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National wireless initiative unveiled by the President



President Obama travelled to Michigan today to announce a major new wireless initiative with the goal to bring 4G wireless internet access to 98 percent of the country within five years, build a national public safety broadband network and promote wireless innovation through increased research and development.

While all of these goals are laudable, for the real estate industry, the meat of today’s announcement is in the boost to 4G wireless availability and the freeing up of airwaves known as spectrum for use by wireless internet devices.

4G wireless technology promises broadband speeds that are more than 10 times faster than current high speed wireless technology. While the 4G rollout currently underway by carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are underway, many rural areas are not enjoying the same benefits as those in urban areas.

The President’s plan will support a one- time investment of $5 billion to build out 4G networks in rural areas. The plan also promotes changes to the Universal Service Fund, a decades old program originally used to promote wireline phone service in rural areas. Reforms to the fund will shift future expenditures to broadband services.

Another interesting component of this plan is a proposal to spend $3 billion in a “Wireless Innovation Fund” which will support research, testing and development in wireless technologies with the aim to build the next generation of wireless technologies.

Agent Genius readers well understand the importance of broadband and wireless to efficiently running their real estate businesses. I often hear REALTORs stories of poor broadband access in rural areas. What are your thoughts about this new initiative? Worthy investment or needless government spending?

Melanie is the Senior Technology Policy Representative at the National Association of Realtors. That means she lobbies Congress and Federal Agencies on technology policy issues of importance to the real estate industry. In her pre-NAR life Melanie has been a practicing attorney and a software start-up executive. Like any native Californian, Melanie loves good wine and bountiful farmers markets.

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  1. Dean Ouellette

    February 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    and in five years 4g will be obsolete

  2. Benn Rosales

    February 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    It’s brilliant and overdue. How do you grow the online economy? Provide more access. Let’s hope when those folks in rural Indiana order new shoes from Zappos that Fedex actually delivers there 🙂 Again, another improvement to the economy. It’s a cheap proposition when you consider the possibility of growth and commerce. Can we order organic foods directly from farmers now? Another possibility. OR I wonder how much Zillow says that farm next door is worth?

  3. Matthew Hardy

    February 10, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Ubiquitous broadband means one thing: the death of syncing.

    From something I wrote years ago:

    “Your router can allow an external connection from say, you out in the field, directly routed to a specific computer on your internal network. This is a powerful feature, is very easy to do and is often referred to as port mapping. It cuts out a middle man and a middle step. You don’t need to pay for an additional monthly service to store your data on a vendor’s servers and you don’t need to perform any syncing – you’re accessing your data live and in real-time.

    Real-time access beats syncing hands-down. Moving data around between multiple devices through syncing is inherently complex and is typically restricted to simple, personal datasets and not larger-scale business datasets. Syncing is an answer to slow, non-existent or too-expensive connectivity. Real-time access is simpler and facilitated by fast, ubiquitous connectivity.”

    One of the new products that takes advantage of this beautifully is ‘FileMaker Go’ for iOS devices iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

  4. Al Lorenz

    February 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    What a waste of money. 4G will be obsolete in 5 years, or less! If the service can’t be delivered profitably to those areas, just wait, something will come soon. If it can’t, don’t bring it. I don’t want to pay the subsidies and I live in a rural area!

  5. SteveBeam

    February 11, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Some taxpayers may not like it especially those living in cities with great service now but I’m for it. I live in Denver and work the ranch and horse property East of town where there is no signal in places and very limited in most so I know it will benefit a lot of people. It would be so nice to be out hiking and know that you have the ability to call for help when needed too.

  6. Steve Norris

    February 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Echoing Al – I live and work in a predominately rural area..when it can be done profitably it will be; until then let’s not print/borrow more “money” for yet another government boondoggle.

  7. Dave Kinkade

    February 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I love technology more than most people but this just doesn’t seem right. Government can’t do much of anything without screwing it up and driving up costs. I don’t care what they say, just look at the results of any project they’ve announced over the last several years…all way underestimated in cost and overestimated in benefit. I don’t care if it is a Republican or a Democrat…government should work on reducing its footprint. Technology will produce what the market demands.

  8. Ruthmarie Hicks

    February 13, 2011 at 1:32 am

    The message has been clear for sometime….America is BEHIND as far as internet access and general infrastructure. There is NO TIME to wait for something to become “profitable” for the private sector. In rural areas that will never, ever happen. We are so obsessed with waiting for the private sector to make things cost-effective that we are getting in our own way and will fall further and further behind in this century.

    Good for President Obama..This is an example of how the public sector is needed to create infrastructure that is not profitable for the private sector to do. People don’t realize how much the private sector depends on public sector spending. As someone who did biomedical research for years, I do get it. So many basic discoveries that were totally unprofitable for private financing got their start in the public sector. That financing gave rise to the entire biotech industry – which would not exist but for that government “seed money” that started in the 1940s and continued into the 1980s .

    • Dave Kinkade

      February 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      Ruthmarie, The government doesn’t have any money. Good for Obama?!? His government is writing hot checks all over town and our kids are going to have to pay for his largesse. We cannot afford any more government programs.

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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?



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, 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.



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 – 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 aren’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 doesn’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.



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,, 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’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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