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Looking beyond at AG – An open letter from the Editor

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Out of character

I’m not a self-indulgent person, and although I have a perceived public persona, I really do enjoy putting others out front, and in the case of AG, I get to do that on a daily basis. I suppose in this regard, I am truly selfish. I take great pride in what we do here at AG, but rarely take to this stage to boast AG’s many accomplishments, but I would be remiss if I didn’t do that today.

Today is special, perhaps one of many special days, but most especially special as we mark new milestones. In less than four years, we’ve served over 2,000,000 readers, published over 3,800 articles, we are nearing 68,000 comments and not one animal was injured in the process. Sure, there have been a few bent egos, possibly a few misunderstandings, but at the end of the day, I have to say as any proud father would that AG’s milestones are important and should be recognized. But our work isn’t done, and in fact, these milestones only mark a turning point at AG toward the future.

We have a big responsibility that we take seriously

We’ve broken hundreds of stories, are often the first to a big story, and those we write about rarely know whether we love them or hate them- in this sense, we’re doing our job. It means we both acknowledge the good and the bad, even when the good is less popular or less read. One AG columnist noted that it seemed in order to get a piece on the National Association of Realtors read, you had to insert “[negative adjective] NAR” in the title. There’s a lot of truth to that statement, but it’s never been AG’s way of doing things, and it has served us well.

Early this morning over coffee, I glanced at AG’s traffic stats to see that 1,000 unique visitors had already hit AG this morning, with nearly three times that number in article views, and you think wow, but then you pare those numbers with our 98.9% real estate professional demographic, you really get a sense of the awesome responsibility we have at AG, in not only what we say, but what we do- this fact has never once been lost on us.

The vision for AG and a turning point

I mentioned a turning point earlier on, and although I cannot get into specifics right now, you’re seeing some of the changes live before your eyes every day, and you have been over the past year, but more evidently in the past and coming weeks.

My vision for AG has been to create a news environment that I would have appreciated when I was practicing. I’ve never really fit into the old stodgy reads, and magazines are pretty but behind the times. I needed a publication that is on time but was aggressive enough to be bleeding edge, an assertive balance, PRO Member, and today’s real estate news headlines at a glance. A digital environment that narrows down today, inspires me, targets my focus, and entertains- a place I could relate.

AG has the ingredients, and together, we’ve repeatedly influenced major industry change, we are bleeding edge, with a trailing edge wing, accompanied by today’s top real estate news stories, and remain member first.

What your support means to us

We really are proud to call you friends even when we do not agree, and we thank you so much for your support over these years, and ask you once again to continue that support through comments, supporting our site partners, reading, and spreading the word about AG. It means the world to us- we really do read and see it all. Together you, and AG make one hell of an industry voice, and it’s truly inspiring from where we stand. We hope you’ll continue to share AG through links to AG from your sites, utilize our content to educate your readers, share our content, comment to articles, and support however else you can to help us continue to serve you.

And to our site partners that keep AG free, and allow us to be who we are and unrelenting, thanks to you too- without you, we couldn’t do what we do.

Thanks for all you that do,
Benn and the AGTeam

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. Andrew McKay

    March 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Thank you Benn & Lani.

  2. Tom Ferry

    March 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Benn, my hats off to you and Lani and the team! Well done!

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 10:51 am

      Thanks for being a wonderful ally – how can we work together more closely in the future? I love your open minded spirit.

  3. Missy Caulk

    March 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    It has been an honor to write on AG. You and Lani are the best, always improving and staying cutting edge.

    Besides all that I have met so many people on here that I would not have met otherwise.

    Awesome growth! Congrat’s!

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 10:52 am

      I remember the day I met you at Inman SF, the hug you gave me said it all. Don’t tell anyone, but you’re my other #1 favorite ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. fredromano

    March 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Looking forward to seeing where you are going with this… Nice new website!

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 10:53 am

      If only we had a million bucks or two like the big guys, oh what we could do.

  5. Erica Ramus

    March 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    One of the reasons I love reading AG every day is the unfiltered feel for the articles. You post things that may be controversial, but that is part of the appeal for me. It’s not whitewashed or boring. It’s not “status quo”.

    I love the changes you’ve made in the past few months… keep it up!

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 10:55 am

      I love that you’re back on the horse, I’m looking to you to help us keep it unfiltered, and exciting. Your voice is amazing for the space.

  6. Jim Duncan

    March 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I echo Missy’s comment and say that writing here has been an honor. I appreciate your faith, trust and enduring hard work.

    Congratulations on the growth, the milestones and I look forward to the next chapters.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 10:56 am

      The honor has always been mine. When I list those I respect, you’re at the very top and always have been. Thanks for being my advisor and a friend to AG even when it wasn’t popular to do so.

  7. Ken Brand

    March 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Congrats to everyone, the readers, the writers, civilians and of course you two.

    To me, it’s a been a Win-Win for everyone. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve shared some, I’ve made new friends and as is human, I’ve put my foot in my mouth and said passion-motivated stupid, as well unstupid things in the comments.

    I’ve been in the business for 32 years, it’s such a beautiful thing to have tools and communities like AG to add life, hope and knowledge to our real estate business.

    And lastly, thanks for being the kind of behind the scenes leader that the two or you are. Like you shared and I’ve experienced, from time to time issues and perspectives clash and collide, just like in real life, but when it’s all said and done, no animals were harmed and life and business go on revolving and evolving.

    It’s an added bonus the vibe on AG is one of general respect.

