I first met Michael in person back at the Real Estate Connect conference in SF last summer and was immediately impressed.
[photopress:mike.jpg,thumb,alignright]The Altos Research blog has been rolling full-steam ahead with really solid analytical posts about changes in neighborhood value up and down the West Coast. At the same time, I could tell that his business running Altos Research must have been taking off because his widgets that track market value by neighborhoods were showing up all over the real estate blogosphere.
Needless to say, Michael’s posts just keep getting better and I’m extremely excited he agreed to this interview…
What inspired you to start blogging?
In mid-2005, the Altos Research platform was really kicking in for the first time. My co-founder, Jason, and I loved seeing the output of the analysis – geeking out on the data. The blog seemed like the best channel to start letting people know what we had. So in October 2005 we started. The process of blogging, it turns out, is crucial for me to actually figure out what we had and how people like to consume it.
[photopress:altos_logo.jpg,full,alignright]Are there any special topics or issues that you enjoy covering?
Altos Research is all about analyzing real estate markets in real time. I think our blog is at it’s best when we identify and publish market information that no one else has.
What have you done to personalize your blog?
Despite the fact that our blog is first and foremost a marketing channel to interact with our customers, the content is intensely personal.
There’s a fascinating disconnect between traditional corporate marketing and sales processes. Corporate marketing (or real estate marketing for that matter) is planned, structured, and homogeneous (read: stiff and impersonal). But everyone knows the adage that people buy from people they like. Sales is about personality. The blog is really the first time a marketing channel leverages personality. Many of my customers know me before they ever speak with me.
Do you have any favorite posts?
A couple months ago I did a quick post on our stats tracking flipped properties in a market (quick remodel and back on the market for more money.) I cited San Jose. The post got picked up in TheStreet.com and some other heavy-traffic investment sites. We had huge (huge for us) traffic spikes.
What are some of your favorite blogs (real estate or otherwise)?
I read Paul Kedrosky’s Infectious Greed every day. I’m an unabashed Silicon Valley-phile. I love the ethos and dynamics of the technology startup/venture capital culture and Paul is like mainlining for that addiction.
What tools/websites do you find most helpful in putting together your blog?
I’m a huge fan of HitTail. More than any other analytics tools I’ve found, HitTail provides a clean, clear presentation of how people find you and guides thinking about what people want you to write about.
How does blogging fit into the overall marketing of your business?
Blogging, believe it or not, is nearly 100% of our marketing to date. Our sales come either from our passionate clients recommending our services to their friends or from people who read the blog. We’ll augment our marketing with other techniques as we grow, but it’s hard to imagine any single approach more effective.
What plans do you have to improve your blog over this next year?
The biggest key for me is to post more. I tend to be a long-form poster: I try to find a topic, formulate a thesis for a post, construct the argument, get supporting images and links, edit, edit, edit. That process takes me several hours, when I’m thorough. I need to sleep less or something.
What is the one tool or feature that you wish your site had?
I wish the damn system of trackbacks or Technorati or something worked reliably. The effectiveness of these types of features is just plain random.
What do you think real estate blogging will look like 3 years from now?
We’re still really, really early in real estate blogging. Real estate is a relationship business. You know how to build relationships off line. But the Internet is where 70% of people start the home search. The blog is the premier mechanism for building relationships over the Internet.
The good news is that the real estate blogosphere will never be overcrowded. It is self regulating. Many Realtors will never start because the evidence of lousy performance sticks around for ever. If you are a lousy networker off line, that’s ephemeral, no one ever knows. The fear of failure will keep this space open to those who are dedicated and enthusiastic. Rock on.
Thanks again to Michael for your insight!
Want more interviews? Try one of these on for size: