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Photography: Thinking Outside the House




Home searchers are looking for the perfect house based on unique needs, and recently I realized how diverse those needs can be. I was (very casually) browsing for a place in Austin to get a feel… as a relo buyer. My number one criteria was not a spacious living room, whirlpool tub, or even a lot “nestled” in a quiet cul-de-sac… those features are nice, but they were not driving my home search.

I wanted to live in a place somewhat close to a natural setting, park, or water. Working from home, I need a place to walk my dog, go running, and maybe catch a glimpse of some mature trees in my neighborhood. I wanted to see the area surrounding the home. Here is my beef: Why could I not find one listing with pictures “outside” of the house. Not only the view facing toward the front door… I wanted more.

I wanted to see what it looks like standing on the front porch facing the street, and the view from the back porch. Even better, what does the street scape look like? If there is a nearby park, I’d love to see it. Local mall? Cool coffee shop nearby? Can I get a neighborhood entry monument at least?

I realize that the last thing you would want to do is showcase an ugly neighborhood… but I’m sure they were not all in ugly neighborhoods. I found no photos featuring what I am describing. I would think that I am not the only one out there that is concerned about the surroundings of a home. For relo buyers, photos of the surroundings tell a great story for some homes. I know it is not the case for every house, but I think it is a good idea to give an idea to a searcher about the local surroundings, and if anything, find a nice angle somewhere. It’s better than nothing.

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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  1. Elaine Reese

    May 7, 2008 at 8:20 am

    In our area, the local MLS does not permit inclusion of photos of property that is not for sale. Thus, neighborhood photos violate the rules. Of course, we CAN include such neighborhood photos on our own sites or blogs. But any downloads (i.e. to from our MLS will not include the photos you are wanting to see.

  2. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    May 7, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Carson, because I know that you used our new search tool on I know what you got to see and you’re right, agents don’t often include pictures of surroundings. You’ll get the community pool but not much more and I suspect it’s because the amount of photos is limited. What agent forget though is that linking to a virtual tour is another opportunity to have a LOT more photos.

    Some of us are using the new diverse solutions IDS (link seen under “What’s Hot” at the top of the page) which has built in Google Street View which we encourage people to use. On that same map at the bottom, you can search for “coffee” “pizza” or “bookstores.” But sometimes, Google Street View isn’t enough, or the photos were taken in the dead of the winter and you’re moving int he summer.

    So while diverse solutions has the best IDX search with Google Street Views, you are absolutely right- agents should think outside the house and make sure relos know what’s what in the area! GREAT POINT, CARSON!

    (P.S: just take your weekend trip to Austin already and all this internet searching ends by spending a day with Benn. I’m just sayin’….)

  3. Brian Copeland

    May 7, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    I recently saw an MLS listing here in Nashville where there were pictures of everything EXCEPT the homes exterior. Needless to say, it still hasn’t sold.

  4. Carson Coots

    May 8, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    What??? That new search tool is hot! I love it. Kudos to diversesolutions for a sweet product.

  5. Greg Cremia

    May 9, 2008 at 5:35 am

    What you are discovering is there is no substitute for personal interaction. The internet will never satisfy the needs of home buyers the way driving around and touring does.

    I just hope you did not eliminate the perfect home because you did not see it due to some bad pictures.

  6. Jennifer Rathbun

    May 10, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I just added taking photos of subdivison to my marketing summary. Thanks! I knew to do this, but your post gave me an idea of where to put it so I would not forget.

  7. Karen Rice

    May 11, 2008 at 5:35 am

    I will do that for my buyers if they email me and ask for more info about the neighborhood. I do not want to put neighboring houses on the internet – I don’t want to think about the liability!

    I have to echo Greg’s comment: “What you are discovering is there is no substitute for personal interaction. The internet will never satisfy the needs of home buyers the way driving around and touring does.”

    Pictures can and do lie. Poorly taken photos can make a place look unpleasant, unfriendly, unwelcoming. Very well done photos can make a place look much nicer than it really is. There really is no substitution for actually visiting the neighborhood and getting a feel for it in real life.

  8. Cool Springs Real Estate

    February 6, 2010 at 12:16 am

    The outside pictures definitely make a big difference when trying to sell a house. I saw a listing the other day for a beautiful home in Cool Springs with only one picture of the front of the home. Nineteen photos of the inside, basement and garage and only one for the outside!

  9. Steve Taylor

    February 6, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    You can always use Google Maps Street View to have a tour around the area

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Business Marketing

Easy email signature builder quickly updates your info

(BUSINESS MARKETING) When’s the last time you updated your email signature? That long? You might want to look at just sign, a new, quick, and easy, email signature generator.



just sign email

The last thing any of us are thinking about right now is email. While we’re all staying safer at home, though, it’s a good time to think about all the little things that need our attention, but typically get neglected: clearing out the email inbox, unsubscribing from things no longer relevant, and updating our email signatures. Why the email signature?

Oftentimes, we change emails when we change jobs and forget to change our signatures to reflect our new address. The same is true with social media; if we happen to change jobs, due to our own choice or by necessity thanks to the virus, we may need to update our social media profiles accordingly, especially if the new job suddenly makes this a requirement.

One of the fastest ways to update your email signature is with a generator. An email signature generator can help you quickly make a professional looking signature in about half the time it would take you to manually add each individual component.

Just Sign is one of the quickest options I’ve seen. This email signature generator is ultra simple, ultra easy, and ultra effective. It allows you to add clickable social links, a profile picture or logo, and all relevant contact information. It also allows you to choose a color scheme and tailor the formatting a bit to your preferences. As you begin to add options to your signature, you can see a preview of what the final product will look like in the right-hand panel.

Just Sign welcome

This allows you to make any necessary changes before downloading the finished product. When you have your signature perfected, simply click the purple “generate signature” button and you’re ready to go.

Just Sign is an easy, quick way to check another thing off your to-do list while we’re all at home. If you have already updated your signature, you might save this link for later use as it’s a good idea to revisit your signature a few times a year. Oftentimes, I revise mine simply to keep the attached picture updated. Have you updated your signature lately? Do you plan to? Let us know what you think of Just Sign.

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Business Marketing

How one employer beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.



Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make personnel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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Business Marketing

in 2021 the EU will enforce ‘right to repair’ for phones and tablets

(BUSINESS NEWS) The EU says NO to planned obsolescence by…letting you fix your own stuff? The right to repair has started to make headway again.



Right to repair

Not to be a loyalist turncoat about it, but sometimes the European Union comes out with stuff that makes me want Texas to go back to being Mexico, and then back to being Spain.

The latest in sustainability news from across the pond is that in 2021, the Old World is saying no to Euro-trash, and insisting on implementing:

Right to repair laws
Higher sustainable materials quotas
Ease of transfer for replaced items (ie: letting you sell your old phone without the need for jailbreaking anything)
and Universal adaptors for things like phone chargers, and connection cables


Consumers worldwide have been feeling the pinch of realizing their (cough cough, mostly Apple brand) technology not only breaks easily, but either can’t be fixed afterwards, or requires costly branded repairs.

The phenomenon has given rise to rogue mobile repair shops, Reddit threads, and renegade fix-it philanthropists like Louis Rossman. And while they certainly HELP, the best thing for a problem is to cut it off proactively. Since companies were making too much money not picking up the slack, the EU’s decided to take the steps to force their hands.

I’m always on my soapbox, but I’ll stack another one on top for this: Planned obsolescence and the assumption that a company has any right to tell you you can’t repair, restore, revamp, or re-home your own possessions are obscene. And to be fair to Apple fans, it’s not just in tech—it’s in damn near everything that’s not meant to be EATEN. Literally.

I bought a STAPLER for a volunteer gig I had. A good, sturdy Staedtler one that I figured would serve the project and continue to stand me in good stead for a while. After a few dozen price tags attached to baggies, the stapler jammed, as staplers do. No worries, you find a knife and wedge out the stuck staple…except I couldn’t. Because the normal slot for that was covered by a metal plate literally welded in place so that I couldn’t perform a grade-school level fix on something I paid for less than 24 hours prior.

Rather than stand behind a product that’s supposed to last, companies, even down to simple office ware, have opted to tinker away to force consumers to trash their current products to buy newer ones. Which I did in the stapler case. A rusty second hand one that didn’t HAVE that retroactive BS ‘Let’s create a problem’ plate on it, meaning no company but the resale non-profit I was helping out in the first place got any more money from me.

Consumers are wising up, and fewer lawmakers are still stuck in the fog of the 90s and 2000s surrounding our everyday machinery. The gray areas are settling into solid black and white, and SMART smart-businesses here stateside will change their colors accordingly.

Now while we’re all still quarantined and hoping for these laws to wash up onto American shores…who has craft ideas for the five-dozen different chargers we all have?

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