    Cheers and thanks again for all everyone does.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 10:58 am

      We wanted you for your mouth, the bonus was your foot – you inspire, and Lani and I both are proud to call you our friend and look forward to you on Mondays. Looking forward to the next 32 with you.

  8. Anna Altic

    March 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I have to mirror my excitement in being a part of the AG family of writers. As I continue to see some of the fantastic content and pragmatic ideas being shared each day, it drives me to work harder and do everything I do, better. Can’t way to see how things evolve in the future.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 11:01 am

      With you around lowing our footprint, Anna, you’re just as much a part of our offline life as you are online, you make green real estate fun and it’s exciting to see someone doing something for more than just a buck.

  9. jay Great Falls

    March 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Keep the articles and techie news coming. It’s great that you’re not sold out to the iPhone.

    jay

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 11:03 am

      Okay man, you know I’d have an iphone if it were as cool as my evo :p The white ipad is kind of cute? I know I know, look away!

  10. herman chan

    March 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    unadulterated opinions, latest breaking news, hot exclusives, unrelenting publishers, committed writer: what more could u ask for in a real estate site!
    thanks for giving us this wonderful space on the web. so proud of how far AG has come. and this is just the beginning!

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 11:05 am

      What more? You Herman, that’s what it’s asking for, more you! I want to see your fab in our new video library. Work it.

  11. Melanie Wyne

    March 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Congratulations Benn & Lani and to the whole AG community. And hey thanks for repurposing my quote on NAR and a negative verb.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 11:07 am

      Damnit, we labored over that quote, knew you said it, but could not remember the grammar! You’re not going to sue me are you? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Melanie doesn’t suck, and neither does NAR on most days, and every other Sunday.

  12. Jeff Belonger

    March 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Benn,

    Then how come I have a few injured animals in front of my house? lol As Jim Duncan stated, I have to echo Missy Caulk’s comment and the comments of Erica Ramus and Ken Brand. Maybe I am taking the easy way out.. lol But seriously, they all summed it up very clearly. I know I haven’t read AG as much as I would like, but it is one of my goals going into the 2nd quarter of 2011..

    Overall, I do appreciate the honor of being associated with AG, the staff, and those that contribute here on AG.. and what AG stands for. Thanks for the hard work.. great job and I also like the new look of the site.

    Jeff

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 11:11 am

      Jeff, we’ll hold you to those goals and so will our readers – try pulling into your driveway more slowly in the future, the post will get done in it’s own time ๐Ÿ˜‰ You’re an honest soul and I would be your friend on Facebook ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Gwen Banta

    March 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Thank you Benn and Lani. You have created a fabulous resource that is interesting, informative and beneficial to all your subscribers and visitors. I am constantly in awe of the brilliant minds who make regular contributions to your site – our two leaders included. And, like so many sites that try to emulate yours, you are never down. Of course, there was one second in the middle of the night when you paused to “upgrade your backend” – a feat which I so envied. Although MY backend is still dragging…you pick me up every day. Thanks for everything, and continued success!

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 11:14 am

      Gwen, it would be a crime against humanity to attempt to change a thing about you, including your backend. Our resident superstar, and faithful Friday lift us up girl that reminds us that life really is good, it’s you who picks us up.

  14. BawldGuy

    March 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    It’s always good to see sites improve with experience, morph to what works, and roll with the punches brought on by the market. You guys have done all of that. The changes put in place here in just a few short years would normally take a generation, and buckled the knees of most. Also, don’t think I’ve met harder workers either. Keep up the good work.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 11:17 am

      Our spirit here is often inspired by our one/one chats, and I’ve always been honored to have a winner to turn to. Our knees like all others buckle but we’ve got you to kick us in the ass, or dust us off. You’re one of the most loyal and generous people I know, and I can’t wait to see you at Starbucks again, soon.

  15. Paula Henry

    March 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Love you guys and AG. You keep improving and keep it real, just like the two of you. Thanks for your hard work.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 11:20 am

      Paula, your humility drives me crazy as you know I look up to you. You’re one of the smartest chicks I know, and talented to boot. I wish I could clone you so AG could have you writing every day. I know you’ve forgotten more about survival in this business than most have ever known. Your talent is your open mind, and it inspires me- ask Lani.

      • Paula Henry

        March 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm

        Ah Ben – thank you! You are much too kind. I wish you could clone me too, so I could keep up ๐Ÿ™‚ I really love what you are doing with the site. {hugs} to you both.

  16. stephanie crawford

    March 24, 2011 at 12:42 am

    hearts and kudos to AG!

    • Benn Rosales

      March 24, 2011 at 11:24 am

      Stephanie, one night very recently I stumbled across something you said online that in that moment, I really needed to hear/read. I will never forget you for it. You’re proof of how critical what we all say and do really is. Thanks for a contributor at AG in all the ways that you are. The industry is better with you in it.

  17. MH for Movoto

    March 24, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Awwww, great editorial! I love checking in with Agent Genius and catching up on all your wonderful new content. I’m a big fan, and really looking forward to see AG’s future unfold ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Benn Rosales

      March 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm

      Keep commenting, and we’ll keep working ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. Lisa Heindel

    March 26, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Typically, I’m just one of those lurkers who surf in, read, absorb and surf on out. Today, I’d like to thank you for AG – it was one of the first industry facing sites that I subscribed to as I begin to explore how I could be better at what I do. You haven’t disappointed yet.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      No more lurking! :p I’m so glad you stopped to comment. We know you guys are there ‘lurking’, so we keep doing our thing ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Say hi any time!

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 โ€“ 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who arenโ€™t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesnโ€™t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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zillow move

zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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