Why Connect with Facebook?

connect-with-fbIf you’re been to RCG recently, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that I added Facebook Connect to the sidepanel.   I really want to invite you all to use this feature, so I thought I’d let you know why I added it:

  1. I’m a Facebook addict, love the service, and enjoy connecting with others.  I’m thinking there’s at least a few other RCG community members who would enjoy connecting via the service
  2. I’ve been looking for a way to give a “carrot” to folks who properly identify themselves when they leave comments. I don’t want to “punish” anonymous commenters, I just want to give a bonus to those who aren’t anonymous.

The carrot we’re now offering is two-fold:

  1. Your comment will bypass almost all of the moderation filters that occasionally slow down a comment from showing up immediately on the site.
  2. Your profile link will be of the “dofollow” variety.

For most of the folks in the RCG community, I’m positive you’re here because you love the conversation and could care less about the positive link luv RCG can give you.   Nonetheless, if you’re willing to identify yourself with your “real” identity, then these two things are just two small carrots we’re now offering…

So, please consider taking advantage by clicking on the “Connect with Facebook” button to the right and follow the simple instructions.  As a bonus, after you “connect”, you’ll be able to update your profile on RCG with a few additional fields that will make it easier than ever to connect with others from the RCG community.

And finally, I launched FB Connect on the site despite the fact that I’m not 100% happy with it yet. Here are some problems I’ve found and/or things I’m working on:

  1. FB Connect plays funny (or doesn’t play at all!) with early versions of Internet Explorer, (especially IE 6.0 and below).  This might sound harsh, but my solution is to beg for you to get and use Firefox (or even Chrome),  but if you’re not willing to do that, at least get the latest version of IE
  2. The feature that let’s you “add your comment to your Facebook feed” was giving some folks some problems, so I disabled it.  I really like the idea of this feature, so I’ll work on troubleshooting exactly what was causing problems, although I think it had something to do with old versions of IE (see previous comment!).
  3. I really want the avatar that shows up next to users to default to the “gravatar” instead of the FB avatar.  My thought here is that many folks have a “fun” avatar on Facebook, but might prefer to have a more consistent avatar on a business site like RCG.  I spent some time trying to get this work and while I made some progress, it’s still not working well enough for me to feel comfortable launching… but hopefully soon.

I have a feeling there’s going to be lots more to come in terms of taking advantage of Facebook tools within RCG in the future. Hopefully, you’ll play along and if there is something that doesn’t appear to be working right or a feature you’d like to see, please let me know!

Interview with Mary McKnight of RSS Pieces

[photopress:mary_mcknight.jpg,full,alignright]As the online face of RSS Pieces, Mary has quickly become an influential member of the real estate blogging community by freely giving her expertise on many technical areas of real estate blogging. She’s fun, interesting, opinionated and intelligent… What more could we ask for?

What inspired you to start blogging?

I actually started blogging years ago on a number of fitness sites because it was a passion of mine and blogging was a way of connecting with other aficionados and sharing my experience and knowledge. That’s where I developed my unique voice and my strategy for driving traffic and penning posts that keep readers coming back. believe me, I crashed and burned many times when I first started blogging. Back then, there wasn’t a manual for how to do it- it was all trial and error. But over time, I came up with a formula that worked. So, when we entered the real estate market with a blogging product, I applied the same successful
formula I used for my fitness articles.

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

I love anything about emerging technologies so topics covering web 3.0, the semantic web, FAOF and SIOC are what I’m interested in covering now. But my roots are definitely tutorial posts. I like writing them and I love knowing that in some way I have helped Realtors to build their knowledge base so they have the tools to grow their business. I’m a big believer in giving people the tools to build their business regardless of which blogging product they use.

[photopress:rss_pieces.jpg,full,alignright]What have you done to personalize your blog?

I always try to use a conversational tone and talk to my readers rather than type at them. I hate to be lectured or read dry technical manuals (which I read a lot of), so I like to keep my posts fun and often campy. I also like to share little bits of my life in posts so readers can connect with me directly. I find that when people feel that they know you and can connect with you they are more likely to contact you or share themselves with you. I receive the most comments and emails from posts where I share bits of my life. Here is an article I wrote about humanizing your blog for intimacy.

Do you have any favorite posts?

By far my favorite post was the meme- I loved watching that virus spread throughout the industry and beyond.

I also have a special place for each post that I penned as a guest host on other blogs because I can’t believe anyone would trust me with their blog!

My favorite tutorial posts are:

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

Good question. A blog has to be stellar to make my feed reader and here
are the top 5 feeds in my reader from Real Estate and Other.

Real Estate:


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

The RSS Pieces system was built by the ground up by our own staff so all the tools we need for SEO and add-on functionality are already inside the system but here are some of my favorite development and free SEO tools:

Macromedia Homesite, Widexl, NUAH, iWebTool, Zen Studio, W3C, RSS Pieces SEO tools. We also are always looking at what the power bloggers are doing and what the industry thinks is on the horizon.

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

Blogging is an essential component of our marketing strategy since we are a blogging company. I think as a blogging company you have to prove that your system works by making it work for your own company. I hope that our little blog does show clients and prospective bloggers that you can build success with blogging in a fairly short period of time through strategic content, a little bit of home grown marketing, quality SEO and a lot of attitude.

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

  • Implementation of the semantic web in our blogging platform so each of our blogs will web 3.0 enabled
  • Drag and drop template configuration so users can rearrange the way their sites look without having to call the developers to recode them.
  • Better online image editing and gallery management in our editor
  • Better support for people using cell pones and PDAs

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

Better support for people using cell pones and PDAs.

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

I think the line between blogs and websites will be blurred so much that people won’t be able to tell the difference. Blogs will take on more traditional website features like listing searches and mortgage calculators. They will begin to replace their website counterparts. This is the direction in which RSS Pieces has been moving. Traditional blogs are pretty featureless by nature, more and more companies will begin to add features to their blogs so they can become their central on-line presence. Also, once FAOF and SIOC are in place, blogs, forums, aggregators and other social media sites will become more interconnected giving blogs a firmer foothold on the Internet as information resources.

I also think that natural selection will occur and as the blog population grows, weaker blogs will die off and the overall quality of the remaining blogs will increase.

Thanks, Mary, for taking the time to answer these questions!

Everyone else, feel free to leave a comment or peruse these other interviews with other influential real estate bloggers…

Changing the World One Banana at a Time

It appears that Rain City Guide has gone to bananas

The following photo baffled me when I first saw it.

How to explain someone linking to Rain City Guide with this photo?


With my curiosity peeked, I noticed that Ed Kohler posted the photo from his Flickr account… Hmm… Who’s Ed Kohler?

Ed is the man behind the the WhereToLive site (which is a decent map-based home search) and the Colorado Home Stop site (which is one of the best map-based home search interfaces I’ve been fortunate to play with!).

Ed emailed me last week to let me know about his Denver-area home search tool and despite my interest, I never got around to talking about it. But on the theory it is never too late, here are some of the features I really like:

  • Lightning fast
  • Photo scroll bar (Mac-style) at the bottom of screen that is connected to the map and highlights listings on map on mouse-over
  • Micro icons get bigger with zoom
  • Like Windermere’s maps, they bring every thing on one page, and aesthetically, it is much cleaner than the Windermere maps
  • Clean Trulia-style filters
  • Pull-down neighborhood search
  • Right-click functionality for zooming
  • Ability to compare homes without leaving the map

The moral of the story is that if you really want to get my attention, simply post a photo of a banana with Rain City Guide written on it and then let me discover it! I’m assuming that Ed is one of the monkey’s behind the banana site, and if so, it looks like he may be willing to help others out with a personalized banana!

Interview with Kristal Kraft of the Denver Real Estate Blog

As some of you may already know Ardell and I have been playing on ActiveRain lately. My personal goal in taking part was to learn about the group dynamics and see how and why people are active on the site. [photopress:kristal_kraft.jpg,full,alignright]Interestingly, one of the things I decided to do was ask the group who was the most influential person on ActiveRain so that I could interview them on RCG.

The results were loud and clear in that Kristal Kraft is not only the point leader on ActiveRain, but the most influential person for many members of the site. I spent some time following Kristal’s posts and I found her to be consistently informative and interesting. Armed with that knowledge, I decided to ask Kristal a little bit about her blogging influences and experiences.

What inspired you to start blogging?

Blogging has been a natural progression for me; ten years ago I published my first real estate website. Then in the year 2000 I took a year off from work to travel around the world on a bike. That year I was biking and blogging (without a blog platform). At the time I thought of if as a travel/photo journal of my experience, the site Bike Tracks was written often times in a tent with a flashlight attached to my head. I would publish as soon as I could find a land line. OK, so it wasn’t really a blog, but I had a huge audience. In fact at one point in Africa I didn’t publish for a couple weeks. Everyone was in a panic worried I had been eaten by a lion or something awful! After that, they got used to my irregular postings. Funny how things work, I took my position seriously when I found out people were reading my site. Riding a bike 80 to 105 miles a day can get boring! There were times when the journey got very difficult, but my “responsibility to my audience

Interview with The Greg Swann and his Pack of Bloodhounds

Last year around this time, I published a series of interviews with the real estate bloggers that most influenced me of which I was really proud because I learned a lot and it felt like it helped bring the real estate blogging community together in a new way… This year, I’d like to continue that tradition by publishing the same set of interview questions with a new set of influences. With that said…

Sit down, take a deep breath, and prepare for a wonderfully long and informative interview with the top-notch crew over at the Bloodhound Blog.


Q: What inspired you to start blogging?


  • Greg Swann: I’ve been writing all my life, but my goal in trying to start a workable real estate weblog was the same as other Realtors: I thought it would scare up business. We tried and failed with two other weblogs. We didn’t know what we were doing — in the sense of “linkation!” — but, by being overtly promotional in content, they were boring to me, anyway — contributing greatly to their failure. BloodhoundBlog works, at least for me, because it is fundamentally indifferent to the idea of milking the readership for leads. I’ve come to believe that a real estate weblog with a large, regular readership is a lousy way to generate leads, in any case, but I don’t care anyway. I want to write what I want to write, come what does.

    Rain City Guide has always been a guide for us, of course, but when I decided that we needed to become a group blog to get where we want to go, we pushed for coverage national in breadth. If our luck holds, we’re defining a new idea in real estate weblogging: Commentary by, for and about real estate professionals on a national level.

    I can’t speak for the other contributors, so, in bald-faced defiance of the form you have established for these interviews, I have invited them to speak for themselves. Five took up the challenge: Kris Berg, Brian Brady, Dan Green, Doug Quance and Russell Shaw. Many of them have their own weblogs, and the answers they might give you there could differ from their answers here. But I want to hear — and I thought your readers would be interested to hear — their thoughts on this real estate weblogging cabal we are building here.

  • Russell Shaw: I have been interested in blogging ever since I read the book, Blog, by Hugh Hewitt. It really got me to thinking about how mainstream media no longer controls what is “worthy” and what is not.

    What got me started was Greg was gracious enough to invite me.

  • Dan Green: I began blogging to educate my clients about home loans in a way that they’d never hear from major news outlets. Two years later, I remain true to my audience and I think about The Mortgage Reports like a TV channel. I joined BloodhoundBlog because it exposes my loyal readers to broader issues in real estate and financing as a whole that wouldn’t fit TMR’s “broadcast” menu. BloodhoundBlog is a different channel. My readers may not agree with everything that BloodhoundBlog’s bloggers write — I know I don’t! — but the site’s aim is to present a perspective that readers may not otherwise hear. In this way, BloodhoundBlog is very similar to The Mortgage Reports — the information is not meant to persuade for sales, it’s meant to educate for understanding. The affiliation was a no-brainer to me.
  • Doug Quance: I was getting ready to redo my website, and I felt that a blog format would allow me to get personal with my visitors. When Greg invited me to contribute to BloodhoundBlog, how could I refuse? That’s like the President asking you to serve your country — you can’t turn that down.
  • Kris Berg: My original motivation to begin blogging was slightly less than noble. It was my attempt to keep up with the Jones’. In my business, I have always tried to keep things fresh and innovative. In a business where competition is fierce, it is essential to constantly reevaluate and reinvent. I have seen too many agents with the potential for greatness deliver mediocre results because of their inability to distinguish themselves as leaders. When Greg tagged me from my own baby blog, I saw it as an opportunity to gain additional exposure and a wider audience.
  • Brian Brady: I wanted to write with the best of the best. I started reading Bloodhound about three months ago. I was impressed with the collaborative authorship. When I noticed that we wanted new authors, I decided to “test my mettle in Yankee Stadium.”

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


  • Russell Shaw: Yes. Making my fellow agents more successful. Helping them to navigate the real obstacles and also to recognize those that exist just because someone “created them.”
  • Brian Brady: My efforts are mostly aimed at Realtors about mortgage lending. I find that by educating them about how to do better business with lenders, I can make a contribution.

    I like to write about hard money loans because it is an under-served niche in my industry.

  • Doug Quance: I enjoy myth-busting the best. Most of the public gets bamboozled by what goes on in the real estate business.
  • Dan Green: Many Americans don’t care about European politics or Chinese monetary policy because they don’t make a connection between international news and their personal life. By contrast, I am fascinated by it. Economics is truly a global game and any event — no matter how small — can have drastic consequences on the lives of everyone in America. My favorite topics to cover are those that show the connection and help people to understand how something buried on page 18 in the front section of a newspaper can cause their retirement portfolio to gain (or lose) tremendous amounts of value.
  • Greg Swann: I like technology and the comical kind of hypocrisy. Although I work in residential real estate, I have a deep interest in certain kinds of innovation in commercial real estate development, and I may devote more attention to this in the future.
  • Kris Berg: Ironically, unlike Greg, I never particularly enjoyed writing — until now. It took me several months to find my voice, which finally happened the day I stopped blogging for business and began blogging for kicks. Somehow, my role has evolved into that of the resident humor columnist, the Real Estate Mom if you will. The most successful agents have a hard time separating their work and their life, and this is where I find the lion’s share of my inspiration. I have the most fun relating those silly, everyday events in my personal life back to the business of real estate, because it is all about people.

Q: What have you done to personalize your blog?


  • Greg Swann: There are two answers to that question. In terms of appearance, I took a theme designed by DL2Media and rewrote the Cascading Style Sheets to fit our look and feel. I can hold my own hand in PHP, so I was able to make the modifications I wanted without breaking anything. For example, our Frequent Contributors list runs out of a PHP program using the WordPress Users database. If I add a user, or change some detail, the change is reflected instantly on the web page.

    But taking the question the other way, when we added those Frequent Contributors, I went to some pains to remove my own (very) peculiar personality from the weblog. I built the weblog originally as a subdomain of BloodhoundRealty.com, and there’s nothing I can do about that, by now. We’re too well known, too well linked. But I’ve done what I could to avoid giving our own brokerage an unfair advantage on the weblog. Six of our ten contributors are Realtors, and, if there is any lead-prospecting benefit to real estate weblogging, I want for us all to share in it.

    I own BloodhoundBlog.net and BloodhoundBlog.org, but I didn’t have the wits to buy BloodhoundBlog.com when we started this weblog, last June. That domain is owned by a software company in Texas, and, had I known that at the time, I probably would have called the weblog something else. I may end up owning that domain in due course, and, if so, I will set it up to redirect to our current sub-domain. I’m already using BloodhoundBlog.net, redirected, for our nascent podcasting overtures.

    The point of all this is, we’re big and getting bigger. My goal is to promote the people who have joined us as much as I might promote myself.

Q: Do you have any favorite posts?


  • Kris Berg: I am my own worst critic, and I am never totally pleased once I have hit the “publish” button. If I have to pick a favorite from my short time with the Bloodhound, it would be a post I did on Louis Vuitton and the French Revolution. The title words actually came out of my 14-year-old daughter’s mouth, and I was somehow about to relate it back to Zillow and real estate marketing. I absolutely love it when, as Jeff Brown once said, I can stick the landing.
  • Russell Shaw: The Millionaire Real Estate Agent.
  • Brian Brady: I like Greg’s Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie stories because Willie and I share some similarities in background (I think) and ideology.

    Any Russell Shaw post is bound to attract the whackos; I like reading their aimless rants.

  • Greg Swann: My all-time favorite is Apprehending Realtor 2.0: Seven essential skills of the 21st century real estate agent… I can take both sides of that argument, but the long-run trend is in the direction I take in that post: If you are not moving up the technology tree — and fast — you are moving out of the personal-services real estate brokerage business.

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


  • Greg Swann: Totally unfair question: I have over 160 weblogs in my feed reader. From the RE.net, you can bet we like the weblog if we’ve recruited its author as a BloodhoundBlog contributor. There are people we can’t approach (such as RCG’s very talented talent pool), and some we love — such as vendors — who would compromise either us or their employers by working with us. By now, a significant part of my attention, in reading real estate weblogs, is devoted to recruitment.

    Away from the RE.net, I read a lot of weblogging blogs, marketing blogs, SEO blogs, Macintosh-fanatic blogs and techno-geek blogs in general. Lately, TechMeme gets a lot of my time, simply because it links to such interesting content.

  • Brian Brady: Active Rain Real Estate Network. I’ve developed online friendships and a reader following there. I love Freakonomics Blog because of the off-beat hypotheses they formulate to otherwise explained problems.
  • Doug Quance: BloodhoundBlog, of course… and I have many others, but I wouldn’t want to offend those who, because of brevity, wouldn’t make the list.
  • Dan Green: My non-real estate blog list includes a strange mix of PopSugar, Olson’s Observations, Sabernomics, and Copyblogger.
  • Kris Berg: At the risk of sounding gratuitous, Rain City Guide was the first blog I encountered that really made sense to me. Since then, I have discovered many, many others that seem to strike the same, often elusive balance of having local and national appeal, of being instructional and entertaining, and of speaking to industry professionals and consumers. My first stops each morning include Sellsius, The Real Estate Tomato, 360 Digest, 3 Oceans, Bawldguy Talking, The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, Real Central VA, RealEstateUndressed, Blue Roof, and (of course) The San Diego Home Blog, to name but a few. My feed reader includes about forty blogs at the moment, which is far fewer than for a lot of bloggers I know of, but barely manageable for me. I have been slumming over the holidays and currently have 433 feeds to catch up on.

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


  • Brian Brady: Reading other blog stories inspires some of my topics. Articles in “Broker” or “Mortgage Originator” magazines help to a lesser extent. Real life issues that face me everyday are fun to write about.
  • Kris Berg: I subscribe to Inman News, which I find essential. And, of course, a good feed reader is a must.
  • Russell Shaw: Google. 🙂
  • Doug Quance: Google… but I could always use more tools…
  • Greg Swann: I think like a programmer. I write in TextWrangler, the free version of BBEdit, a Mac-based programmer’s editor. I’ve been writing in versions of BBEdit since the betas of version 1.0, coming on twenty years. Tremendous search power, including GREP, so I can reformat just about anything in scratch time. This group interview is being put together from multiple email files. The end-product will be assembled, a file at a time, in TextWrangler.

    As a front-end to WordPress, I use Ecto, which allows for multiple accounts on multiple weblogs, with categories and Technorati tags implemented. A number of the BloodhoundBlog webloggers use Ecto.

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


  • Doug Quance: It hasn’t, yet… but I believe that the blog will be the preferred way that the public will determine how compatible a particular Realtor may be for them by reading their posts. You can learn a lot about someone by reading what they write.
  • Dan Green: BloodhoundBlog has a different audience from The Mortgage Reports so it has a different place in my broader marketing plan. BloodhoundBlog helps me gain “name recognition” in the real estate space. BloodhoundBlog fills a unique role in that even folks who disagree (or even dislike) the writers still come to visit just to leave comments. There is no other real estate blog that makes as big a footprint at this point in time.
  • Kris Berg: I have never seen blogging as a lead generator in the strictest sense. Any good marketing plan includes a wide variety of activities. In my case, it is unusual when a new client can tell me precisely where they got my name; it is the marketing effort in its entirety that was responsible. Blogging is but one component. What I have found to be most valuable personally is the knowledge I gain from being in touch with issues on a broader, national level and through exposure to varying perspectives among agents on these issues. Of course, improved search engine rankings don’t hurt.
  • Russell Shaw: I don’t believe that blogging has much of anything to do with me “getting business.” I don’t think the general public is reading BloodhoundBlog every day. Other agents and people in the industry are “the public” I write to and for.

    BloodhoundBlog has a much larger audience than I would ever have on my own. All of the technical aspects are handled by an expert, and, if I don’t post for three or four days, people coming to the site still always have something interesting to read.

  • Brian Brady: Blogging has become the “X” factor in my marketing plan. What started as a hobby has become the leading contributor to our loan production, either from direct response to a post or an indirect referral from the real estate blogging community at large. I commit no money but do commit 2-3 hours a day. I’m still figuring how to fit it into my 2007 marketing plan.
  • Greg Swann: Practically speaking, it doesn’t, but I don’t think that way. What we’re really up to is an idea I call The Third Career. Most of us came to real estate from something else, and, as we are wise, we know this is not our last stop in the world of work. My immediate goal for BloodhoundBlog is to make it the best-read, most-rewarding real estate weblog in the RE.net. Further out, I want for our contributors to be so well known that they can pursue other opportunities: Public speaking, freelance writing, books, seminars, television shows, etc. I don’t know that we will attain this, necessarily, but the goal itself is definitely attainable: Witness Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit.

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


  • Greg Swann: We’ll be adding both audio and video podcasting, and we’ll be doing a lot more original reporting. We’ll add new writers as we find them or they find us. BloodhoundBlog has 334 Technorati links right now, which is nothing to sneeze at, but one of the things I want to do in the coming year is to swim our way upstream, to become the authoritative real estate resource for technology, political and general interest weblogs. Like RCG, we’re a given in blogrolls for new real estate weblogs. I want for us to be routinely blogrolled higher up the Technorati food chain.

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


  • Brian Brady: I don’t know… a live chat button? I think a live chat button would help a reader ask a question to an author. I think some readers are hesitant to post comments or questions because of the “Jim Rome” type environment that exists. That said, the “Jim Rome” environment is effective, though, and shouldn’t be replaced.

    The “sanctity of the confessional” sometimes inspires honesty.

  • Doug Quance: A killer mash-up page.
  • Russell Shaw: A list of killer post ideas. 🙂
  • Dan Green: Actually, I am happy that BloodhoundBlog has only a few features. There is a fine line between useful add-ons and gimmicks and I am happy that Greg Swann lives by one of the basic rules of technology: Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. Junked-up Web sites remind me a lot of the Flashing Text Syndrome on Web sites circa 1997.
  • Greg Swann: I’d love to know how many RSS subscribers we have. Our on-site traffic is very impressive, but I’d like to know how many people are seeing us through their feed readers.
  • Kris Berg: Spell-checking — and a laugh track!

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


  • Dan Green: There will be distinct dichotomy in the blogging world and it won’t be limited to real estate blogging. One group will be defined by community-based blogging, complete with deep and engaging conversations about anything and everything; the other will be defined by presence and access to good information for readers. Both groups will feature high quality writing and that will benefit readers immensely. It’s the latter group, though, that is the most intriguing to me.

    Blog-For-You services such as Bring the Blog are removing the roadblocks to blogging and allowing non-technical (and time-crunched) salespeople to include blogging in their marketing plans. Even though their blogs are updated for them daily, these salespeople are adding to their blogs when they have something important to say — this may be once a day, once a week, or once a month. These blogging entries would otherwise have remained hidden from the world if not for Bring the Blog.

  • Russell Shaw: More and more real estate blogs will exist. There will still only be a select few that are actually being read by a wide audience. As more and more companies that sell blogs to agents come into existence more agents will “blog.” Most of the blogs available are not interesting to anybody, including the people who post on them. The exceptions are those writers who have something worthwhile to say and those who post relevant information (that others want).
  • Kris Berg: I said it a year ago, and I say it today. Blogging for the real estate agent will become as necessary as a website and, as in the case of agent websites, there will be some terrific, unique blogs with great appeal to the consumer and there will be many more canned, static blogs with little value. Blogging takes an extraordinary amount of time, energy, creativity and thought. The agents that choose the easy route, that hire others to do their writing and simply throw their checkbook at a template blogging platform with no customization, will find the exercise as effective in generating business and credibility as door-dropping notepads. I believe that those who make the effort, however, will find that they are more knowledgeable, better respected and more effective as agents. And they might just have a little fun along the way.
  • Doug Quance: It will be far more prevalent… perhaps 10-15% of the mainstream agents will have a blog — though far fewer will take the time to keep it current. Even then, so many agents write such boring drivel… and others use each post as if it were an advertisement.
  • Brian Brady: I think blogging will follow the MySpace popularity curve. That is, a HUGE increase in 12-18 months (as in exponentially increased readership to the 15th or 20th power) followed by a tapering off. I think we’ll have 10 times as many eyeballs on BloodhoundBlog in 3 year as we do now. That number should be consistent for years to come.
  • Greg Swann: It looks to me like there is going to be a strong trend toward local content this year, and, obviously, we intend to buck that trend entirely. Day-by-day, month-by-month, we’ll push more in the direction of an on-line magazine — original content presented in arresting prose. In three years, there may be zero, one or two real estate weblogs like BloodhoundBlog. The rest will be something different, I hesitate to guess what.

    I do think the webloggers’ ideal of transparency is at huge risk in the RE.net, not alone because too many of the people who will come on the scene in coming years will want to avoid the time commitment that good weblogging requires. To the extent that the RE.net gets flooded with for-pay or overly-promotional content, it will tend to self-destruct. Consumers may not always be able to tell a hawk from a handsaw — or a Bloodhound from a Bichon Frise — but they will never fail to spot — and switch away from — yet another commercial.

Thank you to all the Bloodhounds for this wonderfully informative interview! Once again, Greg, you’ve outdone yourself! Thanks again!

And if you can’t wait until tomorrow to read another interview, check out these posts from last year:

Is MyBlogLog Good Social Networking Porn?

[photopress:Rain_City_Guide___MyBlogLog___Mozilla_Firefox_12_30_2006_3_27_30_AM.jpg,thumb,alignright]Because it has become somewhat ubiquitous around the real estate blogosphere, I started playing around on MyBlogLog about three days ago… Here is what I’ve done so far:

  • Added a bunch of contacts (pretty much anyone I recognize from the blogosphere) who happened to show up as I cruised people and website profiles.
  • Added Rain City Guide as a site and invited the other RCG authors as I found them using the system (only two so far).
  • Left a bunch of messages for people including one for Rudy letting him know that I still didn’t get the purpose of the site… His response was that it is easier to connect with people using this tool than via email.

Probably the “coolest” feature is that you can “see” who is visiting your site… I’ll keep this feature since it costs me nothing despite the fact that it misses out on a substantial number of users who consumer RCG posts and comments via RSS

Renthusiast is concerned about how easy it for someone else to claim your blog


My reaction is that it is so easy to connect with people on this system that the tool borders on the pointless… If I want to connect to someone on the internet, I’ll link to them. Do I really need a tool to connect with people?

Is connecting too easy? The obvious answer is yes… One soft-core porn blogger (bless her heart) decided to add Rain City Guide as one of her communities… To the general internet public, porn is vastly more interesting than real estate… Now when I look at statistics to see “What My Members Clicked on Other Sites Today” (which is a really cool idea in theory) it is loaded with porn sites like PornoTube (I’m not providing a link to the site, you’ll have to type it in the address bar yourself!).

Anyway, I’ve given the site three days and now my “pro” account has run out and they want me to upgrade to paying them a monthly fee for site stats and other unspecified “community” features. I’ll pass.

Valuing Real Property in the Seattle Area

[photopress:lega_emc2_l.jpg,thumb,alignright]My engineer friends are asking off screen for more details on a “scientific” approach to valuing property. You know, something they can put on an Excel Spreadsheet 🙂 Here’s a fairly tried and true method of valuation here in the Seattle Area. This method was so accurate a couple of years ago, that many agents were using this calculation to list property, and many owners knew it and were insisting on this method of valuation. That was before Zillow came out of course 🙂

I do have to caution readers from outside of the Seattle Area and the State of Washington, that this may not be reliable in other areas of the Country.

Here in the Seattle Area we have little niche markets everywhere. West Seattle, Downtown Kirkland, North Queen Anne, Ballard on the Freemont Side, Crown Hill, etc… Every pocket of value is self contained and is often called everywhere around the Country, the “snob” factor. I sometimes call it the “nosebleed” section, particularly in “view corridors”. Every place I have ever worked has had many, many imaginary lines that determine value pockets. Like the little sliver of area that has the zip code of the lower valued area, but the school district of the contiguous higher valued area.

OK, my engineer friends are getting bored with all the words. Here goes. When I first arrived in the Seattle Area and was working over by Green Lake, it was well known that everything was selling at 1.3 X assessed value. “Everything” meaning “all things being equal” and the “good-average home” without a view. Flippers were looking for anything and everything they could get their hands on that was selling at or below assessed value and using 1.3 or more x assesed value as their “worst case” after improvements value benchmark.

The beauty of this method is that you can extract the factor from each pocket neighborhood, and then apply the factor to the assessed value. I’m going to use the mls, but Galen and others, if you let me know of a site that has sold data that includes the inside photos of the sold property, let me know, so I can give the tutorial pointing to sites the Average Joe can access.

I just sold a property that closed at 1.54 times assessed value. Prior to that sale the top rate for that neighborhood was 1.33 times assessed value or less. Agents sometimes hold the market value down on the seller side of things by pre-ordaining the snob factor. Sometimes I can extend the imaginary line and drag the snob factor ratio of 1.5 to 1.6 times assessed value over to the nearby area that has not gotten a fair shake by the local agents for too long a time.

Take all of the solds in the same zone, as in nearby homes of like kind. Like kind meaning you compare view properties to other view properties and non view properties to other non view properties. You don’t have to consider square footage or number of bedrooms, as the assessed value will take that into consideration by going up and down to accommodate the inherent differences. This method is often more accurate than using the number of bedrooms and square footage reported in the mls.

Take the sold prices of each home divided by the assessed value of that home. Once you get the range of value for that area, say 1.4 – 1.48 times assessed value, you look at the assessed value of the home for sale and multiply it by that given area’s factor. If you pay more than that, then you know you are at the high end of the value range and might have to hold the property longer to come out whole. If you pay at or lower than the low end of the range, you can likely sell it whenever you want and make a profit.

View property will generally go for 1.6 times assessed value. The problem comes with flip projects. Flip projects and remodeled homes have jumped to 1.8 to 1.9 times assessed value. These homes, while they may be worth the price, must be evaluated with regard to the improvements of the basic systems and not just the comsmetic changes. If the roof is three layers and the wiring is original and the basement is yukky, but the kitchen has granite counters and the bathrooms are remodeled and the home is staged…be very careful. To garner 1.9 times assessed value, the home should be “like new” not only based on aesthetics, but all of the main components and systems of the home as well AND be a view property.

By calculating the 1.? times assessed value, you can determine how picky to be about the inspection, how much is too much to pay and where you are paying for “snob factor”. If nearby homes are selling for 1.4 times assessed value or even 1.9 times assessed value, and your offer is 1.8 times assessed value…that should tell you something you may need to know.

OK you data crunchers out there. Time for you to test your valuation using the x assessed value method and compare it to your Zestimate. Let’s hear what you come up with. This should work in any part of the Country that does not re-assess based on sale price, such as California.