Jillayne Schlicke Made Inman’s 100 Most Influential List!


A huge congratulations to our very own Jillayne Schlicke on making this year’s list of the 100 Most influential Real Estate Leaders!

Here’s how they describe her:

Jillayne Schlicke is a researcher, writer and educator who advocates that real estate and mortgage industry professionals maintain a high level of training and ethical standards. As CEO of CE Forward Inc., Schlicke teaches continuing education courses and conducts convention workshops and keynote presentations for the real estate and mortgage industries. She’s also the founder and executive director for The National Association of Mortgage Fiduciaries, which seeks to help the industry prepare for the emergence of fiduciary duties by raising ethical standards, creating a framework for industry …

Twitter on a Real Estate Blog?

Over the slow Christmas weekend, we added a new feature to RCG and it generated so many interesting conversations on Twitter, that I thought I’d bring the conversation to a blog post.

The new feature is the Twitter widget on the sidebar. Here’s a snapshot:

Picture 5

The current implementation shows all the tweets from this Twitter list: @tyr/rain-city-guide, which takes all “original” tweets from current contributors plus “replies” to others on the list.

The type of feedback I *though* I would get from the other contributors was: “awesome! More Seattle people reading my tweets!” but instead, the reactions were somewhat more tame… with initial reactions being along the lines of Ardell’s reaction: “I have lots of fun on twitter and say things inappropriate for RCG.”

However, the contributors were kind to me and seem more than willing to play this out a bit, but now it’s time for feedback from the rest of the community… Here are some of the options I see for including Twitter on RCG going forward:

1. “Do Nothing” option. i.e. keep “as is”

2. Show all replies from contributors. If I add each author individually to the backend of the plugin (instead of use a Twitter list), it should include all their replies so the feed would include more people and not look like “RCG contributors talking to each other.” (However, if you check out my twitter feed, you’ll see that I talk with people from all over the country, so it will add a lot more noise to the list. Ditto for Ardell)

3. Remove the Twitter feed from RCG. (Kevin Tomlinson voted for this option when he said: “@ARDELLd mixing mediums ain’t the way to go. imo

4. Include larger Seattle community. I could use a much more general list (i.e. more than just RCG contributors).  I’ve created a bunch of “Seattle” lists associated with the Rain City Guide Twitter account. We could modify one of these lists and include the updates from anyone on one of these lists, the benefit being the feed wouldn’t just show RCG contributors talking to each other, but the negative being there’s likely to be a lot more “noise” in the updates as more people are contributing to the feed.   As someone in the RCG community (yes, that’s you if you’re reading this!), would you be interested in being on the list???

Do you have a better option?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the best way to bring Twitter into a real estate blog!

Join us this Friday for a Tweetup at Elysian Brewery

Elysian BreweryI’m going to be in town this week and thought it would be fun to organize a tweetup this Friday at the Elysian Brewery in Capitol Hill… and you’re invited!

More than likely, there will be more than a few real estate folks, but everyone is invited to join us.  Here are the details:

  • Date: Friday, October 23, 2009
  • Time: 4:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Location: Elysian Brewery
  • Street: 1221 E Pike St.

And while there’s no need to RSVP, I would love to know if you’re planning to show up!   You can either leave a comment, or use the tweetup and/or Facebook invites to let us know you’ll be there as well as invite others:

The RCG meetups of the past have not only been a blast, but I’ve always ended up meeting great people.  In particular,  I’m thinking of the Ballard one where a huge number of people who became contributors showed up, and the last-minute event we put together with Sami Inkman of Trulia when he dared show up in Seattle (Trulia definitely didn’t have many supporters among agents back then!).   There was also the meetup last January, which I totally missed out on.  (Don’t let that be you this time!)  🙂

I’m sure we’re going to have a fun evening and hope to see you there!

Zillow and the SeattlePI Partner-up for Property Searches

Zillow and SeattlePI business partnership

As is being widely announced in the news this morning, Zillow.com and the SeattlePI.com websites have partnered to offer co-branded website property searches. Ironically as of 8am you can find this story on Reuters, Inman News, and of course Twitter and Facebook. But Ironically it is still missing from the Homepage of SeattlePI.com.

The website will also offer Zillow’s other features such as home values, “just sold” data, local market data, etc.  As well as their custom real estate community content via Zillow Advice and mortgage rates from their Mortgage Marketplace function.

This raises some interesting issues for other companies, organizations, brokerages, and agents who  have property search functionality built into their blogs and websites in order to drive traffic to their sites, and ultimately derive business from it. Rain City Guide is a great example of a website that has recently added property search functionality through M Realty in hopes of garnering more viewers, and potentially a revenue stream as well. Many agents, including myself, have spent years developing websites that we use to attract potential buyers and sellers. Is Zillow now officially our competition?

Strategically this makes a lot of sense for both companies as the SeattlePI is struggling to re-create it’s business model after shutting down it’s printed newspaper version in March. And Zillow has recently been monetizing their searches through selling advertising to agent’s by zip codes.

