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!

Reminder Rain City Guide MeetUp Tonight

Where: Crossroads Food Court (behind 1/2 Price Books)

When: 6:30 P.M.

Crossroads is at 156th Ave. NE and NE 8th Street in Bellevue

We likely will be at the street entrance end of the Food Court, where there are all tables and no food booths.  We will have RCG signs on the tables in the area.

I put (behind 1/2 Price Books) as it is easier to see that from the parking lot, then to describe the exterior entrance to the Food Court area to the left of 1/2 Price Books.

If you are in the Food Court and looking for us, just call my cell 206-910-1000.

If anyone has been to a MeetUp and has any advice for us, that would be great.  I know Redfin and Seattle Bubble have had them and they just hang out together and people find them.  I expect we will talk about just about anything loan, real estate and anything else related.  Blogging.  Whatever.  I expect if anyone NOT RCG has a topic, their topic gets preference.  If no one suggests a topic, I’m sure even if it is just Rhonda, Jillayne, Robbie, Craig and me plus a few agents, we’l have plenty to talk about 🙂

Hope you can make it!

Rain City Guide Eastside MeetUp

We’re planning a Rain City Guide “Meet Up” at Crossroads in Bellevue on February 4th at 6:30 p.m. 

I know Rhonda, Jillayne and I will be there.  Possibly Robbie and/or Galen, and others from RCG.

Pretty informal, as most “MeetUps” are.  No pre-planned “agenda” unless someone wants to submit a few topics they would like covered.

I picked Crossroads vs. “a pub”, as I don’t like to encourage drinking and driving.  It will be in the food court area, so people coming from work can grab a bite to eat. 

Hope you can make it, and we will post a reminder the day before or day of “the event”.  Anyone from RCG who is planning to attend should send me an email.  It would be nice if readers could RSVP in the comments here, so I could “reserve” tables as needed, but RSVP is not required.

We’ve never done one of these before (or I haven’t) so if anyone has any suggestions based on their previous experience at “MeetUps”, advices would be much appreciated.

Riding the OC Wave…

I took a drive last night to meet up with the fine folks at Sellsius and more than a few others at the Rooftop Bar of La Casa del Camino in Laguna Beach. What an awesome spot with an amazing view (unfortunately, I arrived at the bar a little late for getting good photos from the deck and instead you’ll have to suffice with this photo taken directly below the bar to get an idea:


I captured some of the people who showed up in this photo:
(Back row: Laurie Manny of Long Beach, Kaye Thomas of Beach City, Heather, Rory Siems of Laguna Niguel, Joe Ferrara of Sellsius, and myself. Front row: Brian Brady of Amarica’s Most Opinionated Mortgage Broker and Rudy Bachraty of Sellsius)

Some others who showed up (but didn’t make the above photo) included Sarah Washburn of ActiveRain, Tisza Major-Posner of Route66, Loren Nason of Real Estate Technology, Kelly Kilpatricks of Rancho Santa Margarita and Morgan Brown of Blown Mortgage.

I’m a bit late to the game in that most everyone else has covered the event… Suffice to say, I had a blast and heard a ton of great stories! So many of the people in attendance have been living in breathing the for a while now that they were able to get me back up to speed with all kinds of juicy stories.

Thanks again to the Sellsius boys for organizing the event.

BTW, I’ve added a few more photos from this event on Flickr . 🙂

Добро пожаловать на путеводитель Си

I had a blast yesterday hanging out with the Pat, Jeff and the Sellsius gang in Koreatown earlier this week. We turned what I expected to be a quick lunch into a 2 1/2 hour conversation that never slowed down! (not only can those bloggers write, but they can talk! 🙂 ).

Jeff to a quick video that some might appreciate:

So, What’s with the title?
Pat has been getting so much traffic from Japanese visitors thanks to a little bit of Japanese text on his page that we all decided to test out a different language… I choose the text “Welcome to Seattle’s Rain City Real Estate Guide” in Russian since my wife can do the translating! 🙂

Rolling with Grow-a-Brain

I’ve been a little slow to recover from a wonderful weekend!

We had a little gathering for my son’s 1st birthday and I got the treat of meeting one of my favorite bloggers in the world.

Hanan (the magical man behind Grow-a-brain) showed up with his lovely girlfriend. I really had a blast catching up with Hanan and he helped make it a memorable party!


Going way back… I can remember the first time he linked to RCG and it made me feel like I was on top of the world! He really is a great guy!

