November 27, 2007

Mobile podcasting studio seeks to turn open houses into block parties

2070275096_c583934789_o1 Admittedly, an ice cream truck in Boston during the winter sounds a bit misplaced, but that's why we're using the "off-season" to convert this near-vintage vehicle into a mobile mapping / podcasting studio.

As we write a business plan and raise funds to repair the truck, we're looking for creative partners, special event proposals, and a place to park the truck.  The vehicle is much traveled and much loved -- think of it as the "Velveteen Rabbit" of ice cream trucks.  Some rust and needed repairs outside and in, but lots of makeover potential to become at least as appealing as this Hug Mobile.

We're seeking 10 to 20 "Best of Breed," money-saving real estate web sites and local real estate partners (lenders, inspectors, closing attorneys, etc.) to cosponsor the truck and a menu of marketing opportunities -- from site demos, to sidewalk seminars, to block parties and more. Our goal is to build a bridge between social networking sites and sidewalks by turning any open house into a block party.  (More details upon request.)   

Sorry we've missed the opportunity to serve hot chocolate during college tail gating season, but we'll be ready next year. If things come together quickly, maybe we can do a "Homecoming Blitz" in time to cheer the Patriots from the playoffs to the Superbowl.  If we're not ready in time for Christmas parties, the next marketing opportunity is Valentine's Day 2008.  We've got lots of creative coop advertising ideas and invite yours as well.

Anyone interested in sponsoring a design contest to turn this ice cream truck into a drive-by block party?

08:12 PM in "We" companies, Change Agents, Down home, Inside The Real Estate Cafe, Podcasts, Social Networking | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 21, 2006

Wanted: New generation of "fee-for-service" real estate consultants to help "An Army of Davids" save $30 billion annually

Raving about the book, An Army of Davids, Web 2.0 real estate blogger Mike Price, founder of MLPodcast, quotes author and Instapundit guru Glenn Reynolds as saying:

"It's not just that fewer people can do the same work, it's that they don't need a big company to provide the infrastructure to do the work, in fact, they may be far more efficient without the big company and all the inefficiencies and stumbling blocks that its bureaucracy and techno-structure seem to produce."

Price concludes with this warning to traditional real estate agents "who don't get it:"

"This new paradigm of singularity powered by technology and changes in social structures can not be denied, so you'll have to ask yourself if you're prepared to sell to a client that is all too familiar with the concepts."

At The Real Estate Cafe, there is no such thing as a client who is "all too familiar with" Web 2.0 or the real estate market ;-)  In fact, we assume our clients know more than us about the local housing markets some of them have been monitoring for more than a decade using the internet and good old-fashioned word of mouth.  That was the case this morning with our latest buyer client. 

Unfortunately, what some of tech-savvy house hunters don't realize is that the rules of the current real estate industry sometimes penalize self-reliant, do-it-yourself'ers who wait too long to ask a buyer agency willing to rebate 2/3rds of the buyers agency fee, like Redfin; or rebate 3/4rds of the buyer agency fee, like BuyerSideRealty; or rebate 100% of the buyer agency fee, like The Real Estate Cafe to represent them.

Until real estate commissions are uncoupled, and buyer and sellers agents negotiate separate fees independently with their respective clients, web-savvy homebuyers need to be equally savvy about inadvertently forfeiting thousands of dollars in rebates by communicating directly with listing agents, online or off, who are always eager to collect both sides of the obsolete, two-sided real estate commission.  That's part of what is keeping the bloated real estate dinosaurs, Reynolds pokes fun at in his statement above, profitable.  As they fall under the weight over their own inefficiency, a new generation of "micro-brokers," with modest or minuscule overhead costs and reasonable consulting fees, will gladly help "An Army of Davids" save an estimated $30 billion dollars annually.

12:17 AM in "We" companies, Book reviews, Change Agents, Commission Reform, Do-it-yourself, Dual Agency Detective, Podcasts, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends, Unbundling the Commission | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 07, 2006

Tracking properties "Priced below assessment"

Welcome Boston Globe readers and others who want to see where properties have sold recently for below assessed value.  Here are three quick links, but first a few key points:  we assume our readers know more about their local housing markets than we do, so we invite you to add your comments, post additional properties, or contribute to our wiki.  You can sign-up for updates via RSS or email (FeedBlitz).  If there is interest, we'll host our next Bubble Hour this weekend at PodCamp Boston to share insights and record some.  We'd like to begin adding audio and video clips to the bubble maps below:

Boston Bubble Map
Cape Cod Bubble Map
RealEstateBubbleMap.com

In coming days, we'll also explain how we started mapping sales below assessed value, add approximately 100 more sales from August 2006, and explain how clients can earn commission credits by adding properties, too.

Want to submit some "bubble comps" with your offer?  "Grab" what you need, and place them on your own map (we can explain how).  For more information or to record your thoughts for our Real Estate Bubble Audio Time Capsule, contact The Real Estate Cafe at RECafe@mac.com or 617-876-2117.

07:11 PM in Bubble map, In the News, Mapping, Podcasts, Price trends, Real Estate Audio Time Capsule, Real Estate Bubble | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 08, 2005

What's in a [real estate blog] name?

The excerpt below was sent to a fellow real estate blogger in San Francisco who wanted to know why The Real Estate Cafe named it's blog, "Counter Intelligence:"

"Over the past decade, we've used a handful of restaurant metaphors to communicate that we provide services to our clients "a la carte," and that we've encouraged our customers, clients, and any others to share their perspectives peer-to-peer to get a more insight into what's really happening in different segments of the real estate market in Greater Boston and beyond. 

In cafes, those kinds of conversations usually occur over coffee tables and sometimes at lunch counters.  Since the real estate industry puts out so much self-serving spin (see our recent blog post on the National Association of Realtors anti-bubble reports), we felt it is important to provide a forum for alternative perspectives, hence the name "Counter Intelligence." 

Call it anything you like, we're delighted when anyone visits our site, and doubly delighted when they share their opinion in writing or by calling our reader line, 617-876-2117, and recording a brief sound bite [for our real estate podcasts]. 

11:12 AM in Counterintelligence, Inside The Real Estate Cafe, Moblogging in Real Estate, Podcasts, Real Estate Blogs: Best Practices, Real Estate Bubble, Social Networking | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005

Should FSBOs underprice or overprice market?

Several weeks ago, a leading listing agent on Cape Cod in Massachusetts told the Wall Street Journal that sellers should underprice the market by 5% because of hurricane Katrina and an increasing inventory of unsold homes.  Then two weeks later, an article in the Boston Globe's "Big Move" told people trying seller their own home to overprice the market by 5% to 10%.  So, in less than one month, sellers have been given advice that could translate into a pricing gap of 15%.  More important than pricing strategies is the sellers' net profit.  A seller who underprices the market by 5% could actually net 10% less profit on their sale after paying traditional real estate commissions, right?  Anyone can discount your property, so why involve a full-fee, full-service real estate agent at all?

We'd like to hear your opinion about pricing strategies, particularly if you are thinking of selling "for sale by owner."  Just click on "Comments" below and begin typing, or call 617-876-2117 to record a 1 to 3 minute sound bite (which we may use in a future podcast).

Listen to conversation starter:  Should FSBOs underprice or overprice market? (MP4, 2 minutes, 1.9M)
Date Recorded: 29 September 2005
Subject: 
Discussion about conflicting advice on pricing strategies given recently by industry experts in the Wall Street Journal and Boston Globe
Featuring: Bill Wendel (Real Estate Cafe) speaking with anonymous buyer agents in Massachusetts
Location: Massachusetts Association of Realtors, annual convention @ DCU Center, Worcester, MA

10:59 AM in FSBO: Best Practices, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, Podcasts, Real Estate Bubble | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 03, 2005

Lessons learned from riding two real estate cycles

Following the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents panel at Suffolk University Thursday morning, Sooz and I went to a nearby Starbucks to go over the conversations we recorded with some leading buyers agents in Boston.  As we were getting settled, a woman overheard our discussion and jumped in.  She described lessons learned over last two real estate cycles:  first losing money (at least on paper) on a starter condo purchased at the top of the bubble in Philadelphia in the mid-1980's; then purchasing another home at the bottom of the last cycle; and utimately hitting the real estate jackpot in Altantic City.  She and her husband are once again timing the market before making their next move.  When asked what advice to she would give to buyers thinking about buying now, she drew from her experience of loss in the mid-1980's.  It's a perspective some real estate bubble observers say is too seldom heard in the press today.  We invite you to listen in to our conversation at Starbucks.

Stay tuned for podcasts from the MABA panel on "Consumer Protection & Home Buying"

Listen: Real Estate Bubble Audio Time Capsule #2 (MP3, 7 minutes, 3.2M)
Date Recorded: 2 June 2005
Subject: 
Lessons learned from riding two real estate cycles
Featuring: Bill Wendel (Real Estate Cafe) and guest Judy, a homeowner from Atlantic City, NJ
Location: Starbucks on School Street in downtown Boston

03:23 AM in Podcasts, Real Estate Audio Time Capsule, Real Estate Bubble | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Capturing the Real Estate Bubble in an "audio time capsule"

Bubble_selfprotrait_8This impromptu audio recording was recorded last week with the help of Susan Kaup. It includes preliminary thoughts about how The Real Estate Cafe hopes to incorporate audio files or a podcast into this blog.  We're also excited about creating an "audio time capsule" to capture different perspectives -- from ordinary homebuyers and sellers -- on the Real Estate Bubble of 2005. 

Listen to the recording (2.2 MB)

Wikipedia defines podcasting as "a way of publishing sound files to the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed and receive new audio files automatically. Podcasting is distinct from other types of audio content delivery because it uses the RSS 2.0 protocol. This technique has enabled many producers to create self-published, syndicated radio shows." {more info]

02:11 AM in Podcasts, Real Estate Audio Time Capsule | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack