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Why the term “search” needs to be reexamined, retired in its current context

The term “search” in real estate has changed over the years, and it’s time to take a look at how it is used, and exactly how it defines the profession.




Don’t we need a new word for the word “search?” In the real estate industry, it is a pesky little word. Whole peripheral industries are centered around it. Agents used to do it, now most do not. “I’ll search for homes for you and email/drop off/drip/snail mail/carrier pigeon them to you” was the former mantra.

Nope. Now we leave “search” to our clients. Why is that? Because of course buyers (or sellers who are buying after selling) know what they want. They know what they are looking for. They know… but wait…

Do they?

Defining the word “search”

Let’s look at a few things that define “search.” From The Google’s first response to “definition of search” comes:


1. Try to find something by looking or otherwise seeking carefully and thoroughly.
“I searched among the rocks, but there was nothing”
Synonyms: hunt (for), look for, seek, forage for, fish around/about for, look high and low for, ferret around/about for, root around/about for, rummage around/about for, cast around/about for More

2. Examine (a place, vehicle, or person) thoroughly in order to find something or someone.
“He searched every room in the house”
Synonyms: look through, hunt through, explore, scour, rifle through, go through, sift through, comb, go through with a fine-tooth comb; turn upside down, turn inside out, leave no stone unturned

3. Examine, inspect, check, frisk.
“The guards searched him for weapons”
Look for information in (a database or the World Wide Web) using a search engine.

1. An act of searching for someone or something.
“The police carried out a thorough search of the premises.”
Synonyms: hunt, look, quest; pursuit, manhunt

2. Searching for, hunting for, seeking, looking for, on the lookout for, in pursuit of
“The police continued their search”
“They say they are in search of a silver flask with the monogram ‘DLR'”

3. An act or instance of searching a database or the World Wide Web.
“Time-consuming searches of the Internet”
– Computing: the systematic retrieval of information, or the facility for this.
– Law: an investigation of public records to find if a property is subject to any liabilities or encumbrances.

Agents shouldn’t rely on search so heavily

Search. If done simply as a “hey lookie here at them thar pictures, ain’t that house wunnerful?!” type of search, then no, agents should not make “search” their be-all and end-all reason for clients to hire them. However “search” is not as benign an activity that it once appeared to be.

Today, buyers can search for properties via a number of online aggregators, and the major players at this date are Zillow, Trulia, and, according to most reports. However, sites such as,, agent sites with IDX feeds, brokerage sites with IDX feeds and more exist to either satiate the market or satisfy supposed buyer search needs.

Further, what are buyers searching for when they click to open a site and start perusing the data they find there? Most buyers I speak with talk about décor, updates, the “Zestimate” if on Zillow, some talk about taxes and why they are as high as they are.

No buyers I know search city and county records for stuff that’s buried or out of the realm of the everyday buyer. Some cities (like my own, Dayton, OH) have code violations for properties listed on their web site. Some cities have pre-sale or pre-occupancy inspections. Some cities do not permit work/live space. And some do not permit fencing around the lot’s perimeter. Other searches not usually in the realm of buyers can include listing history, picture history, days on market, what’s on the (in some states required) Residential Property Disclosure (a 5-page document in Ohio that reveals defects that have or have not been fixed), whether or not a home is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or HUD or or or…. The list goes on and on.

So if buyers don’t care, who does?

If buyers are not searching for these things, who is? The search savvy agent. The agent who asks questions of the buyers. How will the home be used? What about having more than one living space vs just a living room – do you need an office? Will you want to build a backyard outbuilding that can be used as an office? Will you have work meetings at home where cars parked on the street may irritate neighbors weekly or – daily? How do you feel about having a pre-occupancy inspection done by the city? Oh that is too invasive? Or does it protect the neighborhood via its standards?

“Search” is too mild of a word for the service agents perform in their representation of and protection of clients. Perhaps we should develop a new word.

