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Foot in mouth disease? Hilarious MLS missteps



Here we go again, folks – hang on for the ride of your life. I think the holiday drinking spilled over into the work week, because there were some real knee-slappers in the MLS listing remarks this week.

With material like this, who needs sit-coms?

Reading the MLS and the L.A.Times ads can be a great stress reliever. And L.A. does not have a corner on the market. Wait until you read Andrea Swiedler’s contribution from New Milford, CT! As soon as

I wipe the tears out of my eyes I’ll try to type this week’s treasures. …There, I am composed, so here we go:

Lust Among the Ruins

“Latchis, door nobs and kochs will be replaced”  (That’s gonna hurt like hell…)

“This lusting won’t last” (Unless you are Tiger, John Edwards, Jesse, Gov. Sanford, James McGreevey…)

“Taro on roof is temporary due to leak” (A good psychic would have seen that storm coming!)

“Very Zen w/ stone walkaways amuck the flowers” (Stoned agent flower child runs amuck in Zen garden.)

“Home in Rancho Coccamongas” (Whose cocca is amongas? Or did you mean “humongous”?)

“A lovely canopee or bouganvilla” (I don’t think urine and flowers are difficult to distinguish, pal…)

For My West Hollywood Buddies:

“Call for inqueeries” (Alert Ricky Martin – there’s a new listing in “Boys Town.”)

“Small Home O Dues” (I believe the large Home Os do, too.

Dubious Distinction…

“House  snows EZ”  (Offered by Kip from Kilimanjaro)

“Playground nearby with slides and swingrs” (Kinky dinky.)

“Your buyers will flop.” (Well your sale ain’t lookin’ so hot either, pal.)

“Huge fire in living room” (Obviously, a fire sale.)

“Leader in stales.” (Loser who sucks.)

“Big gas girll on patio.” (…which is where big, gassy girlls should remain.)

And One of the Best Ever! (Thanks, Andrea):

“Big Dick Pond under a huge outcrapping of rocks” (Any guy tough enough to outcrap rocks deserves to brag about his big, uh, uh,…“pond”!)

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn,, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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  1. Denise Hamlin

    June 4, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Nice one Gwen. My favorite was the last one too. That actually had me chuckling. (I’m a Brit, notorious for having a warped sense of humor.:-)

    Have these guys never heard of proof reading??


  2. Rebecca Johnston

    June 4, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I am a communicator by profession, and am always stunned when my Realtor husband regales me with tales from the MLS. Proof read, yes! But also think about what you’re writing, and whether or not the information is actually (a) useful; (b) relevant; (c) interesting; and (d) going to help influence an action. How many people really care about the bougainvillea, after all?

  3. Joe Loomer

    June 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Just when I thought you could sink no lower, along comes the “Dick Pond.” When will end, I ask you! When Gwen??

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    p.s. off to change my shorts, fer crissakes.

  4. Gwen Banta

    June 4, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Denise, there is nothing better than a British sense of humor…or British PG Tipps tea! Thanks for reading.

  5. Gwen Banta

    June 4, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    You can thank Andrea for that contribution, Joe. I must admit, the visual is hysterical! (And yes, I can always sink lower when given even a glimmer of hope 🙂

  6. Andrew McKay

    June 4, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    and our sense of humour (with a u) will come to the fore over the next few weeks when we go out of the World Cup to Germany or Argentina on penalties ( again.) There gain this may be the year it comes home 🙂

    Great comments as always. Not just a dick pond but a “big” dick pond!!

  7. Gwen Banta

    June 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    HAHAHAHAHa…Spoken like a true, witty Brit, Andrew! It’s the naughty British behavior resulting in penalties that we love so much about our neighbors across the big dick pond, uh, I mean “big pond”! 🙂

  8. Gwen Banta

    June 4, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Yes, Rebecca, some of the descriptions are puzzling, I agree. I have heard of Listing Seminars wherein one is taught how to “paint a picture” with the listing remarks. I think some agents are too liberal with the paint. I once read about a home that had “seductive rooms that dance in the dappled light.” Huh?

  9. Shea Bunch

    June 4, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks Gwen. After a long day, I really needed that laugh.

  10. Andrew Mckay

    June 4, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    wait till the generation who have grown up texting start.”By gr8 crib 4 sale innit”

  11. Gwen Banta

    June 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    You are welcome, Shea. “Word,” Andrew 🙂

  12. Lani Rosales

    June 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm


  13. Gwen Banta

    June 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Incidentally, I just wrote an email to a colleague and wrote “Thank your, Dick.” Spell check did not catch it, but fortunately I did. I wonder how many times my clumsy fingers have made such hilarious errors without my knowledge. I am a danger to myself…

  14. Gwen Banta

    June 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    @ lani – You said it, girlfriend!

  15. Gwen Banta

    June 4, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Thanks for your faith in me, Andrew…but most of the men in MY neighborhood like to dress up as Girl Scouts…

  16. Gwen Banta

    June 4, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Only if you are a member of the troop 🙂

  17. john

    June 4, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    this is a particularly good batch. your interjected comments make them 2x as amusing. good stuff.

  18. Gwen Banta

    June 5, 2010 at 1:08 am

    Thanks, John. I just hope the agents who wrote these bloopers have a good sense of humor. And I hope John Edwards loses my address 🙂

  19. Michele Nixon

    June 5, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I work with an agent who remarked on one of her listings as having a “walk-in panty”.

    Damn! Those are some really big undies!


  20. Gwen Banta

    June 5, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Oh my! Michele, I have seen “big panty” and “new panty,” and even “roomy panty,” but never one you could actually walk in. That’s a panty that sees some traffic!

  21. Joe

    June 6, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Too funny! Sadly, one does not have to go very far to find these in our MLS. 🙂

  22. Gwen Banta

    June 7, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Thanks, and hello, Memphis!

  23. Maxwell McDaniel

    June 8, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    These are hilarious! Must.repost.

  24. Nadina Cole-Potter

    June 9, 2010 at 10:41 pm


    The great thing about entering the real estate field (at least, here in Arizona) is that, aside from taking the initial classes, passing the test, coming up with the money to join the brokerage, the board, the MLS, and being able to survive without income for ???, there is no barrier to entry.

    The worst thing about entering the real estate field …, there is no barrier to entry.

    Literacy and the ability to proofread (and to know when you are seeing a mistake and to know what to do about it) are not required. That is why the residential contracts are pre-fab and why commercial contracts are often prepared by attorneys.

  25. Gwen Banta

    June 10, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Thanks, maxwell. Spread the word: Pruufreed!!!

  26. Gwen Banta

    June 10, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Very funny, and very true, Nadina. Isn’t it interesting that very complicated legal contracts are being handled by some people who cannot read properly…or who are just plain careless? Ouch.

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Business Marketing

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.



Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?



Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.



Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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