In case you missed all the fun, last week I hosted a virtual real estate discussion in the Redhead Lounge. This second installment includes the same illustrious crew: Brandie Young, Ken Brand and Paula Henry, as well as two party crashers, Joe Loomer and Tanya Nouwens. These leaders in marketing and real estate were asked to answer questions in ten words or less, in between karaoke numbers and shooters. Grant Hammond, the bouncer on duty, had his work cut out for him. They have imparted some great words of wisdom, but watch what happens when I ply them with booze and become the master puppeteer!
GBB: Hey guys, who’s buying? KB: Loomer is. Here’s his wallet – I moonlight as a pickpocket. Paula provided a distraction by slapping Joe upside his head. GBB: Speaking of team work…do y’all think it’s advisable to have a business partner? KB: Everyone should have a trusted working partner. Someone who can cover their business…. Most don’t need a partner/split … I’ve rarely seen a partnership work, except with spouses. PH: Yeah, long term business relationships rarely last. GBB: Two words: Bill and Hillary. JL: That’s three words in Georgia. BY: I love having a partner…each of us morphs naturally into a role with the client, with one being the one that must, at times, bring some order to the relationship…GBB: Brandie, I’m not sure anyone will bring you to order if you don’t slow down on those margaritas. BY:You’re right – the salt is giving me kankles. JL:What in the hell are kankles? Do we need to call an exterminator? BY: Bloated ankles, dufus. Get your hand off my Swedish meatballs… JL: I will if you will.
GBB: Come to order, delinquents. Hey, look who just walked in – Tanya Nouwens. You’re late, put a buck in my money jar. TN: But I drove in from Canada… GBB:Hey, there will be no cryin’ for you Argentina. Try driving across Los Angeles! So give us some advice, Tanya: Should agents who are resistant to texting start doing so? TN: Yes, because it makes us seem 10 years younger than we really are. And it’s way less expensive than cosmetic surgery. GH:Did you say sexting? Hell yes! GBB: Grant, stop stalking us and go back to your post at the door. PH: Clients who text expect to be answered in the same manner; besides it’s quick and efficient. GBB: So you ladies think we need to be technologically current… I carry a Smith and Wesson – does that count?
GBB: What is the most important quality about a house? JL: If the bar is stocked. Oh, you mean buying one? The honesty in the disclosure statement and the state of repair. PH: Location. Duh. Now stop bothering me. I’m warming up my pipes for my real estate karaoke song. I plan to rock the joint with “Our House.” GBB: Did you say “Outhouse?” You’re slurring. You’ll be rockin’ with only two stumps if you touch my money jar again. KB: Whatever my clients think is most important about a house is most important to me. GBB: Good answer, Ken, but I didn’t ask you, so put a buck in the jar. And what’s your real estate karaoke song, tonight?” KB: Brandie and I are doing a duet of “Sugar Shack.” JL:Ken, you’re making a bold assumption that Brandie can walk on those meadow muffins that are squeezing out of her shoes. Gwen, shoot her in the kankles before she lifts off!
GBB: Ken, while you buy another round with Joe’s money, maybe Tanya can tell us what issue worries her clients the most. Tanya? TN: That they won’t get the value out of their property that they have already attributed to it based on a scientific study consisting of talking with their neighbors and friends and consulting Uncle Edward who used to sell real estate in the area in 1958. PH: Boy, you’re a chatty l’il thing…but I agree. They are concerned about whether or not they’re paying or receiving the best price. GBB: So we all agree on something? JL: My clients also worry about inspections…and the smells emanating from garage freezers. GBB:Zip it, Loomer.
GBB: What troubles you the most about the loan process? BY: There’s no rigor. The underwriters have way too much power. The lenders are still in panic mode. KB: You’d be in panic mode, too, if you could see your kankles from where I’m sitting! BY: Don’t make me hurt you, Ken. GBB: Joe, any loan process woes? JL: Buyers who arrive “pre-qualified” by internet or out of town lenders. Gwen, let’s team up for “House of the Rising Sun.” GBB: No, you’ll hog the microphone. KB: If you don’t pre-prepare your clients for the often bumpy and anger inspiring process in getting a loan, you’ll get blamed… GBB: That’s why I pack a Smith and Wesson.
GBB: Okay, here is my rapid fire finale: Ken, wake up – your ankle monitor is beeping! What musical instrument would most help you in real estate? KB: If I had the Pied Piper’s magic flute, that’d be cool. GBB: Brandie, when is dress important? BY: Always. Ladies! The two most important things: manicured nails and shoes that are not destroyed. It’s the little things. JL: Unlike your ankles… GBB: Brandie, I don’t think Joe can breathe with your IPhone in his esophagus. Paula, you’re on deck with “Homeward Bound,” but before your vocals shatter the neon Bud sign, when do you think agents should present an offer in person? JL (interrupts): When the client is super freakin hot. GBB: We’re cutting you off, Joe. Paula? PH: If there are multiple offers on a great non-bank owned property. GBB: No wonder you have your own team. I only have two hamsters and a ferret named “W.”
GBB: Tanya, What is the best housewarming gift for a client? TN: A house. GBB: That was a good answer for someone with a cocktail napkin on her head. You’re new at The Redhead, so you get a bonus question: What is the biggest hindrance to closing a deal? TN: Egos. GBB: You clever l’il Canadian – I love brevity! KB: That’s what Loomer’s wife says. GBB: Joe, I noticed that Grant is cutting off your oxygen. Before you pass out, can you tell me the most difficult aspect of a real estate deal? JL: Negotiating repairs or dealing with uneducated agents. That, and they rescinded the “shooting idiots” law in Georgia. GBB: And what’s your must successful means of advertising? The Playgirl spread I did, yeah, that’s how I roll. (Collective groans)
GBB: Last call, folks. Where’s Brandie? KB: (Bleary eyed and unfazed by his karaoke partner’s disappearance.) Grant bounced her and called the cops five minutes ago for stapling her business cards all over the piano. TN: She sure is a marketing wizard. GBB (yells across the bar to Grant): Hey Hammerin’ Hammond – you like your job too much! GH: Yeah, I believe Forest Gump best described my feelings here with the whole box of chocolates thing. GBB: So where’s Brandie? PH: Forget that miscreant! More importantly…where’s Waldo? JL: Probably in the cell next to Brandie. ( They all jump on stage and do a fabulous rendition of “Take me Home.” They dedicate their song to Brandie as she sobers up in L.A.’s luxurious County Lockup.)
Thanks to my colleagues for their valuable input and their willingness to participate in virtual mayhem. Ken Brand, a veteran in real estate, is the Real Estate Sales Manager of Prudential Gary Green Realtors in Woodlands, Texas. Paul Henry is the dynamo leader of the top notch Henry Group at Red Door Real Estate in Indianapolis. Brandie Young is a San Francisco marketing guru, trail blazer and founder of consulting firm MarketingTBD. Tanya Nouwens has combined 29 years of Montreal real estate experience with the home staging experience of Ready, Set…Sold! Inc to form a Canadian power team. Joe Loomer is Assistant Team Leader at Keller Williams Realty Augusta Partners and author of the wise and witty blog, Fruit of the Loomer. Grant Hammond, our “bouncer,” just joined us. He is an award winning Nashville real estate market expert. Los Angeles host and blogger Gwen Banta can be found at www.L.A.Homesite.com, or checking coats at The Redhead Lounge – tips welcome.
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.
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.
Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good
(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.
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:
BY JIM WHITE, PHD
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.
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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