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Opinion Editorials

Why CondoDomain has it right and most brokers have it wrong

Condo Domain has a unique practice that sets itself apart from their competitors, and we’re keen on their approach.

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Image of the Hoboken, New Jersey Docks by r0sss

Image of the Hoboken, New Jersey Docks by r0sss

Some have tried, most fall short

We’ve been writing for years about the need for agents to stop being all things to all people and stop working every neighborhood within a 300 mile radius and rather drill down so a true expertise can be had.

Some brokerages have attempted hyperlocal expertise, but it is typically a single agent in an office that sticks to the plan. Other brokerages have attempted expertise by selling lifestyle which gets closer to what we endorse as true expertise.

Matching philosophies

We spoke extensively with Hoyt Morgan, the energetic President at CondoDomain about their philosophy and how the company has evolved and was pleasantly surprised that we at AGbeat share the same enthusiasm about expertise as CondoDomain does.

Originally, the site acted as a mortgage broker for developers then transitioned into selling leads (which is why they still have a web presence in many cities where their brokerage does not exist) and matured into a full brokerage with national aspirations. Morgan says they sought control over the transaction because “the real estate transaction is ripe for improvement.”

CondoDomain is currently operating as a full service brokerage in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Hoboken, Jersey City, New York City and Washington, DC.

The 1×1 theory- the most impressive of all

In 2010, talent like Morgan was recruited, the pricing model shifted and they tightened their focus. CondoDomain is currently in and expanding to urban areas that “are growing up, not out” and looking to “capture a vibe.” Hip cities that offer unique culture and up and coming scenes are ideal for CondoDomain’s expansion.

Their philosophy that I was most impressed by is the 1×1 theory wherein their agents are experts in that one mile square downtown and know every condo, their history, their staff, their stats, and leave the suburban resale to those experts.

CondoDomain’s website and attitude

They tout their website as the cornerstone of their brokerage and claim to be a full service premium broker with a “whenever you’re ready” attitude toward consumers.

CondoDomain offers their clients a 20% rebate at close which has made them less than popular with their competitors but they say is “more of a retention tool than a marketing and acquisition tool, and we really use it as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to our client.”

“Traditional meets sexy”

Their model is the opposite of the standard real estate tradition of building a team of ten and then opening the doors, rather they start in a new city with one team leader and one agent and according to Morgan, “as lead volume grows, so does the team.” What a novel approach that contradicts the old school burn and turn mentality.

The agents are the face of PR and are featured in glossy ad campaigns in their city and are all a part of the national team with possible equity in the company.

Morgan emphasized their centralization of support, training, documents and the like and called their flavor “traditional meets sexy” where “skepticism is welcome.”

Expansion and hiring plans [AG exclusive]

So what cities embody that “vibe” CondoDomain is after? Morgan told us exclusively that by the end of this year, they will be in 20 cities and will soon be opening in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. According to their blog, other cities that are “coming soon” are Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Palm Beach, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and even Toronoto and Vancouver.

Morgan stated that their goal is for CondoDomain to account for 2.5% to 5% of the market volume of each city within two years of launch (which they did in Boston within the first year).

The good news? They’re hiring. Big time. They’re looking for team leaders in the aforementioned cities and several cities in a following phase (that we cannot yet release), so if you’re looking for a change and your city isn’t listed, contact them anyhow (Hoyt(at)CondoDomain.com or Victor(at)CondoDomain.com).

Bucking tradition and being a true expert

Theoretically, when you call an office in downtown Dallas that specializes in condos, they should refer you out if you’re looking for a ranch in Allen. And when you call about condos in Austin (where CondoDomain is not), the agent should know that Brazos Place was originally the Perry Commodore Hotel, then an office building and now condos.

We’re not in support of bucking tradition simply to buck tradition, our philosophy is that brokerages should try to come close to the 1×1 theory, be more centralized, be actual experts, run a more lean operation and think more like a tech startup than a blue haired brokerage.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Fred Romano

    March 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I can see this working well in big cites, but not for most others.

    • Grant Hammond

      August 4, 2011 at 11:47 am

      Agreed. I live and broker in Nashville, TN and I am one of the very few brokers who specializes in high-rise, mid-rise condo developments. With just less than 6,000 total units in our downtown/midtown, this concept has been tough.

  2. MH for Movoto

    March 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    1×1? Love that. That’s how it should be. We’re big fans of the intense-local-expertise mentality at Movoto, too.