Rain City Guide Meet-Up This Thursday

Are you interested in meeting up with real estate professionals and/or enthusiasts of Rain City Guide? In an effort to continue to puss the boundaries of a real estate blog, I’m organizing a gathering this Thursday and you’re invited! The meetup is this scheduled for Thursday (4/6/06) at 7PM at Cupcake Royale/Verite Coffee shop in Downtown Ballard (2052 NW Market St).

This idea for a meetup has been cooking in my head for quite a while and was really inspired by a recent evening I spent with a few real estate professionals explaining the wonders of blogging, RSS feeds, and all things web2.0. I’ve tried to cover a lot of these topics on the blog, but sometimes it is so much easier to show people this stuff in person.

With that in mind, I’ve confirmed that at least a few Rain City Guide contributors will show up this Thursday, so you can expect a lively discussion with input from experienced real estate agents, mortgage brokers and real estate technology geeks. I don’t really have an agenda, but would rather let the group dictate where the discussion leads…

Who do I think might be interested in joining us?

  • Maybe you’re a real estate agent, mortgage broker, title representative, etc. who wants to learn how you can better use the internet to serve your clients?
  • Maybe you’re a home owner who is interested in listing your home and want to make sure that you get the most out of the internet and/or a potential listing agent.
  • Maybe you’re a buyer who wants a leg-up on the competition. I can show you how to use Google Earth, RSS feeds and more to make sure you’re getting the most efficiency out of your home search.
  • Maybe you’re a potential home buyer/seller interested in interviewing potential real estate agents and/or mortgage brokers in an informal setting. Should you want that type of thing, I’m sure that the agents and mortgage brokers would be happy to try to earn your business.

As long as you have an interest in real estate (who doesn’t?), you are definitely invited to what will hopefully be a fun and memorable evening.

RSVP? One of the RCG contributors who is helping me organize things thinks that this event might be much more highly attended than I do. Just to make sure that we don’t blow out one of my favorite coffee shops in Ballard, can you please let us know if you are planning to attend by adding your name to the list on the wiki? You don’t even have to use your real name, just something so that we can gauge the interest.

Who is Trulia Serving?

It was wonderful to have some quality time with the Trulia last night and I had a blast chatting about real estate search with them.

Sami and Kelly were great sports and the group ended up spending about an hour and a half discussing Trulia’s business plan and how others (like RCG!) might plug into their “platform”.

Seeing as how I posted the invite to the “chat” a few hours before the event, I didn’t expect too many people and was pleasantly surprised at the turn-out:

Interestingly, we dived into some questions I had about their business model pretty darn quickly and because I would completely fail if I tried to articulate the opinions of each of the participants. Instead I’ll only give my take on the Trulia’s place in future of real estate search (and welcome other participants to write up “meeting notes” if they are interested).

Most of my questions revolved around how Trulia planned to serve these four main groups (I’ve also included the ways they might serve these groups):

  • Brokerages: with (1) exclusive listings and/or (2) enhanced placement.
  • Agents: with (1) great branding opportunities and/or (2) tools to increase the agent’s internet “presence”.
  • Buyers: with (1) the most comprehensive listings, (2) the cleanest search interface, and/or (3) connections to the best real estate professionals.
  • Sellers: with (1) reasonably priced listings and/or the (2) widest possible exposure.

In talking with Trulia, it became clear that these guys have every intention of serving the brokerage community very well. They’ve opted to sign agreements with many of the largest real estate brokerage firms in order to get a live version of their feeds. In return, they’ve agreed to limit the type of listings they show (read: No FSBOs) and they’ve agreed to send people to the listing brokers website for detailed information on a home that is for sale. From what I can gather, they definitely have won over the largest brokerage firms and seem to be serving them well.

For agents, they offer some tools like one that allow agents to put a Trulia search on their site and another tool that allows real estate sites to list the most recently added homes. While the tools are interesting, I do not see anything that would make most agents jump at the opportunity to work with Trulia, especially since their search results will send potential buyers to the listing broker’s website if they find a home they are interested in. We discussed how a few forward thinking brokers realize that they best serve their clients when they give them the maximum amount of information, I don’t see that logic prevailing in the industry any time soon.

Trulia logo
Exmpl: “Palo Alto”, “94114”, (but not Seattle yet!) 🙂

It is with buyers that I’m seeing the largest weaknesses in their business model. They have no plans to get a complete listing of “MLS” data (actually, it sounds like they may have completely ruled out the opportunity through contracts they’ve signed with large brokerages). In somewhere like NY where there is no “one” MLS, this strategy allows them to include listing data from a majority of the brokers and will quite possibly allow them to have the largest database of listed homes. However, in somewhere like Washington (and Oregon, California, and I think most of the country), this strategy means that they will never have the most complete database of homes (at least not under the current MLS system). Maybe I’m missing something, but I simply cannot see how this is going to win buyers over… Even an ugly search interface is better than a snazzy Trulia search if it includes a larger selection of homes that are on the market. In other words, if I’m interested in a home in Sunset Hill and there are three homes available in my price range, I want to see all three, not just the two that are represented by brokers who have signed agreements with Trulia.


So, that addresses the issue of the most comprehensive listings, but how do they fair in “(2) the cleanest search interface”, and “(3) connections to the best real estate professionals”?

They definitely have the cleanest home search interface around and considering they put a lot of effort into making their searches lightning fast, they definitely serve the buyers best interests in this respect!

In terms of the issue of connecting the buyers with the best real estate professionals, I think they are missing the boat. Sure the listing broker’s website may have the most information available about a listing, but if their set-up encourages buyers to contact the listing agent (as oppose to a buyer’s agent), I do not think they are serving the buyer very well. To give an example, imagine if Google sent everyone who was looking for information on a iPod to Apple’s website (it is an Apple product after all). Sure Apple might be the best source of information on an iPod (assuming they share all the good and bad that they know), but is Apple’s website really the best place to research (let alone buy) an iPod? To bring this back to real estate buyers, the best way they could serve buyers would be if they could hook them up with an agents who had their best interests in mind (as oppose to an agent who has the best interest of the seller in mind).

One of the weaknesses in my Apple example is that Trulia includes a vast amount of awesome stats available directly on their website so that a buyer can find out information like comparable homes on the market without ever turning to the listing agent’s site for more detailed information on the listing itself. However, that doesn’t change the fact that they don’t plan to have the most comprehensive database of homes (at least not in areas with one functioning MLS) and they do not offer a way for a buyer to hook up with a good agent, but rather, they guide them to the listing agent.

For Sellers, they mentioned that they do not offer much. They are focused on working with brokerages, so the best they offers sellers is that if they use a real estate professional, they will indirectly benefit from the exposure on Trulia.

In reading over my text, I can’t help but notice just how negative I sound on Trulia. In reality, they are a great group of people and I’ve enjoyed EVERY interaction I’ve ever had with them. Along those lines, I decided to go back and remind myself of why I found Trulia so inspiring when they launched:

  • The search interface is as simple as entering a city name or a zip code! The UI is beautiful.
  • The filtering by other features like Price, Bedrooms, Bathrooms and Price is fast and very intuitive!
  • When clicking on more detail for a listing, you get the VERY useful information like the price per square foot, the days on the market, as well as details for other recently sold homes and similar homes in the area!
  • The color coded recently sold homes is awesome!
  • I really like that the the location of my search is stored in the url. This allows me to easily save and or send an area of interest. For example, here are the homes for sale in the part of Los Angeles where I grew up: (Also notice that it has neighborhood facts on this page.)
  • It has RSS feeds so that I can subscribe to my zip code and be updated each time a listing comes on the market.

All of these points are still valid and represent reasons that I still think Trulia is a fascinating and innovative company. My hope is that my comments in this post, especially when negative, will provide some food for thought to the people I’ve grown to really like over at Trulia. Their UI (user-interface) is a beautiful thing and blows away the UI of any other home search tool that I’ve seen. It is Trulia beautiful thing! 😉

Cancel Your Plans And Join us for a Trulia Chat Tonight!

I just spoke with Sami Inkinen and Kelly Roark of Trulia. They are currently making the rounds in Seattle, and we all agreed that it would be fun to spend some time talking “real estate technology” while they are in town! (Why aren’t they in Seattle yet???)

However, knowing that I’m not the only person interested in learning a little more about Trulia, I’ve cajoled them into attending a “Trulia Chat” tonight at a local coffee shop.

So, here’s the plan… Sami and Kelly are going to be at Fremont Coffee (459 N. 36th St.) at 7pm for an hour of informal chat. Anyone interested in welcome to attend and there is no need to RSVP (although a comment if you plan to attend is welcome!).


If you’re a real estate professional interested in learning about one (very interesting) team’s view of the future of real estate, then I recommend that you cancel your current plans for tonight and attend this free event.

Without a doubt these guys have one of the nicest home search interfaces around and when they finally do decide to launch in Seattle, they will be sure to drive a lot of traffic to the websites of a few local (and lucky) brokers.