Predictions: helpful or counterproductive?

The dialogue between commenters has been interesting to read on Ardell’s most recent post about predictions.

Is this a helpful or counterproductive prediction?

“So, don’t be swayed by media reports of a ‘disastrous housing economy.’ Take the long-term view and be confident that your home will continue to appreciate in value. And know that if you buy a home today, in seven years it will be worth a lot more.”

– Geoff Wood, CEO Windermere Real Estate
(Quote taken from the Spring Quarter 2008 of ‘Inhabit,’ The best of the Pacific Northwest magazine) Published by the Seattle Times.

I don’t necessarily disagree with Geoff’s sentiment and I understand his overall point within the larger context of the quote**—I just took the last paragraph quote from his ad titled “Gaining Perspective on the Real Estate Market”. Seven years is a long time. But this is one heck of a prediction, no bones about it.

**his use of a “Casino” and “gambling” analogy was terribly ironic, intended or not.

I have no idea if this was solely a local ad or if they ran it or a similar one in other markets Windermere has offices as well.

Agents are resources in so many aspects for their clients. Consumers turn to them for valuable feedback, for information, data, suggestions AND ADVICE, which includes feedback on where the real estate market is trending. In so many ways, they are advocates whom consumers want to trust, but for a variety of reasons find it difficult. Building and gaining trust does not begin with “I don’t know where the market is heading, beats me.”

You have to give Geoff Wood credit. At least you know where he stands.

ARDELL on "Where is the 2007 Market heading?"

My prediction has been, that the 2007 Market will be similar to the market of 2006, that being strong and upwardly mobile.  Not necessarily as strong as 2005, when interest rates were lower, but on an even keel with, or better than, last year.

To determine momentum of the market, I look at absorption issues, and reduce the study to a somewhat predictable and mainstream market segment.  To keep apples to apples, I target that portion of the market with the highest number of sales in a year’s time.  The results are almost startling, with regard to upward momentum since the first of the year, and even better than I expected to see. 

Where “in escrow”, which is both STI and Pending, is much higher than “for sale” and/or closed in January 07, the forward momentum of the market is strongest.

Seattle has too many new properties not reflected in the stats (i.e.”1 of 8 townhomes”), as does high end.  I am using the market segment I find is best for prediction purposes using the MLS, that being Redmond (98052 only), Bellevue, Kirkland and Bothell (98011 only).  I am also using “up to $650,000” as that is the segment with the most properties changing hands in a year’s time, based on the stats I did on a running basis last year.

I also use this market segment because I can readily visualise the properties involved, and so my conclusions are more valid than areas like Tacoma or Snohomish or even all of King County.  The segment I use, accounts for both strongest and weaker markets and “residential” vs. condo.

98052 – Redmond – 37 residential for sale, 40 in escrow and 18 closed in Jan. 07; 44 condos for sale, 69 in escrow and 19 closed in Jan. 07.

98011 – Bothell – 40 residential for sale, 37 in escrow and 18 closed in Jan. 07; 15 condos for sale, 28 in escrow and 15 closed in Jan. 07

98034 –  Kirkland – 35 residential for sale, 29 in escrow and 27 closed in Jan. 07; 32 condos for sale, 37 in escrow and 25 closed in Jan. 07

98033 – Kirkland “proper” – 23 residential for sale, 15 in escrow and 19 closed in Jan. 06; 50 condos for sale, 62 in escrow and 21 closed in Jan. 07

98004 – Bellevue – 4 residential for sale, 2 in escrow and 1 closed in Jan. 07; 27 condos for sale, 21 in escrow and 8 closed in Jan. 07

98005 – Bellevue – 5 residential for sale, 4 in escrow and 2 closed in Jan. 07; 14 residential for sale, 40 in escrow and 8 closed in Jan. 07.

98006 – Bellevue – 17 residential for sale, 13 in escrow and 9 closed in Jan. 07; 20 condos for sale, 14 in escrow and 6 closed in Jan. 07

98007 – Bellevue – 5 residential for sale, 9 in escrow and 5 closed in Jan. 07; 6 condos for sale, 12 in escrow and 16 closed in Jan. 07

98008 – Bellevue – 18 residential for sale, 20 in escrow and 11 closed in Jan. 07; 1 condo for sale, 4 in escrow and 4 closed in Jan. 07

98005 is a bit skewed, as Woodbridge and Oasis are long escrows, so 40 in escrow is not reflective of a less than 30 day market activity.  New construction in escrow will always throw off momentum stats.  That is why I don’t do the high end this way when I am looking for “people’s recent decision to purchase” forward momentum.  There is some of that in others, but not as much as in 98005.

