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ActiveRain, the Caligula of Real Estate or Real Estate Rain, You Choose



activerainWhat is this, Caligula?

I’ve seen people complaining about promoting your listings on ActiveRain.  Long, lofty, self-righteous, and often poisonous diatribes about why you shouldn’t clutter up their experience with your incessant need to do business or make money- well screw them. I say be in business while they’re not.

Chances are, if they unfriend, unfollow, or unsubscribe, they weren’t in the market to buy a home from you anyway, and anyone in the business of real estate knows that it ain’t about your competition, it’s about attracting those that desire to buy or sell a home right now, right?

So let them unfollow, unsubscribe, or unfriend you, and wish them a happy “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

The minute the ActiveRainers encouraged and incentivized Realtor on Realtor action was the day their business model telegraphed a severe identity crisis. In other words, it apparently only really attracts consumers by accident, unless you’re doing it on purpose. Maybe I’m right, and maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

They preach transparency- fine, give it to them

Be transparent about the fact that you’re in business to SELL real estate, be transparent about the fact that you want to speak directly to consumers, and be transparent about the markets you sell.  There is no shame in admitting you’re a lousy writer, but a great agent- that’s the only way to be. Passively writing about everything but the point isn’t exactly transparent, it’s simply a failed tactic.

Blogging is not about points nor one hundred comments to some blurb about the latest and greatest social media tool in an environment like ActiveRain. Use the power of their (ActiveRain) real estate SEO to plant you firmly in front of searching consumers. List your properties and let everything in between be valuable content consumers in your hometown are searching for, otherwise, the ending you’ll get won’t be the happy one you had hoped for. Besides, wouldn’t a better agent referral be one based on professional equity (purpose driven real estate pro) rather than perceived popularity (coolest drinking buddy)? You would be doing the referred consumer a favor, would you not?

Not everything can be “Agent Networking”

Too many agents are complaining that their blogging efforts aren’t working and why would they if all you’re writing about is stuff consumers are not hunting for when buying or selling property?

Be in business everywhere you are if that’s really what you are.  Spare the online locations you want to network with professionals of your listings, but everywhere else, be exactly what you are- a powerful asset in the arsenal of the home buying and selling consumer.

As a sidebar, if you see an opportunity to utilize a Twitter account to promote your business, local market, and your blog, then do it.  If you’re using your Facebook to reach home buyers and sellers, then you should at least have some mechanism for promoting your product indirectly.

But here’s the warning…

Other Realtors may leave your sphere, but consumers should fill the gaps.  Reducing agent noise should give you a much better view of who’s paying attention. If you’re being obnoxious and spammy, you’ll even lose those consumers, so be smart about it, but certainly and absolutely, be in business. Trust me, you would rather have 10 buying and selling consumers over 1,000 busy bodied competitors mucking up your conversation.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  1. Mark Brian

    December 14, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I have and will continue to blog about listings on AR and if you do not want to see my listings I can understand. But I am careful about which groups I post the listing. And often I do not even post a listing anywhere but my outside blog.

    I am unapologetic that I sell real estate, I talk about real estate and I blog about real estate. AR is a real estate site, not Facebook.

  2. Chris Lengquist

    December 14, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Benn, as soon as I stop laughing my a$$ off I will make another comment. (Not really. I only have just so much time to make comments.) But hurray for this article!

  3. Daniel Bates

    December 14, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Most of the people that have an active rain account as their sole blogging platform are missing the boat big time. Brad Anderson called me out for calling it like I see and we’re going to have to have some kind of SEO contest to prove who’s right, but regardless of who wins, it doesn’t change the fact that most AR bloggers are clueless about marketing and how to write content that drives buyers and sellers to your site and have gotten carried away with the points thing. I was one of the top agents in Charleston County, SC for the longest time and never saw a single lead from it, the points aren’t worth anything if 99% of the traffic is other agents. I still love pushing my content out on AR to steal some of their SEO via an incoming link, but I could care less about the “great post” comments.

  4. Ken Brand

    December 14, 2009 at 4:52 pm


    I want everyone to love me. What do you recommend? A bullet, hemlock, a noose, drugs, sex, rock n roll, multiple personalities? I’m confused. WWOD?


  5. Chris Lengquist

    December 14, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Benn, great comment answers! (give me 10 pts)

    • Benn Rosales

      December 15, 2009 at 10:24 am

      Great comment to a comment! Thanks!

