Why Redfin Will Succeed

Kevin Boer at 3 Oceans Realty poses the question, "If You Were Designing The Real Estate Industry From Scratch, Would It Look More Like Coldwell Banker Or Redfin?"

The consensus so far is that if we started from scratch, the industry would still resemble the 1.3 million contractors that make up the NAR. I made a comment that could be interpreted as harsh against the demographic that Redfin is seeking to court, but I meant what I said- we all know (or are) someone who is glued to a computer and would love to never ever leave. I have a family member (no, not my husband) who is literally addicted to the internet and would never leave his chair if he didn't have to go to the bathroom. Seriously.

Redfin would be great for him because he's scared to death of getting out of the house. He wouldn't care how Web 2.0 the Redfin site is, he would love the idea that he doesn't have to interact with a human. The problem is that before he says "I do" and marries his home, he'll want to personally (ideally without a sales person present) hold its hand and commence to a little heavy petting before committing. This is why video open houses are so important for this tiny demographic. BUT, buyers will never purchase a home sight unseen, because humans inherently rely on tangibility and emotions regarding major purchases regardless of whatever "business model" a Realtor uses. Look, I personally don't like big crowds and sales people make me nervous, but I have to see the house/car/skirt in person before I let a salesperson into my personal business. I understand.

Therefore, I maintain that Redfin is courting the hipster/WoW nerds and I believe (as my husband notes below) that they will survive (and succeed) in their niche because they've quietly found a tiny demo that was not publicly being courted, and the only reason they need a website is for PR, not necessarily sales. RealtorGenius says it better than I can in a comment at 3Oceans:


To Capthca or NOT To Captcha

Many of us (myself included) opt to include the captcha so that the spambots can't infiltrate our beautiful blogs. I'm on Google's Blogger, and I've learned that Blogger sometimes cops an attitude and insults its users... seriously.

Check it out here and consider if you still want to feature captchas on your site...


The Realtor Wives Feed Reader Hits 100!

Well, it had to come sometime- the obstacle is now here... how do I keep this feed reader under 100? As I asked this week, who should be the 100th blog to read every day?

Realtor Wives added Rebekah Herzog out of Kansas who is a budding new blogger. I encourage you all to visit her site, email her encouragement (we all need it when getting started) or suggestions and add her to your feed reader. Congrats on being #100!

Sidenote: I'm using Bloglines and I hate it- any suggestions or reviews of your own readers?

Carnival of Real Estate

Altos Reasearch hosts this week's Carnival of Real Estate.

My thoughts:
(1) sweet- Greg Swann has his own blog category (although Mike had to sidenote that he was half kidding about that),
(2) Altos subcategorized RE blogging in a very concise way (that I liked) and
(3) thank God CoRE takes a dang 4th of July break next week- I really need one!

Definition of a Blog Carnival
List of future CoRE judges
*July 4th week- no CoRE
*July 9th- ValleyMarket.com


Only Room For One More Blog!

Today, I added the 99th blog to my Bloglines feed reader. When I started this whole blog thang (yeah, that's spelled with an "a"), I set several goals. My number three goal was to keep my feed reader under 100 blogs to stay on top of every day.

At the time, that number seemed so huge, but since then Bloglines has sucked up RE blogs like a Hoover. Whew! I now read 99 blogs every day, and I have room for ONE MORE!!!

Who should it be?


Top 10 DIY Mistakes

Yahoo blipped this article across my screen and it embodied many things we frequently tell those clients that are preparing to begin flipping/renovating/fixing their new purchases. Maybe you'll find it helpful also! We will be printing this out for all our agents who aren't RE.net compatible!
Click the links for about each DIY mistake:

1. Not taking out the required permits.
2. Starting a job without the necessary tools and supplies.
3. Inadequate preparation of the job site.
4. Skimping on materials.
5. Using the wrong paint.
6. Improper preparation of walls for painting.
7. Unsafe job conditions.
8. Inaccuracy.
9. Working beyond your limits.
10. Failure to get a clue.


Confessions of a Lifehacker Addict

Thanks a lot, Larry... as if my time wasn't monopolized with Real Estate, blogging, family and a stubborn dog, you got me hooked on the crack that is Lifehacker! If any of you aren't reading, it is a great supplement for bloggers to learn about software apps, office organizing and how to get water out of the cell phone you dropped in the pool.

My favorite articles today:
Google adds Group Chat (great for co-drafting documents)
Top 10 DIY Office Projects
Making a Room Look Bigger (great for staging or in your own home or office)
Cord Management (addressing Realtor Genius' cord crisis)

It's no Feed Bag, but now I'm like Larry, pimpin' and slingin' the addiction that is Lifehacker (see Erin, I like to say pimpin'!)!


A Loud 10 Year Old

Realtor Genius and I have a beautiful, intelligent, newly 10 year old daughter who recently took an interest in blogging. We set her up with an invitation-only Blogger site and she has blogged like a madwoman!

Tonight, she asked if she could blog on our Austin Real Estate Blog, but I told her she'd have to create a draft and have it approved with the brokerage boss (aka Daddy). He didn't sign off on it, rather sent it over to the head of Asset Management (aka me) and I saw a great RealtorWives article. So on an orange piece of paper with a purple marker, she had written the following:

"You should pick my dad he's the Best. Better than everyone."

Best blog of the year if you ask me. I think she's getting the whole Web2.0 RE.net down already! Watch out, y'all- she's just getting started!

Sidenote: photo courtesy of jynmeyer (our daughter is actually cuter...)


Realtor Genius has sniffed out a great new site by TheGreg over at Bloodhound:

Weblogging101 opened today, and to be honest there is just so much information it would take several days to plow through it all, so I’ll let you know my thoughts next week- but here are my general thoughts in advance.

First of all,
bloodhoundblog.com isn’t profiting on this at all. No one is over there giving criticism of your blog to gain your business, it’s the simply how-to we all needed when we started (and I for one, still need) and for this I believe it has heart, merit, and to be honest, you can trust it. Why? Because the only thing your being sold is a better understanding of what in the heck you’re doing!

Although I'd be lying if I didn't know REWeblogging101 was coming, Realtor Genius has published a great evaluation of the new site- THANKS RG!
Learn more about RE Weblogging and how to put the REW101 logo on your site!


World's Best Photographer

I don't often use this blog to promote non-Real Estate material, but I've been meaning to tell you all about Emma Smallbone of BarebonePhoto, the World's Best Photographer. Okay, so I don't think there's a particular award for that, but she is actually well established (and way underpriced if you ask me) and will travel. She has won a number of awards for her ubercreative journalistic style and constantly receives praise. She's based in Canada (but we'll forgive her for that!) but travels to weddings all over the place.

If you, your children, a client or a friend is preparing to walk the plank (aka get married), you have to look at Emma's work. Not only is she incredible, she has a blog!!! I've learned about her doggie (happy 1st Sophie!)...her family and her clients... never before have I been so impressed with any single photographer (uh... sorry to our wedding photographer). Her silly nature is reflected in her work and she never takes herself too seriously! What a dream!!! When our children get married (or we finally have our Catholic wedding), Emma will be well worth the extra few dollars to get her down here to Texas.

Let me know when she becomes your family's wedding photographer- I'll watch her blog for the best pictures of you you'll ever see!

Attention Newbies

I have had several emails lately from new bloggers asking what direction to take (and I'm no specialist, but I'm always happy to share links to any of the 92 blogs on my feed reader)... there are so many great resources out there!

For those of you new to blogging, finding inspiration can be one of the most difficult tasks. No problem, RSS Pieces has the perfect solution- use one of their 225 proposed article ideas written by the supersupersassy Fairy Blogmother. If you haven't stumbled onto this site yet, it is great for new bloggers (or uh, bad ones)...


What In The World Is "Deck"?

Don't know what "deck" is? You're just not hip... I'll clue you in! Liz Barkdale writes my absolute favorite article written thus far in 2007; click here to read on!

Anywhere in Austin south of the Capitol, the "Keep Austin Weird" subculture reigns. I've been debating how to use this article in the blogosphere, but it's too dang funny to not publish. For those of you who have lived in or visited Austin, you'll giggle as you read this article; for those who have not, you surely have some "deck" element in your own city.

Tell us how deck YOUR city is!

photo (from thatotherpaper.com )/
Fred Benenson


Carnival of Real Estate- Sock Puppet's Turn

This week, The Sock Puppet hosts the Carnival of Real Estate aka "CoRE."

If you haven't started participating in the Carnival of Real Estate, it's a great way to find great bloggers to add to your feed reader. And if you don't have a feed reader, you need one!

Athol (aka "Sock Puppet" or "Wooly Opinionator" or "Cotton Goblin") welcomes readers to his home of Bristol, CT, "Connecticut is notable for having next to zero professional sports teams and was thus the Switzerland of Sports for ESPN to set up shop in." Nice.


