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Rebuilding the Brokerage

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rebuildingAfter reading a couple of brilliant posts by Ines and JeffX on the future of the real estate business, I started thinking about my experience in setting up an infant brokerage firm.  As I came to find out, the task of setting up a real estate business is a very different beast from the real estate business itself. I used to think that if you can figure out how to make yourself successful at the business of real estate, you can then “show the way” to like-minded and like-hearted pros. Good God was I wrong!

I came, I saw, I vomited

The real estate business in its current form is sold to aspirants as a field with low barriers to entry, unlimited income potential and the freedom to “be your own boss”. Once the crack smoke clears, you see that those low barriers allow any knucklehead without a criminal record in, that unlimited income potential transforms into $35k median income and finally you are your own boss only for tax purposes. As a result, you have more churn than an ice cream shop and a business model that resembles that of a dealership, playing a numbers game. The cream (that always rises to the top) have been trying to reform the current setup and the image of our industry that comes as a direct result of it. But what’s the best way to do it?

Shift

I have a question to ask all real estate brokers and office managers and I’ll try to be as delicate as I can:

How many of the seat-warmers that hang their license in your wall would you keep if tomorrow they’d all be salaried employees earning $60,000/year?

While you recover from hyperventilating, think about the concept for a second:

  1. Five grand a month is a lot of money to drop on an excuse machine. If you had to shell that kind of money, you’d have to restrict yourself to hiring talent only.
  2. The current structure is unsustainable – Good agents either leave to the Land of Higher Splits, setup their own shop or demand commission percentages so high that you’ll go broke. The alternative is training people in perpetuity hoping to find diamond in the rough agents. See above what happens with them. Instead replace the debt collection company like structure with a corporate structure*. Agents can participate in the profitability of the company via performance bonuses but not every dollar is split according to some percentage.
  3. If agents are salaried, they can focus on providing service vs pushing people into deals because the last light bill was tinted pink.
  4. Instead of crowds of agents going nowhere fast jumping from one useless marketing method to the other, this structure could give the leader of the organization more control over where the resources will be concentrated. In other words, if Jay Thompson is your broker, you sure as hell are not taking out that newspaper ad.
  5. If you’re worried that your employees will stop working as hard now that they’re collecting a paycheck, stop. Most every major business in every major field, uses this structure and yet our country has the highest level of productivity in the world. If you hire the right people and put them in the right places, they will take your organization to levels you haven’t even contemplated.
  6. But there will be so few agents left –  you say. Is that such a bad thing after all? – I reply.

*Corporate Structure does NOT mean big brokerage. It simply refers to a employee based organization.

7. Content Producer

This last point is so important, it warranted its own header. Possibly the biggest shift that social media has brought to the real estate business is the transformation of the real estate agent  to a content producer. Going forward, the agents that will succeed are going to be the ones that demonstrate their value by producing the most compelling content – Articles, Blog Posts, Video Analysis, Information Websites etc. These skills you can demand when you’re hiring a talented employee – not so much when you offer a desk, internet access and a printer for $300/mo.

What say you?

Houston Real Estate Rainmaker and Uberproud Father/Husband (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not skinning cats or changing diapers you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I blog about marketing, social media and real estate. I might not always be in agreement, but you can rest assured I'll be honest. Oh, and I can cook a mean breakfast...

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42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. Infosam

    August 20, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Erion: SOMA Living and eRealty both gave the salaried employees (with a bonus pool) a very serious try and neither was able to make it work. Not sure exactly why.

  2. Tim Harris

    August 20, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Dude, REALLY well written.

    Perhaps the ‘new’ model will be similar to an attorneys office. You ‘buy in’…get a piece of the profit….etc. One thing is for sure..as you stated so clearly…the current model is DOA.

    Tim

  3. Ken Brand

    August 20, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Nice. I’m on the run, can’t comment in full, but I will later. This was a big topic at INMAN.

    The reality for me, there are super star independents, like you, there are super star big broker leaders, and there are dead beat independents and walking dead big brokers too.

    Talent and leadership trump all, it always has.

    Lastly, before I run, I know agents who earn less than 60K, know exactly what they are doing and their clients LOVE them. I also know agents who make mid, middle, high 6 figures and even 7. Some are clueless, clients and colleagues alike loathe them.