I wonder what RCG’s readers and contributers think of this turn of events. It’s definately a “game changer”. The question is, what’s the new game going be like, and who’s going to get to play?

Retweeting RCG just got easier

backtweetsI was at an tweetup last night with some great guys who run social media strategies for some pretty hefty newspapers and one of the tools they recommended I look into was BackTweets WP plugin

I like to think of myself as ahead of the social media curve, but I hadn’t played around with the BackTweets much, but after just a few hours of use, I can tell I’m definitely going to be able to enjoy how easy it makes following twitter conversations around websites… and in the case of RCG, around RCG posts.

To try it out the new tool, you only need to click on the button that says “retweet” that’s at the top-left of every RCG blog post (just under the title!).

An Introduction to M Realty and HomeQuest

Hey Folks,

Just want to write this post and introduce ourselves to you – the Rain City Guide community. M Realty is an up and coming brokerage with strong roots in Portland Oregon. The brokerage was created by Garron Selliken on the back of our real estate software: HomeQuest. HomeQuest has been around for over 5 years, serving 6 MLS’s including Seattle -NWMLS.  The property search on this site is a new version of the HomeQuest search which will evolve over the coming weeks.  HomeQuest is spearheaded by Chris Lynch, a name familiar to most HomeQuest users in Seattle. We have been active members of our technology community here in Portland for several years, attending and sponsoring local events as well as hosting our own.

Hopefully we can become involved and get to meet all of you at upcoming seattle events like REbarCamp, Wordcamp and beyond. Our team is made up of the following people:

Garron Selliken, Founder – @garrons
Chris Lynch, Co Founder, Ops manager – @chrisinptown
Haley Baroody, Project Manager – @baroody
Simon, Site Manager / SEO – @simonHQ
Tyler, HQ Support – @whitesidet
Toby, Development Team Leader.
And a host of other contributors.

Feel free to add us on twitter or facebook, We’d love to get to know you more!

Some of the things you may have noticed on the new look RCG:  Obviously the biggest change was the addition of an IDX Property search. Although most of you wont ever use this aspect of the site, both Dustin and Garron believed it to be an important feature to have as over 60% of the visitors to the site are actually consumers, we also thought it best to separate “Industry talk” from the information consumers are searching for. We achieved this with the new top level category system, allowing easier navigation for all types of visitors without any dramatic changes to sites overall feel.

We also tried to add some new functionality to make it easier to see where the hot conversations are happening, with the introduction of a comment count per post, displayed under the post titles.

We are a long, long way from finished with the new rain city guide. What makes this site an incredible resource is the immense feedback and interaction among all the contributors  and we hope that never changes! Give us the good, the bad or the just plain ugly, we want to know exactly how we can improve this site for everyone who uses it.  We really appreciate the comments and feedback so far and hope you are as excited as we are to be working on making Rain City Guide the ultimate Seattle web resource for everything related to real estate and the local community.



Here are a few of the other sites we are currently working on:

portlandoctopus.com – a site about the things we do in our local neighborhoods in portland
mportlandhomes.com – corporate site for M Realty
homequestgroup.com (and realestate-idx.com)  – sites about the software we make

RCG: Now with Seattle listing goodness

It may be late in the night as I start to write this post, but I’m so excited because I just flipped the switch on some pretty big changes to Rain City Guide.  They include both a complete redesign as well as one of the coolest features I’ve ever added to RCG:  A very, slick home search tool!

You know when you meet up with someone and you almost instantly bond with them… Well, a few months ago, I had one of those bonding experiences when I met with a broker out of Portland named Garron Selliken who gave me a demo of the custom home search tool he had built.  Our conversations reminded me of the good ‘ol days when real estate search wasn’t nearly as stale and was actually pushing boundaries. Not surprisingly, we immediately started hatching a plan for launching his home search tool on RCG!

Hatching a plan to launch something interesting on RCG happens all the time, so I wasn’t too surprised. However, I became a bit concerned a few days later when I realized that Garron was serious and this idea had legs.  And just a few weeks later, the new site has been launched!

It just so happens that Garron and I are meeting up this week in San Francisco (for only the 2nd time in person) and I’m positive I’m going to take some time aside with him to talk about why we’re so excited about the changes to RCG! As a broker and software developer, Garron really does rock. He has an awesome team and we have some interesting ideas for improving the site over the next few weeks and months.

But for now, it’s way too late for me to continue writing, so I’ll end the post by asking you to play with the revised site, kick the tires on the home search tool and let us know what you think.   If you see anything that looks broken or just not working like you want it to, don’t hesitate to let us know!

Gone Facebooking… Be back soon

seahawk fansEarlier today, I launched the latest integration between Facebook and RCG… If you check out the right sidepanel, you’ll see that you can now become a fan of RCG directly from this site thanks a new tool released by Facebook called the Fan Box.

Since I launched the RCG fan page a few weeks ago, I’ve been experimenting will all kinds of content. Some RCG articles, some news articles, some community blog posts, some event related posts… and it’s been really interesting to see which ones resonate with people enough to get them to engage. Just some of the articles I’ve highlighted on our fan page include:

What I really like about the RCG FB Page is that it lets me publish quick links that I think will be interesting to the RCG community without the need to take up a post.

If you’re interested in taking part in this extension of RCG, all you need to do is “become a fan” using the box to the right!

And if you have a story you want to see us cover, I just created a page that will let you use a nifty Facebook Updater widget to share links and/or stories with us. This is definitely not the permanent solution, but as a test of the technology, it should do the trick!

Happy Facebooking!

[CC photo courtesy of Lopolis]

Top 3 Reason to Love Facebook Pages

We already know the folks at RCG love twitter, and while I like twitter, the marketer in me has completely fallen for Facebook Pages (note: these are a very different beast than Facebook profiles)… and if you’re running a small business, there are many reasons you should be interested in FB Pages too.

The three main reasons I’m been putting a ton of energy into building out Facebook Pages for my clients lately are:

  • Traffic: at this point traffic from social media feeds (like twitter’s stream and Facebook’s newsfeeds) are generating more traffic than RSS feeds for almost every website I run.
  • Engagement: For new sites, it’s becoming harder-and-harder to build a “community” on your own site without tapping into the communities where they already exist (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Reach. Unlike Twitter, Facebook Pages allow you to get into the highlights and recommendation sections of fans… allowing you to reach the often elusive “friends of fans.”   For most small businesses, the friends of your fans are a ridiculously relevant audience and even more relevant than traditional SEO traffic.

rain city guide on facebook

By the way, I was inspired to create this post because I JUST created a Facebook Page for Rain City Guide and of course, I’m hoping you’ll join up and become a fan.

Similar to the Rain City Guide blog, I’m going to be using the page to engage with folks about Seattle real estate.   It’s not that we “need” another place for a conversation, but rather an experiment to see what it will look like when we take the typical RCG conversation to the Facebook audience.

Of  course, many of the stories on the Page will be about RCG articles, but truth be told, I’ll be looking to link out to any real estate articles I think will interest people interested in Seattle real estate.  So, if Facebook is the place you’d like to engage, join the conversation by becoming a fan of RCG!

And if you’re interested in a seeing a more developed implementation of Facebook Pages, check out the business page I created around my social media consulting and speaking.  In just a few months, it’s grown to over 1200 folks who are consistently engaging in ideas around using social media to generate business.

Thoughts on a new theme for RCG?

4realz screenshotI’ve wanted to update the Rain City Guide theme for a while now, and took some time this week to play around with some different ideas.  I *think*I’ve come up with something that will work well for me, but wanted to run it by the RCG community for feedback first…  If you head over to 4realz.net, you can see the theme (in action) that I’m thinking of launching here.

Here’s what I like about this theme:

  • Magazine-style so more articles are featured “above-the-fold” . This “teaser” style of posts is a bit controversial, and I won’t really know if it’s better until after I have some data with RCG-level traffic. My hope is that the bounce-rate for people that land on the homepage will go down.
  • The pages and categories are featured just below the header which, for a site like RCG, will help show off the breadth of content.
  • I noticed that the existing RCG theme played funny with a couple of new features of WordPress (in ways I didn’t like), and this one plays much better. Just one example is that when I linked out to RCG with a Facebook status update the existing theme is doing something funny so that the title and photos are not being pulled… That problem is solved with this new theme.
  • Threaded comments@ARDELLd and I have been having an interesting conversation about this on twitter, but my opinion is that the threaded conversations will actually help improve the flow of the conversation. It will be interesting to see and would love your feedback on this feature.
  • By pushing the “pages” to the header, I’ll free up some space for bringing recent comments in a more prominent place (I’ll probably put them where the “connect” widget currently exists).
  • And finally, my wife, Anna, says the theme is easier on the eyes (and I trust her “design” sense over mine any day!). When/if I launch this theme on RCG, I’m going to use “RCG” colors instead of “4realz” colors (i.e. maroon instead of blue) and “Seattle” photos instead of “Dustin” photos, but the idea is that the new theme will be very similar

Here’s a screenshot with the colors/graphics I’m thinking I’ll use when (if?) I launch it on RCG:


One of the main things I’ll be looking at with the new theme is if our bounce rate for people who arrive on the homepage for the first time drops… I don’t know if a magazine-style theme is the solution to our high bounce rate, but the easiest way to find out if to actually launch it on the site.

By the way, the theme I’m using is a slightly modified version of the theme by c.bavota called Magazine Basic. The only changes I made were to:

  • Add some color and graphics (like the 4realz/Raindrop logo in the header)
  • Add an “author” box below each post (much more important for RCG than 4realz!)
  • Add some code so that the “comment preview” shows up with a box around it…

As you can see, really minor stuff… and that’s only because the theme rocks the boat right out of the box!

As always, I’d love your feedback!