  3. Jason

    March 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks for this case study. This model seems to work better in large, cultural epicenters which CondoDomain specializes in. I think it’s awesome they were involved with mortgage development and have a more broad understanding of the relationship between mortgage and real estate industries.

    Great post,

    Jason

  4. stephanie crawford

    March 23, 2011 at 1:54 am

    I specialize in urban home sales in Nashville. My current website is definitely condo-oriented, but my last website was even more geared toward the niche. In 2006-2008 a huge portion of my business was dedicated to serving condo clients – primarily buyers I found through the internet. Then in 2009, the condo market in Nashville fell off a cliff. Prices plunged, developments failed, and hundreds of buyers walked away from pre-construction contracts; many leaving their earnest money on the table.

    I nearly starved in 2009. It almost put me out of business. The first time buyer tax credit saved my @ss, but barely so. I used to firmly agree that agents should NOT try to be all things to all people, and I do still subscribe to that ideal on some points. But you have to have a good foundation and the ability to go where the business is.

    Watch, in a few years after the economy recovers (hopefully?) all the so-called short sale specialist will be scrambling for business like I was a few years ago.

    • Betty Jung

      March 23, 2011 at 3:36 am

      I couldn’t agree with you more Stephanie. I’ve been selling real estate since 1975 and the same thing can be said of new construction. Many real estate agents I know only listed/sold new construction in the 1980s and when that market went south they were lost. Not only did they not have other business but they didn’t know how to list/sell resale properties nor did they have those customers. It is never, ever a good idea to put all your “eggs in one basket” no matter what type or form of real estate or what type of real estate market we are in.

  5. Hoyt Morgan

    March 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Thank you for the support, Lani. We are passionate about what we do and it is rewarding to learn industry thought-leaders like yourself agree with our vision.

    If anyone would like to learn more I invite you to check out our corporate blog ( https://blog.condodomain.com/ ) and contact me directly (hoyt(at)condodomain(dot)com).

  6. Andrew McKay

    March 23, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Glad to see Toronto mentioned. When we still lived in the UK but knew we were coming to Canada we bought 2 investment condos in Toronto through simplycondos.com
    Laurie has since become a friend who we keep in contact with and I think his web site shows how even an individual within a brokerage can become that niche expert.

  7. Paula Henry

    March 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    When I relocated to Indianapolis, I found it very difficult to niche a specific area. My original website was geared toward such, but being new here was an obstacle to true success. I went the opposite direction of condo domain and built a team of agents who specialize in specific areas and more importantly, buyer representation. Fortunately, I had enough of a web presence to pull it off. It works perfectly for us and we don’t have to worry about a specific property type when markets change.

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Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

Why robots freak us out, and what it means for the future of AI

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Robots and humans have a long way to go before the social divide disappears, but research is giving us insight on how to cross the uncanny valley.

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Close of R2D2 toy, an example of robots that we root for, but why?

We hate robots. Ok, wait, back up. We at least think they are more evil than good. Try it yourself – “are robots” in Google nets you evil before good. Megatron has higher SEO than Optimus Prime, and it’s not just because he’s so much cooler. It cuz he evil, cuz. It do be like that.

It’s not even a compliment to call someone robotic; society connotes this to emotionless preprogrammed shells of hideous nothing, empty clankbags that walk and talk and not much else. So, me at a party. Or if you’re a nerd, you’re a robot. (Me at a party once again.)

Let’s start by assuming robots as human-like bipedal machines that are designed with some amount of artificial intelligence, generally designed to fulfill a job to free up humanity from drudgery. All sounds good so far. So why do they creep us out?

There’s a litany of reasons why, best summed up with the concept of the uncanny valley, first coined by roboticist Masahiro Mori (Wow he’s still alive! The robots have not yet won) in 1970. Essentially, we know what a human is and how it looks and behaves against the greater backdrop of life and physics. When this is translated to a synthetic being, we are ok with making a robot look and act like us to a point, where we then notice all the irregularities and differences.

Most of these are minor – unnaturally smooth or rigid movements, light not scattering properly on a surface, eyes that don’t sync up quite right when they blink, and several other tiny details. Lots of theories take over at this point about why this creeps us out. But a blanket way to think about it is that our expectation doesn’t match what we are seeing; the reality we’re presented with is off just enough and this makes us uncomfortable .

