Retweeting RCG just got easier

backtweetsI was at an tweetup last night with some great guys who run social media strategies for some pretty hefty newspapers and one of the tools they recommended I look into was BackTweets WP plugin

I like to think of myself as ahead of the social media curve, but I hadn’t played around with the BackTweets much, but after just a few hours of use, I can tell I’m definitely going to be able to enjoy how easy it makes following twitter conversations around websites… and in the case of RCG, around RCG posts.

To try it out the new tool, you only need to click on the button that says “retweet” that’s at the top-left of every RCG blog post (just under the title!).

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!

Starting with Community Outreach

Even before we were done building out the InsideBu website, I recommended that Madison start doing some research. And I started by advising him to fill up his sidepanel with links. My logic is that the process of building up a blogroll forces a new blogger to read other bloggers. The fact that it also also has the benefit of building up some good will with prominent local bloggers is just icing on the cake!

Here is the advice I gave him:

In the first week, there is no need for any blogging (although you should be writing a few posts just to get the blogging muscles exercised!). My recommendation is to spend a few hours this week researching the online competition for your area. At the end of Week 1, I would expect for your sidepanel to be filled with a bunch of links! (For background, see this blog post on Linkation!).

To give you an idea of where I’m going, I recently revived a bit of the neighborhood focus on RCG, which resulted in these Neighborhood Roundup posts. You simply will not find as many neighborhood blogs in Malibu (any?), but that doesn’t mean you should slack on the links… In terms of where to start, here is where my gut says should be the order of importance:

  • Local Bloggers
  • Celebrity Bloggers
  • Project Blogger Participants
  • Local News sites
  • Local Real Estate Professionals
  • Los Angeles bloggers

Some places to start looking for bloggers and other sidepanel links:

To see how Madison has implemented these recommendations of Project Blogger, check out the sidepanel of InsideBu!

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, 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 and, but I didn’t have the wits to buy 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, 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, 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, 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 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, 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 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:

How to Get on the Ball with Your Blog

I got this email the other day, and with the authors permission, I thought other agents looking to start a blog might find my responses helpful.

I am an agent with Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles and I attended your bloginar in July. I have really been researching (reading The Corporate Blog Book by Debbie Weil, searching out other blogs, and reading your archived posts on the subject) since then and I am extremely interested in getting the ball rolling on my blog.

I have a few questions I hope you can help me with.

1. BRANDING: I already have a website ( As I understand it, I establish a blog under a separate URL and then I can link it to my website (I see Jim Duncan does this). Is there an issue with having to give people 2 separate URL’s? Should I put both on my business card? Or is it better to just give everyone the URL and have them access the blog through the website.

This one is personal… I realized early on in creating Rain City Guide that I didn’t want this blog to be all about Anna. (I started this blog to promote my wife’s real estate business). So I choose a name that represented the area that she was doing business. It is so much easier to draw people to than

2. HOST: I see you had a hacking problem with WordPress. Are you still recommending them?

I’m definitely still recommending WordPress… As I stated elsewhere, WordPress wasn’t really hacked, but rather I made the mistake of leaving one file open to be overwriten by the server. If you are planning to start your own blog but don’t have the technical knowledge to manage the files and upgrades, I’d highly recommend going with (or, better yet, if you’re a Top Producer client, go with their hosted version of WordPress). With the option, they will even let you host the blog under your own domain for a nominal fee.

3. TARGET AUDIENCE: I notice on your blog you and your contributors publish stories/info that might appeal to buyers and sellers as well as trade issues that appeal to Realtors. I assume you recommend publishing for both target audiences at the same time.

I’d flip the logic on you… Instead of focusing on an audience, think of building a community. At that point, the question because where is the community you want to enter.

The problem with focusing exclusively on buyers and sellers is that it is a transitional community. Even if they enter your community for a short-while by leaving comments, they are likely to move on to other topics before long. If you want a sustainable community, making friends with other real estate professionals is key!

4. LINKAGE: Although outgoing links are important it seems that the incoming links are the most productive. Am I correct that I should concentrate on linking to other blogs that are likely to link back to me?

Don’t worry too much about inbound links… As you note, they are extremely valuable, but the highest quality links come when you least expect it. Focus on being interesting and the links will come.

There will never be a real estate bubble

When Susan Ryan posted Just Say No To Bubble Talk, where she states “There is no real estate bubble and never will be” (emphasis mine), she probably wasn’t thinking of the traffic and links she would bring in through such blatant link baiting. But in one crazy statement, she swung for the fences and brought in over dozens and dozens of angry replies.

