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I’m Going Mo-bile- Dear Ginny WTH



 dear ginny series

Dear Ginny WTH,

I heard you went to the Mobilize 09 mobile technology conference in San Francisco last week. What did you learn?
Somebody’s Watching

Dear Somebody,

I’m not sure how you know what I was doing last week, but since you asked. Here are eight things I learned at Mobilize 09

  1. Innovation in the industry – The mobile industry is burgeoning with innovation and entrepreneurship. You wouldn’t think entrepreneurship would be associated with big companies like Motorola or AT&T, but listening to major heads from many of the mobile phone operators and service providers, it’s clear they are getting creative and attempting to lead the direction of computing and web browsing…all through a mobile device.
  2. Mobile smart phones are the new PC – According to Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola, if it doesn’t fit in your pocket, it’s not a computing device for the future. Combining slide keyboard functionality with fuller screens might not mean you can turn in your PC for a mobile device right now but they are closing the gap. My friend Anna Ruotolo says, “Yeah right, I’m going to analyze profitability of over 100 mortgage offices on my mobile device.” Well it might not be too far off into the future before you do. Think about your mobile device now, and ponder the percentage of your time actually spent using the phone capability versus everything else. One has to arrest one’s doubt and not think about viewing a typical Excel spreadsheet as it is done today, but perhaps viewing it in an altered way on a mobile device that is just as or more effective.
  3. Pairing of service and device critical – You’ve noticed that specific service providers are partnering with specific smart phone device manufacturers, i.e. AT&T and the Apple iPhone. That will continue, but look carefully at the types of services you will receive and the price of the service. Service costs are likely to be de-coupled which equals higher cost for higher consumption.
  4. Network collaboration – The smartingtons talked about how they were going to have to collaborate so they could provide a better user experience, i.e. bandwidth. Consumption changes depending on what the user is doing on their smart phone. When a user goes from texting to watching videos, the bandwidth obviously changes but as of now, the network doesn’t and the experience goes from good to bad. They discussed sharing each other’s networks and in essence transferring the user to a broader network, deemed ultraband, transparently based on consumption.
  5. Mobile apps and widgets – The new Cliq phone announced by Motorola and T-Mobile is based on Google’s Android mobile operating system using Motorola Blur which Motorola says is the only service that can sync pictures, emails, texts and your social networks, with continuous updates and back ups. Using Android and widgets, there are no logins or apps to open. An application is something you have to download to your device and run independently; the widget basically combines all of your applications, exactly how you want them to appear on your home screen, and lets you access them in a one click. Not that apps are going away, but they are evolving. A very cool feature unique to the Cliq is that if your phone is lost or stolen, you can go onto Motorola’s web site, locate the phone through GPS then remotely erase all the information on the phone. You get a new phone, sync and – presto! – all the detail is restored to your phone.
  6. Say my name, say my name – And speaking of Android, watch out for more development on this platform. Android is the flexible software platform designed by the good folks at Google to deliver a personalized and customizable user experience on mobile devices. It is strongly suited to bring advanced web services, e-mail, social networking, and entertainment to consumers. The Apple iPhone has been the darling of the public and the developers, but developers and the public tend to get bored easily and go where the action is. The other interesting thing to note about Android is that is an open API platform which means it’s much easier for developers around the world to develop for a singular platform – similar to iPhone. The Android platform is poised for enormous growth starting now through the end of 2009 and into 2010.
  7. Mobile advertising – I watched a fascinating panel of people discussing mobile applications and mobile ad networks. They talked about the ways that mobil applications can be monetized through advertisements and how metrics can be easily measured, monitored and mined for new profits. These ads can be highly targeted and measured, which I love! Companies like AdMob and Flurry tap into real-time mobile data that can help mobile advertisers increase retention and grow business. Distimo offers a monthly report with in-depth analytics for companies interested in the “mobile application ecosystem” and a free analytics tool that lets you monitor your mobile applications as they sit in apps stores.
  8. Blend business and personal seamlessly – We’ve been talking about it ad nausea but if you aren’t learning how to blend your business with your personal life online through outlets like blogging and social networking, you’d better get on it, because these next generation mobile smart phones will integrate the two more than ever and offer additional ways for business (including real estate agents) to market themselves. The 360 degree marketing wheel just expanded a notch.

Mobile smart devices are an eco-system, baby…not a point product. Let’s all embrace shall we?

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  1. Ian Greenleigh

    September 16, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    A whirlwind tour! Thanks for updating others on our industry. Mobile advertising is getting cheaper, and it’s not just for big brands anymore.

    Mobile tools have a few other great functions for the real estate industry that sometimes don’t even occur to people. Besides lead capture…

    – Simply showing your mobile ad capabilities during listing appointments can pay for whatever your doing many times over if it helps you snag that listing. I’ve heard from many agents that it has been a key determinant in their clients’ choice of representation.

    -The ability to respond to leads in real time and start conversations on the spot is key–if your prospects are mobile, you need to be. Oh, and they are indeed mobile; it was a rhetorical question.

  2. Anna Ruotolo

    September 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    G –
    My devices over the years have defnitely gotten smaller – maybe someone will make a cord so I can just plug my Blackberry into my screen

    And let Sanjay know women don’t put devices in their pockets – thanks for this fantastic information.

  3. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 16, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Nice rundown. Really can’t wait for mobile advertising to materialize, can you?

    We all need to be concerned with producing a decent mobile version of our IDX search engines though.

    As these devices all get faster, with larger screens and better browsing, I can see home buyers out there on the weekends with their mobile phones, sitting in front of listings…. looking at MY site!

    I don’t think it’s that difficult either, just not very common yet.


  4. jf.sellsius.theclozing

    September 16, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Vlingo makes it easier to text and drive.

  5. Victor J. Asencio

    September 16, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Great information. Thanks again for sharing all these details.

  6. Lani Rosales

    September 17, 2009 at 10:17 am

    As to number 3, I think services would be more competitive (and reasonable) and customer service would improve if the two weren’t linked and frankly, I’m surprised the DoJ has just now *thought* about looking into cell monopolies.

    Great wrapup, I’m looking forward to more people using their phones as mobile apps because the youngest generation does and they’re the next to lead the charge of invention!

  7. Ginny Cain

    September 17, 2009 at 10:34 am

    To Atlanta Real Estate’s point, everyone should look at their web site on their mobile phone and see what it looks like…and their property web sites. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to view information on a mobile screen that’s all cut up and overlapping. g

  8. Austin Smith -

    September 17, 2009 at 11:02 am

    You learned so much! Smart Phones and mobile apps are indeed well on their way to market dominance. As it stands, only about 20% of U.S. wireless users have smart phones (therefore rendering current smart phone-only apps a sort of VIP commodity), but as you mentioned that should soon change as we head into 2010. That’s an interesting tidbit about the Cliq; too bad you can’t turn on its taser feature from a remote location and give the thief a little surprise. 🙂

    Ian has a good point about mobile tech and R.E.: an application or mobile service that doubles as a lead capture and a mobile MLS is the bee’s knees. I have heard the same word as he from alot of our agents about how having their listings available on a mobile device (and having an at-property, mobile-based lead capture system in place) has been a major selling point and alot of times one of the only things that sets them above their competition.

    Rob, you are on the right track! There are many mobile MLS apps in production today, but because there is no national MLS in place, they are forced to retrieve data from national third party aggregators who are often missing a majority of the listings in the U.S. Be wary of these apps and make sure before you lock yourself in that you are indeed able to access your entire database.

    Lani, not only are the youngest generation (18-24) the major proponents of the text message boom, but they are closely followed by first-time homebuyers (24-35) as the two age groups in the U.S. that send more text messages than dialed calls!

    Thanks again for the brain food Ginnny! Sorry for the long comment everybody; “mobile” is what gets our engines revving, and I can’t help but share the love…

  9. Doug Buenz

    September 17, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I’m trying to read this post on my Blackberry, but the text is too small and I almost ran off the road!

    I also hear that Vlingo is the bomb!

  10. Ken Brand

    September 17, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I love my iPhone. All the new tools, toys, apps, surprises and stuff we can’t even imagine….it’s all like magic. A freak’n miracle any of it works. Love it and thanks for the field report. Cheers.

  11. Paul

    September 17, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    I think mobile marketing will work with smart phone and am not sure about others.

  12. Brandie Young

    September 17, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Miss G – fantastic info. It’s so important to look to other industries to see what impacts could be had on our own. Thanks for the glimpse into the “cloud”…

  13. Kent Simpson

    November 4, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Mobile is the wave that we American’s haven’t adopted as quickly as Asia & Europe – but watching them and applying our own inimitable innovations (say that 5 times fast) to the capabilities…its going to be a different world faster than you can say “what do you mean my site isn’t optimized for mobile protocols?” !!!

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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, 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.



aging housing inventory

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.



zillow move

zillow move

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,, 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’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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