November 11, 2008

Technology Debriefing Post NAR 2008: Best of Breed money-saving tools for home buyers & sellers

Gogopin_bestnar2008v1 Used GoGoPin's new browser-based ad designer to create this call for nominations for "Best of Breed" money-saving applications for home buyers and sellers following the National Association of Realtors convention in Orlando, November 7-10, 2008.  Watch this one minute screencast for more information on the proposed technology debriefing.  Should we meet in person in Boston, like real estate round tables and technology debriefing hosted in the past by The Real Estate Cafe, or online so anyone can participate?

If you attended the NAR convention and spent time visiting some or all of the 500+ vendors in the EXPO, we'd love to receive your nomination for "Best of Breed" money-saving tools for home buyers and sellers.

09:39 AM in Best of Breed, Do-it-yourself, FSBO: Best Practices, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 06, 2008

RSVP: Private research LIVE from Realtors EXPO

Home buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate innovators:  Wish you could attend the National Association of Realtors convention in Orlando this weekend but can't?  Interested in participating virtually?

I arrive Friday mid-afternoon and plan to spend all four days visiting 500+ vendors at the Realtor Expo to identify "best of breed" money saving opportunities for home buyers and sellers. Last July, I acted as the LIVE BLOGGER at Inman New's ConnectSF08 and am willing to provide private market research reports LIVE from the floor of the exhibit hall for a few select clients.

Are there are any vendors or competitors on this interactive floor plan you'd like me to check out?

As in the past, I can provide feedback by phone, email, text. This weekend, I hope to experiment with video, live or recorded, as well as screen sharing and video conference calls.

Fees begin at just $25 – $50 per vendor you'd like me to investigate depending on the research question and how you'd like the results presented. That modest fee would cover 15 to 30 minutes, additional time is negotiable.

07:21 PM in Change Agents, Counterintelligence, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, Market trends, Real Estate Blogs: Best Practices, Tech Trends, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 03, 2008

How will the Bailout Bill impact home buyers & sellers? txt your answer

If you're unable to join us at the TweetUp tonight at TogetherInMotion, One Broadway in Arlington, text your response to our Wiffiti board so anyone online or at the TweetUp can read your perspective. 

Send us an email if you'd like to participate in one of our upcoming Bubble Hours or "Fear of Foreclosure" support groups for anxious homeowners.

05:45 PM in Bubble Hour, Client Feedback, Consumer surveys, Defensive Homebuying, Real Estate Bubble, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Tech Trends | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 12, 2008

"Real Estate Olympics" Redo: Call for Best "Do-it-yourself" money-saving tools at each step in the home buying / selling process

A leading group of real estate technology innovators is using a sports metaphor, the "Real Estate Olympics", to launch a compelling, timely competitive for the "Real Estate Pacesetter of 2008."

However, the first nomination (Zillow.com) and next week's run off between eight companies to pick a single winner suggests that this competition will be a battle of the GIANTS. Compare that with Seth Godin's presentation on "Small is the New Big" to the same group of innovators at ConnectNYC07 and  Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2006: "YOU".

If you translate those MEGA-trends into an Olympic metaphor, you get a different kind of competition and a different call for "Best of Breed." Just as the Olympics have 302 events, there are hundreds of steps in the home buying and selling process and real estate innovators empowering consumers with money-saving, do-it-yourself tools at EACH STEP in the process.

For more than a decade, The Real Estate Cafe's has maintained a list of "Best of Breed" innovators at each incremental step, and we are eager to share them with our clients and others.  Real Estate innovators, if you think you should be on the list, please send us an email:

1. Nominating yourself for the appropriate step in the home buying and selling process, and

2. Explaining how you help do-it-yourself home buyers or sellers save money (or time).

Any nominations we receive before this weekend from innovators, or consumers who rave about them, will be showcased at our first "FSBO Trade Mart," tentatively scheduled this weekend at TogetherInMotion.com, One Broadway, Arlington, MA.  Watch Twitter & FriendFeed for more details.
http://Twitter.com/RealEstateCafe
http://friendfeed.com/realestatecafe

01:00 PM in "We" companies, Change Agents, Do-it-yourself, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 17, 2008

If airlines have fare sales, should real estate agents? Part 2

Businesssuckssale Poking fun at the current cover story in Barron's Magazine, "Bottom's Up: This Real-Estate Rout May Be Short-Lived," Bill Apgar of the Harvard's Joint Center for Housing predicted, "There will be 10 articles a month [like that] until we hit the bottom, and the last one will be right."

