It’s September 17, 2009 and I still originate mortgage loans…

For those of us to whom this statement applies there are a few obvious questions that immediately come to mind:  Why am I still working in this God-forsaken wasteland of an industry?

  • A) Nobody else is hiring in this booming economy,
  • B) I wanted to move to Nome Alaska but I couldn’t trade my upside down mortgage for a thatched roof yurt and a dog sled, or
  • C) The positive image of my career as portrayed by CNN makes me feel like a rock star.

Seriously, for the love of God Why!?

2009wampconnectIn all seriousness those of us that remain are not that different than survivors of a natural disaster. The clouds dissipate; the water level recedes and her we are – the survivors of the storm.  Not unlike the analogy the first thing that a ‘survivor’ must do is identify the resources that one needs to rebuild and restore one’s life. It is with this in mind that I invite you to WAMP’s Connect event coming up in Bellevue on October 5th and 6th

The Connect event offers each of us the opportunity to come together and meet all of the other survivors face to face. We’ll be able to reflect on what ‘once was’ and still more importantly the ‘what is’. As is the case in any disaster, the landscape we live in professionally is dramatically different than where we’ve been. The resources are certainly more limited – remember the days of quoting ‘hundreds of lenders and programs’? Now it’s more like ‘five lenders and programs’ – and we’re all using the same five!

Fewer programs and tougher guidelines are the realities of the aftershock and yet another reason to learn what others are doing to be more efficient and succeed in this new landscape. The Connect Event also offers the knowledge of how to seed your landscape for tomorrow. New technologies and lead sources like the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, social network marketing (can you tweet for dough?), and the brace of brave new lenders that have sprung up alongside the resilient and steady familiar faces; they’ll all be represented at the Connect Event. The Connect Event will be nothing short of a meeting of survivors learning how to forge their professional landscapes for tomorrow – so don’t miss out!

There are very few lifeboats in this economy. There have been far more casualties than survivors. Come and be counted among the living. Come to Connect and learn how to forge a better tomorrow for yourself and for the industry you work in. Face it – If we don’t see you at Connect we’re going to suspect that you traded the house for the dog sled and the yurt – Don’t be ‘gone missing’

Why Connect with Facebook?

connect-with-fbIf you’re been to RCG recently, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that I added Facebook Connect to the sidepanel.   I really want to invite you all to use this feature, so I thought I’d let you know why I added it:

  1. I’m a Facebook addict, love the service, and enjoy connecting with others.  I’m thinking there’s at least a few other RCG community members who would enjoy connecting via the service
  2. I’ve been looking for a way to give a “carrot” to folks who properly identify themselves when they leave comments. I don’t want to “punish” anonymous commenters, I just want to give a bonus to those who aren’t anonymous.

The carrot we’re now offering is two-fold:

  1. Your comment will bypass almost all of the moderation filters that occasionally slow down a comment from showing up immediately on the site.
  2. Your profile link will be of the “dofollow” variety.

For most of the folks in the RCG community, I’m positive you’re here because you love the conversation and could care less about the positive link luv RCG can give you.   Nonetheless, if you’re willing to identify yourself with your “real” identity, then these two things are just two small carrots we’re now offering…

So, please consider taking advantage by clicking on the “Connect with Facebook” button to the right and follow the simple instructions.  As a bonus, after you “connect”, you’ll be able to update your profile on RCG with a few additional fields that will make it easier than ever to connect with others from the RCG community.

And finally, I launched FB Connect on the site despite the fact that I’m not 100% happy with it yet. Here are some problems I’ve found and/or things I’m working on:

  1. FB Connect plays funny (or doesn’t play at all!) with early versions of Internet Explorer, (especially IE 6.0 and below).  This might sound harsh, but my solution is to beg for you to get and use Firefox (or even Chrome),  but if you’re not willing to do that, at least get the latest version of IE
  2. The feature that let’s you “add your comment to your Facebook feed” was giving some folks some problems, so I disabled it.  I really like the idea of this feature, so I’ll work on troubleshooting exactly what was causing problems, although I think it had something to do with old versions of IE (see previous comment!).
  3. I really want the avatar that shows up next to users to default to the “gravatar” instead of the FB avatar.  My thought here is that many folks have a “fun” avatar on Facebook, but might prefer to have a more consistent avatar on a business site like RCG.  I spent some time trying to get this work and while I made some progress, it’s still not working well enough for me to feel comfortable launching… but hopefully soon.

I have a feeling there’s going to be lots more to come in terms of taking advantage of Facebook tools within RCG in the future. Hopefully, you’ll play along and if there is something that doesn’t appear to be working right or a feature you’d like to see, please let me know!

Who Should Get Out Of The Real Estate Business?

Dustin, Jillayne, Rhonda, Galen and I were all in San Francisco for a few days for The Inman Connect Conference.  One of the most profound and spot on statements I heard at the Conference was “If you do not have a listing, right now, in THIS market (top-heavy with inventory)…turn in your license!”. Sorry I can’t remember who said it.  In fact I think it was a woman in the audience and not on one of the panels.  But how TRUE is THAT!  With inventory at all time highs, can you say you are a real estate agent if you have NO listings?! I thought that was a punch in the glass jaw to some of the agents milling around the conference.

The highlight of my trip was when Pete Flint of Trulia came over to me at the Better Homes and Gardens Soiree and handed me his card.  He recognized me from Trulia Voices 🙂  I gained a huge respect for him given our conversation.  We were talking about Trulia Voices vs. Zillow Q & A, and I was impressed with his sincere level of interest in opinions on the subject. Trulia had the best party, BTW.  A funny in the Trulia Voices link up there.  One of the agents immediately gave my response a “thumbs down”, while at the same time the person who asked the question voted it as Best Answer.  Oh well, you can’t please everyone.

I still feel guilty about keeping Marc Davison of 1000 Watt Blog up so late that he missed his Panel Moderation the next morning.  Brian Boero filled in for him. Officially the reason for his missing the panel was related to his recuperation of severed finger.  But I can’t help but feel that had I let him get a little more sleep the night before, he might have made it.  Yet, I can’t say I’m sorry for detaining him for so long…I just didn’t want to let him go.  He’s an amazing person.

I’m hoping Inman or Sellsius will post a video of the panel I was on, moderated by Joe Ferrara.  I was a little nervous about being on a panel with THREE attorneys!  Russ Cofano, Joe Ferrara the moderator and the woman from NAR. I was told afterward that something I said was Twittered into cyberspace instantaneously. Not sure what it was…I wasn’t Twittering on my iPhone while speaking on the panel. I got visibly annoyed with Todd Carpenter during the discussion (sorry Todd). The Panel was on “How Not To Get Sued” as a blogger.  Todd was basically saying to be nice and avoid controversial topics.  But Russ and I had a really nice conversation and rapport on stage. (No Tim, no Punch and Judy show.)

I was the only one in the room that clapped for Frank Llosa on “The Future of the MLS” panel when he spoke of the button next to the Listing Agent info that explains why, as a buyer, you might not want to call the Listing Agent. Here’s a quote from Frank’s website that will give you an idea of why I like him ”

“TRUST ME, I’M A REALTOR” Yeah Right! When was the last time a REALTOR talked you OUT of buying a house or condo?…”

The big “visual event” of the trade show was a new Franchise called “BUG Realty”. “At Bug!…We are the “no hype,

Inman’s Innovation Awards!

Congrats goes out to all the contributors on Rain City Guide! We were nominated as a finalist for the “Most Innovative Blog Award” by Inman News. In my world, contributors are not only the people with their photo up on the sidepanel, but also those of you who return to give your comments on a regular basis. This site thrives off of your continued involvement!

The winners in each category will be announced in SF at the Inman Connect Conference. I’m definitely going to be there (I’m speaking on a panel on lead conversion)… Additionally, I would really enjoy organizing a meet-up of bloggers one evening. If you’re interested in joining us, then leave a comment below and I’ll send details as things get closer!

[photopress:Luther_engineering.jpg,thumb,alignright]In the meantime, I’m not proud to say that I didn’t know many of the non-blog nominations so I spent some time this evening on google researching the other companies nominated. Here are some notes (or at least links) I took while scanning the other nominees.

Most Innovative Brokerage

I wish Inman provided some more context so that I could know why they picked these particular real estate brokers. If anyone can let me know what sets these firms apart, please share!

Most Innovative Web Service

[photopress:Luther_engineering_2.jpg,thumb,alignright]Most Innovative New Business Model

Most Innovative Real Estate Blog

Most Innovative Real Estate Data Site

[photopress:Luther_engineering_3.jpg,thumb,alignright]Most Innovative Technology

Most Innovative Mortgage Company or Service

Most Innovative Media Site

Most Innovative Rental/ New Home Online Service