I also break it down this way, so people can see where they might most likely find a single family home priced under $650,000, or where they might most likely find a condo at an entry level price.  The highest numbers will equal the highest ongoing availability, or whether you are looking “for a needle in a haystack” in that area.

2007?  If you list it, price it well, it looks good and is priced under $650,000…it WILL sell.

Interview with Rudy and Joe of the Sellsius Blog

In terms of real estate bloggers, Joe and Rudy are at the top of their game… Follow their blog for a little while and it becomes obvious that these are two guys who are committed to understanding, tracking and promoting the real estate blogosphere. I can’t be the only one to wonder if I’ll ever get a sneak peak at the money-making side of their operation (which was first announced on RCG in August 2005), but that is besides the point because this interview is about blogging and there is no doubt these guys have played a pivotal role in shaping the connections between real estate bloggers as it exists today!

What inspired you to start blogging?

We started blogging very early. As Silver Sponsors of the Inman Connect NYC in January 2006, we attended several conferences on blogging and caught the bug. We were readers of RCG, Matrix, Inman & Property Grunt. Property grunt & Inman gave us positive press and encouragement and you gave us life as vaporware 🙂 We never forgot it. This really inspired us. In the beginning it was easier, since we had no readership to answer to. We felt, heck, no one is reading us so let’s do what we want. So, in a sense we inspired each other. We decided early on we’d break some rules, go our own way and see what happens. We’re still learning.

Are there any special topics or issues that you enjoy covering?

We enjoy marketing , branding, advertising, technology and personal stories. Our business is promoting our members, helping them attract more clients and improving their bottom line. We are always looking for anything new and innovative that can help them.

What have you done to personalize your blog?

Hopefully, our personality comes across in how we write, comment and choose our images. We try to interject humor and put the Sellsius° spin on a topic. We look for the exception to the rule and go against the grain when we feel it’s right. We stand up for the consumer’s right to informed choice, we advocate for professionals and want to improve the industry we love.

Do you have any favorite posts?

We love all our Zillow posts, especially Unzillowable, To Coin a Phrase and Mining The Elusive Unzillowable, where JF debates David G. We are also proud of the Bell Labs posts where we collaborated with Ryan Block of Engadget to save a piece of technology history. We felt like journalists covering a story. We liked Realtor’s Allan Dalton Calls Zillow Carnival Act because we got to create our best Selltoon°. We also like our promo pieces (Mary Kay Gallagher and Willie Williams). We did a Year’s Best Posts so you get an idea of what we liked. We like a lot of what we do because we’re having so much fun.

What are some of your favorite blogs (real estate or otherwise)?

We try to keep up with everyone in the real estate blogos. We would not choose a favorite because at different times we follow different blogs. It depends on the topic discussed. Zillow posts always get JF’s attention. Copyblogger is a must read. We also like Lifehacker, Micro Persuasion, TechCrunch, PronetAdvertising. There are so many more. We still visit grow-a-brain and Joe likes some Russian sites. We find a lot of great writing & commenting on Active Rain.

What tools/websites do you find most helpful in putting together your blog?

Bloglines, tabbed browsing, the Wire Services, YouTube, Wikipedia (often better than Google), Firefox extensions like AIOS & Stumbleupon, Google’s Images, Alerts, & News. Fast Stone Capture for screenshots & resizing images is a MUST. Tiny URL, CoComment & Commentful are useful commenting tools.

How does blogging fit into the overall marketing of your business?

The blog helps build the Sellsius° brand and we will use it to promote our membership. We are big believers in branding. We want the Sellsius° brand to represent trust, honesty, caring, knowledge and PASSION.

What plans do you have to improve your blog over this next year?

We can’t be too specific other than saying we are going to better promote others, including other bloggers. We will also partner with other bloggers for new ideas we have for the genre. We have already collaborated on a consumer facing blog called

What is the one tool or feature that you wish your site had?

We invented the Blog Surfer to help retrieve archived posts in a new way and increase page views. The blog surfer is a random remote control, a blog post stumbleupon. We would like it to be tag or category specific so you could surf only marketing posts, for example. Our page views skyrocketed with the surfer.
A tool I’d like to see is an automatic Table of Contents Creator where each post title would be sent to a categorized Table of Contents, with a corresponding link to the post. Blogs are like books and a Table of Contents is necessary. But keeping a Table of Contents up to date is cumbersome. If you visit our Table of Contents, it needs updating.

What do you think real estate blogging will look like 3 years from now?

Blogs will be attached to every real estate website. Every blog will have advertising of some kind. That won’t even take 3 years, maybe only 1. More contributing writers. More hired writers. Payment gateways to transact business on the blog. Blogs will be more varied. Skype on every blog. Blogoholics galore.

Thank you both Joe and Rudy for indulging me in this great interview!

Want more? Here are some more interviews with other influential people within the real estate blogosphere: