Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween...

Something wicked this way comes this fine Halloween. In the Real Estate biz, hardly anything is more frightening than the spooky realm of Property Management.

When you enter the dark hallway of the RE/MAX Preferred Professionals office in Kingman Arizona, you must be ready to test your wits with the staff in property management. Good luck to the brave souls that dare enter this hallowed day.

First you will directed to this creature below. She (I use the term loosely) will fool with her friendly smile, she will draw you in. You must be most careful because...

....When you get too close....

You will be lucky to make it out alive. By chance if somehow you manage not to fall into the crafty trap that this temptress of evil (also named Christina) lays out for you, you will enter....

... the confines of the Princess of Darkness. Oh I know what you must be thinking, it's the Prince of Darkness not the Princess. Well let me correct your thinking as I am much more gentle in breaking this news than the Queen of All Evil. The story goes that Satan got lazy one day... so the Great Helena abruptly stepped in and cast Lucifer out of the fiery pits (some say he now resides in Sun City, AZ enjoying retirement and playing boccie ball with the other locals).

Oh Helena, Queen of all that is dark and scary... ruler of the property management underworld...

Yo... Helena!!

There, now we have her attention. We mustn't stay long though as at any moment hundreds of tenants will be lining up at the front door with rent checks in hand to pay homage to the great Queen of All That is Evil.

Believe me when I tell you that the pitchfork is real and she knows how to use it, especially on owner payout day. I must sit quietly in the office space just next to hers and not make a sound as I have learned the valued lesson and I dare not want to be taught again.

Trust me, world domination is definitely in progress with these two around. Enter at your own risk and fear for your lives!!

Oh no Justine... now they have you under their spell... run for cover... never look back!!

Look closely, remember American Bandstand for the years 1956 to 1962?? Heck I don't either, but what is important is that we have a real life celebrity among us in our office. Dick Clark has nothing on Justine in the how to age properly department. Justine lives near Kingman and is a great fellow agent at my office.

Frankie Avalon. "Susie Q." The Stroll. Justine Carrelli.
That was Bandstand

Here is a link to more info on how Justine became famous if you can't remember.

Thanks to all the great ladies that allowed me to have some fun on this Halloween holiday.


Thanks to the many folks that came to the site that are friends of Christina and Helena. Helena's daughter Hannah wanted to be included on this post somehow and so she happened to come along looking for free candy handouts last night (along with horde's of others) and so I snapped this photo.

Update 2:

Still others emailed me and wanted to know how I dressed up yesterday. Well I didn't have a costume for the office but I did manage something for the 'trick or treaters' to see in my neighborhood. This costume was a real 'stretch' for me, stretch being the key word. While I continue to play the sport of hockey I normally play the goaltender position which has different equipment needs than what is shown below. For the stuff I was wearing, I haven't worn that gear in almost 7 years now... so it was a stretch to get that jersey over my largess (not to be confused with large ass).

Also, this will be the last time I let my wife do the make up for a 'black eye'. See, I've had a black eye before and her rendering was not even close. Lastly, there were no unruly kids around my house last night, I played the 'enforcer' role... and played it well. There you have it, captain of my hockey team and president of the local Realtor Association.

Another carival this week (holiday themed)

Jim Cronin asked for scary real estate articles for a special Carnival that he is hosting today. When you get a moment head on over if you dare!!

Have a very safe Halloween all, please drive safe as it gets dark as kids will no doubt be out in force once again. I hope that my wife remembered to get candy this year. See she was out of town last year and when I got home from an out of town appoinment there was no candy to give out.

If you know me you know I don't like to let down the kids and we live in a very busy and popular area for trick or treaters. So I basically shut down all the lights in my home and watched TV from the bedroom till the crowd dispearsed. Luckily the plan is that my wife will be home and dressed for the occasion to hand out the goodies.

Offer advice to the newbies...

This morning once again I will be presenting the introductory component of the new Member orientation for my Association. One of the changes I've made in the presentation recently is including some information about my blog and how easy it is to create one if one so desired. This is more than just a news letter and in fact has become my preferred way to help market my business.

At the last orientation, I gave my last group the URL to this site and did get some feedback through the email from some of them. This time I'm giving everyone else a chance to say hi to the newbies. Perhaps you will share a bit of wit or wisdom with today's group. I normally don't like to ask for comments, but if you have a couple of seconds please welcome these new Members of KGVAR with what you have to say. I'd most appreciate it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Carnival of Real Estate, step right up!!

This weeks Carnival is up at Jim Duncan's Real Central VA.

As always plenty to see and do. Perhaps I'll even win you a teddy bear there if you see me.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Update on data conversion...

Now in our fourth day of the new system already. Not everything is peachy. Locally in Kingman things seem to be going alright with the exception that our subdivisions list never worked properly and so the staff has begun to manually input 350 such subdivisions so it can be a searchable set. Fun.

The worst I've heard though was from our neighbors in Bullhead City. I don't understand the specifics, but it sounds pretty bad. What I understand is that basically the data was unusable on the new system, that the converted data was basically useless.

Of course the vendor is working on the issues probably as I type this.

I've been told over and over again that data conversions are never easy or flawless.

I do like the new Innovia system that we are using, however I was frustrated as could be on Wednesday as I began to play with the system. Dummy me never went to a training and I had to call the vendor to get the URL. After that though, I've started to get the hang of it. One feature that I do like (that we didn't have before) is that I can save a partial listing. I have a new listing that will hit the market on Monday and I have entered in all the data already and merely have to make a few mouse clicks and it will be a live listing. I'm sure there will be other features I find handy in the days ahead.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

More piling on some brokers...

I guess I'm just in a mood today.

Check out this brilliant piece from a different Greg (for a change). See BlueRoof Blog go to guy Greg Tracy for this article.

If every home buyer and seller knew what I know- most large brokerages would be completely out of business because their value propositions are horrible- high commission rates, extra transaction fees, marketing that promotes the agent instead of the home, and poor advice on pricing.

More on the broker/agent model

Of course it comes from Greg Swann, he simply has this issue pegged much better than I do. And I fully agree with his post.

On the other hand, you are only valuable to me as a broker if you are not increasing my liability. When you do nothing except pay me, I love you. When you write contracts or engage in other random acts of agency, you scare me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Have they lost their minds??

Before I answer, please read this letter to the Members of the Minnesota Association of Realtors. (hat tip to Greg Swann for finding this)

As a "Trade Association" we must defend and look out for the general welfare of the industry. This means helping members understand that it may be time for them to make a career adjustment so as not to harm the structure of the industry for those pursuing it as a career. We're not talking about different service structures; they are part of what consumer's desire. Our concern is that the value of utilizing the services of a real estate broker/agent will erode because of agent over saturation.

Okay, now I'll answer. No, they haven't lost their minds. Along with Mr. Swann I think this letter goes into the deeper problem of the real estate brokerage business model. More specifically the broker/agent relationship business model.

I do not think that Arizona is facing whatever dilemma that the fine folks in Minnesota are facing for the simple reason of the continued expected growth in the state of Arizona. For instance, in my part of Mohave county there is approx. 75,000 to 100,000 people in the area, I've heard that in 20 years this same area will house over 1,000,000 residents. So I doubt I'll be writing a similar letter to my Association Members anytime soon.

However, along this time line, I'd love to see improvement in the broker/agent business model. Brokers... you know what I'm talking about. If not, please read the entire linked letter and see Greg's post on this subject.

'Go Live' date for WARDEX is here...

Should be a most interesting day. I've already logged on to our new Data Exchange system (formerly known as 'MLS'). I didn't attend any trainings for the new system so I'm having some issues right away, but I realize I just need to get familiar.

I'll be heading to our Associations regular Wednesday morning meeting in a little while. I wonder how many Members will be bringing tomatoes to hurl my way??

So if you meet me, have some courtesy, have some sympathy, and some taste.

Should be a long day, I wish I was playing in a hockey game tonight somewhere to help sweat this out.

For the fellow Members reading this, please remember that we are all in this together. I think there are going to be some bugs that will need immediate attention, please be patient while imperfections are being attended to.

Today is an exciting day overall though. The many volunteers from our Association and the other two local Associations have put in hundreds of hours each (probably even more than that) to bring us to this day. I marvel at how quickly this was all put together and how well all of us have worked along side to make this remarkable accomplishment happen.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Big trouble for big commissions...

I'm no lawyer and I certainly do not play one on TV. In this article I think we are seeing some sour grapes on behalf of the Realtor. Read the whole thing, but pay attention to the following...

The confusion began in 1999, when Trombly and Oliphant asked Saslove to sell a vacant Brush Creek lot. Saslove made a mistake in the contract he prepared for the sale, stating the lot had a water tap when it did not. The water tap was worth $25,000.

Thus, Saslove agreed to contribute his $13,000 commission on the property, with the condition that he be allowed to list the next property they put on the market.

A written agreement was drawn up and signed, though there was no specific "next property" and, the court of appeals decided, future terms were needed for the contract to be legal.

First, this agent made a costly mistake and helped pay for the mistake with the commission earned on the sale. That part was good... well at least good on him for owning up to the mistake. I don't feel for the guy though, sure mistakes happen and there is liability for those mistakes. The agent here did as right as he could considering the circumstances surrounding his mistake.

I'm sure the agent knew that his clients held some other valuable real estate in the area and soon he would have the opportunity to make up for his mistake by providing better service.

Then the clients sold a parcel of their property holdings, and if you read the article (and if the article is true), the clients didnt' put the property on the market. Apparently many offers were simply made to the sellers. This happens, this happens a lot actually.

Over the last few years I've taken calls from property owners that were getting offers in the mail. Multiple offers on many occasions. These owners called me to verify if the offering price was legit based on the current market. Whatever my answer was... I was not entitled to any commission if the owners opted to sell to the party making an offer.

And in my opinion (again, I'm no lawyer), this agent in Colorado has no claim to a commission either. He was not hired to provide a service for the client, therefore no commission.

Just because an agent takes a few calls from a property owner does not entitle the agent to be an automatic partner and beneficiary to a property transfer.

I consider the suit filed by the agent from Colorado a black eye to the Real Estate business.

Carnival time again...

Head on over to HotPads Daily for this week's edition of the carnival of real estate. Plenty to see and do. If you see me there, I'll buy you a cotton candy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Yeah... no duh!!

MOST U.S. HOME MARKETS are in bear mode as anxious sellers growl and buyers are scarce. All of the leading indicators now painfully confirm that.

To all the existing indexes, I'd like to add one more: The Donald Trump Index. This is mostly a psychological measure based on the popularity and price of real-estate-oriented "wealth-building" seminars headlined by the property mogul and TV star.

Last year, when the home market peaked, the Real Estate Wealth Expo, featuring Trump and 70 other money mavens such as Suze Orman, charged as much as $499 per person and attracted more than 60,000 participants, according to the Learning Annex, the New York City-based education company that sponsors the shows.

Recent ads for the event offered a price as low as $99 for similar seminars that are scheduled in cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Toronto. Is there any connection between the 80 percent drop in the Trump Index and the measurable decline in the market?

Everything is plenty peachy when the market is on the way up, even the profit margins. Read the rest here.

Simple advice for buyers...

I found this article scouring Google News searching for real estate related news. This is common advice and simple advice. I'm offering it because there seems to be many folks in the world that think us Realtors hold guns to would be clients heads and demand signitures to make transactions happen. Of course that is silly so here I am sharing this very good advice with would be buyers.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: In order to find a good deal, you need to be able to identify a fairly priced property when you see it. This requires intimate knowledge of home values in the area.

A good real estate agent can help you to develop this product knowledge. But, there is no substitute for doing your own due diligence--driving the area, researching the local economy, viewing listings online and visiting open houses. This gives you the confidence you need to make an educated decision about what constitutes a good deal.

Read the rest here.

How might WARDEX benefit you... (think Members)

All right fellow Members, maybe some of you still don't understand why the three Associations decided to merge our current MLS' into one regional Data Exchange. I hope the following helps, but feel free to hit the comment button and ask questions.

As I mentioned in my previous post to the clients, most of the Members will not be all of a sudden heading to Havasu from Kingman to list and sell property. We do know that there will be a set of agents and brokers that will be doing so, but I can't see anywhere near the majority of Members doing this.

What I've seen happen over the years when talking with would be buyers coming through this large area of Mohave County is buyers want to know not only what is available in my community (think Kingman) for sale, but also what properties might be right for them say in Bullhead City for example. Unfortunately, I've never been able to 'look into' Bullhead City and provide information to a would be buyer. So that has meant that this would be buyer might have to sit through another presentation from a different Realtor or Realtors in other service area's. Of course I could have always sent this would be buyer to Bullhead City (again for example) to meet with a Realtor that I have referred them to. However, I've always felt that there was no service that I provided to the client, that is if they ended up making the decision to purchase property in Bullhead City. Why should I get a referral 'fee' for just sending the would be buyer to an agent??

So after the conversion, what I expect to happen is that I actually can provide some service to the would be buyer that ends up purchasing property in Bullhead City instead of Kingman. How?? Because now I'll be able to do some searching of available properties, eliminate the listings the would be buyer has no interest in, give the client a comparative marketing analysis, and then send them to a reputable agent (for a referral 'fee'). In my mind I still have some control over the process and thereby will 'earn' any referral 'fee' I may get. I'll be offering a service. I know that I appreciate it when I get a referral that the referring agent has a solid working relationship with the client AND has done some of the legwork (ANY of the legwork) to help in the process. When that situation happens, I'm all too happy to pay the referral 'fee'.

Long story short... I'll be able to service the client to the point where I have the proper relationship with a client in order to receive a referral fee for the services provided. Heck, I may even be in a better position to follow through for the client and thereby the client actually would have two competent agents working on their behalf. I'm willing to bet that if this is done properly the clients would absolutely love it. Two professional service providers for the price of one. Now I don't expect each and every Member to follow along with this from day one, but I bet it becomes the culture of WARDEX eventually. It will streamline the process for the Members and more importantly -- the clients.

