It’s almost my anniversary.
My first post on AgentGenius arrived on September 22, 2008. By my calendar (which I sure hope is the same as yours) that means I’m only six days away from celebrating my blogging birthday. As I’ve mentioned previously in posts, I had done what I would now consider blogging back in my band days, but we called it “Diary Of A Madman” (nice Ozzy reference) and in daily speech I called it a “tour journal.” Looking back it was a blog, no matter what I called it. In my 359 days of blogging (I started right here before branching out on my own), I’ve learned a few things that I thought I’d share for the new agents out there.
These five things have served me well in my 359 days as a blogger, both here and elsewhere. I’m not claiming they will solve all your blogging problems, but I certainly hope they get you through a rough patch or two. Some of them I discovered on my own, some were handed down to me by some of the bloggers you see on these very pages. Overtime, I’m sure you’ll come up with your own important things that help make your blogging better and better each post. No matter how you look at it, blogging is definitely a growing (and learning) experience. So take these five things; adapt them, use them, throw them out, refine them, or carve them in stone – that’s the beauty of blogging.
That’s 0.013927577 Things Learned Each Day.
You don’t have to be an English major. – I was never the best in my English classes and although I held my own in various writing classes, I was never considered a genius. When I wrote my “tour journals” for the band, it didn’t matter a whole lot what I said or how I said it, so I learned to write as if I was speaking directly to my audience (then composed of 14-35 year olds who loved raucous 5th grade humor set to music). I wrote about my day as if I were telling my best friends what had happened. Honest, open, and full of ums and ahs. We weren’t looking to attract anyone new with “Diary Of A Madman” (I didn’t even know what SEO was), we were looking to entertain the people who were already visiting – the fans.
In writing as myself, I was able to talk about things as they were. Some entries read more like a Twitter message – “Show sucked. Tired. Jim just gave me a beer.” Some were the more lengthy diatribes you’re used to from me. What they were though, was a sneak peek into the true life of rock and roll. When I started writing for real estate purposes, I forgot those lessons and my first few blogging attempts were trying to be someone who I wasn’t. They were trying to give facts and figures and had no personality whatsoever. I was boring myself to tears. I’m not saying facts and figures aren’t important, but if they’re not showing the world who you are as an agent and why you’re the agent for them (on their terms, not yours), they’re a waste of your time.
Your looks are important. – No you don’t have to be a size 0 with perfectly white straight teeth and the latest trends in fashion, but you do need to pretty
yourself your blog up. None one likes staring at a white screen with a pile of words on it. From photos (I’d link to my Flickr account, but it doesn’t exist) to video to header tags to bold, italics, and links – you need eye candy.
I still have a long way to go in regards to truly beautifying my blogs, as I tend to be rather formulaic about it, but my early posts were without photos, formatting, or any sort of window dressing. Even just learning how to separate a few paragraphs can be an extremely good thing. Learning how to justify text is even better in my opinion – wish more bloggers did too.
Commenting is crucial. – If you’re not commenting on blogs, you’re not learning. I challenge anyone to disagree with that. Comments are where all the action happens in any post. A post is as static as your first website. Comments are where a blog becomes interactive. Comments are where visitors can take the information in the post to a new level and where you might just learn a thing or two. By commenting on other blogs, you may just attract a few inquiring minds to your site to start a conversation with you.
It’s not just about real estate. – Some of the posts that garner the most attention and reaction are the posts about things other than real estate. Yes, we are all here to talk real estate. Yes, we all want to tell buyers and sellers in our town how things work. Yes, we want to help show them that we’re the one they’d love to work with. When you step outside real estate for a moment and talk as yourself, readers are more likely to see you as a regular Joe (or Jane) and not a salesmen-esque, pushy, “buy me-buy me!” agent (which we all know is an all too common theme in people’s opinions about real estate agents). They want to connect with you. Let them.
When in doubt, read. – Blogging can be hard at times. I’ve written more than once of my sudden freeze on blog ideas. How I just can’t seem to think of anything. Some people suggest notebooks and some people use voice recorders to keep ideas. I’m not one of them. The way I write isn’t exactly perfect for those methods. What is? Reading. When I feel stuck, I head to the internet and read some of my favorite bloggers. By reading other blogs, I open up my mind and almost always, something comes rushing in.
Think about how many times you’ve read my blog and said, “I like it, but I would have added…” Don’t just think it, don’t just comment it…you have the ability to write a post that tops mine! Write what you would have done differently or better or just add to the mix. Want extra points? Link to the blogger and tell them you took their post and put your own spin on it. Bloggers love to get a bit of recognition. Please note: This is not about copying other bloggers, but rather building off of their thoughts.
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, 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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