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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

Google Analytics will now filter out bot traffic

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bender won’t be happy that Google Analytics will now automatically remove bot traffic from your results, but it’ll help your business.



google analytics bot

In the competitive, busy world of online content, Google Analytics can help businesses and online publications deliver what their audience and consumers want. Now Google is finally taking the step of filtering out bot traffic in your Google Analytics reporting. This is excellent news!

In the world of websites, online news sites, blogs, and social media, bots are the bane of our existence. In their finest form, they are the electronic equivalent of junk mail. At their worst, they can carry malicious malware and viruses to your site and computer. They can even flood the internet with unfounded rumors that can have an impact on people’s opinions–stirring the political pot or lending misleading numbers to drive unfounded rumors, such as wearing a mask is dangerous. No it’s not! Chalk that nonsense up to bots and crackpots.

For businesses that rely on Google Analytics to determine what content is not only reaching but also resonating with potential customers, filtering out the bot traffic is crucial to determining the best course of action. Bots skew the data and therefore, end up costing businesses money.

Bots set up for malicious purposes crawl the internet looking for certain information or user behaviors. Bad bots can steal copyrighted content and give it to a competitor. Having identical copies on two sites hurts your site and can dink your SEO ranking. However, good bots can seek out duplicate content and other copyright infringements, so the original content creator can report them.

However, it is important for companies and content creators to know if their content is actually reaching real live humans. To this end, Google will start filtering out bot traffic automatically. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) actually provides an International Spiders and Bots list, through which Google can more easily identify bots. They use the list and their own internal research to seek out bots in action, crawling through the internet and confusing things.

Google says the bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the Google Analytics results–users don’t have the choice. Some may argue there is a good reason to see all of the data, including bots. Many businesses and online publications, though, will be relieved to have a much clearer vision of what content genuinely appeals to humans, to readers and potential customers. It is a welcomed advancement.

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Business Marketing

Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.



opportunity zones

Opportunity Zones are a beautiful mechanism for growing communities that are struggling, but some critics have put this process in a negative light. The following is an expert’s perspective on just this topic.

Jim White, PhD is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., Founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP, and Founder and President of JL White International, LLC. His new book is a heartfelt rallying cry for investors: Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds, launched March 31, 2020.

Dr. White holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an MBA, and a doctorate in psychology and organizational behavior. He acquires struggling businesses to revive and develop them into profitable enterprises using his business turnaround strategy.

In his own words below:


Every investment vehicle has a twist some folks don’t like. Real estate, stock options, offshore tax havens, and even charitable gifting can be criticized for certain loopholes.

Likewise, some detractors have pointed to opportunity zones, a newer investment vehicle unveiled in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. This bold, bipartisan plan allows for private investment capital to be channeled into some of the most distressed communities in the nation, serving the struggling residents and the investors alike.

Personally, I believe it is one of the noblest initiatives to emerge from Washington in years.

I grew up in a sharecropper cabin in what would have been an opportunity zone in Salem, South Carolina. What would an influx of investment dollars have meant to my low-income community? More and better-paying jobs to offset unemployment. People relocating to my town for those jobs, reversing population decline and increasing real estate values. New life breathed into local businesses. The increased tax revenues could have helped improve failing infrastructure. Social challenges, like crime and drug use, could have decreased. Better resources for my family and our neighbors, such as health care and education, would have emerged.

Today, there are nearly 8,800 distressed communities dotting the country that have been identified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). These neighborhoods were designated from census tracks, treasury, and state leaders as communities that would benefit from an influx of investment dollars directed through Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) to reinvigorate businesses, rebuild infrastructure and bolster residents.

As our economy continues to falter, more and more businesses file Chapter 11 and unemployment soars under COVID-19, I believe we are heading toward a painful expansion in designated opportunity zones. Even with the latest round of CARES stimulus money many people will have no way to rebound from this crisis.

One of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus quarantine is that many businesses are discovering that, in reality, they can succeed through working remotely. This success is a double edged sword, meaning that if a business can thrive with employees working offsite then commercial real estate will suffer. And when companies no longer require brick-and-mortar locations, a local domino effect ensues; ancillary businesses, from cafés to gyms to print shops in and around a commercial office environment will subsequently close. The ripples will be felt through many other industries, including construction, transportation, energy, and retail.

Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds are instruments that can help stop a downward spiral. When a sponsor is able to present a project that meets the objectives of the QOZ initiative, both the QOZ and the investors benefit. That’s a win!

And, it’s not only urban centers that benefit from investment dollars. Forty percent of opportunity zones are rural. Even with often plentiful food, water, energy and other natural resources, deep poverty exists, and too many of America’s 60 million rural residents lack access to education and healthcare. A declining population often goes hand in hand with failing infrastructure as tax money for repairs dwindles. Many households lack broadband, something the vast majority of Americans take for granted.

Despite the challenges, rural residents are often surprisingly resilient and resourceful. According to The Hill (“Rural America has opportunity zones too”), rural residents create self-employment opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Their challenge is to connect with investors and access funding, more of which is directed to small business investment on the coasts.

In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know about Qualified Opportunity Funds. If a business is located in an opportunity zone it is eligible for direct funding by reaching out to the QOFs with a specific request for funding.

More than any investment plan that’s come before, I believe opportunity zones have the greatest capacity for positive social and economic impact. Spread out over many communities, these investments can help our nation flourish as a whole.

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Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.



Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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