Landis is involved in consulting for and sales of residential and commercial real estate. Landis is also working on obtaining her Ohio real estate broker license. College educated with a business, sales and performing arts background, Landis brings a well rounded world view to her real estate practice.


Malls repurposed as housing could bring back discrimination

(EDITORIAL) Recycling dead malls into community colleges and libraries are smart ideas, but is there a deeper, darker implication behind the affordable housing idea?



malls changed into housing

Clever investors want to transform defunct malls into affordable housing. This sounds like a win-win-win at first. It’s helpful, useful, practical–and doesn’t necessarily require federal funding. What a warm and fuzzy idea that can help people and make use of existing structures. Yaaaay!

We need more affordable housing. Nobody will deny that. According to Pew Trusts, the 2018 U.S. housing market was at its least affordable in ten years. Adaptive reuse is a brilliant idea on paper. However, “affordable housing” is not merely a phrase; it holds legal connotations and requirements, both on national and state levels. It’s…complex.

Then my inner skeptic popped up and whispered in my ear, “Careful. What if it’s a trap?” History tells us to be wary of separating people by socioeconomic status (often–though not always–related to race). I started thinking about the long, troubled history of the “projects” in the U.S., which served to effectively segregate low-income families from the post-New Deal era until modern days. This in turn led to less investment in the area, meaning residents had to contend with fewer schools, grocery stores, public transportation routes, and the like.

Perhaps the adaptive reuse of the malls is not so nefarious. After all, these malls are already in residential areas. Therefore, one hopes, decent schools, supermarkets, and public transportation already exist, just as in other areas of a given city. The residents of one mall, one housing development, should not significantly change the housing market and available local resources by much, right? It will be a seamless integration of a whole new group of people into a neighborhood, right? We hope that’s true.

Maybe it won’t be a case of white flight, AKA “There goes the neighborhood” all over again. After all, the ethnic diversity isn’t specified beyond “workforce, student and 55 plus housing,” future residents, as defined by Richard Rubin, CEO of Repvblic, the company leading the charge to invest in old malls and big box stores. It sounds like a positive thing that the new, “recycled” housing developments he’s investing in don’t require federal funding to get built.

Affordable housing is a challenge wherever you look. Investors in multi-million dollar, sexy and modern high rises aren’t traditionally going after the affordable housing market, because what’s in it for them? In Austin, where The American Genius is based, developers already balk at the idea of including the mandated affordable housing units required for new construction. Some developers have even paid the city millions of dollars to get around the requirement.

Adaptive reuse by recycling dead malls into affordable housing feels like a creative, beneficial idea. Yet, I encourage us to delve a bit deeper and ask the hard questions. I mean, there must be a reason there are more movies about hookers with hearts of gold than real estate investors with hearts of gold. This calls for cautious optimism, but also reading between the lines and paying close attention to the details as this type of housing develops.

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Want to move past your burnout? Stop using multiple lists

(EDITORIAL) How my evolving understanding of “burnout” helped me learn an important distinction between being busy and being productive.



too busy to burnout

When I used to hear the word “burnout” I would picture the freaks from the gone-much-too-soon series, Freaks and Geeks, as they would bum around outside, smoking in between classes. Now when I hear the word “burnout,” I think of myself a few years ago as my brain was being fried by life.

I wasn’t smoking between classes, rather running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to figure out how to manage all of my tasks at hand. I’d make a to-do list, see everything I had to do, and drown in overwhelm.

I’d spend my days fretting over how busy I was, and nights catching up with friends via phone, talking about how busy I was and how there just wasn’t enough time in the day.

Notice that nowhere in here was I actually doing anything productive. I fell into a vicious hole of being so consumed with how much I had to do, I wasn’t taking the time to do anything but stress.

At first, it made me feel interesting and somewhat important that I had so much going on. I quickly realized that no one cares and it’s not that interesting (I also quickly remembered how much I love to just relax and not have something planned every day of the week).

This is where I learned the of the most important lessons to date – being busy does not equal being productive.

It got to a point where I was running on fumes and eventually had this epiphany that how I was operating was doing nothing to help me. This was in part brought on by seeing someone close to me behave the same way, and I was able to actually look at how defeating it was.

From there, I made it a point to change my tune. Instead of wasting time writing and re-writing to do lists, I challenged myself to make one master to do list and accomplish at least one item upon completion of writing the list. This helped shake off the cobwebs and I was able to feel a bit of weight off of my shoulders.

The ideas surrounding the hustle mentality had me so consumed and all I was doing was hustling my way to nowhere. After feeling the burnout, seeing someone else operate that same way, and seeing that hustle mentality mocked, I was finally able to break free and get stuff done.

And, guess what? I have even more to do now, but feel more calm and collected than ever. I just have to repeat the mantra: being busy does not equal being productive. Being productive – especially in silence – is so much better and much more rewarding.

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10 Productivity tips to get the most out of yourself and your team

(EDITORIAL) Keeping up productivity can be a hard goal to shoot for, so sometimes It helps to see what others are doing. Here’s our list of 10 ways to stay productive



productivity in a team

Funny thing about inverse relationships, they are so counterintuitive. Like working hard. That is an example of doing what you think will be beneficial, but usually just makes the job what you expected, hard. When it comes to productivity, harder isn’t smarter, as the saying goes.

And, if you are sick of the word “hack” we hear you. But, finding ease in work will allow you to be more productive and with better results.

We offer you this list of stories to meet your productivity needs. Here’s to finding work-life balance, seeking ease in the moment and rocking out a productive day!

1. If you’re trying to be more productive, don’t focus so much on time management. Instead, consider energy management to get more out of less effort.

2. Meetings suck, wait I mean they are a time suck. Yeah, that’s it. Everyone knows some meetings are unnecessary and could easily be handled through an email. Yet, many supervisors are hesitant. But, there’s an app for that now. Here’s to meeting less and actually getting work done.

3. Kondo your desk, for God’s sake. If you say you are more productive with a messy desk, yet you have a sandwich from last week and those TPS reports you were supposed to turn in weeks ago somewhere under a pile of crap, you need to clean up your act. Nobody wants to get a report covered in coffee, chocolate and mustard.

4. Are you agile? I mean, really. Is your team as productive as it could be? Whether you are a PM or a real estate agent, if you need a tool that helps your team stay agile and nimble, this will help you and your crew kick ass and take names.

5. Cut the team some slack. Too many messages and you forget what you were originally doing. Slack thought about that and has a way to make the app work for your team so you can be more effective and keep the workflow moving.

6. Working remotely has some serious benefits, notwithstanding working in your PJ’s. Convincing your boss you will actually work and not binge on Netflix may be the challenge. And, for many folks, working from home is a much more productive option. Yet, anyone who has worked remotely also knows it can be easy to get caught up in work and miss human interactions, leading to burnout. Here’s how to make the remote transition work for you.

7. Sometimes more is less. That is the truth when it comes to work where quality beats quantity all day long. Our 9-5 workdays may be good for some, but not for all. And, putting in 80-hour weeks may seem righteous dude, but what do you really accomplish? Kick productivity in the butt and consider are you using your hours wisely.

8. Want to be a baller in the workplace? Then get focused. According to the experts, those at the top of their game aren’t necessarily working harder or smarter, they are just hyper-focused. Here are some good habits to have if you want to get ahead.

9. If it seems everyone has a podcast, you are correct! Some of those podcasts are useful, especially if you are trying to get ahead and find ways to use your productivity to the fullest. Here’s a list of podcasts that will fill your free time with useful information.

10. Creative folks love to start new projects. They can be like kids in the candy store any time they have a new idea they must explore. The problem is that whether you are an artist, writer, graphic/web/software designer or developer, you may start a lot of projects and finish few. Here’s how to finish what you start!

By now, you know what information to keep and you are ready to get your rear in gear. We wish you all the success with your future projects. We know you will be diligent and hyper-productive!

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