Two Years and Still Learning…

Mind if I reminisce a bit?

When I started Rain City Guide two years ago today, I honestly didn’t see the big picture.

I built the site because I *knew* I had to market my wife’s budding real estate business and I didn’t want to spend any money… (Even if I wasn’t a cheapskate at heart, my job as a transportation planner didn’t provide a lot extra money to begin with). Blogging was cheap and interesting (and I’ll admit it helped that I was familiar with the technology having hand-coded travel blogs going back as far back as 2000), but most importantly it would allow me to focus my wife’s marketing energy on something that wouldn’t siphon money from my family’s bank account.

But then I started doing some research and I realized that I could probably still make an impact because of my first-mover status. There were a few Seattle agents blogging at the time (Jim Reppond and Beau Betts come to mind…), but I could tell that neither of them were really harnessing the power of blogs to function as a local newspaper on a very niche topic.

It has become cliché to mention that in this latest incarnation of the internet (web2.0 for lack of a better world), the user has become the content creator. One of the lessons I try to drive home in my seminars is that this same “user” is you. Thanks to the power of blogs, you can now become the publisher of your own newspaper (What would Abbie do with wifi?).

The power of self-publishing (and the part that is easily overlooked) is that you do not have to create the news… You just have to report it (preferably in an interesting way!).

I see so many agents get stuck on their blogging because they are trying to say something novel, unique and/or brilliant with every post. Very few people are that talented and it is not a skill necessary skill to either selling real estate or successful blogging. As a publisher of content, it is much more important to add a little personal insight into the aggregated knowledge of others.

So, what is the big picture? Enjoy the journey because the destination is unknown!

My advice? Enjoy yourself, make friends, get an education, invoke change in yourself, ask questions, play hard, experiment, and, most importantly, be prepared to fail.

But I’d be doing myself and everyone else a big disservice if the best I could do after two years of blogging was pontificate for a few paragraphs. The reality is that the thing I most value in RCG is the community. Through 1,010 posts (1,011 when I hit publish!) and 9970 comments, I’d like to think that we’ve not only created one hell of an interesting conversation, but that we’ve managed to learn a few things along the way. Thank you for participating!

Beware No Trespassing (even if you do have a keybox)

Learn something new every day. Can an agent access a vacant home with a keybox, without an appointment? What if that agent represents a buyer under contract on that home?[photopress:no_trespassing.jpg,thumb,alignright]

I had to learn this answer the hard way a couple of years ago. Here’s what happened:

I sold a vacant home in Issaquah to clients subject to inspection. During the inspection, it was noted that the furnace had a very high level of CO (92%) and needed to be replaced. Seller (an attorney) would not replace the furnace. Buyers decided to replace it themselves before they move in and waived the inspection contingency.

Given that it takes a few weeks after ordering a furnace to get it installed, I, knowing that the house was vacant, met the furnace installer (call him Bob) at the home for measurements. No, I did not make an appointment. During the measuring, the furnace guy TAKES THE FURNACE OUT OF COMMISSION! Of course, it was in the dead of winter and the weather was below freezing. Furnace guy says that by state law, he is required to decommission a furnace if it is a safety issue and considering that the furnace was burning outside of the combustion chamber, it quite obviously was a safety issue.

Now we have a vacant house with no heat, with a seller who refused to pay for a new furnace with the inspection period waived and with me and my furnace guy Bob having entered the home without an appointment. Listing agent is furious with me and calls his broker who calls his attorney who calls my broker who calls me and says that, Guess what, technically it IS considered trespassing to re-enter a home that is pending even with the pending buyers or buyer’s agent.

The solution was simple enough. Seller had the furnace installed (immediate when in an emergency situation) and buyers paid for it at escrow. And I learned a new lesson. The hard way.