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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

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.



Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.



Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.



Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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