1st Day @ SF Connect

I spent a great day yesterday wanting presentations from people with Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Zillow, RE/MAX, etc, that are so darn relevant. Very interesting stuff!

A huge congrats goes out to Noah at UrbanDigs for winning Bradโ€™s Most Innovative Blog Award. He does a great job covering the NYC market and agents can learn a ton about how to use the internet to market themselves online by following his example!

We also had a wonderful dinner/bar run last night. Some of the people that showed up included Niki of HomeThinking, Mike of Aptos Research, Robbie of Rain City Guide (I get to say that because he came as โ€œpress

Most Innovative Blog Nomination Dinner

[photopress:Innovator_finalist.jpg,full,alignright]Inman’s Most Innovator Awards will be announced at a the SF Connect conference on Wednesday (7/26) between 5PM and 6PM… I’ve had more than a few requests to have dinner/lunch over the two days I’ll be at Inman, so what I’d like to do is organize a dinner at one of my favorite restaurant in SF, House of Nanking, with anyone and everyone being invited. It is not a fancy place (and their service is definitely nothing to write a blog entry about), but the food is soooo good.

For those not familiar with San Francisco, House of Nanking is a long walk (or a short taxi ride!) from the Palace Hotel. It is on the border of Chinatown and North Beach (the Italian district) in a micro-neighborhood I’ll always associate with the Beat Generation. There’s Vesuvio, Caffe Trieste (warning: music!), and, of course, City Lights Bookstore, all of which are still operating and will always thrive within the writings of Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and many others from the Beat Generation.

To summarize, if you’re reading this blog post, then you’ve been invited to join a group of us as we descend on North Beach on Wednesday evening (I plan to be at House of Nanking around 7:30 or so). Also, I’m covering the first round at Vesuvio’s for any and all real estate bloggers who were nominated by Inman! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

Unintended Consequences

According to an article in Advertising Age, a NY-based Ad Agency is suing a blogger for copyright infringement, defamation and trade libel and injurious falsehood. Appears that the blogger, Lance Dutson, made negative remarks about the agency on his blog that revolved around the agency’s work for the Maine Office of Toursim. The agency apparently tried to get Mr. Dutson to remove the remarks and apologize. He said no. They sued. Repeat after me, “Never, never, underestimate the power of the blog for unintended consequences.”


Unforunately for the agency, the blogosphere flew to Mr. Dutson’s plight like bees to honey. According to Mr. Dutson’s latest post on his site, more than 200 blogs are now referencing him compared to just 2 before the suit. Seems that the negative PR to the agency from the cumulative effects of bloggers may have surpassed the harm they suffered from Mr. Dutson’s original comments. At the very least, there are a lot of eyes reading this story that would never have seen the original comments on Mr. Dutson’s blog.

This is another example of how blogging can alter the historical power dynamics of business. I don’t know anything about the financial strength of either Mr. Dutson nor the ad agency but if I was a wagering man (which I am), I would guess that the agency has the resources to use the legal system to make Mr. Dutson spend a lot of money on his defense. This is a common practice in the legal profession and explains why many small firms back away from challenging the entrenched larger firms even when the small fish have good cases. Bottom line is that it takes a LOT of money to litigate a dispute and power goes to those that can afford it. Justice is blind but it ain’t cheap.

While Mr. Dutson will certainly spend some money on attorney fees, it cost him NOTHING to have positive PR spread across the Web. In the old days (like a couple years ago), litigating a case in the press would require the press to actually want you to win. In the blogosphere, Mr. Dutson does not need to worry about the political will or economics of the traditional press to get “web time.” And there is NOTHING that the agency can do about this. The cannot enjoin the collective blogosphere from commenting on this case and opining on its merits or what they think about the agency themselves.

In the end, this is just one example of how blogging can play a part in leveling the business playing field.

How does this impact the real estate industry? Many of us who are (as we like to think) “in the know” debate about the future of real estate, about the new oohs and ahhs in real estate technology and the tidal wave of change that is looming. But the average joe or jane knows nothing about this stuff – yet. They buy and sell homes each and every day just like they did for the last 20 years. As blogs proliferate, so too will communication about the new and the old, and the good and the bad, in real estate. Average joes and janes will spread their opinions about new companies and new offerings and just like the ad agency, there will be an impact on how business is done.

Visionary brokers will figure this out and harness the immense power of social networking. Others, like the ad agency, will operate at its mercy.


OK Rain City Guide Contributors! It’s time to PUMP UP THE VOLUME! IT’S “SWEEP’S WEEK”!

[photopress:puv_1.jpg,thumb,alignright] Actually it’s “Sweeps MONTH!” Everyone start posting away to show those Inman judges what a multi-faceted group we are!

And RCG FANS, go into that Inman site and nominate away!

I’ll have to come up with some insider juicy stuff…or controversy…what do you think will get the judges attention?

Nominations for Real Estate Innovators?

Ever since I accepted the position of Director of Consumer Innovations a few weeks ago, I’ve been paying a little more attention to the concept of innovation. Innovation seems to imply something more than simple “ideas”, and mean something much closer to a new way of thinking. While flying to LA two weeks ago, I was happy to see BusinessWeek take on the topic of innovation until I realized that now I’m involved involved in two fields that will quite possible suffer the Curse of the BusinessWeek Cover: Blogging (Blogs Will Change Your Business) and Innovation (The World’s Most Innovative Companies). (I don’t think their recent cover on real estate, Buyer (and Seller) Beware, counts since they seem to advocate running away from this insane industry, whereas I’m jumping in!. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

This ramble on Innovation is meant to introduce a series of innovation awards that Inman is going to announce at their Real Estate Connect 2006 in San Francisco.

Here are the categories Inman has included and the sites that I would nominate (Do I need to mention that this is a very biased list?).

Most Innovative Real Estate Blog

  • Rain City Guide. First to figure out a way to bring a group of real estate professionals together to market themselves by providing unique and interesting content.

Best Business Models

  • Redfin. Like it or hate it, someone was going to light a fire under the bums of real estate agents to ensure that agents are providing value to tech-savvy clients.

Most Innovative Real Estate Data Site

  • Zillow wins this hand’s down just for their uber-confidence in a complete data-centric solution.

Most Innovative Technology

  • It looks like Google Earth won this last year. If Google Earth won out over Google Maps, then Inman should “right” a clear “wrong” and give this award to Google Maps this year. Google Earth may have more “wow” factor, but nothing sparked more innovation in real estate in this past year than Google Maps.

Most Innovative Mortgage Companies/Services

Most Innovative Brokers/Franchises/Realtor

Most Innovative Web Service

  • I’m not sure what this means… However, if I had to describe the innovation that will most change real estate over the next year, I’d keep it simple and vote RSS.

Most Innovative Media Site

  • No one site should get this award. Instead it should go out to all the real estate bloggers who are creating their own diversified media through blogging (Inman included! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

Best Rental/ New Home Online Service

  • I’m really not too familiar with this category, but I’ve seen some of the stuff that Move is developing, and it seems quite impressive. I’ll hold off judgment for the time being, but welcome your suggestions.