Join us for a Ballard Conversation with Cory & Kate @ 4pm screenshotI’m really excited that today’s episode of Rain City Radio will feature Cory and Kate of MyBallard.   I have an obvious Ballard-bias because I think it is one of the best areas in all of Seattle, so it should be a lot of fun to explore this neighborhood with some of the best local bloggers!

You can listen to the conversation starting at 4pm by simply clicking on the play button on the radio widget on the right panel, or call-in to the program by following the instructions on the TalkShoe page.

Arrive with questions, concerns, and comments as I expect another great conversation like our previous calls with local bloggers like Tracy of West Seattle and Justin of Capitol Hill.


I thought it was a wondeful conversation with Cory and Kate of MyBallard!  You can listen to the entire conversation by using the “TalkShoe” widget to on the sidepanel of Rain City Guide!

We covered a mix of topics around both local blogging and their take on Ballard.   I found it particularly interesting that they both have only lived in Ballard for less than a year, and yet have quickly developed a strong connection to the neighborhood. Also interesting, is that like Tracy from the West Seattle blog, they both of journalism degrees and see this local blog as a future in terms of how news will spread through communities.

The pain of over pricing and poor photos… and how not to get bit by them, 9+ questions to ask your listing agent.

I’ve noticed a trend in my business lately.  Several consumers are contacting our team for help in re-listing their home after having a poor experience with a prior agent.  While it is true that selling activity in Puget Sound is lower this year than last, there is still some positive selling activity occurring with some areas of Puget Sound continuing to grow in housing values.

So, with there still being some sales activity why is it that these folks are contacting us?

What I’ve seen as key factors in the lagging sales of these homes is poor pricing and presentation of the properties.  In one case the price had been overinflated by hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus it had poor presentation in photos and staging, so the home languished sitting on market for over a year.

In the majority of these situations things could have been handled differently with the past agent.  And, while I believe that me and my team provide a higher level of service than many others, we know we aren’t the only game in town that can figure out the right mix of marketing, presentation, and pricing for a property.  However, in these instances, I do believe the former listing agents could have done a better job – for certain – but, as a seller, it is also up to you to do a good job of interviewing a prospective agent.  A few good questions by the seller might have led to a different decision about how the house was marketed and led to a better discussion about what impacts the value of a home.  This, in turn, could have led to a more informed decision about where to place pricing.

So, to try and help those of you out there who are considering putting your home on the market, here is a list of 9+ questions you can use to qualify and interview your prospective listing agent.

1.   What methods of advertising do you use, and why?  Can you tell me which will likely be the most effective?  How comfortable are you using Internet advertising methods?

2.   Do you think my home will need prep work or staging to get it ready for market?  What types of things do you suggest for sellers and why?

3.   What is the typical timeline for selling a home that you have represented and how does that compare to the local marketplace?  What percentage of selling price do you typically get compared to list price?

4.  Do you offer any particular programs or services for each home that you sell such as a home warranty, professional photos, etc?  Does your fee determine whether additional services are included or not?

5.  If you don’t provide these additional services yourself – do you at least have companies you can refer me to that if I choose to use them directly to prepare my home more effectively, I can do so?

6.  Are there any special considerations I should have while selling my home such as security, prep for showings, etc?

7.  How often will you communicate with me about the sale of my home?  What kinds of reports can I expect?

8.  Will I get a chance to review and approve any of your advertising or marketing materials such as the flyer, MLS ad, or otherwise?  If not, why?  If I am not satisfied with a piece, will you work with me till I am?

9.  How will you determine the price that should be advertised for my home?  Will you include me in those pricing decisions and explain to me any reasoning for a price above or below my own estimate?

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive but it will definitely open up a lot of good (or what should be good) conversation between you and the agent you are interviewing.  If the agent is unable to respond to any of these questions then you should seriously reconsider whether or not you will use him/her regardless of if it is a “family friend” or otherwise.  In today’s marketplace it is important that you make the right choice the first time, if you can.  The buying public is much more sophisticated today than even 10 years ago because of the Internet and because of the onslaught of home focused television shows and channels like HGTV.

Rain City Radio: Join the Conversation with Tim Ellis today at 4pm!

Please join us as we have a conversation about the Seattle bubble and the Naked Loon starting at 4pm PST!

All it takes to get involved is a telephone OR an internet connection:   You can call in to listen to the show via any phone… You can log into TalkShoe to stream the show to your computer and/or take part in the chat.  All the details (and there really aren’t many) can be found on Rain City Radio’s Talkshoe page.


What a great conversation!   Thanks again Tim for taking part in Rain City Radio.   And if you missed the live call, then you can listen to Tim tell us all about how/why he started the Seattle Bubble, some of the things he has learned, what inspired him to start the Naked Loon and much more!   Just click on the play button on the widget to the right!

Also, I am excited to announce that next week, we’re going to have a conversation with Justin of the Capitol HIll Blog!  (same time/same place 4pm on Tuesday, July 8).   I really enjoyed our conversation last week with Tracy from the West Seattle blog and I’m hoping to learn a similar amount about Capitol Hill next week!  🙂

Rain City Radio: A West Seattle Story

I really enjoyed today’s conversation with Tracy Records of the West Seattle Blog.  Tracy shared a ton of great stories with us and I learned a ton…

Click here to listen to the entire interview!

And below are some links to some of the things we discussed:

We covered a lot of great topics in the interview including her perspective on the elements of the media that has fundamentally changed.  As someone with 25 years experience in the traditional media space AND a successful local blogger, her perspective was fascinating!

Click here to listen to the entire interview!

*Note: If you’re wondering why this post looks different then when it was originally published, I didn’t like the outline that I originally provided, so I changed it around a bunch.

Join us for a Rain City conversation on Tuesday afternoon!

I’ve been having such a blast with the 4realz Roundtable conversations, that I’m going to bring the conversation to Rain City Guide!

a Rain City conversationThe idea: this Tuesday at 4pm, I’m going to host a conversation with the Rain City Guide community. There are many ways to join the conversation and all of them are easy. All the information you need is located at this website:, but here is a summary:

  1. You can call in to the # provided (724-444-7444), Call ID: 17904, to listen to the conversation.
  2. You can join the chat by going to the website that TalkShoe provides for a Rain City conversation any time during the scheduled call (4pm to 5pm on Tuesday)
  3. Getting fancier: You can sign up for a (free) account with TalkShoe and then join the chat (step #2). This will allow me (as the “host” of the show, I’ll be able to know who you are and identify your chats!
  4. Fanciest: You can sign up for an account (step #3), join the chat (step #2) and call in (step #1).

If you opt for step #4, then I can have you join in the conversation during our podcast!

The way that I’ve been managing the conversations during the 4realz Roundtable is that I invite a few “guests” who are unmuted during the entire show. And then, just to make sure things don’t get too overwhelming, I closely monitor the live “chat” during the show and if someone has a question or wants to make a point, then I “unmute” them. For people simply listening to the show, it sounds like a live radio interview show, but to the people taking waiting to “come on air” they can actively chat with all the others waiting to come on air.

So, for the first episode of a Rain City conversation, I’ve invited EVERY Rain City Guide contributor to be live on the call… The first order of business will be to go around the “virtual” roundtable and let each contributor talk for two minutes about what brought them to Rain City Guide.

Then quickly, I want to open up the mic to your comments, questions, tips, etc.

  • Are you moving to the Seattle area and want to ask about great neighborhoods?
  • Do you have a specific question for a contributor?
  • Want to share your experience with the Seattle real estate market?

My hope is that this first episode will be a lively and educational conversation, but it will only work if you join us! So, please consider taking an hour out of your Tuesday afternoon to take part in a Rain City conversation! I can’t wait to hear from you!

I interrupt the regularly scheduled programming…

to bring you this video interview by Joel from Inman Connect. While I talk too much and too fast, some of you might find it interesting to hear a bit about the history of RCG as well as some more details on the idea of “linkation“…

Now you can go back to your regularly scheduled programming

Interview with Marlow Harris of the 360 Digest

I feel very lucky that for my final interview of the season, one of my favorite bloggers in the world has agreed to answer my questions. One of my Seattle real estate blogging failures has been that I’ve never managed to convince her to start blogging on Rain City Guide and instead she’s gone off and done wonderful things on many other blog platforms. 🙂

What inspired you to start blogging?

I have several websites, including SeattleDreamHomes and SeattleNeighborhoodGuide, but I was unable to have a conversation there so I began the blog 360Digest which has since morphed into a personal and real estate-oriented blog. I’ve also created another site, Unusual Life, where I’m having fun sharing information about unusual homes and architecture and selling books that interest me via Amazon.

I also contribute to several other blogs, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Real Estate Professionals and Inman News and a few others like Realty Blogging and My House Key.

I have actually started and discontinued at least a half-dozen other sites over the years, adding and taking away those that didn’t work or that were ineffective. Expect a culling of these sites too, over 2007. This is still a relatively young field, so some editing and natural selection is inevitable.

I think we’re all watching to see where this new medium will take us.

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

Well, I like to be around and work with creative people. Therefore, I enjoy writing about creative people, their homes and creative approaches to real estate, art and popular culture. You can’t really write about your listings, that’s boring. And there aren’t that many “stars” in real estate. You’re left with dry prognostications or dull mathematical calculations. Or you can try to make connections between real estate and other endeavors. For me, that’s art and popular culture. My favorite magazine is Juxtapoz and the word “juxtapose” sums up what I like about making connections between the relationships of art, real estate and popular culture. It’s the intersections, random connections and juxtapositions that I find the most fascinating. One’s home is often a reflection of self, ones values and desires, and I love to see the choices people make.

What have you done to personalize your blog?

I write like you and I were sitting in the same room having a chat. I write about things that interest me. And I hope it will interest others.

Do you have any favorite posts?

Well, I think it’s funny to try to see how often I can mention Elvis in conjunction with real estate. It’s just so stupid, a bad joke that’s got out of hand. It’s absurd and it makes me laugh.

And one post that’s on my mind this week was the time I was asked by a movie location scout to find a place to film the true story of the local guy who, uhmmm… uh… loved horses. The film just debuted at Sundance this week and the reviewers fell all over themselves praising the aesthetic v.s. salacious approach to the film. I love the local angle of the story, it’s bizarre, strange and perverse….. all the things I love.

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

Oh, you mean besides Rain City Guide (smile) and all of these? I like Grow-a-Brain, Boing Boing, Fark and Unique Daily.

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

There are very few people who have anything remotely interesting to say, let alone write. Perhaps everyone will be blogging and instead of a couple of dozen really good blogs, there will be tens of thousands of mediocre blogs out there that no one reads. (Actually, I think that’s already happened.)

I think for many writers, the blog is just a big energy suck and a huge waste of time.

It’s fine that blogging is getting all this attention, but I’m concerned about the predictions of the end of traditional journalism and newspapers. Not many bloggers are going to attend school board meetings, city council meetings, and other important (and, perhaps boring) community meetings and events. Without paid reporters, there could be a huge hole that unpaid bloggers will never begin to fill. We need paid reporters — who’s going to follow those political candidates around, attend labor meetings, and report on local and national news if newspapers cease to exist and paid journalists disappear? Volunteer bloggers cannot possibly fill the void left by newspaper and professional journalists and they both serve different purposes. Professional journalists at least strive to be impartial, even if they are not always successful.

Blogging is an interesting endeavor, but I think it’s important for bloggers to keep what they’re doing in perspective. It’s usually marketing or ego gratification. It’s rarely journalism.

Thanks again Marlow for the wonderful insights!

Lots more to pick up via osmosis from these real estate bloggers:

As this is my last interview of the season, I figure it is only fair that I let others know that my interview from last year where Andy Kaufman subjected me to the same questions is still live on his blog.

Talking Up Shackprices

[photopress:galen_ward.jpg,full,alignright]Nathan of nPost just did a great interview with Galen on Shackprices… Lots of gold including some indication of Galen’s vision for the future for Shackprices!

What is your long-term plan for ShackPrices?

I would really like ShackPrices to be a national real-estate search website. Our goal is to make it for anyone in America to search for a home. The plan is national coverage, more features, and a better site for people to search for a home with.

Don’t stop with this quote… Go read the whole thing! 🙂

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…