds of deals this year from your website. Either way, a long-term online presence will grow your business and give you tools to give better service and value to your clients.

As Jeff, TheXBroker, says…

“So where is the middle ground of killer technology and rePro listing penetration? I think BlueRoof is headed down the right path. Technology (Solvent) + rePro (Solute) = A Solution…one that both consumers and professionals can benefit from.”

The internet is a simple, powerful way to connect with people and grow your business and now BlueRoof360 will give you a simple and powerful way to do it.

To get a quick demo contact us at sales@blueroof360.com or 801-699-6619.

BlueRoof360- Custom Websites at a Template Price…

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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.

Top States for Unemployment Rates

MSN released a list  of the top states (and the worst) in the country for unemployment rates. With the economy and housing markets around the country feeling the pressure, it’s always nice to know how the local economies are doing. One thing we have all been realizing lately is just how much Real Estate markets and housing affect the economy. There are a lot of issues that go along with a real estate market, for instance, when someone buys a home they put a lot of people to work- their Realtor, the title insurance person, the mortgage lender, perhaps a home warranty person and an inspector, and all of these people work at companies that pay people depending on these services being performed. And then figure in the gas (and the people employed at the gas station) it took to drive the buyers around, the office supplies to write the contracts and fax them, contractor who may have fixed the plumbing to complete the sale and so forth.

Real estate markets have an incredible affect on local economies and it is important for us all to keep the cycles going. Unemployment is obviously a major factor in local economies…

The top five states are;

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)

World’s First Master-Planned Metropolis Being Built

At a total estimated cost of $35Billion, and slated to be completed by 2014, Songdo International Business District, the world’s largest commercial development ever built will house more than 65,000 residents in Incheon, South Korea.

The development is being built on over 1500 acres and will include an amazing 50 million square feet of office space, 30 million square feet of residential accommodations, 10 million square feet of retail, five million square feet of hotel accommodations and 10 million square feet of green space. The mix of offerings will include an international school, hospital, ecotarium and museum.

And here’s the kicker- it’s being built all at once!

GALE International, based in New York City, is the developer and the master plan was designed by  Kohn Pedersen Fox.

See the fly-over video…

 

Chad Shares the Secret to His Pineapple Martinis

My friend Chad has decided to do a social experiment on Facebook and throw some parties (which are always a blast) and give away some tips on his famous drinks and food (always awesome)…

This is the first video from Chad. Listen along as he shares his process for building the best pineapple martinis!

Chad really is the ultimate bachelor. But he is finally ready (he claims) to find the right girl to settle down with, which some people think is crazy because he is very successful at being single and is very well off so he can afford to stay single successfully.

Anyway, Chad hates loves when I tell people this- he was named in Cosmo magazine as America’s 8th most eligible bachelor a few years ago- the local news came out and interviewed him and and made a big deal out of it, which, of course, I think is funny and cool. So if you visit his Facebook page or attend one of the parties, make sure you tease him about it congratulate him.

Cheers!

66 Cities to Buy a Home In Now

According to MSN, there are 66 cities where it makes sense to buy a home in right now, and 34 cities where it might be better to rent. Of course, it’s all speculation, especially in the local markets I am familiar with, and they don’t take into account some important aspects of home ownership, like the tax breaks and simple pride of ownership.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to rent again, unless I was transient or uncertain of my ability to pay my mortgage.

Four of the top five cities (McAllen, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas) are in Texas.

Texas has (relatively) low home prices and something elase that people need to consider heavily- great sports franchises- these are two of the most important factors when considering where to buy. If you pay less for a great home and have great sports team to watch live- things will work out.

Plus, great sports teams usually means great sports bars, and really, isn’t that the most important factor in making a great city?

Maybe, or maybe not, but I think we can all agree on at least one thing- the Colts will win the Superbowl this year- go Colts!

More Accusations Against Trulia- Now Cloaking?

Trulia has been caught in some allegations recently that question the integrity of the company, and imply that Trulia is involved in some shady practices that help it’s own site at the expensive of the agent/brokers/partners who work with it. Most of the accusactions have to do no-follow links (temporary 302 redirects) that give Trulia links, but prevent links going back to the “partners” it works with, so it can cause it’s own site ranking to go up and hurt the ranking of the partner sites.

Now, accusations of cloaking, or displaying different content to web visitors and search engines to gain one-way inbound links to it’s own site, while looking like it is giving content to partner sites. Obviously, if true, this would further erode the confidence agents and brokers have in the website.

Trulia’s PR machine will most likely be in high gear again, so look for explanations to come from their side soon.

I like Trulia, mostly because they are doing new things and bringing new things into the industry. But I also believe agents/brokers need to build their own online identity and brand themselves, not a third-party listing aggregation website (Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, etc).

Utah Government Workers Move to a Four Day Workweek

 

Utah Moves to a Four Day Work Week

Utah Moves to a Four Day Work Week

Beginning in August, Utah state employees will begin workweeks of Monday-Thursday 7am-6pm, instead of 8am-5pm, and have Fridays off. The radical new move will result in some frustration for some finding new daycare arangements and such, but will save millions of dollars in energy costs and will reduce traffic congestion.

The order issued by Gov. Jon Huntsman will affect about 17,000 out of 24,000 executive-branch employees. It will not cover state police officers, prison guards or employees of the courts or Utah’s public universities. Also, state-run liquor stores will stay open on Fridays.

Lisa Roskelley, the Governor’s spokesperson, says turning off the lights, heat and air conditioning on Fridays in 1,000 of 3,000 government buildings will save about $3 million a year from a state budget of $11 Million.

That is huge.

The Department of Environmental Quality estimated employees in six buildings alone will save themselves more than $300,000 spent on gas to commute to work.

There are benefits for the environment as well. “We feel like we can reduce the CO2 or the ozone by around over 3,000 metric tons, as well as have an impact on our air pollution,” said Kim Hood, executive director of the Department of Administrative Services.

 

Salt Lake City Traffic

Salt Lake City Traffic

In addition, having 17,000-24,000 people each day changing their commute times and not commuting on Friday’s will reduce traffic congestion (although Salt lake City is already the second-best commute and has the lowest rate of alcohol-related fatalities in the nation), and, by extension, traffic accidents during commute times.

This is a bold move that shows true leadership from the Governor who already enjoys approval ratings of 88 percent.

See Governor interview transcript from Fox News.

Florida Home For Sale, Includes Wife

Deven Trabosh Deven Trabosh

For the guy who is not afraid of commitment, look no further than Devon Traboscia, a single mother of two, who lives in Florida and is offering herself for $288,800, oh, and you get the house, too.

On Craigslist she says;

Marry a Princess Lost in America
Create the Magic with this Fairy Tale Princess

Traveling Lady in immediate need of her Prince Charming, someone who wants to share & create magical moments, imaginations & fantasies for LIFE!!!

If you want to live the never ending dream and experience the real love, life and the romance you have always felt was a fairytale then this is the vibrant outstanding woman of your dreams!

To sweep this European Loving Lady off her feet send in your application right now

Read more about it in the Columbian, or see her ad on Craigslist.

Building a Killer Real Estate Website

 

Since I’ll be speaking on this topic at Inman Connect in July, I figure I’ll throw out some of my thoughts on the topic now to sort of get the ball rolling. What makes a website a “Killer Website”?

Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like, design is how it works.”

This is an important idea to me. The concept that great design incorporates function along with aesthetics and visual appeal. A great website is visually appealing, but it also works well, is intuitive and easy to use, and, of course, has good information for the person visiting it.  

What a great design does not have is every possible thing crammed into every page or wild colors and attention grabbers all over the place. And it certainly is not an SEO keyword love-fest that trades well written copy for unreadable paragraphs repeating the same twenty keywords ad nauseam.

Don’t suffer design simply for organic ranking- it does no good to rank high on Google and get a lot of traffic if all your visitors just click away and you get no business. In fact, it’s worse than no good because you take up valuable Google real estate that could go to a better site, which would help the consumer, and ultimately, our industry.

Here are a few things I believe are critical in the design of “Killer Website”:

Simple Layout– The basic layout of a page is among the most important aspects of its usability and visual appeal. Having information organized well and placing the most important information in places that easy to see and access will go a long way for the consumer.

Less is More– Trying to cram everything you can into a page makes it difficult for people to find what they are looking for and it also greatly dimishes the overall experience of the visitor. Decide what information is most important and prioritize that information on the pages. If it’s getting difficult to find room for something new, maybe you don’t need it.

Branding– Many websites fail to establish the brand of the company or people offering the site. Of course, some sites go too far trying to brand themselves, but in most cases the brand is not established well enough. Have a great logo and display it prominently so when people visit your website they remember where they are.

Reasons to Return– Create a website where people will have reasons to come back again and again. One of the easiest ways to do this is by incorporating a community resource blog into your website. This is a blog that gives insight into the community and creates a loyal readership of people who live in that area. Another great way reason for people to return to your site would be to get information about their transaction or the real estate market they live in. Having printable coupons or drawings from local businesses might attract return visits.

Pleasing color combinations– Color plays a large part in the feel of a design. Colors set the mood, and can turn people off when the wrong colors are used. Some companies, such as Weichert and Exit Realty, would do well to change their brand colors completely, while other brands, such as Prudential, Alain Pinel, and Keller Williams, have done well in selecting colors that enhance their brand.

Easy Navigation– Make it incredibly easy for people to find what they want. Large buttons and icons placed where they are easy to see will ensure people can find what they need. Being clever with your navigation can result in confusion by the visitor. It’s okay to be different, as long as it is very easy for visitors to find what they are looking for, and to return to the homepage. Make it easy to get back to the start.

Very visible contact info– Your contact information should be very visible, on many pages, including a phone number. Websites that only have a support email address are insulting to the visitor. It is lame to only offer support through email. Here’s an example; I have been trying to place an ad on ActiveRain for about a month now but their system is completely screwed up and nothing works correctly. And I can deal with the technical problems, but the only way to contact them is through a ticketed email system. It takes no less than three days to get a response- every single time. I like the ActiveRain platform, but they need some serious help when it comes to service. My ad is still not running.

Have some fun– Nobody likes looking at a spreadsheet. And most don’t enjoy looking at plain, ordinary, boring content. A great website offers a great experience for the visitor, and that includes keeping them interested and entertained. Add fun elements to your site with images, colors, and icons. Use fonts and font sizes that make it easy to read your content, and break up long areas of text with some images and fun elements. Put some personality into your website through a blog and text, but also with your design.

Websites are becoming more and more important as real estate professionals are beginning to leverage the internet to grow their business and their brand. Consumers have a lot of choice when choosing where to spend their time online, so it’s imperative to have a website that they’ll want to come back to again and again.

BlueRoof360 offers custom websites and lead management systems for real estate professionals.

 

Ready to Connect?

 

Meet Me at Connect SF 2008

Inman News will be holding it’s 12th annual Inman Connect convention  July 23rd-25th in San Francisco at the Palace hotel. For the last few years, Connect has been the best place to meet industry leaders and visionaries, see the newest in technology and real estate-related products, and share a drink with like-minded individuals. There is a heavy emphasis on social media and new trends.

The conference is all about the joining of technology and real estate and the conversation around how the industry is evolving. The most innovative companies and the most entrepreneurial people are all at Connect. There are great speakers, interesting discussions and panels, and always a fun social element that makes this the best real estate convention out there…

I’ll be speaking Thursday (July 25th) in the broker breakout session titled, “Building a Killer Brokerage Website“. And then later that night I’ll be out drinking and may end up speaking in tongues, which could be interesting.

Haggard, old-timers and boring coffee-machine dwellers should not attend. You will be miserable with all the talk of “electric computer thingies” and “internet jigga-ma-whats-its”… but if you’re a ton of fun and enjoy cutting-edge technology and real estate, I hope to see you there.

You can either register for the event with Inman or you can just send me your money and I’ll buy drinks with it while I’m there.

Trulia’s Integrity Called Into Question

Galen from Estately writeson Bloodhound about Trulia’s practice of running listing links through a temporary (302) redirect, which essentially stops Google from following the link and making Trulia the original source of the content (in Google’s eyes), which boosts Trulia’s search engine ranking for the addresses instead of the actual content provider (the listing partner who gave them the listing information to begin with).

Sneaky… but is it really so surprising that Trulia is bullying brokers out of top search positions? Trulia’s model is built around using broker information to position itself above brokers, hence becoming valuable enough that brokers want to use the site instead of relying on their own websites to get business. If a broker or agent is getting enough business branding themselves they will not need to pay these companies for their leads or advertise on them or give them their listings.

So Trulia (and other listing aggregation websites) need to make themselves better then the brokers and agents so those people will need them.

Hmmm, a company taking broker information and using it for it’s own gain, even when it hurts the broker AND even charging those same brokers who want to use that information to get business… but putting the brokers into a position where they are now so reliant on the company that they feel like they have no choice but to continue the relationship…?

Sounds a little familiar…. almost like… an MLS!

Real estate brokers and agents are hurting themselves by using third-party listing aggregation websites (like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, Homegain, Craigslist, Frontdoor, and on and on and freakin’ on) but cannot stop because some are getting leads from them.

I’m not saying that nobody should use these services, but it’s important for agents and brokers to brand themselvesonline and not simply use these companies as their online business strategy. Brokers and agents are the ones with the data, the information, and most importantly, the knowledge, that is fueling these other companies. Make sure you fuel your own success, too.

 

 

RE Bar Camp at Inman Connect

Anyone planning to attend the Inman Connect convention in San Francisco this July should also plan on coming a day early and attending the Re Bar Camp. What is the Bar Camp? No, it’s not a meet-up to discuss your favorite alcoholic drinks (Damn!), but rather;

“RE Bar Camp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees.”

These Inman Connect events, for those who haven’t been, are not only a fantastic way to learn about new technology in real estate and what’s coming up, but they are a fantastic place to meet and socialize with leaders of organizations, innovative companies, and fun people in the real estate industry.

 

 

 

 

Redfin Becoming What They Hate… Traditional

Redfin becoming traditional real estate brokerage

Redfin today announced that they are taking yet another step toward becoming that one thing that they so desperately are trying to position themselves as NOT being… a traditional brokerage.

They began as an online-only brokerage, touting themselves as the first online brokerage and making a lot of noise about their unique value proposition. Buyers found the home they wanted to buy, made the offer on redfin’s website, and got a cut of the commission check.

Then…

Redfin began offering property tours for a fee.

Then…

They began offering more tours.

Now…

They’re offering tours through homes the way traditional agents do, with no set amount of homes or fees (other than they’ll only take you twice per week) and you get less of a cut of the commission.

Redfin becoming traditional

They already ditched their industry-best map and search capability and replaced it with Microsoft’s api, replaced their logo with a worse one, and have given the metaphorical finger to traditional agents every chance they get, shouting how “different” they are, being an online broker. 

Making bad decisions, playing catch-up to others in the industry, spin-selling… sounds like they are more traditional than they think.

Next…

They will probably offer traditional agent services in a menu-driven model, where buyers can choose which level of service they want (full service, some service, no service). Just like everyone else, Redfin is adjusting to the industry, not the other way around. They are learning something I learned quite a while ago (I’m a faster learner), having a kick-ass website only gets you the introduction- you still gotta earn the business. And when people invest $700,000 on anything, they want an expert who knows their stuff and who can give the very best advice and share their knowledge, not just someone to fax your documents and schedule your inspection for you.

There is a difference between information and knowledge. Redfin is learning this, albeit very slowly…

 

Will Zillow Begin Competing with Itself?

glassdoor.png 

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)

Utah Liquor Laws- Oh, My My My…

utah-state-liquor-laws.png 

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…