    Having said all that, and I’ll share more later, YOU SIR are on the money. There are too many uncommitted, unmotivated opportunists peeing in the pool.

    Cheers Erion, love your smack.

  4. Jim Duncan

    August 20, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Outstanding post.

    “But there will be so few agents left – you say. Is that such a bad thing after all?”

    No, not at all. Not even 10% of the agents in my market have done more than 10 sides this year. Does the market really need those other 800?

    Content producing Realtors/agents … this is something I have been thinking about a great deal lately. If I’m not producing content, I’m not putting seeds in the field that might grow into something of value.

    This is something of which I’m proud –

    On our “interested in joining Nest?” page

    New Agents? Sorry, we do not accept new agents.

    Everyone has to start somewhere, but we don’t forsee them starting here.

    If we did start accepting new agents, it would mean that we had developed an apprenticeship program that worked.

  5. James Malanowski

    August 20, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Since I just jumped from a big-box brokerage last week and went out on my own, I must say that your points are right on. I was paying up to 40% to the brokerage for the privilege of working with nothing in return … I’ve been self-sustaining for the last 3 years. I finally got fed up, earned my broker’s license and bailed.

    After spending the last 1-2 years reading sites like this and others my eyes were opened to the reality of the old-school business model of hiring anyone with a pulse. Over the last year there were only about five of us out of about 100 that were actually producing and keeping the brokerage afloat and we got shafted because the company needed to keep more $$ to make sure the lights stayed on.

    Now comes the fun … This is going to be an interesting ride for me! One thing is for sure, I would totally support agents being on a salary. There would be a lot less back-stabbing and animosity in this business (especially within the same office) if the vicious competition among everyone fighting for the same clients was removed. You’d also be guaranteed a more loyal staff of agents.

    – James

  6. Fred Romano

    August 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Very interesting post and well written! I’m not sure the “salary” thing would work in this business, but I think it’s a great thought. We’ll see how that plays out over the next 5 years as many other things really shake up our industry.

  7. Jonathan Dalton

    August 20, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I was with you until the end and then I wasn’t …

    > Going forward, the agents that will succeed are going to be the ones that demonstrate their value by producing the most compelling content – Articles, Blog Posts, Video Analysis, Information Websites etc.

    The notion that only agents engaging in social media will be the ones who succeed is fanciful (to use a more kind word than what jumped to mind.) Some of us do well with this and others remain oblivious. Recently I saw a friend update Facebook with a blatant plug straight out of the Real Estate 1.0 playbook. Made me cringe. Does this he’ll fail in real estate? Doubtful. It just means they’ll either need to rethink (or abandon) social media.

    From a broker’s perspective, I’m surprised that you would prefer a content producer to a GCI producer. There are multiple examples of content producers who can produce that content all day long but don’t sell all that much.

    Until there’s an “artistic impression” score to go with the GCI, I’ll take the person nailing the metaphorical cat skins on the wall.

  8. Erion Shehaj

    August 21, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Jonathan, my brother

    The notion of the “content producing” real estate pro is inseparable from the GCI producing one, where I see this going. What we call social media today, will be life media tomorrow. There’s a generation of 15-25 year olds that don’t remember life pre-Facebook. Ten years from now who do you think will gain their decision making mind share – an agent whom they’ve been reading for years or the one that mailed them that refrigerator magnet. Don’t get this twisted – everything I do is about nailing skins to the wall. Just as google changed the game for real estate, so will life media. This is not about pagerank, it’s about bottom line rank.

  9. Bob

    August 21, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Im with JD on this.

    Google hasnt really changed the game though. Its merely a tool some use well and others dont. Then there are those who out perform the rest by margins that would make Secretariat jealous, and they haven’t a clue about pagerank. They use Google to help them figure out where they want to stay on their next vacation to Europe.

    The content producer stuff is a myth. There is more content created every day than the world needs. This business boils down to the same basics Tommy Hopkins used when he met his first client in a band uniform. – get belly to belly with a lot of people. Social media, Google, Bing, etc is just another way to get belly to belly.

    “If we did start accepting new agents, it would mean that we had developed an apprenticeship program that worked.”

    Do you want one? There are a few that are tried and true.

  10. Joe Loomer

    August 21, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Gotta side with Erion on this one – at least as far as the social media angle goes. The reason the 1.0 agent’s blatant sale pitch will fail is not because it’s on social media – it’s because the CONTENT sucks.

    The elephant in the room is Health Care Reform. How much of that 60K will the broker be willing to shell out if 8% is going to pay for health care?

    Having said that – I’m all for the worthless and weak getting out of the trade. I hear the Government’s hiring…..

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  11. Missy Caulk

    August 21, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I think Independent Broker’s and Agencies have a much better success rate now than in the past.

    I see that increasing in the years, the internet in general has made it a equal playing field.

    Some agents are not doing or barely dipping their toes in social media. Some are very successful in our market. They have been in the business for years and are almost completely referral based. For new agents without a base, social media is critical.

    Only time will tell…and I’ll probably be retired by them.

  12. Jonathan Dalton

    August 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I work for a big-box brokerage and its website manages to hang in the Top 10 most searched real estate sites despite the rise of the Zillows and Trulias. (That’s also one of the reasons I left C21 … took too long to recognize the web.)

    > There’s a generation of 15-25 year olds that don’t remember life pre-Facebook.

    And down the line, people will look back on Facebook the same way I look at Prodigy … wasn’t it quaint?

    The challenge isn’t going to be any different on social media than it is today. What are the odds I’m going to be the only agent someone has as a Facebook friend? About the same as someone in my sphere not knowing a half-dozen other agents. Facebook, Twitter and the like are an avenue to getting belly to belly. No more. No less.

    I continue to do as much business off my 1.0 sites as off my blog. Why? Because people use the web to shop for houses, not for agents. All the social media in the world won’t change that.

    As Bob said – and wait … Bob and I agree? – there are plenty of content producers out there right now. And with all due respect to the thousands of real estate bloggers out there, a high majority of those folks plain suck at it.

    • Erion Shehaj

      August 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm

      And down the line, people will look back on Facebook the same way I look at Prodigy … wasn’t it quaint?

      Even though I’m not more of a Nostradamus than you are, I simply disagree with you on that. While many things about social media will be looked at years from now in a “wasn’t that cute” context, I think Facebook is here to stay. Now all we can do is wait and see.

      What are the odds I’m going to be the only agent someone has as a Facebook friend?

      It’s not about being the only. It’s about being the most remarkable. So in that sense, I probably should have said compelling content instead.

      As Bob said …there are plenty of content producers out there right now. And with all due respect to the thousands of real estate bloggers out there, a high majority of those folks plain suck at it.

      Agreed. But wouldn’t you agree that calling that crap content is a bit of a leap 🙂

      I’m not suggesting that the only measuring stick for realtor performance will be content. I am simply saying that in the future (10-20 yrs +) the ability of a real estate agent to produce compelling content that earns top of mind awareness in new media channels will be a major plus if not a requirement.

  13. Ken Brand

    August 21, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Ya know, there are so many in’s and outs, yeah but’s, except for, points and issues about this topic. It’s hard to comment without writing a book. It’s a sun spot hot topic.

    I’ll ramble on a few things.

    No doubt, the barrier to entry encourages and provides life support for the uncommitted and sullies the industry. I’d be in favor of raising the licensing fee to $10,000 or something like that. Then you’d have to be dead serious!

    I see this:

    1. Brokerages who offer no services and don’t keep it a secret, the deal is, hey we don’t provide anything to our agents and you only have to pay a tiny fee for this and that. These folks aren’t really going to go away. Why, because they don’t have any overhead, they don’t provide anything so it doesn’t cost much to run. As long as agents want nothing and are willing to pay a small something, this brokerage will exist. There are a ton of agents who wake up every morning, look in the mirror and say to themselves, “I don’t any help, I need to be able to what I want, how I want (without breaking the law of course). As long as crowds can enter the RE biz, these guys will have agents.

    This model is not dependent on consumer satisfaction or results or any productive outcome, it’s based on monthly fees from agents who don’t want anything except low fees.