  6. Mark Brian

    December 14, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    ActiveRain, the Caligula of Real Estate or Real Estate Rain, You Choose

  7. Real Estate Feeds

    December 14, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    ActiveRain, the Caligula of Real Estate or Real Estate Rain, You Choose: What is this, Caligula?
    I’ve seen people…

  8. RealEstate Babble

    December 14, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    AgentGenius: ActiveRain, the Caligula of Real Estate or Real Estate Rain, You Choose Full

  9. kristin terry

    December 14, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    ActiveRain, the Caligula of Real Estate or Real Estate Rain, You Choose: What is this, Caligula?
    I’ve see..

  10. Karen Goodman

    December 14, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    I’ve never really understood the point of putting time and energy into Active Rain posts which are mostly ready by other agents. I guess it might make sense if you live in an area that might be a second home destination. You could go after referral business.

    If an agent put the same amount of effort into a WordPress blog, even a .com one without an IDX embedded, seems like they would do better. I just don’t see how you can build a brand around yourself on AR where most consumers probably bounce off to another agent’s post after reading the one that got them there.

    • Benn Rosales

      December 15, 2009 at 10:25 am

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  11. Missy Caulk

    December 14, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I am a big fan of Activerain, and blog there for business and friendships. As I have told some of my friends who no longer blog there…I wouldn’t have met YOU if not for Activerain.
    I will always blog my listings, unashamedly. I blog them there and on my blog.

    I don’t blog for comments but I look and here is an example:
    Carey Dr. 8 comments, 1685 views, 345 views.

    (there are many more with the same static’s on listings and market data)

    I am not looking for comments on my listing blogs, I am looking for the phone to ring and it does. I am looking for good SERPS and it gives them.

    I blog my listings on AR second after on my blog and receive a Google Alert on it. Then I have 2 or 3 places on page one for Google for that address.

    • Benn Rosales

      December 15, 2009 at 10:23 am

      Novel concept, this ‘doing it on purpose that you do!’ great commentary!

  12. Ken Brand

    December 14, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    @agentgenius ActiveRain, the Caligula of Real Estate or Real Estate Rain, You Choose

  13. Quick Sale Homes

    December 14, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    ActiveRain, the Caligula of Real Estate or Real Estate Rain, You …

  14. Ara Mamourian

    December 15, 2009 at 12:36 am

    ActiveRain, the Caligula of Real Estate or Real Estate Rain, You …: ActiveRain, the Caligula of Real Estate or Re…

  15. jeremyblanton

    December 15, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Well, as a former employee of AR, I know I ran into this issue all the time. I had to constantly remind people that you are not here for points. And if they were, they can pay me the $$ they are losing on commissions by not writing for consumers.

    There is an awesome amount of SEO possibilities on AR. Most miss it though because they do not focus on the consumer. If you write for the consumer in mind, you can make a ton of $$ on AR. If you write to connect w/AR members & get gold stars & tons of points, that is what you end up with.

    When people would complain to me about not having a post featured, I would ask them, what is your purpose of using AR? To create business? Or to be popular? Because whatever you decide, you will end up with.

    P.S. Benn, you do not get 25 points for replying to my comment, so there is no need for the,
    “good comment” or “Nice Job” type of response.

    • Benn Rosales

      December 15, 2009 at 10:22 am

      ha wth?! there must be some mistake! 10 pts for breaking news in a comment!

  16. Joe Spake

    December 15, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Benn, thanks for telling it like it is about ActiveRain. I wonder what AR would be like without points. It would be a disincentive for a huge portion of those in the scoring race. Like Daniel, I do push out content on AR and Localism for the SEO, but like Karen, I think time is much better spent on a WordPress blog. My content to AR, other than listings is usually re-posts from my WP blog.
    I don’t think I have ever gotten a comment from a non-realtor, nor have I gotten any leads, or referrals from AR. To paraphrase Jeff Turner, hunt the deer, not other hunters.

  17. Ken Brand

    December 15, 2009 at 9:23 am


    What’s all this about gold stars and points. That changes everything. Are the points virtual or do you get an actual certificate-of-merit?

    I think I woke up in more than usual sarcastic and cynical mood. Grrrrrr…..

    • Benn Rosales

      December 15, 2009 at 10:27 am

      Again, great question, and way to wake up!

