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!!!

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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…

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.

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.

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.

 

 

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…