Microsoft vs. Google a real estate perspective

[photopress:mac.jpg,full,alignright]On a side note, nothing to do with the topic, isn’t that MAC advertising campaign fabulous! Doesn’t everyone want to run out and get a MAC when they see that commerical? Of course I can’t get the mls on it, or at least not easily, so I hate them. But that has got to be the best advertising campaign I’ve seen in a long time. Doesn’t everyone want to be that guy on the right? Heck, I’m a woman and even I want to be that guy on the right.

On to Microsoft vs. Google. So far my Google clients have been able to negotiate significantly higher savings in real estate transactions than my Microsoft clients. Of course I’m dealing with a very small portion of the Microsoft poplulation, even though I have more Microsoft clients than Google clients.

Microsoft has a contract that kicks back 35% of the real estate commission when a new employee is hired, even if they don’t buy a house for a year to 18 months after they are hired. Perhaps Microsoft doesn’t get all of that 35%, but the agent who has to pay it is still unable to negotiate with the buyer, nor are they as able, at 65%, to resolve issues in the transaction using commission dollars. This agreement that the agent pay 35% to Microsoft also limits the employee with regard to agent selection.

I recently had a call from a Microsoft employee’s wife who is being transferred. She was checking online and trying to pick an agent she felt comfortable with and happened upon me. I told her that she really needed to check with her husband and his employer, as I didn’t think she was totally free to pick an agent of her choice. I told her I might be willing to match the 35%, but she would likely need to try the assigned agent first, before suggesting she wanted someone other than the assigned agent.

Now these programs where an agent is assigned to an employee are, of course, beneficial. These programs have been around for a very, very long time. I myself did tons of relocations with Siemens and other companies around the Country, utilizing this very same program. The 35% of the commission paid by the agent to the relocation company, helps pay for a portion of the relocation benefits such as movers, temporary housing, and other benefits.

In my experiments over the past few months with negotiating buyer agent fees, and a few other out of the box negotiations, I have been able to transfer $20,000 of pure cash advantages plus an additional $10,000, into transactions, with Google clients. More importantly, I have been able to treat the Google clients in these negotiations, identically to the way that I treat seller clients…which is my goal.

If Google does hire 1,000 new people, as Dustin suggests they might, I hope that they will not lock the employees into a program that skims off the employee’s ability to negotiate and ties their hands with regard to agent selection. Relocating is a very stressful and emotional process. Feeling hogtied at the same time, only adds to the stress. While many are happy to have someone ready, willing and able to assist, this benefit should be optional at best and should allow the employee more freedom of choice and no restriction with regard to fee negotiations.

Not trying to change Microsoft here…just trying to encourage Google not to follow suit. Once released from the 18 month requirement, I have been able to assist Microsoft employees and negotiate fees, but the Google guys are still way ahead for some reason in total dollars. Not sure why that is, I’ll have to ponder it when I do my year end round up of “the experiment”.

Since we are entering the Age of Transparency in the real estate transaction, kind of like The Age of Aquarius in my day when everone was stripping off their clothes, I do think that it should not be a surprise to anyone that there is an exchange of monies between the agent and a third party. That goes for any “purchase of a person”, see Zapped, that does not disclose to the person that they have been bought and sold.

10 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Seattle

Where do you find inspiration?

Out of all the places to find inspiration for a blog post, my current favorite is deep within the RCG stats where I can find the search terms that people use to reach this site. Today, someone came to RCG looking for: [things+you+should+know+before+moving+to+Seattle], and while we likely disappointed that particular visitor, I would like to make amends by offering up this list of ten things you should know before moving to Seattle:

rain in Seattle1) It rains.

2) No really, it rains a lot here. Despite what they say about it raining more in Atlanta, Boston, or D.C., the rain in Seattle can be like a slow trickle that never turns off. But the rain is okay… really… because one day… some day… it stops. And on those first few warm, sunny spring days, all of life is good in a way that Californians will never understand (unless they move to Seattle).

3) Seattle isn’t always comfortable being a high-tech town. Sure we design operating systems, sell stuff online, try to appraise every home in America and stream lots of music and movies, but a substantial portion of the population relates much more to the art of building airplanes.

4) Consensus Rules. Just agree with me on this one or I’ll never be able to get to #5.

5) Traffic Rules. People in Seattle talk a lot more about traffic than the weather. Depending on where you are moving from, traffic will either be horrible or a non-issue. Most blue-state people will laugh at Seattle traffic because you can normally get between any two points in the City in under a half-hour at all times of the day. Red-state people see the parking lot known as SR 520 and wonder why we haven’t build another bridge yet (see #4 for a hint at the answer).

6) Seattle is not that big. We have all the stuff associated with life in a major city: Theaters, traffic, ballets, sports teams, traffic, skyscrapers, music, etc., but you really don’t have to travel far to feel like you are in rural America.

7) Seattle is closer to Asia than Mexico. If one of the staples of your diet consists of cheap and tasty Mexican food, then you will eventually replace that staple with Pho. The sooner you accept this (and the sooner you stop saying “The Mexican food is so much better in California”), the sooner Seattleites will let you know about the good Asian restaurants. (And by the way, since we’re talking about good food, I feel obliged to mention that the Mexican food I remember growing up with in California was so much better than anything you can find in Seattle…)

8) The intersection of NE 50th St and 40th Ave NE is about a mile away from 50th Ave NE and NE 40th St. In the Seattle area, all the street names are numbered and given one of nine directions (NW, N, NE, SW, S, SE, E, W or blank). The numbers begin at 1 in downtown Seattle and radiate out wards. The directions also radiate out, but are city specific, unless, of course, they aren’t… Like at the intersection of 244th St SW, 100th Ave W, N 205th St and 8th Ave NW. There is logic to the entire street system and if you live here long enough, you will understand. Until then, you will be confused and miss appointments, meetings, birthdays, etc.. On a related real estate note, if you are new to Seattle, do not attempt to search for a home without a real estate agent. The street system was designed by a committee of real estate agents who wanted to ensure that you need their help to locate a home. 😉 Also on a related note, Redfin has proposed new street names (featuring real names) for all streets in a effort to ensure the viability of their business model, but at this point, they are still very far from getting consensus on their proposed naming convention.

9) Paul Allen.

10) Despite what you might have read in Wired, Fremont is the Center of the Universe.

Have I covered everything?