In a sort of a reverse of the Greg vs. Ardell 100-posts-in-24-hours contest, I propose a link baiting contest. Can you write the most outlandish post that warrants over 88 angry replies (current count) in the shortest period of time? Extra credit if you hit 100 in a day. The prize: an autographed photo of Jerry Falwell, a man who understood link baiting before the internet even existed.

The fine print: If a Rain City Guide member takes up the gauntlet, other co-bloggers (or “cloggers”) can only count for one angry reply (that means both of you Russ and Ardell!). You’re on your honor not to comment on your own posts or ask friends to do so. Any single angry responder can count for up to 5 comments, but after that you get no credit for making them angry.

I will take myself out of the running right now, as I don’t know enough about the gold standard to argue on its behalf or enough about the illegality of the IRS to argue against it.

Update: OK Folks, we’re done. Unless you have something to say that hasn’t been said, which includes almost all points of view on the real estate market, views on the writers of Rain City Guide or the writers and commenters at Seattle Bubble, and views on the intelligence or lack thereof of nearly everyone in the United States, lets move on. Do someting that makes you happy (and please, no comments about duking it out on a blog making you happy!). Please, no cheers, no jeers. Seriously. Move on.

Time for some sleep!

At around 8pm, I woke up from a late afternoon nap to see that Ardell still had over 30 posts to write and I got a worried… So I took a Newcastle out of the fridge and started writing. I figured that should it become necessary, I could pass along a few extra posts to Ardell… (Greg’s not the only one with a competitive streak!) But she obviously didn’t need my help as she has just made it to 100 on her own! Awesome stuff!!!

Congrats to both Greg and Ardell… You’re both amazing.

However, because I hate to see things go to waste, I’ll go ahead publish the mini-blog posts I was going to pass along to Ardell. My intention was only to write a few “filler” posts, but…

1) I believe Greg when he says he could hit 135 in one day… The man in an animal!

2) Speaking of jobs! Give this man the full-time job as the Open House blogger… With articles like this fun one on an whimsical (artist) house and timely articles like this one on the number of NWMLS price reductions. Steve has come a long way in a few weeks since he asked me how to get some traction to his blog.

3) I steal a lot of “Rain City” traffic, so here’s my chance to give back:

  1. Rain City Video (local video chain)
  2. Rain City Rocks (rocks and minerals)
  3. Rain City Grill (yum)
  4. Rain City Dogs (dog walking)
  5. Rain City Hearse Club (car)
  6. Rain City Choppers (bikes)
  7. Rain City Shwillers (125% punk by volume)
  8. Rain City Yoga (hot!)
  9. Rain City Story (a personal blog)
  10. Rain City Studies (website design)

4) Greg points out this post on the Trulia Blog… Considering all the work that Sami and Pete have done to bridge the gap with the broker community, I’m surprised they let that post slip through…

5) In search of a snippet

6) Kris turns a strange day into a great 12-step program for blogging… However, note that most 12-step programs try to ween you of addictions while Kris is trying to give you one. You’ve been warned.

7) Review of the Bloodhound Blog… Nobody, and I mean nobody, feels more comfortable calling real estate B.S. when and where he sees it. With a fluent style, a quick wit, and a massive quantity of writing under his belt, the man has become addicting.

8) How to discuss Marlow’s recent post about Trulia’s expansion without sounding self-serving??? I put together a Excel spreadsheet that examines not only how many listings each service has, but also how many “accurate” listings each service has for one zip-code (98117) in Seattle. The results highlight a bunch of interesting things like (1) Redfin’s zip-code search is broken (i.e. a search on 98117 returns results for other zip codes like 98203 and does not return all the homes that Redfin has with a zip-code of 98117), (2) is missing more than a few Windermere listings (I was surprised when Marlow mentioned this, but the results pan out), and (3) Trulia has a long way to go before they are comprehensive. If someone wanted to take this data and add one more zip code in some other part of the country, I’d love to post the results. Maybe a Bay Area agent can take this on since all the sites in question have operations there!

9) One of the things I most admire about Ardell is that she focuses on the service (and then delivers a rebate). While it Bill’s approach makes for great blog posts, focusing on the “discount” doesn’t work for me.

10) I still haven’t made sense out of what it means to be part of a “Christian Real Estate Network”, but the guy does some great real estate blog posts… I like his latest on ways to learn about your competitor’s website is another doozy… although he does miss out on the most obvious trick, which is to use technorati to see who else is linking to them!

11) Interesting to see the competitiveness of the rental market

12) I’m not sure who, but someone once said… “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That’s the theme for these blog posts!

13) However, I must give credit to Jim for his excellent post on “why blog?”

14) Jay makes a bunch of valid points when he says it is time to “raising the bar” on becoming a real estate agent… Since stricter requirements would serve to keep out additional competition, I’m assuming that most successful agents would agree.

15) Tom echos this point, andapplauds the Governator’s move to require more education for California agents

16) Merv continues to deliver with his price trend analysis… If you’re looking for good ways to display real estate data start with Merv!

17) Then go check out Mike’s Altos Research blog because he makes price trend analysis easy…

18) While just about anything is possible, tracking my net worth based on my home’s zestimate and MyYahoo stock tracking performance is going to far for me… and then making a button for the whole wide world to see? No thanks!

[photopress:realty_blogging_book.jpg,full,alignright]19) The real estate blog marketing book is available for pre-purchase on amazon… I spoke to these guys while they were writing the book and will be curious to read it!

20) Thinking of amazon wish lists… This four bedroom home in Malibu is currently on the market

21) They are easy enough to find, but Hanan alerted me to this ironic clip of Bush

22) “Seller will pay 6 months of mortgage payments“… (I’m all for good incentives, but is this loan fraud?)

23) The Inman Blog follows up on Trulia’s post where they asked a few real estate professionals to predict the August numbers… It seems no one really knows what’s going on, and if they do, they sure aren’t letting you know in a blog post! 😉

24) As usual, if you want the real scoop on the numbers, turn to Jonathan.

25) The group at Inman also wonder if the people over at Freddie Mac have their pulse on the Latino culture… I’m not holding my breath.

26) Jonathan is also wondering where are all the foreclosures… interesting stuff. I think there are a lot of bubble bloggers that are ampted up and ready to pounce should these trends ever change. I wonder how long they can keep up their intensity before their bubbles deflate… 🙂

27) Speaking of numbers… Peter over at the Business Week blog does an excellent job explaining one example where housing numbers have been so obviously manipulated

28) I always like reading a blog posts from Sandy, but I just wish that she kept her posts short-and-sweet as oppose to long-and-infrequent.

29) Joel points out an unorthodox use of Zillow’s data… I haven’t looked through their API documentation, but do they insist that you add their name/logo when you use their data? How about refelcting them in a good light? Interesting stuff.

30) Now that they clog up our inboxes, real estate leads are a legitimate business [link removed]… On any given day, I literally get 100s of spam and my guess is that over 3/4 or them are real estate related. Thank you google for putting together such a good spam filter. I wouldn’t be able to handle the email I get to my blog email account with the filters on Outlook… I think I would just give up on email!

31) Elizabeth Razzi says that we should get to know the neighborhood before we buy a place. Not exactly brilliance, but it serves as a good reminder that there really are some intangibles that require more than an aerial view of a property!

32) Cherokee is looking for information on the Snoqualmie area… Pak gave one answer, but I’m sure there are others who could help! 🙂

33) The Seattlest gives hogwash a rave review as a fun for the whole family.

Hogwash – An Improvised Tall Tale For Small Children
Runs Saturdays at 2 p.m. until October 28, 2006
Historic University Theater, 5510 University Way NE (University District)
$10, Reservations – 206-297-1767

34) I like Rory’s approach: “I assert that a Real Estate Agent’s expertise and professionalism should be visible in their service and knowledge of the housing market and inventory. Their expertise should never be based on a carrot and stick ploy to drip feed clients MLS information.

35) Do you get comfort knowing that the home of the NAR president is lingering on the market? 🙂

36) If you’re curious, I’m going by the code name “tyr” in the Inkling Market set up by Keven Boer. At this point, I’m down… It seems more and more people are voting for Greg… Will a last minute spurt of posts from me help out???

37) The title may be a mouthful, Creative agreement may enable advantageous use of otherwise unavailable homesite, but Marlow points out a great example of the benefits of getting creative!

38) Welcome to the neighborhood

39) When Shaquille O’Neal makes a $1B real estate investment, that’s a great story!

40) Claudia lets us know about the renevotations that hurt!

41) David organizes another fascinating (and colorful) post on the connection between home life and healthy aging

Seattle Beaches Offer Unique Views

Today’s theme? Fun with real estate!

  1. Marlow provides a list of entertaining stories about hijacks (along with some good-natured teasing about the high PubSub ranking or her PI blog!)…
  2. Glenn thinks that we should change the title of Seattle Eric’s post because we’re not being fair. “The original post should be corrected out of fairness to make it clear that we use the same feed as every other Internet site…” Considering his praying mantis reference (and his defense of the reference), his comment makes today’s list because it gave me the best laugh of the day.
  3., Jan 1997: “If you’re ready to find a home, browse through more than 517,000 homes presented by 112 participating REALTOR® Multiple Listing Services in 41 States.” (Lots more early corporate websites…)
  4. I had a blast at MindCamp2.0 and am thinking of flying up for 3.0.
  5. Is there room for two dog-related real estate blogs?
  6. Glenn Roberts points us to a great story about the Yes Men. These guys convinced conference organizers that they were legitimate HUD officials who wanted to make an announcement about the future of New Orleans’ public housing. Following a speech by Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin, the HUD official announced a complete reversal of policy. Ali G would be proud.
  7. Promoting a real estate blog is tough stuff. Luckily Hanan is constantly throwing ideas our way… (includes an informative link on why no one is reading your blog!)
  8. Seattle beaches make the news! It’s not news, it’s fark!
  9. A great sense of humor make Maureen’s blog a lot of fun to read… (Her subtitle being a great example: “This is not the best blog in Columbus Ohio! This is a blog about what is best in Columbus…”). Her latest article letting us know that Columbus, Ohio is rainier than Seattle is much appreciated!
  10. Made me think of of the insufferable bastard:


Linkation, Linkation, Linkation

(I enjoyed writing my previous article on the reasons that real estate agents should blog, and it got me thinking about all the other bits of advice I’d like to share with real estate agents… I have a bunch of ideas, many of which are still only half-baked, so I’m looking toward your comments and suggestions to see where I should take this mini-series on blogging basics for real estate agents.)

What are the three most important factors in determining the value of real estate?

  1. Location
  2. Location
  3. Location

grow-a-brainWhile this well worn mantra forms a fundamental building block of real estate value, the concept of location is nearly irrelevant in the on-line world. I’m located in Seattle, WA, the servers hosting this site are in Santa Monica, CA, and you could be reading this from anywhere in the world.

If you’re an agent thinking of moving on-line, there are a bunch of real estate fundamentals that you’re going to want to relearn if you are going to be successful. I’ll start be revising the well-worn mantra to make it relevant on-line…

What are the three most important factors in determining the value of your real estate site?

  1. Links
  2. Links
  3. Links

And just as all locations are not created equal, not all links are created equal.

If you’re looking to build up a website that ranks well with search engines, then you’re number one focus should be on getting high quality inbound links (i.e. other sites linking to your site!). In particular, you want to build up as many inbound links from popular blogs and websites as you can. It’s common knowledge that 3 high-quality inbound links are more valuable than 1000 links from lame link farms… You want links into your site, but more importantly, you want quality links into your site!

Note that you do not get any search engine benefits from outbound links (links from your site to other sites). At best, outbound links won’t affect your ranking and at worst, they can seriously damage your ranking should you link to spam sites. In other words, if you’re linking to quality sites, you’re fine… If you’re linking to spam sites, you can expect the search engines to label you as spam.

Since there’s no benefit to outbound links, does this mean that you should not link to other sites?

No Way! Quite the contrary! Linking to other sites is critical to building up your site’s credibility with other bloggers. Join in some of the wonderful conversations that makes up the web and you’ll likely find that more and more people begin to link to your site. Find a blog you really like and then write articles about their articles! Link back to them and you’ll be surprised how quickly they start linking back to you! It’s actually a lot of fun to be part of this process.

There are very few sites that can build up credibility without linking to other sites and if you’re reading this blog looking for advice, you are probably not one of them. My advice to new bloggers: link… link… link… and link some more. Link to a blog saying something nice about their site, and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll link back to you!

So why are links so important

Links are the lifeblood of the web. The search engines rely heavily on links to determine how to rank your site. And more than any other factor, the rank of your site on search engines determines the value of your site. Granted, if you’re writing a blog for personal reasons, then you might not care how many people reach your site via search engines, but if you’re blogging to get clients, then you’re sites success depends on your how you are ranked by Google. Ranking high on Google searches generates web-traffic which generates leads which generate sales.

There are other ways to generate web-traffic, but none of them are as cheap and/or effective as generating leads through searches. (This site has a nice overview of how of how search engines work!)

So, all of this leads to an obvious question… How do you generate inbound links? Check back in a few days. I’ve got a bunch of ideas/thoughts on this subject. I’ll try to gather my thoughts and turn them into a post!

On a related note, I get asked by other bloggers on a regular basis if it is okay if they link to Rain City Guide. My answer is always “Yes”. I love links! Any business blogger who refused a link would be nuts.

links for 2005-11-22