Now onto other benefits. There is no time like the present to tackle a huge problem with the current MLS. The current data stinks, I've said it before and I hope that I won't have to say it much longer. As Members of KGVAR and our MLS, we've seen poorly entered data in the MLS and have put up with it for far too long. The system has needed an overhaul since I joined this Association in 2001... and I bet long before.

Yes there is going to be some adjustment to the new system, but the system will be better if we all pay attention to the new data fields and fill them out completely. It will be easier to allow the data to paint a positive picture of our listings, but it is on all of us -- each and every Member -- to buy in. The new system is faster and more feature rich than anything we've ever had. It can make our jobs more streamlined and less redundant, and thereby become much more consistent. But it needs to be consistently better. There will be auto population fields that will scrape property data from sources like the county resources. No more entering in legal descriptions and parcel numbers three or four times. The new system is designed to save steps in the data entry, to save time and for better accuracy. The new mapping program will be much more intuitive and user friendly... and hopefully plenty more accurate.

The last advantage that I'll speak of now is what should be the best benefit. That is the data we use for comps. We know that there are still Members out there of one Association that are listing and selling property to clients that normally serve in the area of another Association. Many of us have seen comparison data that looks out of the norm and inaccurate as all can be.

Let me just take the Golden Valley area for a second as an example. Golden Valley is practically located right between the cities of Kingman and Bullhead City. While Golden Valley belongs in the KGVAR serving area, many Bullhead City agents have done business in Golden Valley. Many of those Bullhead City agents do not have access to the data from KGVAR. The fact that these agents are servicing the area does not bother me, but it does bother me that they are likely using an inferior data set for pricing for comps. Thereby skewing the true picture of the Golden Valley market. This is not a problem only in Golden Valley, it can be a problem practically anywhere. At one time there were some agents out of Havasu that were selling properties east of Kingman at price levels much different than what was reflected in the KGVAR MLS.

This can cause confusion for clients before the sale and perhaps angst for clients after a sale, not to mention legal complications that can arise. So when we go live this Wednesday, we will all be able to use one set of data, an improved set of data, to manage a more accurate image of comparison data. I'm most looking forward to this benefit.

But never forget this... we are all in this together and together we can make this a great resource to help our clients sell and buy properties in our serving area.

How might WARDEX benefit you... (think clients)

This post is not just for Realtors that may be Members of the new regional MLS (we call it a data exchange now or DEX), but for anyone that is thinking of buying or selling in Mohave County (and even beyond, perhaps).

Let me first tackle the reasons why WARDEX could be a benefit to buyers and sellers. I'll let the real estate practitioners read up on why WARDEX would be a benefit to them a bit later.

Specifically if you are selling a property in Mohave County and chose to hire representation of your listing with a Member of WARDEX, your listing will be viewed by 1,700 Members of three strong Realtor Associations. This opens up your listing information to many more Realtors that are working with potential buyers. Now, most of the Members of WARDEX will likely be continuing to specialize in their more local markets. I, for instance, will likely not be actively marketing listings in Bullhead City or Lake Havasu City or those areas. But I will still have access to those markets for valuable information.

Because of the way I plan on using the larger data base, it is more likely that when a buying client that is simply thinking of moving to the area I'll be ready to let him/her know the market conditions of the area's that I normally don't have ANY market knowledge of. If this example client ends up wanting to view properties in other locations other than where I normally serve, the client will be able to save time and effort of having to ask for the same services in these other markets. Why?? Because I will be able to contact a reputable agent in the other marketing area's and review the clients needs and criteria and pass the client on. More on this a touch later.

Another advantage for sellers will be more agents and brokers websites will carry the more limited listing information known as IDX data. This is a data set of listing information that can be found on web sites that real estate agents and brokers have and use for marketing. This means more opportunities for would be buyers to basically stumble across the listing information. More and more would be buyers are starting their search for a property online, so this is only great news.

These are just a few advantages that a buyer or seller could benefit from the new regional data exchange service. Later I will post the benefits the Members should receive from WARDEX.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Something for the WARDEX folks... and others

Jim Duncan from Real Central VA has a couple of articles up right now that hit home with me at the moment.

Our regional MLS conversion is happening as we speak and there are many very important issues that we are facing. In recent meetings, the Interim Board of Directors has debated data sharing and the importance of REALTOR.com at length. These issues are hot all over the real estate world right now.

Here's Jim's take on REALTOR.com

Here's him asking what if the MLS went away

Baby Boomers and real estate

Came across this report this morning.

Boomers not only believe strongly in accumulating real estate, they intend to keep doing so even as they head toward the traditional retirement years. An extraordinary 1 out of 4 boomers between the ages of 50 and 60 consider it very likely or somewhat likely that they will purchase some form of additional real estate within the next 12 months.

And a fine time it may very well be for those buyers.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

AAR Leadership Conference 2006

I did have more on my agenda than meeting with a fellow blogger while I was away in Phoenix.

I finished attending my fourth AAR Leadership Conference earlier this week. Each one has been different, all have been good, but this years was the best so far. I might be a little biased because the process has become rather familiar by this time. In other years I was simply running back and forth from the installation dinner event to wherever I could find the score of whatever playoff baseball game that may have been on the TV. There was a game on this year, but I wasn't interested (and I had a fellow dinner attendee check the score of the game on his cell phone a couple of times so I didn't have to leave).

Seriously, these events have been instrumental in helping me with leadership at the Association level. This year's leadership speaker actually gave new meaning to instrumental because he actually played an instrument during his presentation. Dave Timmons was the speaker and he led the audience thorough what he calls the Six String Leadership program. Mr. Timmons was brilliant.

He shared with us three core beliefs; that our purpose is to serve, the highest form of service is leadership, and if you can influence one or more people YOU are a leader. The six strings of leadership included; courage... to stand up for a belief system, trust... reciprocating respect, truth... it is simple and it works, connection... making meaningful relationships, inspiration... motivation with passion and knowledge, and action... basically to just do it (to borrow a phrase).

Mr. Timmons spent the entire day giving us the program and I believe it was well worth it. At our lunch break David Fitzsimmons an editorial cartoonist from the Arizona Daily Star presented... no... rather entertained us. I missed the first 20 minutes or so, but what I did catch was hilarious. His point was about injecting humor into issues, and apparently he has no difficulty doing so. He used an overhead projector and produced cartoon drawings in an impressively fast pace. He even selected various members and made cartoon images of them, again it took about 30 seconds for him to accomplish this, all the while breaking up the room with the cartoons and the things he said. He was simply great, plenty of belly laughs were enjoyed by all.

Later that evening was the installation dinner, where our very own Rita Zumwalt (still without a linkable site) was installed with the other local Association presidents for 2007. Rita is going to do a great job next year and it will be easy to forget about any success I may have had in 2006 as president of KGVAR. Once over, then it was time to race back and catch the end of the baseball game, but of course I was too late and I had to settle for highlights on SportsCenter.

On Wednesday we had our regional break out meetings and each Association reported on issues that face them locally. I might be handling that meeting in the future as I was asked again to be the Regional VP in 2008-09. Luckily I'll be following a great example set by the current RVP, Michelle Pepper.