When will it be the right time to buy?  That's what all The Real Estate Cafe's clients are asking.  Some of their house hunts began two years before the market peaked, and are now into the third year of falling prices.  Nearly 50 of our active buyers have looked at more than 1,000 MLS page views. Twenty-one have looked at more than 1,000 MLS pages in the past year alone, but only four of them have paid any fees to The Real Estate Cafe.

Unlike listing agencies who represent sellers and charge 5% to 6% commissions, or dot.com start-ups that are venture funded, The Real Estate Cafe pays it's overhead almost entirely from hourly consulting fees paid by clients.  With so many buyer waiting out the housing bubble, those fees have slowed to a trickle.  Now, after 13 years, we need your financial support.

We constantly look for ways to help you save money, by learning more about the housing bubble and the latest technologies.  Today, for example, we attended a seminar on State of the Nation's Housing and a Foreclosure Prevention Workshop. This weekend, we'll participate in PodCampBoston (for the third time.)  Next week, we'd like to participate in two real estate technology conferences in San Francisco:  REBarCamp and Real Estate Connect.

To do so, we need to raise $2,000 to $3,000 quickly.  You can help us, help you save money by selecting one of the following special offers:

Money-saving offer #1:  Fare sale
Repeat the Fare Sale we used successfully in 2007 to get two to three clients to prepay $500 to $1,000 in exchange for 1 to 3 hours additional work for FREE.  Email for details.

Money-saving offer #2:  Experiment with monthly fees
Introduce an optional monthly subscription fee. If you agree to pay $250 per month, we’ll slash our our consulting fees, normally $100 to $150 per hour, to $50 per hour for five hours—that’s a savings of 50% to nearly 70%! Like frequent flier miles, hours you prepay accumulate and you can use them any time you like.  Email for details.

Money-saving offer #3. Attend educational seminars
Host a technology debriefing after our trip to San Francisco to share best money-saving tools and tips from the two real estate technology conferences. We would like to host two events, one for buyers and the other for FSBOs ("for sale by owner") within 10 days of the conferences at TogetherInMotion, One Broadway, Arlington, MA.  $49 per household, per event.  Email for details.

Finally, your best savings opportunity may already be part of our normal menu of fees & rebates.  For example, one of our $3,000 flat fee options enables you to buy down our hourly consulting fee from $150 per hour (without retainer) to $75 for 40 hours - that's a 50% savings before payment of any performance bonus.  (Contact us for more details on this option and others.)

We encourage buyers to wait for the housing prices to correct, but don't wait to take advantage of these savings opportunities. Once we raise $2,000 to $3,000, they'll be gone.

10:25 PM in "We" companies, Bubble Hour, Client Feedback, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, Housing forecasts, Inside The Real Estate Cafe, Price trends, Real Estate Bubble, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 08, 2008

Best money-savings tools & trends for home buyers in 2008?

Followthemoney The Real Estate Cafe's "Booth Sleuth" is eager to attend the leading real estate technology conference in New York this week so we can identify the latest tools and trends to help clients save money.  To raise funds, we're repeating the "fare sale" we offered in November 2007.  If you think you'll be using our services anytime in 2008, we encourage you to prepay for them now so you can enjoy savings of up to 50%.  More details upon request.

If you're looking to develop a new product or service to help real estate consumers save time and / or money, we're also willing to conduct sponsored research at the conference.  For examples of our work, see Twitter posts and "Live Notes" from last real estate conference on The Real Estate Cafe's public wiki.  Confidential inventory of Web 2.0 applications in real estate also available.

01:37 AM in Change Agents, Counterintelligence, FSBO: Best Practices, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 06, 2007

Are paper files & walk-in real estate offices obsolete?

Recafe_1995 Twelve years ago, The Real Estate Cafe was founded as a walk-in, internet-based, housing information center -- to our knowledge, the first in the country (see story below.)  Over the next five years, 1995-2000, we amassed a mountain of paper files, some in the 1,200 square foot body of the cafe and more in the basement.   

Even though The Real Estate Cafe has operated virtually in recent years, we continue to amass mountains of paper.  About 20 boxes of paper, mostly marketing materials from recent real estate conventions and newspaper articles, are ready to sorted, filed, or tossed today.  Approximately 50 files boxes are already in deep storage.  While we rarely access paper documents in "active" file cabinets, we constantly update digital files on The Real Estate Cafe's intranet.

So our question is three-fold:

1.  Is paper filing obsolete?

2.  Are walk-in real estate offices obsolete?

3.  If real estate brokerages reorganized to operate virtually, would savings be passed onto real estate consumers, both buyers and sellers, in the form of lower commissions, rebates, or fee-for-service business models like The Real Estate Cafe?

-----

Buying A La Carte
Bill Wendel's Latest Venture, The Real Estate Cafe, Aims To Be The Buyer's 'guardian Angel'

Source: Boston Globe | Date: Sep 10, 1995 | By: Mary Sit, Globe Staff

...Called The Real Estate Cafe, it is a self-service information...[reducing] costs by having consumers do some of the work themselves.

09:07 AM in Change Agents, Commission Reform, Fee-for-service, Inside The Real Estate Cafe, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends, Writing tools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 31, 2007

Fee-for-service real estate, not fee-for-research (yet)

Chipin_073107_2 We're a bit embarrassed about asking our clients and others to ChipIn to pay for our attendance at a real estate technology conference, but as one of nation's first and leading fee-for-service real estate consulting firms the slow housing market has reduced cash flow at The Real Estate Cafe. We haven't charged for access to cutting edge market research in the past, but we may be forced to experiment with "fee-for-research" in the future.

To date, we've done the opposite -- we've paid clients to add content to our Real Estate Bubble Map!  Their collective efforts helped us earn Platial.com's "Best Real Estate Map" Award for 2006, and the map was featured in an international conference on the future of journalism. 

Visit our map of homes selling for below assessed value in Greater Boston to learn more about our "Tipping policy."

TRAVEL ALERT:  Our plane to San Francisco leaves in three hours, so we're offering new and existing clients a variety of financial incentives -- like signing bonuses and reduced hourly rates from our normal menu of fees & rebates -- to help pay for travel expenses.  Call 617-661-4046 for more details.

09:22 AM in "We" companies, Fee-for-service, Inside The Real Estate Cafe, Mapping, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends | Permalink | Comments (5) | 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

August 01, 2006

Add properties to bubble map before "Un-conference"

Pbwiki_bubblemap Exactly one year ago today, the Real Estate Cafe participated in a radio broadcast entitled, "The Beginning of the End of the Bubble" which featured some of our recorded interviews.  Today, we celebrated that anniversary with more good news:  the leading real estate technology news service featured our real estate bubble maps as an example of "Real Estate 2.0."  Our interactive maps are getting attention because they allow users to post their own examples of a falling prices, particularly homes selling for below assessed value in Greater Boston.  We created the bubble maps because news reports, including one this evening, continue to point to modest declines in median prices as evidence of a "soft landing for the housing market.

If you share our belief that median prices are masking deep discounts on many properties, we invite you to add properties to document what's really happening at the street level.  Here's an example of what one homeowner has already done, plus a description of our "Tipping Policy": commission credits for paying clients who post properties to our map.

RealEstateBubbleMap.com, an experimental wiki authorized users can edit, will be presented as a case study Monday at an Un-Conference on Citizen Journalism at Harvard.  Before then, we invite you to post additional properties to the Boston bubble map if you live locally, or create your own local bubble map if you live in one of the 71 "extremely overvalued" housing markets nationwide. If there is interest, we'll host a Bubble Hour chat or conference call before, during, or after the presentation Monday for local clients, or real estate bubble bloggers and their readers nationwide.  Email us at RECafe@mac.com if you would like to participate.

10:50 PM in Bubble map, Market trends, Real Estate Blogs: Best Practices, Real Estate Bubble, Tech Trends, Writing tools | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack