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The Real Estate Vacuum: It Sucks For Noobs

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real-estate-noob.jpgThis is my first post here at Genius, and since I probably have a much larger audience here than over at Real Estate Remix, I would like to address something that bothers me about the real estate blog world. The most popular blogs in the real estate realm seem to be saturated by posts that assume that their readers are extremely tech savvy and hip to the online world. With all of the sarcasm, name dropping, and “inside” jokes, you would think that this stuff is all common knowledge. I mean, I spend at least 2 hours or more per day just clicking around on Google reader and reading my favorite real estate blogs, and with all of this blog-world insider articles out there, sometimes even I feel like I’m out of the loop. And I know for a fact that I’m saturated in it. Who else has dreams that they get to go to Connect NYC?

Can you imagine what a first time reader would think about all this? I can tell you what my co-workers think… NERDS! What are we trying to accomplish in our writing? We are starting to write to our savvycolleagues first, customers second. True, most readers of blogs come from inside this tech-savvy tight circle… but are we really trying to reach them? If you need links from them, maybe. If you are trying to make blog friends, surely. But if you are trying to present useful, long lasting information… don’t write to yourcolleagues.

A blog positions you as an expert in your industry. Use that platform to educate, not just critique. When you start to assume that your readers know about everything you do, you will never take a step down and realize that there are millions of real estate professionals who don’t know the first thing about blogging or wordpress, much less the stories behind VFlyer, Redfin, Trulia, Google Base, Zillow, FOREM, Tomato, RSS Pieces, Carnival of RE, Inman Connect BlogFiesta, The Sellsius Bus, or even Active Rain. Of course, they all know about AgentGenius :). At this point, I see around 2,000 registered profiles in Texas on ActiveRain. Only a fraction of a percent of those people actually use it regularly. That means an enormous amount of real estate professionals in this great state have not even created a profile.

I know you may think that posting an introduction to ActiveRain article will make you look really, really behind to your fellow bloggers. They may stick their nose up at your post. You may think “that is so last year”. But the truth is, those old posts are buried in the blogging rubble, and when a bonafide “noob” hits the average real estate related blog for the first time, the first thing they will say is “WTF”. Of course, there are certain blogs (like this one) that clearly have audiences that prefer a more relaxed yet in-depth look at the industry. Like my Grandma says, there’s a place for everything and everything has a place.

The thing that floors me is when I discuss real estate marketing, SEO, or social networking with freinds or coworkers. Their unfamiliarity with online world baffles me. The basics seem like common knowledge by now. But they are not even close. They have real lives. Veteran real estate bloggers and tech experts should be happy though, the chasm between those “in the know” about online real estate and the novices is widening exponentially by the month. Just like any other skill, it takes a lot of time to catch up. And the vets are way ahead of the game.

Who’s reaching out to the noobs? But then again, who really cares?

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    October 18, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    Bang! Great post. This is what genius is all about. If you read my recent post on blog networking, Daniels post on twitter, or even his road map to social networking- we’re filling this vacuum. I’m glad you know your audience, and hopefully you can bring the marketing element needed to tie it all together… once again, great post.

  2. Shailes Ghimire

    October 18, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Carson,

    Brilliant.

    Too many bloggers talk about inside stuff. Quite honestly I get tired of reading the one-up-manship sometimes. I mean if I’m in the market for an agent I really don’t care about their views on Redfin are – okay. Show me what you know and why I should choose you.

    Even though the general population may not be aware of the nuances of blogging etc, they do know about Google. They’ll most likely search your name and find your blog. If you’re slamming some cartoon vote by the NAR in your most recent five posts – I’m not sure the potential client really will think you’re the right agent to sell your home.

    Unless you’re writing for a national audience like in the Genius or Bloodhound my philosophy is to stick with your expertise. Any potential buyer/borrower should come to your blog and leave thinking they really learned a lot and are better for it. Then they’ll call you. Otherwise they’ll tune you out. I mean seriously do you really think they care about your reaction to some blog joke? No.

  3. Mariana - Springs Realty Scoop

    October 18, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    Who IS reaching out to the Noobs??? This is the first post in a long time that I didnt just scan -I mean, I DID start to scan it, but had to go back and read each word.
    I teach internet and technology in our office of about 300 agents. Every day I am faced with how LITTLE most agents know. In fact, the word “blog” was brought up in passing and another agent said, “Oh! That is what Mariana is!” (apparently I am a blog – not even a blogger, just a blog.)… THAT is how little agents (as a whole) know.
    Do I really care? No, not really. IMHO if an agent WANTS to “be in the know” then they will figure out a way to be “in the know” – otherwise they will be successfull in their own ways.
    Thanks for the thoughtful post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  4. Chris Lengquist

    October 19, 2007 at 2:39 am

    Carson, remember that time…

    You make an excellent point. But I think newbies just have to jump in. You build relationships and without realizing gravitate towards blogs/authors you like.

    But you are right. We wall need to keep that in mind.

  5. Todd Carpenter

    October 19, 2007 at 6:15 am

    Carson,

    Great minds think alike. In addition to Blog Fiesta, My business partner and I are putting together a blog that represents the absolute most basic tutorials on how RE agents, and other sales professionals can jump into the shallow end of the Internet pool. It’s called brainious.com.

    This new blog is even more basic than agentgenius. We’ll be talking about stuff like why you should use Firefox, how to join gmail, what is RSS, and more. I think the average person who likes to read Mashable, or GeekEstate might consider it torture to read our blog, but my Mom will like it, and that’s who I’m shooting for.

  6. kellys

    October 19, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    I totally agree. I get so frustrated when a realtor asks me about blogging for real estate and wants the techie stuff up on their site but then gets agitated when they aren’t getting any leads. Realtors need to decide who their audience is and what the goal of their blog is. I sometimes think they get frustrated unnecessarily. If you want techie stuff on your blog, then expect leads to be fewer than if you put info, info, info on your site for potential clients.

    Back to the basics folks. Write for your audience.

  7. Benn Rosales

    October 19, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Genius isn’t basic- but we do keep in mind that there are about 250 agents out of 1.5 million that are actually current on what a mashup is.

  8. Scott

    October 19, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Amen, brother. As a not-quite-Boomer, not-quite-Xer in age, I’m new-ish to the tools and tone of the real estate blogosphere, but one thing I’ve noted: The cool, hip arrogance of many real estate bloggers who rail against the system, who pity those poor morons who don’t blog or understand blogs, and who attack the invisible good old boys club that (according to them) makes the real estate rules. And it’s more ironic that some of those bloggers, with their over-the-top opinions and conspiracy theories, are themselves creating a kind of closed club…that says loud and clear, “if you’re not cool enough to blog and drop names like we do and agree with us, you’re not cool enough to be a part of our little coalition of the arrogant and ill-informed. Granted, it’s NOT all real estate bloggers. But there’s definitely that thread.

  9. Todd Carpenter

    October 19, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    “Never drop names while blogging”. That’s the advice Dustin Luther gave me while attending Drew Meyer’s Geek Estate premier party on the night before Inman Connect. 😉

    I just want to add, I think the tone of exclusivity that some of you a perceiving is not completely accurate. The Internet has a way of masking a person’s otherwise friendly nature. I bet I met a hundred bloggers this summer, it totally changed my perception of many of them.

  10. ARDELL

    October 19, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks names like “AgentGenius” and “Brainius.com” are too agent-centric to be said in the same breath as blogging?

  11. Todd Carpenter

    October 19, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    I picked brainious because I thought it sounded silly.

  12. Carson

    October 19, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    I really dont see any reason (except for the love of the game) for an agent to write about hardcore in-depth industry topics and trends…

    However, it does show expertise in marketing, and industry knowledge, which would be good for attracting sellers.

    Blogs like this are exempt… otherwise, writing this post would have been extremely hypocritical.

    Oh well… forget the noobs, it’s boring to write to them anyway.

  13. Benn Rosales

    October 20, 2007 at 12:13 am

    ha

  14. joseph ferrara.sellsius

    October 21, 2007 at 1:14 am

    All true. We often forget that the new kids to the party don’t know what the heck we’re talking about. But it doesn’t take long to figure it all out. It’s like a soap opera– watch it for a week and you know who’s doing who.
    Todd– love your idea. I had someone ask me recently how to put in a link.

  15. Ruthmarie Hicks

    July 22, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Some agents just enjoy the techie stuff for its own sake. For those of us who understand technology to one degree or another, it puts us a step a head of the pack. A friend of mine is taking ePro online. I refuse unless I can get CE credit for it. But what she was describing was very Mickey Mouse and she was STRUGGLING with it! Don’t get me wrong. This person is senior to me as a broker and is far more established. In many ways she doesn’t need the internet as much as I do, but I and others like me are filling a void in our locations. We have a dearth of bloggers in my area – and I’m hoping that the information I provide will pull consumers towards me before they pick up the phone to call the “super agent” who can barely print things out from the MLS.

    The main thing that is striking is that everything is so EXTREME. A very few know how to exploit the internet – the rest seem to know little or nothing. It’s not just a void, its a chasm.

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.

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Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note…so let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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Opinion Editorials

COVID-19 acts are unfortunately too short sighted

(BUSINESS NEWS) The biggest flaw in the CARES act is simply that it won’t last. Numerous issues have extended the life of COVID-19 but the act hasn’t matched it.

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The CARES act gives an additional $600 weekly to those on unemployment assistance. The idea being that, combined with the $380 already granted by unemployment, the payments would roughly equal the wage of the average worker prior to the pandemic- about $1,000 weekly.

But on July 31st, the expansion that CARES provides will expire, and benefits will return to pre-pandemic amounts. Those currently receiving the maximum payment will see a 61% decrease in their income. In states that offer lower benefit payments, that percentage goes even higher. All of this comes during a national rental crisis, and moratoriums on evictions across the country are also nearing their ends or being extended last minute.

This isn’t the first or only “yuge” hole in the federal government’s COVID-19 safety net. Many Americans (this writer included) have seen neither hide nor hair of their promised stimulus checks. The HEROES act, which is being billed as a second round of stimulus money, remains under debate- as it has been for several weeks.

And the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires certain businesses to provide two weeks of paid leave to workers who may be sick (or caring for someone who is) has plenty of problems too, namely the laundry list of exceptions to it.

This is just the most recent push to return to the pre-virus economy before effective protective measures have been put in place for workers and consumers alike. After all, with cases of COVID-19 spiking again in the US, it’s apparent that the act is still absolutely necessary. Our lawmakers either lack patience, or compassion – take your pick. Frankly, I say it’s both.

Not only have countless health experts warned that reopening too early will be disastrous, but if a second lockdown is in our future, all of the time, money, and human lives that went into reopening will be wasted.

There is a silver lining among the storm clouds on the horizon. Because ballooning unemployment has created long wait times for benefit applicants, unemployment assistance programs are shelling out retroactive back payments to those deemed eligible.

Good news, at least, for laid off workers who have been waiting months to hear their fate.

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Opinion Editorials

Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!

(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.

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Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!

Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.

What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?

  1. Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
  2. Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
  3. Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.

Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.

Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.

If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!

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