What the iPhone and the Miami Real Estate Market Have in Common

Certain topics and products somehow make their way into our consciousness and onto the front page spot of newspapers and websites. The iPhone and the declining Miami real estate market seem to have both garnered a lot of headline ink. Interestingly enough, the current status of both seems to depend on whom you are talking to and what they have read.On the iPhone, I hear rave reviews, read articles that make statements like “1 out of every 3 Americans want an iPhone” and ” the iPhone is revolutionary”. But then there are also the contrary statements like ” the iPhone is overamibitous”, “the return rate is high” and “users are disappointed”.

On the Miami Real Estate market you can read that the ” bubble is bursting in the riskiest real estate market in the country” and that the economy here is “tanking”. Meanwhile, I see real estate practioners in our market having the best year ever. Go figure…

So what is the truth?

The fact of the matter is no one really wants to read the truth – whatever it is. The reader will latch on to sound bites that suit their predisposition. Sensationalized statements polarize opinions and the truth is lost somewhere in the discussion.

Everyone I know that has an iPhone thinks it is the greatest gadget they have ever had. I anxiously await having one myself. I understand the biggest problem initial users have had with the iPhone is with the phone service provider. But then again, most people I know that have one are iPod loving, text messaging, visual voice mail kind of people. The iPhone is not a blackberry and it never will be- it really is two different products.

As for the Miami Real Estate Market, we have seen better days. We have an oversupply of condo inventory that will eventually be absorbed – for how long and for how much are the big questions. As the crystal ball is broken at this moment, my opinion is that prices for new construction will go down on marginal buildings in marginal areas, making much of what is in crane city affordable. Not such a bad thing, overall. Some buyers who purchased condos to speculate will get burned and I am sure they will be much quoted as it happens. But for those who bought in good locations in buildings that have vibrant amenities and good floor plans with the intent of living the new urban life in Miami for a few years – you will be glad you did. After all, a home purchase is not about making a quick buck and for most people it never has been. They really are two different products.

Flickr: Photos from butler.corey

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Filed under South Florida Real Estate Market, Tech Talk

Getting Rid of the Static Cling in Your Business

214591.jpgHave you noticed the static cling in your business lately? Those pesty balloons stuck to you all day? The shock you get when turning on the lights of new ideas?

No idea what I am talking about? Static, by my definition, is the not so white noise that is surrounding us everyday. We all recognize the big static caused by an unfavorable “Your Real Estate Market Is Doomed” article in the paper and it follows us all day long. Everyone you encounter says “Did you see that article?” So into the office you go to call on a few expireds or write a market update post hoping someone will read your blog , when someone says “You are just wasting your time on that, let’s go to lunch?” So you think, I am hungry and off you go.

Sometimes the static is more subtle. I find this kind of static usually hovers around managers. I inquire about how their office inventory is priced and they tell me… the associates are getting price reductions – but still nothing. Most people would just rub up against this and take the clingy balloon with them – after all, it’s not a bad answer. But when I press right on through that static and ask- did you sit with your associates and do a current CMA? Is it one of the lowest priced properties? and so on… as the static balloon bursts, they are dumbfounded.

This kind of static cling doesn’t shock you – it just covers you until nothing can penetrate. It numbs us into a daily routine of non-productive activity that will end up in the business passing you by.

So use that Static Guard and get to work. See the static for what it is. Make a plan and stick to it. Try new things. Open your mind to new ideas and concepts. Learn about the revolution going on in the business and make it work for you. Don’t let conditioned accepted responses lure you into a false sense of security about your business.

The real estate business is changing and most people aren’t even noticing… that’s the static cling.

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Filed under For Real Estate Professionals

Monday Morning Look in the Future

Flock

I have been testing a new browser called Flock for about 2 weeks now. The browser itself feels a lot like Firefox, but it has some nifty built in features that make it more than just your average browser.

1. Built in feed reader – very handy if you have a long subscription list.

2 . Built in media bar – keeps up with all of your media favorites on You Tube and Flickr

3. Web Clip toolbar – a great drop and drag sidebar for you to save things of interest while web surfing – then you can drop and drag into a blog, email, etc.

4. Built in blogging features – there is a blog button built in that will link up to your wordpress, typepad or blogger site. Right clik on anything and there is a “blog this” option.

5. So far it works with every Firefox extension and add on I have tried. I am sure there are some that don’t work – but my limited testing is good so far.

The browser is still a beta version, so it is a bit buggy- but overall I think it is worth trying.

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Foreclosure a good deal – not so much

Traditionally, the hunt for foreclosures would seem like a worthwhile pursuit for anyone looking to make a buck in a dreary real estate market. However, it is important to note that not all foreclosures are created equally.

Going back a few years with the rush of frenzied buyers who were getting into properties with little or no many down and many were buying with an option arm mortgage. You remember – those low 1% mortgages that sounded to good to be true. I can remember being in a sales meeting in one of our offices and asking if someone could tell me why anyone would take out this mortgage? The answer came quickly, to keep the payments low and that by the time the rate increased, the market would have gone up enough to cover the principal add on with enough room left over to cover closing costs return a good profit. In order to break even a 25% increase in sales price had to occur – anything less was a loss and anything more was a gain.

Those mortgages were a fantastic party until the rate adjusted and the negative amortization kicked in. Instead of increasing in values, the property values have stayed flat or come down. Most people who tried to refinance found that getting into another option arm was their only option. Faced with owing more than the property was worth, these foreclosures started to appear on the market. Now, tack on the cost to foreclose and you tell me – how good a deal is this?

A foreclosure deal is only as good as the price. No one should pay more for a foreclosure than for any other property – it’s counter intuitive – but it is happening. Forrest Gump would call this “Stupid is as Stupid does”. I would too.

Want to make a real bargain buy in a down market?

Search for properties in good areas where the current owner has equity and it is one of the 3 lowest priced properties on the market and/or are priced lower than the last sale.

Look at it this way, if you needed to sell your house in a down market and understood that the prices are going down and not up- it makes sense that you would look at the last sale and go just below that number – making sure you are among the lowest 3 comparable properties on the market in your area. If that price is below what you owe on your mortgage, you have a problem. But if you owe less than that price – you have some breathing room- and probably will sell your house. Add motivation to the equation and your house becomes a bargain buy.

You need to scour the foreclosures, just like you would scour any other inventory- just because it is a foreclosure doesn’t always make it a good deal.

 

 

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Filed under Real Estate Practices

Are you So Over Newspaper Ads?

I am wondering if today, July 19, 2007 will be the day remembered as the day the real estate industry revolted against the local newspapers.

It seems the Bloomberg article yesterday started a firestorm of writing. Today Inman Blog, South Beach Condo Blog and the Real Estate Tomato all joined in the protest – and I am sure the ground swell is growing into what will be a full fledged revolt in no time at all.

I can certainly chime in here and give the spin on print advertising. We have all served the papers well with millions of dollars in advertising that has driven limited traffic and an even smaller number of sales. Only to be returned with a nice slap in the face with sensationalized reports of our over heated market rendering the pricey ads even more ineffective.

And yes, it’s frustrating, but are we really ready to let go of the security blanket of our marketing plan?

How many of our sellers still ask for those paper ads? Are our agents prepared to tell the sellers ” no” at the risk of losing the listing to someone who will gladly oblige them? We can quote the NAR stats about buyers beginning their search on the web, but do our sellers really understand that? Do our agents? How much traffic does your website really get? How many leads? What is the conversion ratio? What are you doing to maximize your SEO and google page ranking? If you can’t answer these questions, keep writing and paying for those ads- because you may be so over the newspaper, but you have no viable marketing alternative to offer.

It seems to me that we need to bring our collective industry tech IQ to slightly above room temperature and show the way. There will be no need for sweeping statements and revolts in the street – just a quiet swell of business practices to show that we do understand how to market real estate in today’s world.

What are you doing to build your real estate company’s tech IQ? Here’s a hint… how about a company blog? Not just some template web site kind of thing, but an army of agents building quality content on your website everyday.

If the local newspapers can host a listing search site enticing buyers to look for properties while reading content, why can’t we provide local content to buyers who are looking for properties? What would your local newspaper think if readers went to your real estate website to find out what’s going on in your area? Unlikely? Maybe so, we are about to find out.

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Filed under EWM Blog, Real Estate Practices, Tech Talk

EWM Blog – Thank you Project Blogger

Project BloggerIf not for Project Blogger there would be no EWM blog. My mad search for local content had been stalled, lost in a budgetary abyss. Then along comes an email from EWM superstar Kevin Tomlinson of the Miami Beach office telling me has has been tapped for something called Project Blogger.

Just in case you don’t know Project Blogger it is a contest sponsored by Inman and Active Rain to promote real estate blogging by having some established bloggers pair up with novices to give them a crash course in blogging. For 12 weeks, I have been watching, reading and learning. I joined Active Rain and began blogging. With the help of Kevin and the other apprentices, I was learning right along with them. The results of the contest will actually be announced at the Blogging Conference next week in San Fransisco.

At about two week point I began to think of EWM and what a big company blog would look like. I began to think back to the content I was looking for and decided that blogging was the solution. If only I could get half of our 700+ associates to contribute on a fairly regular basis, I would have the content the website needed. Now to find someone to help me with this project….

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Filed under EWM Blog

Monday Morning Look in the Future

ClearasilSocial Networking is all the rage in real estate circles these days. At the urging of fellow real estate blogger Peter Santiago, I joined facebook over the weekend and felt like I was back in high school again – inviting people to be my friend and hoping that I didn’t get turned down, especially by my kids – how tragic would that be? Once I put on my Clearasil and started poking around I started to contemplate the business applications of social networking.

My experience with these networks was initially limited to my kids. They joined facebook at the high school or college level and it has become a way that they communicate with each other. They track birthdays, parties and life milestones on facebook. Techcrunch.com ran a post about Barbie girls and the fact that an amazing 3 million people have signed up in just a short 60 days. Imagine what these now 6 year olds will be using social networking for by the time they reach adulthood?

Within minutes of joining that I had an invitation of friendship from someone I did not know. My inner high school voice told me to accept – which I did and then I went to investigate my new friend. Philip Ganz and the group over at Landbrokr.com are using facebook to promote their new business venture- free blog sites for real estate brokers. I clicked and signed up and before I knew what was going on, I had a landbrokr.com blog that contained all of my content from my Active Rain blog. A mere 30 minutes later – one of my blog posts was on Philip’s wall- I was amazed. The site has a few bugs in it – including that you cannot delete a post that was slurped up so all of my “members only” posts from Active Rain are up there for at least the time being. I also got a notification that these guys have already developed a property application to show off your listings on your facebook home page. Talk about viral marketing, I just got an email with tips on how to use the new site.

Will our real estate marketing efforts lead us to facebook? Will we keep up with past clients by wishing them Happy Birthday on their wall? Will facebook becoming a great referring sites for our blogs and websites? I am not sure. For now, I am just happy that my kids allowed me to be their friends.

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Filed under Monday Morning, Tech Talk