    2. Brokerages who offer MLM style, high splits and charge high monthly fees will stick around too. The recruiting/growth model centers around everyone on the team can invite anyone and everyone to join and share in the profit (assuming there is any). Also, if the unproductive agents don’t sell anything, the broker still receives a stiff monthly fee. In this scenario, the agents go broke, if the broker is a crafty recruiter, then they’ll be ok, monthly feel keep them afloat, not sales success or consumer satisfaction.

    This model can be successful if enough agents paying monthly fees can be recruited. If the agents are successful selling and closing the broker makes more money, but total success is not depended on a productive outcome.

    3. Traditional type brokerages, mired in sunk costs, legacy systems, jurassic mind set and lacking the money, imagination, energy or brain wattage to figure out to get with the program. Pool leadership attracts weak agents who don’t develop, good agents leave and the end of the story is the brokerage goes belly up.

    This model is dependent on the productive success of their agents, when productivity suffers they go out of business.

    4. Traditional Brokerages who understand we’re in a consumer centric age not an agent centric age. Leadership is top notch, imaginative, modern, engaged and passionate. They attract talent, nurture talent, reward talent and the focus is on delighting clients. Standards, expectations and accountability are tattooed on everyones forehead. These men and women will slowly but surely drink the milk shakes of 2. & 3. They have no interest in agents from 1. above.

    This model is dependent up the satisfaction of their clients and the productivity of their agents. Everything is designed to help the agents deliver a better experience for the client. This model thrive with talented leaders.

    5. Independent brokers who want to march to their drummer, the passionate entrepreneur empowered with big brains, brass unisex balls and shiny technology, they strike out on their own and do it in grand free style. These folks don’t have to worry about anyone drinking their milkshake, they do sip and gulp from everyone, but they won’t take over the world, they don’t want to.

    This model is do or die. The good are great, the bad die.

    There’s plenty of room for 5. and .4.

    I don’t know about the salary thing, I can’t imagine an employee mentality that would work the odd hours, deal with abusive clients, do all the scut work things an agent does and they work on a time clock. That’s duck will quack but not soar.

    I like to think I’m an imperfect .4 guy, what concerns me, is what I don’t know about the next, next thing. The thing I can’t imagine.

    Great thought provoking stuff Erion. Cheers.

    PS. I quite possible I’m wrong about all of this. What I do know is that I have to keep reinventing myself and work my ass off or I’ll be irrelevant.

  14. Jeffrey Douglass

    August 21, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Erion,

    Okay, now your making us all look bad with another though provoking post.

    I am a firm believer that one successful brokerage of the future will be the content producer, so much so that I am spending quite a bit of time developing that very model. Rather than be the gatekeeper of old, put it out there for consumers to have some good content without an agent run down the street after them.

    Jay Thompson, Kris Berg and many others have been pioneers for us newer to the scene and it is such a kick to converse with everyone all across the Country. That is where I see the real power in SM.

    Over at Clean Slate there is quite a conversation going about the status quo not being an option.

    bhgrealestateblog.com/2009/08/14/the-status-quo-is-not-an-option/

    I think that we all agree that changes have happened and more are on the way.

    I love Ken Brand’s comment above regarding #5: Independent Brokers.

    The playing field has never been so level as it is now for those small entrepreneurs that want to brave the rough waters of change. For myself, it is really freeing that I am not longer bound by dual agency, company owned escrow and title companies and cozy deals with service providers. I am free to recommend my Clients use the best services for their individual circumstances – not because the Company needs to make money.

    I am lean, mean, and profitable. I can buy excellent E&O insurance, the best of technology, and think outside the box. I can change direction on a dime, and I’m not afraid to try new things and embrace new technology if it servers the Client.

    I think the small entrepreneur Broker has a big part to play in the brokerages of the future.

  15. Sam Ingersoll

    August 21, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Being a great “Content Producer” is really hard.

    What you need to be is a “Content Aggregator.”

    3 Steps

    #1. Pick 5 interesting articles or market reports per day.

    #2. Have them re-written by an outsource/ghostwriter

    #3. Then add a few of your own comments and post to your WordPress Blog periodically and use the PingFM plugin to bounce them to social networks.

    People will think you are one smart Realtor, you’ll generate traffic, etc…

    With those basics covered, you can spend more time struggling to write truly inspired, unique content which is very hard to do.

    Trying to be clever on Facebook is tiring enough!

    BTW, entire Books on real estate can be written this way.

    • Erion Shehaj

      August 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm

      For the love of God, don’t do what the previous commenter said.

  16. Ken Brand

    August 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Bob, a couple of dudes….ummm, I think they were dudes, anyway, they tried a similar approach in the music…mmmm, I think it was music, anyway, they tried a similiar approach in the music biz and it sorta went ker-plou-eeee. See what I mean: https://budurl.com/MillieVanillieRule

    Just say’n.

  17. Erion Shehaj

    August 21, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    As an alternative to getting other people’s content and ahem.. “re writing it” consider this gem from Rudy Bachraty at HARSMP: “Are you short on post ideas for your local blog? Write down every question your clients ever asked you and answer it. You’ll have an endless supply”

  18. Ken Brand

    August 21, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Doh, sorry about that Bob, I meant to type “Sam”

    Sam, a couple of dudes….ummm, I think they were dudes, anyway, they tried a similar approach in the music…mmmm, I think it was music, anyway, they tried a similiar approach in the music biz and it sorta went ker-plou-eeee – they went by the name “Millie Vanillie”

  19. Sam Ingersoll

    August 21, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Hah!

    You know you loved that song until you found out they were lip syncing!

    Seriously, you think Dr. Phil, Tony Robbins, and Oprah write their own stuff? (I know they don’t because I know who their writers are.) Does Obama?

    Ask any agent “How to Prepare a House for Sale” and the core content will all be the same.

    95% of what I read here and on Activerain and on Bloodhound is basically the same, just told with a different voice and some local color or slightly different language or perspective.

    I love good writing. It’s why I hang around.

    But, I’m in favor of more people sharing good ideas and internalizing and learning them and “owning” them. So many people never do these because they can’t live up to the standards set by people here, their smarter brother or sister, etc…

    “How could I possibly blog like them?” “They are such good writers, I can never do that?”

    People are always told, “Writing is hard.” Well, really good, funny, fascinating, original writing is. Most folks are even blocked from writing about step-by-step processes.

    Thrill us with your brilliance Oh Gods of Blogger World!

    I want more people writing and re-writing no matter where they get it. As their writing becomes more clear, so does their thinking.

    Lord knows the real estate industry could use more of that.

    P.S. You really would be shocked to learn how many of the most popular books are written. : ) And don’t take too much too seriously. We aren’t always what we write….or are we?

  20. don

    August 21, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    The current state of the market (foreclosures making up 50% of inventory) make it extremely challenging to start a new biz model in my opinion. You simply have too many parties invovled…my guess is in 2 years the market will have corrected and I think you find yourself on one side of the street (discount vs full service) or the other…two things to keep in my, inventory is king…and a buyer can work with anyone, and already has done most of the legwork online…so i think rebates/perks will become a larger carrot in the future

  21. Bob

    August 24, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Agreed. But wouldn’t you agree that calling that crap content is a bit of a leap 🙂

    Now we are real close to full agreement. IMNSHO most of the real estate content published is worthless. Its quality, not quantity, but most of our colleagues have been taught that you have to write something on a regular basis.

    It’s a myth perpetuated by vendors and AR types that is not even close to being true.

    I have a solid 10 years of real proven SEO experience and have a pretty big SOI in the SE world. A few years back I was talking to Tim Mayor, product manager for Yahoo Search Technology, about the real estate space and Yahoo’s indexing. One of his comments was “We don’t want all that crap polluting our index.”

    I am simply saying that in the future (10-20 yrs +) the ability of a real estate agent to produce compelling content that earns top of mind awareness in new media channels will be a major plus if not a requirement.

    DEAD ON!! This is what’s about. The SEO aspect of this holds true as well. If it isnt worth linking to, it is not going to be worth ranking by a search engine.

    With all due respect to Sam, being an aggregator with regurgitated material isn’t adding value. Coming up with original material isn’t hard if you step a bit out of the box. If you have much experience in this biz, then Rudy’s idea is a winner.

  22. Bob

    August 24, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    “Agreed. But wouldn’t you agree that calling that crap content is a bit of a leap :-)”

    Now we are real close to full agreement. IMNSHO most of the real estate content published is worthless. Its quality, not quantity, but most of our colleagues have been taught that you have to write something on a regular basis.

    It’s a myth perpetuated by vendors and AR types that is not even close to being true.

    I have a solid 10 years of real proven SEO experience and have a pretty big SOI in the SE world. A few years back I was talking to Tim Mayor, product manager for Yahoo Search Technology, about the real estate space and Yahoo’s indexing. One of his comments was “We don’t want all that crap polluting our index.”

    “I am simply saying that in the future (10-20 yrs +) the ability of a real estate agent to produce compelling content that earns top of mind awareness in new media channels will be a major plus if not a requirement.”

    DEAD ON!! This is what’s about. The SEO aspect of this holds true as well. If it isnt worth linking to, it is not going to be worth ranking by a search engine.

    With all due respect to Sam, being an aggregator with regurgitated material isn’t adding value. Coming up with original material isn’t hard if you step a bit out of the box. If you have much experience in this biz, then Rudy’s idea is a winner.

  23. Sam Ingersoll

    August 24, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Bob,

    “Regurgitated” material – can be very valuable to the consumers who find it on a blog in Philadelphia where they would never see it on the New York blog it was originally produced for.

    I’m interested in “impact” rather than “purity of process.”

    Don’t you wish someone had 3 years ago written about the dangers of Subprime Loans in a very clever and compelling way – that was then copied and stolen by every other agent in the country for their own website? And published daily!

    The #1 cause of divorce is financial stress (this includes arguments about money.) Think of how many families might not have had their finances trashed.

    I don’t want agents to Not Blog because they feel it is difficult – and on forums like this all the Blogging Gods write so well it’s intimidating.

    I want average agents to read a GREAT Post on ActiveRain or where-ever, and feel perfectly comfortable with posting it – in block quotes – or rewriting it in their own voice for their own audience, or paying a ghostwriter to do that for them….

    …so more consumers get the info.

    I’m happy to find a great agent who doesn’t type well but who knows real estate and finance in a specific community like the back of his hand — and take that agent, and ghostwrite a book for them, higher Rajiv from India to post sections of that book on the blog for $3 per hour….and free them up to help people doing what they are best at. And BTW employ every technology, SEO, PPC, and lead capture trick to make sure none of the crappy agents and lenders get a dime more business.

    Agent Genius is pretty tame….some of those guys over at Bloodhound really trumpet their moral superiority.

    I don’t care about the 20% of super-successful tech-savvy agents who think everyone else is a jackass for not being as great as they are. (Not everyone can be a super-ethical, super-smart, super-writer.)

    I’m interested in helping the next 20% who are ethical and smart and could/should be doing better if they didn’t lack a few skill sets- live happier lives by helping more people more easily.

    ——-
    Brokerage of the Future?
    ——-

    The one that learns how to get to and help the most people, more effectively and efficiently – NOT necessarily the one that can create unique, fascinating “content.”

    • Erion Shehaj

      August 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm

      Sam

      “Regurgitated” material – can be very valuable to the consumers who find it on a blog in Philadelphia where they would never see it on the New York blog it was originally produced for.

      That’s like saying: Robbing a bank is okay as long as the money is used to do good.

      This is not about moral superiority or “holier than thou” type of attitude. Stealing content is just wrong – stealing content then draping it with the “rewriting” veil is even worse. If someone is truly “The Local Expert that knows real estate and finance like the back of his hand”, their blog doesn’t necessarily have to have the literary firepower of Hemingway. This is especially true with local blogging – There’s really no poetic way to do a market report.

  24. Jeffrey Douglass

    August 24, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Erion,

    In regards to your last post above I could not agree with you more.

    Jeff

  25. Sam Ingersoll

    August 24, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Erion,

    So I just read your post on your site dated April 13th entitled, “Why are Real Estate Agents so Insecure?”

    Your post doesn’t contain ANY subject matter that I haven’t heard or seen discussed elsewhere.

    You may use some clever words but there is nothing there that is original.

    Writing about “twitterholic?” – same issue.

    So are you an “idea” thief?

    I challenge anyone on this blog to write an article on “How to prepare a house for sale” that includes one iota of original ideas. (not words…ideas.)

    I’ve written a ton on real estate, finance, credit repair, and internet marketing.

    I am happy if someone takes my stuff and uses it…as long as they are using it to help people, rather than to suck them in and scam them.

    The most helpful thing I’ve found is to take a Chapter of a book or take a paragraph and break it down into Topics. Then we turn those topics into questions. Then we record the answers to those questions.

    Again, same content any Agent would discuss but in a slightly different voice with different stories to illustrate the content.

    That’s essentially what you and everyone else who writes does….break down and assimilate ideas you’ve picked up elsewhere and “regurgitate” them.

    That’s all I’m really talking about…though I personally also don’t care if someone takes my paragraphs and replaces some nouns, adverbs and adjectives so they pass copyright restrictions and uses them.

    Does that really bother you?

    Or, is it just the Idea that somehow your content is so special that this is a bad thing?

    Maybe if more agents spent less time trying to write cleverly, and instead convey more basic quality information – consumers wouldn’t have been so ripped off in the last few years.

    More basic stuff produced more easily = more educated consumers.

    • Erion Shehaj

      August 24, 2009 at 7:43 pm

      So I just read your post on your site dated April 13th entitled, “Why are Real Estate Agents so Insecure?”

      Your post doesn’t contain ANY subject matter that I haven’t heard or seen discussed elsewhere.

      The issues we blog about are by definition common. My take on those issues is 100% original. I have no issue with someone writing a post about the subject matter I discuss. But “changing some nouns and adverbs” as you put it, is not getting an idea – it’s stealing my content. Period.

  26. Sam Ingersoll

    August 24, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Naw, most “takes” are Not 100% original. Very little truly is. “Stories” can be, but usually even the “perspectives” they illustrate are not.

    For example, if I had a dollar for every time I heard an agent say “I get results,” as the response to a challenge about their commission. (Which BTW is total BS when presented as ‘results’ unique to their service. Not that you do this…)

    Hey, I understand your perspective.

    But changing nouns and verbs isn’t “stealing” – according to copyright law, copyscape, just about every best-selling author, major publishers, article copywriters, speech writer, and ghostwriters.

    Most good, clear writing is extremely similar. There are very few people (like Salman Rushdie) who can pull from multiple cultures and languages and create writing that is truly unique.

    : ) Perhaps you are?

    Maybe after our new baby comes on Thursday, I’ll take some time to show how easy it is to take common subject matter, and related ideas, beliefs, perspectives and boil them down, and then add a layer of story.

    And then how by internalizing and owning and sharing that subject matter, a person can enhance their own life and the lives of others.

  27. Jeffrey Douglass

    August 24, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Sam, it is clear that you have an agenda beyond the scope of this post which deals with rebuilding brokerages.

    I think the point for us that blog is to let our voices through – it is a chance for potential Clients to get to know us and our personality and decide if they want to pick up the phone.

    All of the content on my blog is original, but I also quote lots of people with links back to the content.

    None of us are writing War & Peace, it is about good content relevant to our local real estate markets and sometimes bigger picture stuff that effects our industry.

    Nothing is totally original and that is the beauty of Web 2.0. We are learning from each other, sharing ideas, and discussing important topics – that has to be done by the originator of the content, not a ghost writer IMHO.

    For the challenge, why not pick something a little less beat the dead horse like?

  28. Sam Ingersoll

    August 24, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Dunno. I think it is relevant, especially because there was talk of being a “Content Creator” as the key.

    I think successful brokerages of the future will be the “Content Aggregators” if you will. This is essentially what Agent Genius has done.

    That means taking the best Subject matter, IDX feeds, technology applications, AGENT Talent (that’s the most important) and figuring how to use them effectively and efficiently.

    Of course, I believe in specific technologies or strategies for doing that..but that’s not the point.

    A brokerage that is serious about helping consumers and it’s own survival, will make doing all the things we believe in easier to do and less expensive.

    And, I think they will put agents on salary so they won’t have a financial incentive to sell out their clients…but that’s another story.

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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

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.

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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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