Thanks for the great time, Zillow!

As one of the presenters put it, last night Zillow took a page from real estate agent’s marketing tools and conducted an “open house.”  A certain number of agents were invited to attend, some mortgage professionals, and there were even invites out to buyers and sellers that frequently are on the site. Part of the open house involved sessions where the attendees could learn more about how Zillow functions – one session for marketing and another for the more technical side of the site.  So, my business partner and I split up to cover as much ground as possible.

For me, the marketing session didn’t produce anything new.  But, I guess I hadn’t realized until being there what a “power user” me and my team are with their site. Somehow I thought that the invites had said that they would be introducing new features, but as far as I could tell it’s stuff that we have found and started using as each new feature was introduced.  Plus, we also had already figured out that syndication sites (like Point2, vFlyer) weren’t the best way to get an individual agent’s info maximized for SEO. Although we do still use syndication sites because the go out to a lot of other sites that we just don’t want to spend the cycles having to re-enter each listing over and over and over.  It is very time consuming.  Gotta love widgets, that’s for sure!

Speaking of technical stuff… I was interested to see the data that they gave about the various sites and the stats for user activity.  Part of what was shown here also filtered over into the conversation at the after-function with regard to Zindexes ( and how that is measured and it’s rate of accuracy.

Afterward there was a soiree down at the Waterfront Grill in their private function locale in the former Rippa’s space.  (I’m curious to know where those photos they had taken will end up…. no, nothing tawdry, just lots of PR stuff) Good times had by all and some great debate between agents and Zillow employees alike.  Thanks to David Gibbons, Drew, Mike, and Scott Huber for all of your discussions with us and for being wonderful hosts along with your other employees.  It was really great to meet all of you and we look forward to seeing what else is “up your sleeve.”

Open Houses in Bryant Sunday 7/13

Hi everyone,

I can’t give you the whole list here in a blog post, as it is against one of the many mls rules 🙂 But tomorrow there will be at least 15 Open Houses in Bryant.  Many agents from different offices have gotten together to have their properties open tomorrow.  Most from 1-4, but some for other times within that range.

Generally they are between 25th Ave and 40th Ave NE.  Mine is at 6806 27th Ave NE from 1-4 and I will have a list and map of the other Open Houses at that location.  A good opportunity to see a lot of properties within a short distance.  They range in price from $479,000 to $850,000 with most of them $600,000 or less.

Agents are still sending me info, so I don’t have a complete list yet.  But for those who like to view property, it’s a good opportunity to maximize the number of homes you can see in a short period of time, complete with a guide map.

Green Lake = Cheap Date

[photopress:date.jpg,thumb,alignright]A young couple on a “cheap date” wandered into my Open House yesterday. I can certainly empathize with guys who need to find a way to entertain women on a date, without spending a lot of money. But when the cheap date escalates to cheap ways to look like a bigger man by trying to cut someone else down to size, I have to draw the line.

Any woman who has ever been on a “first date”, knows when a guy is sending back the wine just to look important. I liked the time the waiter said, “You are quite right sir, that is a bad wine. Maybe if you tried one that costs more than $5.99 a bottle, you would find one more to your liking.” Some guys aren’t satisfied with the cheap date scenario, unless they can find a way to go on a cheap date, and look like a big important guy, all at the same time. So what does sending back the wine, and an Open House “date”, have to do with one another?

It starts out innocently enough. The guy follows one of the suggestions for a cheap date noted in the links above, and ends up “walking around Green Lake”. It’s a great first date scenario. It’s free. You can test out if the girl has the stamina to make it around the 2.8 miles a few times, without huffing and puffing or whining that her feet hurt. But after three times around the lake, it gets a little boring. He’s out of ideas on what to talk about. He’s decided he likes this girl, and wants to impress her, but how do you impress a girl when you have no money to stop for dinner at Duke’s?

More than once, both he and she have small talked about how much they like Green Lake, to fill the dead spaces in conversation. So he gets this brilliant idea to pretend he can afford to buy a house nearby. What better way to “pretend” to spend a lot of money, without having to spend a dime? He passes that OPEN SUNDAY sandwich board on the third time around and says, “Do you mind checking out this house with me? I’ve been thinking about buying a house here. Oh, she’s impressed! Mr. couldn’t buy her a snack at World Wraps, is all of a sudden thinking about buying a house, within walking distance to Green Lake. She doesn’t believe a word of it, but she’s bored by this time too, and says sure, let’s go to ALL of the Open Houses.

The big sign out front says, “Open 1-4” and it is only 12:15. They see the door open, as I’m busily doing some last minute sprucing up. Opening the windows and doors to air out the vacant house, making sure there are no dead spiders on the carpet, etc… He pops his head in and says, “I know we are early, but do you mind if we take a peek around?” I can pretty much tell this is a cheap date scenario, and have no trouble playing along, until the guy starts his I’m smarter than you routine, to impress the girl.

I go through the house to turn all of the lights on, and check out the areas I haven’t been to yet. I’m listening to their conversation, and can tell they are not really people looking to buy a house, and in fact hardly know each other. But like I said, that’s fine with me, I have lots to do before one o’clock. They have no “real” questions about square footage of lot or house. No questions about how old the roof or hot water tank are. None of the obvious, we are checking out this house to maybe buy it questions. Everything’s going fine and I’m even playing along with him by answering a few of his questions. I tell him he’s right about a few things, to help him impress the girl. Until he starts hitting me with off the wall questions, one after the other in a non ending stream, to make sure he can impress his girlfriend without being “found out”.

Where does this wire go? I tried to head him off at the pass and show him the brand new electrical box showing that all of the wiring had been up dated, yada yada yada. But he was on a roll of obscure nonsensical questions. “Is this a hot water pipe or a cold water pipe?” Where does this vent go? Why does this pipe turn left instead of right? What year did they install this door? It looks newer. Since the house was built in 1905, and everything was changed at some time or another, I’m quickly figuring out this this could go on all day.

In between his onslaught of off the wall questions, he is turning to the girl and saying, “Now this pipe is a really good pipe, see you can tell by this blah, blah. She’s impressed. She’s so impressed her eyes are glazing over, and she wants to get out of that basement so badly, she’s almost ready to cough up the thirty bucks to go to Duke’s. When the questions just would not stop and I had to get back to the business at hand, I tried to gracefully break away, but no, he had to play the “send back the wine” game with me.

I almost feel badly about spinning him around three times, and making him look like the fool that he was, by the end of “the show”. But some guys just don’t know when to quit while they’re ahead 🙂

Top 10 List of Real Estate Lists

That’s right, I’m going meta-meta. Or better yet, I’m going mega meta (unlike Greg who went mini meta! 🙂 ).

  1. Hanan’s irregular list of new real estate blogs. Beautiful idea, perfectly executed. It is interesting to note that almost none of blogs from his first installment are still around writing interesting content…
  2. 10 Best Women Bloggers. Because it matters.
  3. 3 Easy Steps to Stop Zillow from Publishing the Zestimate of your Home… Because it doesn’t matter (and it still generates a ton of hits).
  4. Curbed’s Broker Boys and Babes Contest. No one else could have done this right.
  5. Curb Appeal Enthusiasm. Simple. Relevant. Useful. Interesting.
  6. 21 reasons to bank on the Phoenix real estate market… Should serve as a great warning to agents writing about the bubble… Be prepared to take the issue on like Greg or don’t even go there… (and I simply can’t ignore his list of blogs that feed a hungry mind.)
  7. The consistently growing list of neighborhood videos from TurnHere… I’m addicted.
  8. The PMI Group’s list of cities with the riskiest housing market. (This is a personal favorite since they traditionally rank Seattle as one of the least risky places to invest in real estate.
  9. Another ego item for the list… I check out the technorati site multiple times a day to find out if anyone is linking to RCG. But technorati provides so much more like keyword searches of blog posts and keyword searches of blogs. I similar argument could be made for since it is so darn useful for finding good content!
  10. Ardell’s list of posts for buyers and for sellers make up an incredible, wild, colorful, useful list of content.

And the worst real estate lists?

  1. I have only one: PubSub. This great concept is in desperate need of some algorithm love. For starters, if they are not going to count blogrolls each day, then they have to be consistent. For example, the Seattle PI Real Estate blog shows up #1 day in and day out because PubSub thinks that all the PI blogs are giving a fresh link to PI Real Estate blog every time they post a new blog entry. In reality, it is simply a function of their blog being on the blogroll of all the PI blogs. In addition, many features (like their URL detail page) have been broken for most of their existence. Lazy-coding issues like this make their tool nearly useless.

Painting the Industry with a Broad Brush

[photopress:paintcanc.gif,thumb,alignright]Before I take the full rap for painting the industry red with a broad brush, let’s look at this line from an interview in Inman News today. “To bring buyers and sellers together requires lying, cheating and manipulating.”

Defending bad behavior does not invoke change. Let’s hear from some agents regarding how they were trained:

1) How and why they should not consider the amount of their eventual commission, when selecting homes for their buyer clients.

2) How they should advise seller clients, and assist them in getting the property in proper showing condition, before taking photos and entering them in the mls.

3) What classes are available to assist agents in taking better photos and in photo editing, now that this skill has become such an important role in selling a home for top dollar.

4) How they are taught never to use a listing to promote themselves, and to get new clients, from a seller’s most valuable asset.

5) How they are taught that doing an Open House is not solely or primarily a means to obtain new clients.

6) How to recognize when their buyer client is a victim of predatory lending, and being pushed to spend more on a home than they can reasonably afford.

7) How NOT to push in house listings on the buyer clients of other agent’s in the office.

8) How to stop in their tracks when a buyer or seller client looks uncomfortable, as in sweating profusely or shaking with tremors, and determine the root of their concerns, before proceeding.

9) How to get up from the table without getting something signed by the client, if the matter at hand does not have immediacy issues to the client’s advantage, and give the client time to consider the information presented to them until they are satisfied that their answer is a well thought out and informed decision.

10) How to determine why a house has been lingering on market, without taking verbatim the listing agent’s representation of same to properly advise your client, if they like the property enough to make an offer.

11) How to deal with inspectors who don’t write what they say, and point out problems verbally, that they do not write in the inspection report and summary.

12) How to forewarn sellers, especially of older homes, that there will likely be a few things to negotiate at time of inspection, and put a misc. buffer amount to cover repairs, in the estimate of seller’s net proceeds before they sign the listing contract.

13) How to stay involved with the process during escrow, and be proactive in the escrow process and not just hand over the file and walk on to the next sale.

There’s a Baker’s Dozen of issues, that could literally fill volumes. Where did you as an experienced agent learn these things and where do new agents get this training today?

This is a job for…SUPERGEEK!

[photopress:geek_logo.jpg,thumb,alignright]I would very much appreciate it, and I think agents would buy the software, if someone would write a program to fill this need.

I am setting up a home tour of nine homes for tomorrow. They are spread out from South Bothell to Upper Mill Creek. There will be so much going on in evaluating these homes that I often “mapquest” and print out the directions from one property to the next.

How about one of you setting up a “” that we can subscribe to for a monthly fee, where we can type in all of the addresses at once and it will spit out the driving directions one to another. Would also come in handy for large offices that do weekly tours of new listings and for agents who are previewing a lot of Broker’s Opens all in a short two hour period. Would save a ton of time.

If someone knows of a program or online service that does this already, I would love to hear about it.

Just throwing it out there as I know many of you are looking for new products in the technology arena that agents would find useful. You may even be able to get from whoever owns it but doesn’t seem to be using it.

Our Home is Now Listed!

And despite the fact that we may not have Ardell’s magic open house touch, we are showing it on Sunday between 12 and 3PM as described in the open house listing on Trumba.


I also created an adword campaign around our home. If you see the following ad while surfing the web, don’t click on it because it costs me money and just takes you to this blog post! 🙂

Funny side note… I decided to try out Google’s option to target ads at specific websites and noticed that Zillow was on the list for real estate related sites. However, in order to see the ad for my home on Zillow, I had to disable the one-two punch of Adblock and Filter.G on my Firefox browser. By disabling these two extensions, so many websites that I visit on a regular basis looked so much uglier! It was like traveling the web naked! It you’re not using the firefox browser with these two extensions, then you are almost definitely surfing a web that looks much more annoying than mine!

Should you have an Open House?

I just sold another house from an Open House this weekend, and am reminded of all of the articles about how Open Houses do not sell houses. Sometimes I think the articles are sponsored by agents who don’t want to spend their Sundays working 🙂

I have changed a few things that I do based on technological advances, like pricing the home straight on $350,000 for double hits, instead of $349,899 to be first to show in the mls book. But listing and selling houses via Open Houses has always been “my thing”. I have provided some online training on the subject to agents around the Country, and still there are some agents who can honestly say that they have never sold a house from an Open House. It just boggles my mind.

I have always spent a great deal of time helping the seller get the house ready for weeks beforehand, before it goes on market. Then I usually do open houses the first two weeks back to back. This weekend I listed a property, that I had already spent many hours staging,and put “No showings until the Sat. Open House and Open Sat. and Sun. 1-4 p.m.” in the mls remarks. This is less wear and tear on the seller and creates a new listing that opens up with a BANG! Lots of energy! Agents showing and people coming all at the same time. I have 6 Open house signs and those big flags that new construction people use. It’s like a big party! Sometimes I even cook Italian food and play Connie Francis and Mario Lanza…and of course FRANK! But that’s usually for Broker’s Opens. I even had agents dancing once…that’s an accomplishment 🙂

Anyway, back to this weekend. I had an offer by the time the Open House was over and another from an agent who was begging me to wait for her as she rushed back two hours from wherever she was to write it for the buyers who came without her to the Open House. Turned out I didn’t have to do the Open House on Sunday, as it was all tied up by noon on Sunday.

Of course an agent who sits in the living room watching the ball game or playing with his laptop looking bored to tears may never sell a house at an Open House. But if you love doing them, there are plenty of ways to turn an Open House into a SOLD House! I hate to admit it, but I did get a call from my friend Reidi in Florida when she saw American Beauty. When Annete Bening got to the Open House hours early in her work clothes scrubbing it down saying “I am GOING to sell THIS HOUSE TODAY!!, Reidi called me and said “Ardell, they made a movie with YOU in it! LOL I’m not quite that bad…but close.