Notorious B.I.G. Said "Mo Money, Mo Problems"

Notorious B.I.G. said "Mo Money, Mo Problems" and I agree. In the blogosphere, the bigger you get, the more bold you become and it leads to enemies whether you like it or not. Instead of talking dollars, let's talk blogosphere "fame." Greg Swann's got a lot of that "fame" and because of his "mo fame," he's got "mo problems." Greg and I don't always agree, so I am not defending any particular viewpoint today. Rather, I wanted to share with you why Greg and I are friends.

(1) Before I was a BHB contributor, I decided to ask Greg any and all questions regarding blogging even if the questions made me look stupid. He never judged my ignorance, instead he quickly emailed me back an answer.

(2) There has been no restriction on what Greg has been willing to share with me. He's given me access to the PHP code for parts of his site that I wanted to steal, he's given me his Carnival judging algorithm, and he's endlessly given me definitions to dorky blog words that I've had to learn over the past months.

(3) Greg is not inflammatory. His articles and comments are provocative, but he never cusses at anyone, he backs his theories up with his researched facts and is willing to take the heat when his arguments anger people. Currently, Greg has brought up the licensing bar and postulates that we should abolish it. I disagree with this- abolishment is not a solution; I'm waiting on a solution. Regardless, what I like about Greg is that if I email him saying, "hey, I disagree," or "what's the solution to the licensing issue?" he will write an article about such a topic instead of hiding behind an offline conversation.

(4) BHB publishing rules don't exist. As an author, I've never been censored. I've also never used curse words or made ignorant personal attacks. Some people have been censored (and Greg emailed me the censored comments and his reasons for censoring) and I'm okay with that. Ponch (Kris and Steve's troll) and Prime Minister (my troll) pick fights online and if they get out of hand (which they haven't yet), they WILL be censored- that's my right. I disagree that Greg arbitrarily blacklists- like I said, I've seen the conversations. Whether I would make the same choice to censor is not the point.

Greg didn't ask me to (and would probably prefer that I didn't) write my Top Four Reasons I'm Friends With Greg Swann, but sometimes someone with "mo money [and] mo problems" are busy and that's when a friend should step in.

And if Athol asks me why I'm friends with him, I can make that my next article... :)




Today, a temporarily (by request) unnamed site coins a new term- "Redfinned." MTV may have Punk'D, but the Real Estate industry has Redfinned. This word is an adjective used to describe the despair a buyer or seller feels when dealing with a non-responsive-call-center-operator (also known as a Redfin or McDiscount agent) who cannot return or make calls. This word is applicable to the feeling of tearing out hair when the salaried Redfin (or McDiscounter) agent does not feel that they make enough money to acknowledge buyers or sellers, rather they would prefer to read blogs, troll the malls or plaster bandit signs around the city.

The disdain for a lack of customer service was bound to be let out of the bag someday- well, here we are, June 13th, 2007- it's finally "someday."

I encourage you to use this new term (or the logo) on your own site in regard to agents (whether at Redfin or otherwise) that lack service. YOU'VE BEEN REDFINNED!!!

A Buyer Who Never Turned His Car Off

Last week, my husband closed a beautiful new home in a new subdivision. The buyer (we'll call him JR) reads this blog (being a tech-savvy guy and a new friend of ours), so he'll get a kick out of it (hi JR)!

After months that ran into more than a year of searching for a home, JR fell in lust with a giganto home that the seller was only willing to "seller finance." JR didn't have representation so he settled. Although he loved his giant house, he wanted to save some money and with an electric bill equating to multiple car payments, he knew he had to get out of this castle.

Now, JR is working on his MBA with a prestigious program and has a spreadsheet for everything- I mean EVERYTHING! He knew the backend of financing down to the penny. He had a financial plan and needed a new direction to meet his goals. JR the Super Bachelor has two big dogs that he takes everywhere with him. Put the know-it-all and seen-it-all together and you have one tough buyer.

JR and my husband hit it off before physically meeting to shop, so it was no surprise that JR brought his dogs to see the home my husband noted was the best choice for him. We thought the selection process would be lengthy, but JR left his car running (with the dogs inside) as he stepped into the first house and soon said "I'll take it" and contracted within the hour.

Later, when asked why he didn't continue his tedious search, he said that he trusted my husband because of the lengthy phone conversations they'd had- he spoke his Web 2.0 type dorko language, he listened to his shopping desires, and he was intimately familiar with the financing JR wanted. JR said that he knew before seeing it that the house my husband picked would match everything he'd asked for- he never even had to turn his engine off.
The RE industry needs more of this- see if you can sell a home this week for a know-it-all-seen-it-all for a two week closing. Consider it your challenge!


State of the Blog Report- Unhealthy Competition

Several bloggers are observing the problems with RE blogging of late, namely the abuse of the forum. People have been accused of censoring, being inappropriate and vulgar, inflammatory and the like for reasons of ratings (or prospecting or entertaining).

On a recent Realtor Wives article, some bold statements were made. Please read the article and statements here in full if you have not today. I will address my response here:

We are business bloggers. If we weren't, no one would be professing their career choice, and we would be writing about movies, jeans, kitties or concerts. There should be no "taking it personally," "personal attacks" or censoring for a self-indulgent cause (which I can't personally say has occurred or not, nor do I really care). Come on! We are here to promote our individual businesses, the concept of buying and selling real estate, to discuss the market and hopefully teach readers about what we do in hopes that the healthy Web2.0 style conversation draws people in- if not to us, at least to someone knowledgeable.

Lockwood also humorously tried to correct Realtor Wives regarding "Project Bladder" which makes light of the whole competitive issue. I still stand by my satirical look at the issue- people are engaging in personal competitiveness. Kris mentioned that she feels in the middle (and I share that sentiment due to my BHB affiliation)- no one should have to feel that way because of personal problems bloggers have with each other, nor should they be publicly aired in such nasty ways (simply aired anywhere so aggressively, not specifically on Realtor Wives).

The point: get over yourselves! Quit making it personal- this is business blogging, not Project Bladder. A slow news cycle is no excuse for arm wrestling about blogging.


Project Bladder

John Lockwood has been actively commenting on Realtor Wives as of late, namely on the "Know Your Identity" article. If you haven't read it, back up and take a look before continuing... I'll wait... As you read in the comments, Lockwood created this satirical logo (and it's pretty dang good if you ask me) as the "thread's official logo."

To add to this concept, I believe that this "Project Bladder" seal should be used on any article that a blogger writes that is part of the distance competition (see "Know Your Identity" if you haven't yet). When you're calling another blogger out whether indirectly (as I normally do) or directly (as BHB and the Sock Goblin are currently doing), you should feature this logo so everyone knows that you're in it to win it!

Who's in???


Austin Realtor's Wife Around Town

Two reasons to link to blogs I've commented on today:

(1) to hear more of my unsolicited opinion regarding real estate and
(2) to fend off the comment pirate(s)
(3) but mainly to be more creative in showing who's on my feed reader.

I hope others will pick up this idea of linking to sites where they've added to (or screwed up in some cases) the ongoing conversations:

Dalton's Zillow Roast
Chris' New Buds
Rory's Buffett Connection
Berg Barks at Vultures
RG Exposes Dad at the Sorority Party

These are in no particular order, rather listed arbitrarily on this here ol' blog. We're headed out for the weekend, so forgive my lack of comments/articles over the weekend. For those of you who know me (and how verbose I can be), you'll know to call the authorities if I'm not actively commenting by Tuesday...


State of The Blog Report- Know Your Identity

Today, I respond to the following articles:

*Realtor Genius' Web 2. Oh No
*BawldGuy's Adios Blog
*Greg's Line in the Sand
*RSS Pieces' Style Thesis
*Athol's Neener Neener
*Lockwood's Hate/Love Affair

Because I am friends with 4 of the 5 blogs mentioned above, I will speak in generalities...

1.) I am noticing a heating up of pee contests online (so what if I've used this phrase before?!?!). Some of you know that you are agitating the pit bull that is chained up, but listen well- when the chain breaks, you won't be able to run fast enough and I predict you'll lose parts of your pants. Sure, your friends think it's funny because they don't like the pit bull and your making funny faces at it is entertaining, or they do like the pit bull and they are just bored. However, the pissing contest is one that has an eventual winner (and loser) and I for one squat, so I won't get into the urine launching arena. Just remember though, someone has to lose. I just hope that everyone calms down- we're blogging for business, not for fun. If you want a fun blog about pants and music, get off of the RE airwaves.

2.) I have also noticed a great deal of Web 2.0 observations going on and I am loving it! Lockwood does a great job of bringing this topic up, and Realtor Genius tears it a new hole (yeah, that hole). While they talk about the merit (or lack thereof) of the Web 2.0 movement, I have to pause to affirm that it is a means to connect with your clients by being more natural and by being yourself which is a great benefit to those with relatable personalities. The problem that Realtor Genius notes is that many bloggers put on a sideways hat and say "whattup dawg" to attempt to relate rather than being themselves (which he asserts is the point of Web 2.0).

3.) Jeff Brown and I had an off-line conversation about RSS Pieces' article regarding style and he made the distinct note that style and voice are not the same thing. He and I have voices that are recognizable even if we don't put our names on our articles or comments- it's inescapable. My style, however, changes with each article. My style can be the Troublemaker (see Point 1), and I can be authoritative, but my voice is usually silly and I don't take myself too seriously. I AM a 20-something non-Realtor, and I write as such. I never pretend to have a voice/style that is one of a Realtor with 20 years worth of experience (like Jeff). To complete my stream of consciousness point on the RSSPieces article, your style is not your voice (as the piece asserts) and the two should not be confused. I may have a silly style in one article and a condemning style in another, but my voice is constant because of who I am- you are always able to point me out in the blogosphere (even if I play the anonymous card).

I am the first to stand up for myself and others, but I think we should all get back to what we were doing- blogging about real estate (usually for the consumer). Some of you can pee further than me (and others can't), but who cares? I don't blog to clients- my niche is more for Realtors (and the occasional spouse), so I remind those who ARE blogging to clients to relax and get your eyes back on the ball. Please. I mean, now. :)


CSI Factor: Episode 2

Once upon a time, I vowed to write about my various customer service experiences under the guise of the "CSI Factor" and relate them to the Real Estate industry. We frequently migrate to my husband's homeland (Oklahoma; boomer!) to see family. This weekend, we are in Oklahoma and I've had two experiences with Marriott:

Experience One:
I called some time back to make a reservation at Marriott because the website wasn't working properly. I am typically anti-phone (much to my husband's irritation) and prefer to do things in person unless it's a hotel or car which I'll do online. During this call, the very friendly older male operator was answering all of my questions thoroughly and found a great deal on a suite for us. He reiterated all of the preferences I had described to him and gave me my confirmation number three times. I was already in a hurry (just my personality) and was fine with this thoroughness because I was multi-tasking and missed half of what he said (but I caught the witty remark about the spelling of my name).

I did become annoyed when he moved from natural booking conversation to scripted offers- "will you be flying or driving?" and then "would you like me to suggest an airline or connect you with our preferred airline?" NO. "Would you like to know about entertainment in the area you will be staying?" NO THANKS. "Lastly, would you like to be a Marriott member." NO THANKS. "You can earn great savings and if you use the card X amount of times you can earn free nights." NO THANKS. "You can start with this weekend's stay and go from there, how does that sound?" NO THANKS. "Okay then, your confirmation number again is..." I finally had to step out of my friendly zone and say "you've been very helpful, thank you and goodbye" CLICK.

This call was great until he became unnatural in his tone. The Marriott chain obviously has him offer me a series of pop up ads which frankly pisses me off. I can disable them on my computer without being rude- please pick up on my tone of voice and figure out that I'm tired of being on the phone- let me go!

Experience Two:
I anticipated a call to the hotel to be one of an extremely professional tone as my first call, but when I called the day before check-in to see what time check-in was and to request an earlier check-in, the younger man said "we're all booked." Uh... no crap? I have a reservation- again, here's my confirmation number, can I get an early check-in please? "We're all booked."

Sometimes I want to reach through the phone and thump someone in the head!!! He was extremely rude and irritated that I would dream of asking for an early check-in when they are booked. After his third "we're all booked" and my "I understand that but can you at least tell me what time check-in is so I can see if it will work for me?" I finally lost it. "I hear you telling me you are booked and you are not telling me what time I can check in. Your booking situation is not my problem, nor is your attitude. Transfer me to a manager or simply tell me what time I can check in." "Oh, check-in is at 3:00, call tomorrow morning for availability on new rooms."

How hard was that? My second experience was drastically different, yet the two people I spoke with work for the same company at the same location!


So, how does this all relate to the Real Estate industry? If I had based the entire hotel chain on either one of these phone experiences, I would be blogging about how much Marriott sucks, but I am realistic and know that I just had bad luck on the phone. Maybe the first person was new and knew he was being recorded and maybe the second person had a lobby full of people waiting angrily to check in while his manager yelled at him from the back office. I'm forgiving despite my irritability and sensitivities.

The truth is, Realtors must mind that not ALL clients are as forgiving as I tend to be- EVERY call, EVERY email, EVERY meeting should be as if you are representing an entire industry, because the sad truth is that Realtors do have to represent an industry under fire with every point of contact they make. Be mindful and follow the golden rule- don't oversell and don't EVER, under ANY circumstance act annoyed that someone is asking you to do your job.