Because this year I was the president of KGVAR it meant that I was a member of the State Board of Directors for AAR. The executive panel gave their reports. At this meeting the RAPAC Chairman for AAR handed out Association awards and I am proud to say that our little Association won the award for highest percentage of Members that donated to the Realtors political action committee. Won it for at least the second straight year in fact. We did it without having our own local RAPAC Chair either. To ensure we win this award again next year (and maybe some other awards) I have volunteered to be RAPAC Chair for KGVAR in 2007.

The biggest news while I was in Phoenix was the way the NFL team the Cardinals managed to lose the game on Monday night, but other than that... smiles all around. Overall it was a great event and I hope to attend again next year.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Thanks to the Bloodhound Gang!!

Just got back from the AAR leadership conference meetings in Phoenix. I'll have more on the conference in a bit, I will say that conference was great though.

The highlight of my journey though was the visit I made to Greg Swann and Cathleen Collins of Bloodhoundrealty.com and Bloodhoundblog. I'll never be able to thank them enough for allowing me into their home and for being the great hosts they were. I was there for a very short 2 hours, but it was the best 2 hours of my trip.

Subjects changed and ranged all over the real estate related world. Cold Corona's emptied at an easy pace. Family pets each introduced themselves and made me feel most welcome. My hosts have a beautiful home on a great property.

There I was stuttering and stammering away in the presence of truly great folks. No worries though, the Corona's had the desired affect of calming me down after the ride down the very busy Interstate 17.

I get the feeling that the only folks luckier than me that day were the clients of Greg and Cathleen. It is very easy to see why they have the success they have in this business. I was in town for a 'leadership' conference and we talked about being a leader for a bit. Greg has no interest in the kind of leadership that I happen to find myself involved in, but what Greg and Cathleen do not know is that they are leaders already. Maybe a different kind than those who wear a name badge at conferences, but leaders nonetheless. They are every bit as important to this industry as any that hold positions such as president and president-elect for an Association.

Like I said, the discussion subjects were all over the place and my ONLY regret is that I didn't take notes or record the conversation. I sit here at my desk and want to do a play by play but I can't. I'll simply say that it was the best day of my blogging life to visit with the fine folks at Bloodhoundrealty.com.

Greg and Cathleen, thanks again, thanks for everything. You are certainly welcome in MOCO Real world any day of the week. You are truly a benefit to this agent, this profession, and to this world.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Happy Birthday Ricky Boy!!

It's my nephew's birthday today. Right now he (along with my sis) is living in Hawaii. I called yesterday after I heard about the earthquake but never got through. I believe that they are all right but the news said that the power was off on the island they live on.

I must remember to call a later and wish good birthday wishes to my favorite nephew. For now though I'm happy to let him know right here on the blog.

Ricky, you know that I can't wait till you and your family move to Las Vegas next year. It's been tough seeing you only a few times since you've been born. You are growing up to be a very nice young man. Your mother and father are proud, and so is your Uncle Todd and Aunt Gail. I can't wait to spoil you once you are on the mainland.

Love, Uncle Todd.

Carnivals and road trips...

This weeks carnival is up at Inman News

I didn't have the time needed to submit this week, but I doubt I would have made the top 10 anyway. Plenty of good stuff to check out.

Also, I'll be on the road the next couple of days. I'm off to the Arizona Association of REALTORS Leadership Conference. Usually the leadership conference just consists of me being lost in the shuffle (and me heading back to my hotel room to catch football or baseball games on TV).

This year though I have more to do.

The highlight no doubt will be later today when I get into Phoenix. I'm going to try and catch up with Greg and Cathleen from the BloodhoundBlog. They've invited me to their place to pet the cats and dogs, but I'll be happy enough just getting a sit down with the real estate 'blogfather'. It will really be nice visiting with them and I can't wait.

Then I'm off to a WARDEX dinner meeting with the other Interim Board of Directors from Kingman, Havasu, and Bullhead. I'm sure we will raise a glass to how far we've come to this point... nervously. See we still have this new product launch and conversion thingy hanging over us. I'll personally pop the champagne once we truly are off the ground.

The Leadership Conference usually includes plenty of good information for Association leaders. I know that I've taken bits of information from the last 4 or 5 of them now (wow, time is a flyin'). There's a nice dinner event on Tuesday as well to install new state and local Association officers.

On Wednesday there is a State Board of Directors meeting where I get to vote on agenda and budget items.

Like I said, the highlight will no doubt be meeting Greg and Cathleen. I hope to catch up with other bloggers from Phoenix in future trips so don't feel left out Jay, John, or Jonathan. The letter 'G' comes before 'J'. I'll get to you fine bloggers in the future.

See you on the way back!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wow, you really CAN outsource anything

I've never considered hiring an assistant since I've been in business. Not sure if I ever will either.

But this is an interesting idea.

See... there are still buyers out there

Even ones willing to pay $34,000,000 for 3 acres of land. Residential even.

"Thirty-four million dollars is a lot of money but you have to look at the fact that it is 120 thousand square feet, just shy of three acres, and it has 350 feet of ocean frontage," said listing agent Patricia Choi.

The deal on the sale closed Thursday. It's believed to be the largest residential real estate transaction in Hawaii.

The property is actually comprised of three separate lots that were combined into one parcel. The property went on sale in mid-summer and was almost immediately snapped up.

All right, it's a property in Hawaii -- beach front and all. Still that buyer had to be plenty motivated, looks like he/she even saved a few million off the asking price. Shrewd negotiator for sure.

It does make a 10 acre land listing I have listed for $395,000 look like an incredible bargain though.

Some news...

Here is an article about Internet stocks, Yahoo specifically and its recent struggle on the stock price (I really don't follow stocks that closely).

What caught my eye was this...

Meanwhile, despite the housing bubble burst, online real estate ad spending is exploding. Says local-web-advertising firm Borrell Associates

... Internet real estate advertising [jumps] to a $2 billion level this year and [will pass] $3 billion by 2010, surpassing newspapers in terms of advertising market share. [of $11 billion total real estate advertising spending]
... There is huge room for growth. Sixty-one percent of agents do not advertise on the Internet. And 87 percent of agents are not buying keywords on Google or Yahoo.


Beyond paid search ads, the Trulias, Homethinkings, BuyerHunts, Craigslists are providing new channels to reach home buying consumers. Agent websites, blogging, market research and other online tools add to the total spend. These channels, because of their efficiency gains, actually grow the real estate marketing pie, rather than simply transfer from offline to online spend.

In spite of declining real estate activity (maybe because of it), online real estate spending will continue to go through the roof.

Yes interesting.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Real estate attidude poll in LA Times

Came across this article online today and thought I would share it. Pretty interesting data if you ask me, especially the following:

3. Do you currently own your home, or do you rent?

* Own, 70 percent

* Rent, 28 percent

* Not sure, 2 percent

I thought that I read recently that home ownership was at an all time high. I thought the number I remember was in the 60 some odd percentile.

5. During the next (two years), do you think housing prices in your area will go up, go down, or stay about the same?

* Go up, 49 percent

* Go down, 18 percent

* Stay about the same, 32 percent

* Not sure, 1 percent

Put me in the not sure 1% group.

8. I'm going to read you a list of factors that might be important in buying or renting a home. For each one, please tell me if this factor is very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important to you in buying or renting a home. How about ...


* Very important, 79 percent

* Somewhat important, 18 percent

* Not too important, 2 percent

* Not at all important, 1 percent

Total important -- 97 percent

Total not important -- 3 percent

You catching on yet Mr. and Mrs. Seller??

3. What tools or resources did you use in your search for a house or condominium? Did you

Use a professional real estate agent

* Yes, 62 percent

* No, 38 percent

Use the Internet

* Yes, 53 percent

* No, 47 percent

Check print newspaper ads

* Yes, 40 percent

* No, 60 percent

Visit open houses

* Yes, 37 percent

* No, 63 percent

Use friends or family

* Yes, 55 percent

* No, 45 percent

Drive or walk around looking for "for sale" signs

* Yes, 51 percent

* No, 49 percent

Using a professional is still number one, but I bet this question is confusing. I look at the numbers of those that say they use the Internet and I think the number is very low. I'm willing to bet the buyers probably started their search online and then called a broker.

18. When thinking about buying a house or condominium, how much do you worry about each of the following? How about

Paying above the fair market value at the time

* A lot, 39 percent

* Some, 39 percent

* Not too much, 11 percent

* Not at all, 10 percent

* Not sure, 1 percent

Total a lot/some -- 78 percent

Total not too much/not at all -- 21 percent

To me this is the reason that folks will still call a broker/agent to help them in the buying process. The public knows that we have the best data to help determine the correct asking price.

19. Which of the following resources are you using or do you expect to use in your search for a house or condominium? How about

Using a professional real estate agent

* Yes, 71 percent

* No, 28 percent

* Not sure, 1 percent

Using the Internet

* Yes, 74 percent

* No, 26 percent

These are great numbers as far as I'm concerned. Also this is why it is imperative that Association and MLS leaders must be willing to share data with searchable web-sites. The percentage of folks are going to use the Internet AND they are going to call a broker/agent. Let's make this process easier for all.


23. What would you say is the best feature available when conducting real estate research online?

* Photos of properties, 19 percent

* Search capabilities, 14 percent

* Variety and volume of listings, 10 percent

* Virtual tours, 9 percent

* More information available, 4 percent

* Ease of use, 3 percent

* Accessibility, 3 percent

* Free listings, 1 percent

* Price, 1 percent

* Other, 24 percent

* Not sure, 16 percent

Once again fellow leaders... it is spelled out right here. We can benefit the Members by addressing the needs of the clients that begin their search on the Internet. Yes we have to be smart about it, but we can't squash the opportunity or simply have the mindset that the data only needs to be protected.

The rental market...

I was reading this article at the Matrix blog (not to be confused with our recent 'Matrix' land split program that was defeated) about rents going up. Keep in mind when you read it that Mr. Miller is in New York City which is vastly different than my own little market.

I spoke with our Property Manager, the lovely Helena Baughman (I have to write a blog about her someday), about the local rental market. The news is not good.

There is thought to be about 300 rentals available right now in this area, sitting vacant and waiting for new tenants. Couple that with the over 700 listings on the market for sale and it is a touch scary (just in time for Halloween).

Helena tells me that many of the tenants were in the construction business and since the layoffs have begun the tenants are moving on to where there are some jobs. Kingman's recent success was in very very large part due to the money generated by construction. The new Wal-Mart distribution center is suddenly on hold (and could end up being scrapped). That was one ticket this area had for more jobs AND for more people moving to the area. In fact many other business opportunities are likely on hold as well because of the Wal-Mart delay.

Rents are very low right now, certainly lower than would be mortgage payments on a newly purchased home. Landlords are being very competitive for whatever would be tenants that might be out there. Rents are coming down. Last couple of years saw plenty of investors buying up SFR's to put on the rental market and that has led to an oversupply.

The 'Go Live' date approaches

Normally in the morning I fill up my water bottle with water as my drink of choice in the office. It used to be a daily stop at the convenience store for a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. Everyone keeps telling me that soda pop is bad for you diet or not (but I really love the taste of Diet Mountain Dew). Well this morning I've settled on a cup of coffee. Not much of a coffee drinker, I will drink it but I won't spend money on designer coffee (think Starbucks).

Coffee sounded good to me this morning because I looked at the calendar and realized that the 'Go Live' date for the conversion to the new MLS is right around the corner. October 25th to be exact. Still many happenings before that date that need attention though.

The new MLS organization that we have put together is being called WARDEX as I have mentioned before. The Interim Board of Directors is still meeting basically on a bi-weekly basis to wrap up some last minute formalities. Three members from each of the three Associations make up the Interim Board. The three represented Associations all have different wants and needs, we are basically used to what we've each been using for MLS provider and now we are all converting to an entirely new system. (MLS is being replaced by Data Exchange going forward in this article).

The first training classes for the new system begin next Monday and run through to Friday. Somewhere near 1,700 Members are expected to attend those training sessions. Of course I know that not all of the Members will take the time to attend. There will also be a 'train the trainer' course offered to a representative from each office on the 23rd and 24th just before the 'Go Live' date. We are doing our best to cover the bases but still I expect some Members to slip through the cracks.

Of course I can't forget to mention that the new vendor will make it's final data pull from the old systems on October 17th. That means any changes to the current system will have to be re-entered manually into the new system on the 'Go Live' date.

I'm drinking coffee this morning, but I think by the time October 25th arrives I'll wish that there is some Bailey's in with the coffee.

Others challenging the 6% fee

I think forward thinking agents across the country are looking for new and inovative ways to offer their services and fee structure.

Here is one such idea I found on the Rain City Guide blog.

Now I am not saying that this would be my new plan, but I thought it might be nice to share it with you folks.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No ID required at the voting booth??

I try not to enter the political fray with the subject matter on this blog, unless it pertains to something the local Association is involved in (like the 'Matrix' thingy), but I have to share this.

The people of Arizona voted to make it a requirement to show a valid ID when you go to vote. I'll say it again... the PEOPLE OF ARIZONA VOTED TO MAKE IT A REQUIREMENT TO SHOW A VALID ID WHEN YOU GO TO VOTE.

Now comes this...

A recent decision creating a stay for the Proposition 200 voter identification requirements has thrown a kink in the system as elections departments around the state gear up for the November election.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco decided Thursday to grant an appellant's emergency motion to temporarily stay the identification requirements. Currently, according to Joseph Kanefield, state election director within the Secretary of State's Office, the order notes that the ID requirement at the polls will not be in effect for the Nov. 7 general election nor will proof of citizenship be required to register to vote.

I am stunned by this. Why the heck does my vote not count all of a sudden?? I don't get this and I don't get the many groups that are the plaintiffs in this case.

According to last week's U.S. Newswire release, the plaintiffs who filed the emergency motion include: the Intertribal Council of Arizona, Inc., The League of Women Voters of Arizona, The Hopi Tribe, The League of United Latin American Citizens, The Arizona Advocacy Network, The People For the American Way Foundation and Rep. Steve M. Gallardo.

Sorry for the political stuff.

Property transfer tax.... yuck

Just found this article from Santa Fe New Mexico where they are proposing a transfer tax to help support affordable housing. I know this sounds like feel good legislation. Who wouldn't want to be involved in artificially lowering housing prices?? Please.

Under the proposal, a 1-percent levy would be assessed on that portion of a real-estate transfer in excess of $319,000. For example, a transfer tax of $810 would be assessed on the sale of a $400,000 home.

The threshold -- which might be changed as the idea is debated -- is intended to avoid adding more costs to property in a lower price range. The median price for home sales in the city reported by the Santa Fe Association of Realtors during the second quarter of this year was $352,000.
(Emphasis mine)

I guarantee you that the threshold will be played with before and after a real estate transfer tax is implemented.

My bigger beef is that a transfer tax once imposed becomes the target for other sources looking for government funding. Transfer taxes are easier to raise than some others because a very small portion of the population at any one time is buying or selling real estate at any and all moments.

These kinds of taxes simply need to be fought tooth and nail. Our state Association, AAR, fought a state transfer tax some years back that the then new governor wanted to impose on the entire state. A transfer tax is bad for private property owners because it artificially raises the cost of buying and selling property.

Full disclosure... this is also bad for the real estate business, I have no problem admitting it. Sellers will likely seek relief from this tax from the cost of a real estate agents services. I'm willing to always negotiate with a seller or a buyer for the cost of my fees, but I'll have a hard time doing it on behalf of the government. A government that is probably less responsible with public funds than I am with my own funds.

I encourage the real estate practictioners of Santa Fe to fight this transfer tax proposal.

Incentives to help sell

I simply am not a big fan of many 'incentives' I see that some sellers are offering.

I found this article online at the East Valley Tribune in Phoenix.

The Bohalls have sweetened the deal by offering a free trip to Hawaii, a free big-screen TV and $10,000 cash to whoever steps forward and buys their house.

“We’re in a bit of a time crunch, and that’s why I thought instead of just giving an incentive like everybody does, like we’ll pay $3,000 worth of your closing costs, I said no, let’s make the incentive big,” Craig Bohall said.

To me this is asking the buyer to right now go ahead and not only purchase the home, but also make plans for a trip to Hawaii to spend even more money AND buy a big screen TV the buyer may or may not need. The trip to Hawaii is not free and neither is the TV. Yeah maybe the seller is picking out the vacation package and the brand name of the TV, but make no mistake the buyer is paying for them.

These so called incentives require the buyer to pay more money for a home purchase in my opinion. Take the Hawaii trip for example. Sure if I'm the buyer I'm probably paying for the most likely a 'discount' travel package (not a pleasure trip to Maui). Once in Hawaii I have to pay for food, rental car, and entertainment. That includes golf and shopping. If the vacation package is a couple of thousand dollars, I might spend a couple of thousand dollars in expenses. So now I've bought the home for an extra couple grand (for the vacation package) and a couple of grand more that maybe I wasn't planning to spend.

I've been shopping for a new TV for at least 3 years. I'm very particular about the kind of TV that I'm going to settle on. The technology has changed in that 3 years and the prices have varied. Am I supposed to believe that the big screen TV included with the home is the ONE TV that I actually want?? Probably not. Please, these incentives are a joke.

Oh and exactly where does the $10,000 cash come from?? Proceeds from the amount of money the buyer agrees to pay for the home.

Right now I believe if you want to offer an incentive, simply lower the damn asking price to meet the market. There is no need to be creative beyond what really comes down to dollars and $ense.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

September sales report (2006)

It's that time again, time for the sales report from last month. As always I take the data straight from the local MLS, that I am a paying member of, and the data may not always be accurate. I sift through the data and exclude information I deem to be incorrect that could corrupt the findings. Data shown is for Single Family Homes within the City limits of Kingman and includes the North Kingman, Valle Vista subdivision, and units in the Hualapai Mountains area outside of the City limits but are areas where many SFR's are located. See here for an example of the areas researched for this report.

** Please also note that this is the last report I'll be doing from the old MLS system. Our new Data Exchange goes live on October 25th of this month and it is possible that further reports could be delayed as I learn the new system.

Well... there is no denying that there is some good news. The good news is that total number of new listings dropped last month. I'm hoping this is a trend that continues as we attempt to absorb the excess inventory we have seen balloon up this year. There is a long way to go before real balance comes back to the market though. Yep, when there is good news there is often some bad news that comes along with it. Sales in units fell to a new low for this year. However I can still pull a positive out of the fire, this month there were 1.86 new listings for each sale as compared to 2.4 last month -- the best ratio since February of this year. Not great, not good even really... but a glimpse of promise.

You'll notice something in this chart and it may surprise you, but don't let it. While the average asking price for new listings did drop to the lowest level this year, don't let the average sale price increase leave you to believe that all is well. I highlighted in last months listing report that the new construction homes that entered contract looked way out of whack. That many of those homes seemed to sell on the same day as if ONE purchaser bought all of them. I still don't know that it actually happened that way, but in September those contracts closed escrow and directly helped sway the numbers this month. So in my opinion the new construction sales numbers will come right back down in next months report, and the existing homes sold in September actually went down by a fraction indicating to me what would have been normal.

The average home sold in September had 2.93 bedrooms, 2.03 baths, and a 2.0 car garage. It was built in 1992 and has 1,630 square feet of living space. It was listed for sale for $238,810 and was price was conceded to $221,047 or 8% off of listing.

15 SFR's sold in the month of September over $275,000. The highest priced sale was $510,000 while the lowest price sale was $47,000.

As you can see above, we are still way under the rate of sales that we saw in the two very best years in history. Traditionally we are headed for our slow season of sales so I can't see a big bump in sales in the last quarter that would save our year in overall units sold. Comments from potential buyers continue to be that they will play the waiting game to see how the market prices change. Other buyers that are in need of housing are pleased with the many choices they have and the willingness of some sellers to concede the price down to an acceptable level.

As I've stated before, I believe the current average sale price for the last month is skewed upward and that we should see the yellow line adjust back down to the level we saw in August. Sellers thinking about putting their property on the market for a reasonable quick sale should be looking at the pink line to see if they can afford to sell in today's market. If so they will see plenty of response from the buyers that are laying low.

If you would like further clarification on this report please leave a comment here, email me, or contact me by phone. I'll be happy to talk to you. Look for more reports in the weeks and months ahead.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Carnival of Real Estate in 4 parts...

Gregs rewriting the rule book so I'll have to update this post throughout the week. Check out this weeks carnival at the BloodhoundBlog. I have to say that I like what Greg is doing with it and I imagine the work load is getting longer for those who are hosting.

Here is the first installment.

Day two of the carnival. Hey I am having fun, I like this longer carnival. Many thanks to Greg for linking my article from last week.

Gratifying weekend...

I had a rather unproductive weekend, but enjoyed every second. It started on Friday afternoon. A good friend of mine asked me if I'd go to the Rockfest in Lake Havasu on Friday. This meant leaving the office in the early afternoon, so of course I said yes (need to get out more, really I do).

Cheap Trick and the Doobie Brothers were the headliners that day, we caught a couple of other shows as well but I don't know who they were. Very bluesy feel to the bands that I didn't know. Lots of jamming. I simply did live music even if I don't the bands. The show was great, and so was the people watching... it is Lake Havasu after all.

At the show we were checking in on the Yankees-Tigers game in baseball. I sorta wish I could have seen that game. The Tigers pitcher was on a roll and simply handled the 'best lineup' in baseball. My friend Joe, that I went to the concert with, is from Detroit and is a big fan.

So on the way home we are talking about watching Saturday's game. My lovely wife had a team building camping trip scheduled for her employees which meant I was on my own with the TV, the remote control to the TV, and access to some cocktails. Normally I don't even drink a beer or two on weekends until the time on the clock starts getting close to four or five in the evening because clients like to call during those times and I can't afford not to be able to serve my clients if needed. I did hit the office early in the morning and attempted to catch up on any work that I may have missed on Friday. Mission accomplished, so I chanced it at 1:30pm on Saturday and cracked open a brew and flipped the TV between the Tigers game and the Michigan - Michigan State college football game (along with a host of other top college football games).

My cell didn't buzz all day and I sat back on the couch and took in some great action. The Tigers vanquished the Yankees, and the Michigan Wolverines managed to win their game.

My only hiccup on Saturday was watching my favorite ice hockey team, the Philadelphia Flyers, lose a close game to the hated New York Rangers in their second game of an 82 game season. So that loss didn't really have too much of an affect. All that was left on Saturday was looking forward to the pro football action on Sunday.

I had to sit through the early games waiting for THE game of the day. THE game was my Philadelphia Eagles playing host to the hated Dallas Cowboys... and the return of one Terrell Owens, or TO as he likes to be called.

TO was an Eagle for the previous 2 seasons (really one and a half). At one time he was the most loved player on any sports team in Philly, easily. He is a star of stars. He still is. Some of you may know of his accidental overdose of painkillers from a couple of weeks ago that made front page news... not on the sports section... but on the front page. The man is a great football player, but he is lacking as a good teammate to say the least. He went from most loved player to most hated player in Philly in a microsecond. Yesterday was his first time back in front of the loyal Eagle fans.

A good friend of mine was lucky enough to get a ticket to the game and he called me from his cell phone just so I could hear the crowd. It was crazy. Along with most other Eagle fans, I've been really looking forward to this game since TO signed with the hated Cowboys. This was like the Superbowl for me. It was more important to win this game than anything. Our quarterback, Donovan McNabb, simply was stunning all day. He made big plays and WAS the star of stars, even with TO on the field.

Great news, if you haven't heard, the Eagles won this game. And this ended my non productive weekend watching sports events on the TV. Simply a great weekend.

Time to get back to work now, and I'm looking forward to it, I'm still smiling. Hopefully soon a real estate related issue will pop up and be the motivation for a relevant article to share with you all.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A favorite movie quote...

You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.

This comes from Clint Eastwood's character in The Good The Bad The Ugly. A mezmerizing movie when I happen to come across it on some cable channel from time to time. I always wait for this quote even if it takes hours to get there (depending on how edited the movie is).

Of course earlier in the movie the character that Eastwood was talking to had this to say to him.

There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting.

Now this brings me to the point of this post. The real estate business is changing right before our very eyes. It wasn't all that long ago that many brokers and others who basically controlled the method of business in real estate were the ones talking about ropes around the neck and doing the cutting.

I'm talking of those who always demanded a 6% commission from the sellers and offered very little latitude to the agents that perhaps wanted to freely negotiate with their client for the service. I'm talking about the agents and brokers that told buyers that the service the client will receive is 'free'. I'm also talking about the agents and brokers that demand that the MLS must be protected at all times, to control every aspect of the data so that only Members of the MLS have access to information to force the public to hire a Realtor/Member for buying and selling. You can throw in the group of practictioners that want to and practically demand that they represent both sides of a transaction on behalf of the buyer and seller.

When I entered this business almost 6 years ago (wow, time is flying by) I think I was on the tail end of the time when I would have had the rope around my neck. At no fault to my then employing broker (I just didn't know any better) I immediately began thinking of different business plans for my own real estate practice. Oh I've had hundreds of wild thoughts. My problem was I didn't know any better and didn't think the rules could be broken to the way things seemed to be.

Back then there weren't a ton of agents that I knew of that even had Internet web-sites. The ones I found were often crude and really didn't offer anything of substance or help. Keep in mind that I'm in a smaller area population wise and new fangled technology can be one of the last places visited on it's journey. I'm sure that there were great Realtor web-sites in the 90's somewhere, and those people helped lead our industry forward with technology. They continue to deserve credit.

It's incredible to watch how things on the Internet have evolved for real estate agents and brokers. Just take a look at BlueRoof.com for instance. Take a look at any of the blogs listed on my blogroll. Watch how we are all learning, growing, getting better, inventing... on behalf of the client. To me, these are the people with loaded guns that Eastwood refers to in the movie. The key here is that we are improving for the client.

Nowhere are you going to find these folks with the loaded guns thinking of the commission first, but how better to serve the client so that indeed our business can increase while offering the services needed by the clients. Are we talking about hanging a rope around 6%?? No. But we are detailing our service fees and negotiating accordingly. Some in this business deserve more than 6% for a listing fee because it is easy to see they pack a punch in doing the extra things needed to sell a home.

Maybe those traditional brokers are squirming a bit, but they have to face the fact that they don't have as many in the noose any longer. I am seeing more and more local brokerages being set up that offer plenty of latitude to the agents that hang their license there. Even though I am in a RE/MAX office, I don't feel the name brand real estate companies like RE/MAX, Century 21, or Coldwell Banker are the be all and end all for clients. The Internet has allowed others to become players on the stage with the new options and beliefs that are very client centric. Now I'm not saying that the big companies don't appeal to clients or that they cannot offer a superb service, but the days grow short where the big name companies carry a certain amount of clout.

There is real honest discussion that flies in the face of traditional thinking that buyers don't pay a dime for representation in a transaction. More importantly this discussion is being held with potential clients now. Hey Mr. and Mrs. Buyer, the truth really is that you pay all the commissions in the transaction. First of all you agree to the price of a home with a seller. From that agreed upon price the seller does compensate the listing broker out of the sellers proceeds. The listing broker does then compensate the selling broker as instructed by the agreement Realtors/Members have agreed to in the MLS. But in every essence all of that compensation comes straight from the amount of money you agreed to pay for the property.

Those that would have a buyer think different are the ones cutting the rope, and again they are becoming less and less in number. It's way past time to remove yourself from the noose, realize that you have the loaded gun, and tell the rope cutter to dig.

I must be gentle with this next one. I'm talking about the rope cutter's and the MLS data. As a Member of my local MLS I can easily see myself sticking up for, and actually being a rope cutter. That is when I think of myself as a Member and not think so much about the party that actually is the most important, the client. Make no mistake the Internet does exist, it is here to stay and will improve -- evolve -- and enhance our lives long after I'm no longer breathing oxygen on this planet.

In general terms I want the data that appears on the MLS to be user friendly to other Members of the MLS. To be a sales aid to quickly identify whether or not my clients offering should be considered to a buyer working with another Member of the MLS. The data needs to be clear, concise, and helpful to my fellow Member. But it also needs to appear where buyers are searching for a property they may be interested in, whether or not the buyer has hired a representative or even plans to.

The key to this data is it must be available where buyers are looking. Hey I love my sales site (not) but I'm not foolish enough to think that some random buyer is going to hit my site to search for homes available in my market. Yes I do have an IDX link where a buyer can look at properties on the market, but I can think of hundreds of sites they'll probably find first to do some searching. I don't know... lets see... you are thinking of starting a search for a property and the first thing that pops in your head is toddtarson.com?? Hey I'm flattered but I know better. The buyer is going to try Google first (like everyone and their mother does already), Yahoo, craigslist.com, HotPad.com, Trulia.com, oh and of course REALTOR.com.

I'm involved in forming a new regional MLS in my neck of the woods currently. I'm sure that I'm playing maverick a bit, but I think right now is a perfect time to set the stage and devise a policy to share data with online search sites. I could care less if those search sites came back to me and tried to sell me some advertising to capture more leads or whatever, I do care though that my clients listing information is available for all the world to perhaps stumble across. I obviously think it is a benefit to the selling client, but I also think it is a benefit to all of the Members in the MLS. We could still control the data and limit the amount of it we let those search sites use (such as confidential information of the seller). Heck we could even charge an amount for use of the data, I know that is unlikely but still a possibility. If we did, we could lessen the cost burden on the Members.

I wish that more individuals in my business would join me in the loaded gun group before the big search sites win the game anyway and force us all to dig. Technology companies evolve at record pace while the traditional thinking of the real estate industry evolves much slower.

My last little bit in this rant is one that I think most in the real estate business have already begun to figure out how to be in the loaded gun group. I have no problems with those in the industry that can represent both sides to a transaction with professionalism and full disclosure. I do have some problems with those that still insist on showing potential buyers that have not done any searching for properties on their own, their own property listings and those listings only.

I know it still exists because I have had potential buying clients ask me if we would be seeing any other listings than my own. It simply floors me everytime. Often the perception is that I'm only going to show buyers listings that I have, many times the clients are surprised that I'm not even going to show any of my listings. I have to tell them that none of the listings I have fit their buying criteria. I'll then get the reaction that they didn't know that Realtors could show any other listing other than the listing agents.. listings.

There are some advantages to being a dual agent. Some, mostly like the fact that if I am one I can rely on the agent getting back to the other client with information... because that agent is me and I have no real excuse not to. But overall I'm not that comfortable representing both sides to a transaction. I've been taught that when I am the dual agent, my loyalty is to the transaction and I have to be 100% neutral dealing with both sides. Well, I don't think I offer my best service to a piece of paper, I'd rather offer it to a human being. Paper doesn't smile.

Oh for sure, I miss out on what many call the 'double-dip' commission, or the full commission. So what?? I still get compensated for a successful transaction and often that compensation is exactly what I negotiated in the first place. It was my expecation from the get go. Double-dipping should not be a motivating factor as a practictioner in this line of work. Delivering exceptional service to the client is all the motivation that is really needed. If you are comfortable in delivering exceptional service to both sides of a transaction and both clients are aware of the situation, that is great.

The loaded gun metaphor I know sounds kind of violent I realize, but it is derived from an old cowboy movie. Them's were depicted as violent days. Anyway, violent metaphor or not, I always try to be the one with the loaded gun because I feel I'll be doing everything I can to benefit the client. Without the client I'm not in business. Plus, it sure beats digging or having a rope around my neck.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

MOCO Real makes a list...

The blog called the Pittsburgh Homes Daily has made a list of 500 real estate related blogs and somehow I made the list (thanks Greg).

Check out the post here. Plenty of fine blogs to check out.

'Matrix' wrapped up...

I broke the news yesterday but wanted to follow up some. First, I'm tired and glad this part of the fight is over with the county on this issue. Really tired. Even though yesterday's meeting was over for me by the noon hour I really didn't have much energy for other things. I did show a home to a prospective buyer in the afternoon, but after that all I could really look forward to was the Eagles game on Monday Night Football (Eagles won to boot).

I'm certainly not alone in the fight to end the proposed land split 'Matrix'. There were many others that spent countless hours doing their part. Some followed the issue at the county by attending many P&Z meetings. These meetings can last all day and can ruin a business day while waiting for something of interest on the agenda. Others spent many weekends inviting members of the public to informative meetings on the subject of the 'Matrix' and its negative aspects it would have on private property rights in the county.

You should know that the efforts spent by these people were not merely because they had their own vested interest in property. Some may have but I felt that all involved were serving the public ahead of their own needs.

I do not own land in the county that the 'Matrix' may have affected. All of the property that I personally have is either in the city (vacant lots) or are already improved properties (such as rentals). I was not protecting any future land split or rezone opportunity with current property holdings. This efforts was simply serving the public and the Association.

I'll tell you where I did get some benefit though. I was involved in affecting change at the government level. At the start of the fun I believed I was way in over my head on this issue. I really had no clue even how rezones and land splits happened, I really didn't care. Now though, I've been part of the process. Obviously we got a preferred outcome for our efforts and that sure helps looking back on all of this.

Our Association proved it was relevant in our community, and this is what I'm most proud of as far as my involvement. Along with others, I have been saying that we (as an Association) need to be more involved with community issues. That we are letting far too many things that affect the public and our own business slide by. It was time to take a stand, win or lose. Well we won, now it's time to build on this.

There is still more that needs to be done on this issue, believe it or not. With help from the Arizona Association of REALTORS we proposed a resolution for adoption on the rezone and land split issues that continue to face the county. This still has not been studied by Mohave County to the point where it may appear on the agenda for the Supervisors to consider.

What won the day for our side yesterday was public input. The Supervisors heard the public, the voting public, and made their decision. I was hearing through the grapevine late last week that the Supervisors were going to accept the 'Matrix' and honestly I was rather bummed about that news. At the Supervisors meeting yesterday though, time after time, person after person, each that spoke to the Supervisors, spoke out against the 'Matrix'. Yes, a good portion of the public speakers were from the Realtor community but we weren't alone. The public made the difference.

The public needs to continue to be the difference maker and help support the resolution referred to as Chapter 7. Please continue to tell the Supervisors that this ordinance would be a value to the County. Please continue to stand up and demand protection of your property rights. The Kingman/Golden Valley Association of Realtors will be there to do our part, but the public has the power to affect change.

I'm proud of the work that went into defeating the 'Matrix'. Proud of the many people who wrote in their opinion and spoke publicly at the many meetings. Thank you all for your help.

I'm also proud of our Association and hope we continue to get our nose bloodied occasionally for all the right reasons. We owe it to our clients and to the public in general.