Ever stream a show and the audio is a half second off? Makes you really annoyed. Magnify that feeling by a thousand and you’re smack in the middle of the uncanny valley. It’s that unnerving. One possible term for this is abjection, which is what happens the moment before we begin to fear something. Our minds – sensing incompatibility with robots – know this is something else, something other , and faced with no way to categorize this, we crash.

This is why they make good villains in movies – something we don’t understand and given free will and autonomy, potentially imbued with the bias of a creator or capable of forming terrifying conclusions all on its own (humans are a virus). But they also make good heroes, especially if they are cute or funny. Who doesn’t love C3PO? That surprise that they are good delights us. Build in enough appeal to a robot, and we root for them and feel empathy when they are faced with hardships. Do robots dream of electric sheep? Do robots have binary souls? Bits and zeros and ones?

Professor Jaime Banks (Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication) spends a lot of time thinking about how we perceive robots. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic that covers anthropomorphism, artificial intelligence, robot roles within society, trust, inherently measuring virtue versus evil, preconceived notions from entertainment, and numerous topics that cover human-robot interactions.

The world is approaching a future where robots may become commonplace; there are already robot bears in Japan working in the healthcare field. Dressing them up with cute faces and smiles may help, but one jerky movement later and we’ve dropped all suspension.

At some point, we have to make peace with the idea that they will be all over the place. Skynet, GLaDOS in Portal, the trope of your evil twin being a robot that your significant will have to shoot in the middle of your fight, that episode of Futurama where everything was a robot and they rose up against their human masters with wargod washing machines and killer greeting cards, the other Futurama episode where they go to a planet full of human hating murderous robots… We’ve all got some good reasons to fear robots and their coded minds.

But as technology advances, it makes sense to have robots take over menial tasks, perform duties for the needy and sick, and otherwise benefit humanity at large. And so the question we face is how to build that relationship now to help us in the future.

There’s a fine line between making them too humanlike versus too mechanical. Pixar solved the issue of unnerving humanoids in their movies by designing them stylistically – we know they are human and accept that the figure would look odd in real life. We can do the same with robots – enough familiarity to develop an appeal, but not enough to erase the divide between humanity and robot. It may just be a question of time and new generations growing up with robots becoming fixtures of everyday life. I’m down for cyborgs too.

Fearing them might not even be bad, as Banks points out: “…a certain amount of fear can be a useful thing. Fear can make us think critically and carefully and be thoughtful about our interactions, and that would likely help us productively engage a world where robots are key players.”

Also, check out Robot Carnival if you get the chance – specifically the Presence episode of the anthology.

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Opinion Editorials

4 simple tips to ease friction with your boss while working remotely

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Find it challenging to get along with your boss while working from home? Here are a few things you can try to ease the tension.

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Woman stressed over laptop in remote work.

Most people probably feel like their relationship with their boss is fine. If you’re encountering friction with your boss for any reason, though, remote work will often exacerbate it—this is one instance where distance doesn’t necessarily make the heart grow fonder. Here are a few ways to remove some of that friction without adding to your boss’ overflowing plate.

According to CNN, determining the problem that exists between you and your boss should be your first step. There’s one caveat to consider, however: Your boss’ boundaries. Problem-solving on your own time is fine, but demanding more of your boss’ time—especially when you’re supposed to be working—may compound the issue.

An easy way around this is a low-impact communique—e.g., an email—sent at the beginning or end of the workday. Since that’s a more passive communication style that takes only a minute or two out of your day, it’s less likely to frustrate your boss further.

If ironing out the issue isn’t your prerogative for now, examining your boss’ parameters for success is another place to start. Does your boss prefer to receive multiple updates throughout the day, or do they want one summative report each morning? Do you respect your boss’ preferred communication styles? These are important questions to ask during remote work. If you find yourself reaching out more than necessary, for example, it may be time to cut back.

It can also be difficult to satiate your boss if you don’t know their expectations. If you’re able to speak to them about the expectations regarding a project or task, do it; clarifying the parameters around your work will always help both of you. It is worth noting that some supervisors may expect that you know your way around some types of responsibilities, though, so err on the side of complementing that knowledge rather than asking for comprehensive instructions.

Finally, keep in mind that some bosses simply don’t communicate the same way you do. I’ve personally been blessed with a bevy of nurturing, enthusiastic supervisors, but we’ve all had superiors who refuse to acknowledge our successes and instead focus on our failures. That can be a really tough mentality to work with during remote periods, but knowing that they have a specific communication style that hampers their sociability can help dampen the effects.

As always, communication is key—even if that means doing it a little bit less than you’d like.

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