  18. Brad Andersohn

    December 15, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Well before I even started working for ActiveRain, I encouraged ALL my clients as a “title and escrow” rep to add their listings to AR as another way to promote and expose them on the web. Unfortunately, because there are now over 5000 groups, the group I created for this “The ActiveRain MLS Online” has since been buried, or so it seems.

    So put your listings on AR, and maybe consider adding them to the group. Now that I work for ActiveRain, I still encourage ALL my clients to add their listings to promote and expose them, but the difference now is that I suggest there might even be a better way than just using a template or camera card, try writing a blog post that is unique and that can maximize the SEO.

    Here’s a link to the group (not trying to spam you here Benn, sorry)

    BTW – we only have 2485 subscribers and 15728 posts, so I hope folks will still consider supporting the group with their listings on AR.

  19. Ken Brand

    December 15, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I have a knack for waking up and asking great questions.

    This isn’t really a question or of any value, but I’d still like to be told “at-a-boy”.

    PS. Do you have a background in Seal Training?

  20. Joe Spake

    December 15, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Benn, repost this post on AR. You are guaranteed lots of points.

  21. jeremyblanton

    December 15, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Gold Stars & Points? Boy I want some! And while you don’t get a certificate, you do at least get a badge 🙂

  22. Ken Brand

    December 15, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Damn straight Jeremy, or how about a black beanie with a propeller on it. Wheeeee….

  23. jeremyblanton

    December 15, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Sorry my friend, no propellers… but there are at least badges…

  24. Keith Lutz

    December 15, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I say blog all over. Dupe you blogs, does it hurt to do that? I once did an unofficial experiment for “weddington chase, nc” back in 2007, when googled it has the 2nd and 3rd returns (also 5th for my forum). Not bad, but not one direct sale either!

    • Benn Rosales

      December 15, 2009 at 5:36 pm

      Rather than dupe it, retool it. A new headline with even more keywords, and rework the body for a fresh outlay with a new ‘quote in the body’ to boost the value. This can create dual high ranking posts from the same material- Takes 5 minutes.

  25. Broker Bryant

    December 15, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I love it when people that haven’t utilized AR to it’s fullest voice their opinions on “how to use it” and “Why it’s a waste of time”.

    The point system on AR was and is genius. It plays upon the competitive nature of sales people.

    Personally, I have made tons of money off of AR and I rarely post listings. I make my money from buyers and sellers contacting me to buy and sell real estate. I also make a ton of money off of ideas that I have been able to implement into my business. I do make money off of referrals but this is probably the least productive side of my business.

    But hey I agree you should stay away and do your own thing. It leaves more money for me to bank.

    I wonder how many consumers read this blog?

  26. David Pylyp

    December 15, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    If a group of real estate agents wish to respond I have no problem.
    AR builds a strong Localism and I am very grateful for the additional exposure.
    These are the things that need to be broadcast

    We have an entirely new business model and some will be left behind.

    What Happened?
    Business Happened
    They emailed or Twittered an active Realtor

    Living in Toronto and Waiting for your referrals

    David Pylyp

  27. Brad Andersohn

    December 15, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    LOL @Broker Bryant – and I’ve been listening to you say that for years now!
    Did you copy cut and paste that comment? ROFL~ :-))

    • Benn Rosales

      December 15, 2009 at 11:24 pm

      Not everyone can read, it’s okay.

  28. Broker Bryant

    December 16, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Benn, My comment was mostly a response to some of the commenters on this post. Clearly they are clueless. But that’s expected. About 80% of the people on any platform fail. Usually from either lack of understanding or lack of effort. When that happens it’s easier to blame the platform than it is to look at yourself and try to figure out what you are doing wrong and why it’s not working.

    Daniel Bate’s AR blog is a perfect example of a blog that won’t work to attract business. His content is why it didn’t work NOT AR. It’s really no different than running a crappy mailing campaign for 3 months and when it doesn’t work say “doing mailers is a waste of time” when the truth is the mailer sucked and you didn’t give it enough time.

    ANY system we use to make money requires a commitment of time and a commitment to learn the system we are using.

    A blog has to be educational AND entertaining in order to gain and keep readership. If all that’s being pushed at people are listings and market data most readers will get bored and leave.

    Having said all that, AR is certainly not for every body. More members will fail than succeed. Just like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress etc….But make no mistake about it, it’s almost ALWAYS the person that’s the reason for the failure.

    I’m sure this will be another “Lovely comment”.

    • Benn Rosales

      December 16, 2009 at 10:37 am

      I’m glad to see your followup, I feel as though in my article I exactly described your brokerbryant blog. It’s focused, targeted, well written and timely, listings aren’t there, but that’s not really the point- my point specifically is to be in business or save your complaints that your blogging efforts don’t work. More importantly, that the idea or notion that you should not promote either yourself or your product is absurd, the rule of asking the consumer for their business applies, but again, it’s really all about how you do it, right?

      That isn’t to say the occasional post to illuminate the industry for consumers is a bad thing, because it’s not, and is necessary.

      Fabulous comment!

  29. Daniel Bates

    December 16, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Not to pick a public fight, especially toward someone on AR that I actually respect for doing a good job like Broker Bryant, but I teach blogging as a full time job, so I think I know a thing or two about it. My blog is kind of like the carpenter’s house, overlooked because of all the other great projects that he’s working on for other people. I don’t spend any time on AR except to read the occasional post and to create an incoming link to articles that I want to do well. I don’t care and have never cared what a single other agent on AR thinks of my content, but oddly as a part-time venture I show up #1/2 for not just “McClellanville Real Estate” and “McClellanville SC Real Estate” but for “McClellanville” and “McClellanville SC”. It’s not just good SEO though, but more than 1/6th of the population of my town subscribes to my content, so I’ve got a pretty good capture on the market. I’ve stepped back from real estate to focus on rental management and blog coaching, but enjoy blogging so much that I still write content on my blog for the locals. There are a million ways to blog and several ways to even do it correctly, my advice to real estate bloggers is that if your content doesn’t get a lot of comments on AR that you can still be doing everything right.

  30. Broker Bryant

    December 16, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Daniel, I used your blog as an example because you wrote this:

    “I was one of the top agents in Charleston County, SC for the longest time and never saw a single lead from it, the points aren’t worth anything if 99% of the traffic is other agents”.

    When I clicked over to see why you never received any leads it just struck that there was nothing there that would entice a buyer or seller to contact you. That’s all.

    I agree completely that there is no wrong or right way to blog. Every market is different. We have to know who our audience is and then structure our content accordingly. My AR blog has always been written to agents and consumers alike. I write about what I do and where I do it and because of that I get tons of business from it.

    All of us are on the Internet to attract eyeballs. That’s what Internet marketing is all about. Traffic. Comments on AR can be a good indicator of traffic. It may only be agents but who cares? Agents send me referrals, give me back links and help me build my online presence. I can write an article and have 1,000+ people read it in one day. That’s powerful no matter who the readers are.

    Very few real estate bloggers, including myself, take full advantage of the power of blogging. Mostly because people are only interested in real estate when it becomes time to buy or sell. We have a limited audience. We blog in a box.

    The whole point of my comments on this post is to point out that must folks just don’t get it. It has nothing to do with AR. AR is an awesome platform for bloggers. If people don’t want to blog on AR then don’t. But don’t say it doesn’t work. It’s YOU (naysayers) that don’t know how to work it.

    You may very well teach blogging but this article is about AR. I am an expert when it comes to blogging on AR. I know that because of the results I get. I am not an expert in other areas of the blogosphere.

    By the way this is a discussion not a fight.

  31. Broker Bryant

    December 16, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Thanks Benn. I knew we agreed in here somewhere.

  32. Daniel Bates

    December 16, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I will bow to your AR expertise Broker Bryant…Fantastic Comment String

  33. Broker Bryant

    December 16, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Benn, OK one more thing. One of the beauties of AR is that it acts as a syndication platform. My main AR blog is ALL of my AR content starts there. But then I send it to my other 3 blogs based on the specific audience I am writing for.

    If it’s content mainly for real estate professionals then it goes to

    For potential short sale sellers

    Specific to my market area

    All 4 blogs have a different feel to them and are designed to attract different readers. Although some of the articles overlap.

    I also, have my “group” blog at which is where I sell product in addition to helping others in their business. This one is on a Ning network. I have 4 other Ning networks and 2 static websites for different areas of my business.

    So there you go. I was able to spam you 5 times in one comment 🙂 There is a reason for my madness.

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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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