Friday, November 30, 2007

219 mph in Phoenix... Unbelievable!!

If you think I could let this one go, you have another think... And it is coming as fast as this thing was going.

For the first "video in a blog" post I HAVE to put this one up. The only connection to real estate is that I found it posted on Jay Thompson's (The Phoenix Real Estate Guy) blog. If you are looking for real estate in Phoenix, give Jay a shout... or give me a shout and I'll send a referral. Jay is a fellow Active Rainer, as well as a good guy. I know he's going to find this, because I'm on his subscribed list...

So, without further ado, here is the video...

Now that you have seen a Lambo MP640 Murcielago going 219 mph on the streets of Phoenix, AZ, you can see that the video isn't that exciting. But, it is well put together.

Let me make several VERY strong statements.

  • This is not responsible behavior. It would not have taken much for this Michael Schumacher wannabe to have wiped out himself and several other people. It would not have been pretty.
  • There is NO time of the day or night that the roads around Atlanta are that empty. Especially in Gwinnett County.
  • There ARE places where this feat could be replicated during daylight hours with the police looking on and cheering.

Is the Silver State Challenge still going on? There used to be an event on public (but CLOSED!!!) roads in Nevada where regular people could run as fast as they dared over a course that had some seriously long and straight sections.

In summation, I think it is great that this guy took his quarter of a million dollars and is playing with it like it should be... but I'm not nuts about it being done on roads that other people (the ones that didn't sign the waiver) are driving on.

If you are one of this guy's car buddies... and you are in the Atlanta area, give me a call. I can find a house where you can hide this car until it is painted...


Thursday, November 29, 2007

House values UP!?!

What? Is this guy crazy? Take a look...

S&P Index Reveals Price Changes in 20 Markets
Prices of single-family homes in the third quarter fell 4.5 percent nationwide compared with a year ago.

It was the largest drop since the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index was begun in 1988.

“We are fast approaching the rate of price decline seen at the end of the 1990-1991 recession,” Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist at MFR, wrote in a research note. “The odds strongly favor blowing past this mark in coming months.”

Robert J. Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets and the founder of the index, says: “Most of the metro areas continue to show declining or decelerating returns on both an annual and monthly basis. All 20 metro areas were in decline in September over August. Even the five metro areas that still have positive annual growth rates – Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Portland, and Seattle – show continued deceleration in returns."

Here is the one-year change in the 20 metro areas included in the index:
  • Atlanta: 0.4 percent
  • Boston: -3.2 percent
  • Charlotte: 4.7 percent
  • Chicago: -2.5 percent
  • Cleveland: -4.0 percent
  • Dallas: 0.2 percent
  • Denver: -0.9 percent
  • Detroit: -9.6 percent
  • Las Vegas: -9 percent
  • Los Angeles: -7 percent
  • Miami: -10 percent
  • Minneapolis: -4.5 percent
  • New York: -3.6 percent
  • Phoenix: -8.8 percent
  • Portland: 2.2 percent
  • San Diego: -9.6 percent
  • San Francisco: -4.6 percent
  • Seattle: 4.7 percent
  • Tampa: -11.1 percent
  • Washington: -6.6 percent

Source: Standard & Poor’s (11/27/07)

Ok, the numbers aren't stellar. But, Please note that Atlanta is up 0.4% annually. I have been showing Gwinnett County to be even better than that. Obviously, real estate isn't crashing here, but as mentioned in the article, appreciation is slowing. I don't think it is going to slow much more on a year over year basis, but we always see a slowdown this time of the year.

It's still nice to know that we came in fifth of the twenty largest metro areas. It just goes to show that even in a weak market there are pockets of strength. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Also, look for my Gwinnett County Market report early next week.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Free Milk... Get your Free Milk!!!

I had an interesting conversation. it was interesting for many and varied reasons.

  • There were three people gathered in place that were familiar with my blog... and I was only one of them.
  • Only one of them was familiar with Active Rain... me again.
  • One of them was an honest to goodness consumer.
  • Nobody got punched... the Realtysaurus only pushed me a couple of times... ok, she didn't, but she wanted to.
  • The path of the conversation was VERY interesting.

So, let me elaborate.

Consumer: "You look familiar to me."

Lane: "I'm a REALTOR(R)."

C: "I think I've read your blog."

Lane: "Cool... I DO have a reader!!"

blah, blah, blah...

C: "So, how soon do you think real estate will turn around in Gwinnett County?"

L: "Tough to say, but I think that the momentum is turning now. Remember, we won't know it is turning until it has turned, since we can only look in a rear view mirror to see."

Realtysaurus: "I couldn't help but overhear you talking about real estate. I'm a REALTOR(R) here in Gwinnett County."



R: "You look familiar."

C: "I said the same thing. It's because I've read his blog."

R: "That's right... the garage guy."

C: "So, when do you think the market will turn in Gwinnett County?"

R: "Oh, Sugar, it never slowed here. We are great."

C: "Are those the talking points you got from the NAR?"


C: "I've seen the numbers on Lane's blog. There is no mistaking that there has been a slowdown. Is your research showing something different? Do you have a blog?"

R: "I don't believe in that blogging. It's giving away the milk for free. Why should someone call me if I give away all of the secrets on the internet?"

C: "Everything that you could possibly say is already out there. But, people might call because they see you really know th e market."

L: "Personally, I don't think I'm giving any real expertise away. If I see a TV show that talks about building a house, that doesn't mean I automatically have the skills."

R: "This isn't as tough as building a house."

C: "Really!?! It's easy work?"

L: "No. It just seems easy for us in the industry because we do it all of the time. Just like the contractors that build houses, it is second nature. But, the skills we employ, and the knowledge we have is far from second nature to those that aren't in the business every day."

C: "That makes sense. So, Realtysaurus, why is it you don't have a blog?"

R: "Why buy the cow if the milk is free? I don't think I should give away my knowledge to everyone on the internet thing... And it seems to techy for me. I have a website, though. it has all sorts of local information."

Now, let me point out a few things. The consumer was not someone that is in my target market. I would be glad to sell her a house, and her husband loves the idea of a 4 car garage, but they are not really car-centric. But, she stumbled across my blog while looking for something else. She found what she needed on my site, as well as some other info that interested her. She and her husband are not currently looking to buy a house, but in a couple of years they may downsize.

The conversation went on for a few minutes. The Realtysaurus excused herself... but not until mentioning things from my blog that lead me to believe that she read more than a few passing posts. She wasn't happy that I have given away so much "milk"... But, the fact remains that there is nothing we say that isn't being said by scores of outlets. If we don't supply the information, others will. And, it isn't the info that makes us valuable, it is the ability to act on it, interpret it, and maximize its potential. None of that comes from a webpage.

Woohoo. I have a couple of readers... ok, probably one less as of now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Good bread, good meat...

Every once in a while, I need to wander off on a tangent. Tonight, while driving back from the initial meeting for volunteers at the NHL All-Star Game, I drove by Fat Matt's Rib Shack (and let's not forget the Chicken Shack next door). So... I got to thinking about some of the great places I have been lucky enough to eat at here in Atlanta. I know it isn't about real estate, but we live here... and we have to eat... and if we are going to eat, we should eat well.

I guess I should start with Fat Matt's. This is a legendary stop in Atlanta. Aside from ribs that are known throughout the South, there is live blues seven nights a week. The last time I stopped in, there was a tour bus parked outside. As a blues neophyte, I couldn't tell you who the musician was, but one of my guests was just about beside himself that a legend would bring his bus up from New Orleans for a one night engagement in a rib joint. Don't let the look fool you... this place rocks... er blues... whatever.

The chicken next door is also quite amazing. That would be Fat Matt's Chicken Shack. No live blues (that I know of), but BBQ chicken for lunch is certainly a treat.

The next one on the list is actually gone now. For decades there was a place in Atlanta called Deacon Burton's Soul Food Grill. It was the very definition of Southern Cuisine. Deacon Burton passed away a few years ago, and there was a lot of drama involving the restaurant. Born of the drama is a place called Son's Place. I have not been there, but I hear it is across the street and has faithfully captured the experience. The reviews are good as well.

As long as we are on Southern foods, let's hit another BBQ place. This one is right around the corner from me. Spiced Right Bar-B-Q in Lilburn, GA. It is good sweet BBQ. Again, it isn't fancy, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. They have half a dozen different sauces, and they are all good. On my last visit, I enjoyed the brisket... and some pulled pork... and some chicken. Ok, I had some rolls, too.

Finally, not too far away is a DeKalb County tradition... but it's pretty close to Gwinnett County as well. Matthew's Cafeteria in Tucker is a favorite destination for locals at lunchtime. Like Son's Place, they are a "meat and three" place (for those that aren't familiar, that would be meat and three vegetables or sides). Swinging by around lunch, and the lot is plugged with police cars, while there is a steady stream of traffic from Cofer Bros. Lumber across the street.

If you are an Atlanta local, especially around Gwinnett County, I hope that you have a few new ideas for lunch or dinner in the next couple of weeks. If you don't live in Atlanta, drop in for a visit. Buy a house. I'll even take you to lunch...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hockey, a three year old and Twitter

So, I took a little break from working on the business to play hockey with my son. At three and a half, he has quite the slapshot. When he is accurate, that thing is pretty hard to stop. Especially when you consider that he is shooting with a plastic golf club (he doesn't care... so let's not make it an issue).

So I, with blown knee from walking 35 miles in Las Vegas, knelt down in the kitchen to block the goal/door... using a plastic putter... no pads. With his pitching wedge, he is pretty good at getting the "puck" off the floor a few inches. If he is aimed in the right area, and doesn't hit me, he has about a 40% success rate. He can slap that thing at me for hours... and with a my knee unblown, I can be targeted for about 30 minutes before I get bored.

Of course, I get to shoot back. He is quite good at defending his goal/door. He's figured out that the putter I use does not lend itself to lofting the "puck" to get it off the floor... so, when he sees that I will have a shot, he splays out on the floor, just like Kari Lehtonen (Goalie for the Thrashers). I can beat him back about 25% of the time, but my shots are pretty accurate, so I can usually beat him.

"Hello... Lane... We see the three year old, and the hockey portion of the post is evident... What about Twitter?"

So, let me tie Twitter in to this... What am I supposed to do with this little gadget? I have a Twitter account, and I spent a little while updating it, but I didn't see the point. Do people really want to sit around and vicariously live my life? Is it a target acquisition system for stalkers? Is someone going to track me down at the McDonald's Playplace to have me list their home because they saw my update my Twitter? Do I need to keep the score from the Big L/Little G hockey series on my Twitter?

The question is... is there a point?

I "get" MySpace and FaceBook and blogging and ActiveRain and Craigslist and so many other sites... but I don't "get" Twitter...

Help me?!?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Housing Starts down slightly, but Multi-Family are up...

So, what does that mean? First, let me toss out the original story.

Daily Real Estate News | November 21, 2007
Home Starts Up, Mostly Due to Multi-Family
U.S. home builders broke ground on more apartment buildings in October, driving housing starts up 3 percent to an unexpected seasonally adjusted rate of 1.229 million, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

But builders trimmed permits for future building projects by 6.6 percent. They also cut back 7.3 percent on single-family homes to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 884,000, the lowest level of single-family home building since the last recession in October of 1991.

The levels varied regionally. Home starts in the Northeast rose 8.5 percent overall, and starts of single-family homes rose 29.5 percent. Single-family starts in the Midwest were up 15.1 percent with the overall increase at 21.1 percent.

In the South, overall starts dropped 4.6 percent and single-family starts fell 19.5 percent. Starts in the West rose 5.8 percent overall but single-family home starts dropped 8.1 percent.

Source: Thomas Financial, Dennis Moore (11/20/07)
Here is the link to the story from the NAR.

Of course, I want to focus on the numbers for the South. Starts are down by 4.6%, but SFR (Single Family Residential) Starts are down by 19.5%. That tells me that MFR (Multi-Family Residential) is well up. Why would that be? Well, MFR is another way of saying rental property. So, if builders are getting more orders for rental properties, the buyers are confident that they will be able to fill those units. It also means that buyers are confident that they will be able to pay off those units with the tenants moving in to them.

I have previously mentioned that it was looking like rents were expected to increase faster than previously expected. The "Sub-Prime Mortgage Meltdown" would be the main reason. People that were on the edge of affording a home before the SPMM are out of the market now. That increases demand on rentals... until the supply catches up, the price will rise.

So, let me sum this up into a nice, neat package.
  • If you are a credit-worthy buyer, this might be a good time for you to exploit that. The market has a LOT of inventory, and deals are to be found.
  • If you aren't buying, look for rent to go up.
  • If you don't know if you are able to get credit, talk to a reputable mortgage broker. They can tell you if you are able to qualify for something, and what the terms will be.
  • Rates are still incredibly low.
I am a long way from saying that everyone needs to rush back in to the real estate market. If your credit is shaky, I would recommend you sit on the sidelines a while longer while fixing your credit and building up some cash. I would also still counsel you to talk with a mortgage broker. A good mortgage broker can tell you the real ways to increase your credit scores.

If you need any referrals to a good mortgage broker, feel free to contact me through my website.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

But it's a tradition...

Thanksgiving is a time that we look back over the year and think of all of the wonderful things that we have to be thankful for. It is also a time for us to enjoy being with our families. And, being with family always gets the wayback machine firing on all cylinders...

So, while I was talking with my Mother about Thanksgiving meals, a few interesting things came up... not the first time.

I have spent my adult life being less than traditional. My ex-wife and I used to host our "Orphan Thanksgiving" feast every year. We had all of our friends... and their friends... that didn't have other family in town over for the Thanksgiving meal. We had some pretty big crowds. In order to satisfy the numbers, we often had other things with the turkey... like hamburgers, hot dogs, and lasagna. We would have a lot of the traditional foods, but there were always some "bonus foods."

After we divorced, I kept that little tradition alive for a while. I had friends over, but we skipped the turkey altogether. Pizza was the most prevalent dish served. Of course, the grill was fired up on occasion as well. Nothing says Thanksgiving like a grilled hamburger or hot dog.

Fast forward to this Thanksgiving...

The rest of the extended family was out of town. So, my lovely wife, beautiful child and I sat down for a Thanksgiving meal of... breakfast burritos. Not even turkey sausage in the burritos.

Of course, once again, my Mother was convinced I had committed a sacrilege. But, this is the same woman that used to make 20 courses for Thanksgiving... half of which NOBODY would eat. All in the name or tradition. Nobody wanted the mincemeat pie... but she made it for decades. (She goes out to eat with my step-father now).

"So, Lane, does this have ANYTHING to do with real estate?"

Since you asked... yes, yes it does.

There are a lot of things that real estate agents do because they are traditional. I do some of them occasionally, too. We hold open houses, place newspaper ads, fax things to people, and talk about being number one in customer service in our ads.

But, those aren't always productive. Open houses don't sell houses. Newspaper ads are shown to be a weak draw for a property (at best). I am working to be paperless, since all of the faxes make more paperwaste than anyone outside of this business can imagine. And, "1 is NOT the loneliest number" anymore... every agent in the country is number 1.

But, that is the way many agents have always done business.

According to the NAR, about 4% of us blog. Despite attending the convention last week where EVERYONE was talking about blogging, I don't think more than 10% ever will. And that will take a decade.

Customer focused websites? Client focused marketing? Rare at best. As an industry, we have gotten in to the habit of putting ourselves at the center of our universe.

It's a tradition.

If you are looking for a non-traditional agent, one that isn't afraid to turn things upside-down for better results, let me know.


Friday, November 23, 2007

So, you have a little time and want to think about garages and garage stuff

Too much cool stuffLet's start the tour with The Garage Journal. It's a pretty cool site. Aside from a forum with discussion from members about all things related to garages, they also have feature stories about groovy tool guy stuff like small parts storage and mobile tool storage. There are also some links to other nifty sites. But, the main feature here is the forum.

Non-garage people might not be thrilled about in-depth discussion of garage HVAC, flooring or lighting, but if one is designing a new garage or remodeling an older one, the money that can be saved by taking advantage of the free expertise is amazing.

Another site worth a visit is the Ultimate Garage. This is a commercial site for Steve D'Gerolamo, a garage designer and consultant. Not only does he advertise the tools and equipment he likes, but he also showcases some of his projects... and his own VERY COOL garage. And, he either borrowed some seriously nifty hardware, or he is doing quite well in the garage designing biz.Patrick B laying a bead

If you are a little more hardcore. you might tackle the Tool, Shop, Equipment and Fabrication Forum. This is a bit more geared towards actually using that garage... to the hilt. Woodworking, metalworking, tools and miscellaneous garage talk are all on tap in the TSE&FF. The garage talk isn't nearly as in depth as The Garage Journal about garages, but TGJ can't hold a candle to the tool talk.

For something a little more specific, you might wander over the MillerWelds. They have a couple of forums dedicated to various interests, from motorsports to fabrication to welding projects. Of course the moderators favor the "blue brand", the reader-base are great at answering ALL sorts of questions about tweaking different welding and plasma cutting machines. I know I was able to get some great info about my plasma cutter... it is a blue one.

The final site on the post will be the most radical. It is a very specialized forum, geared specifically toward rock crawling. They talk about trail riding, as well as dunes... and even mud... but it is all about the rocks. Before I say what the site is (like the dramatic build-up? Don't read ahead!) there are two other things I want to mention. The first is that the language is rough. People are cussed out for asking stupid questions, and flamed. The other is that the biggest and best names in the off-road world zip on their nomex because they can learn from the members of this place. I have jokingly called it a post-doctoral degree in 4wheeling. But, it really is. There are folks on this board that know more about metallurgy and structural engineering than people teaching in darn good schools. So, when you are feeling cheeky, visit the Pirates of the Rubicon on the Pirate4x4 Forum.

When you are ready to buy the property with that ultimate garage, or where you can build what others have never even thought about (or maybe they have)... give me a call, or visit GarageHomesUSA.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving and parades...

Show the bandsI've been watching some of the NBC and CBS coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. My wife is a (semi)reformed band geek, so she wanted to see the parade. Also, since WCC (World's Cutest Child) likes parades, we had a triple reason to tune in (1 for the wife, and 2 for the kid).

So, we tuned in, looking forward to seeing some floats and some bands. But, what do we get? Broadway show tunes and promos for upcoming NBC shows... Maybe CBS will have some of the actual parade... Nope. Instead, the cast of CBS's Daytime programming just "drop by" for a chat... between musicians promoting their new albums.

Bring on the bandsSo, for both of the broadcasts of the parade, all they did was self-promote and show commercial acts. Stephenson High School from Stone Mountain got about 10 seconds on CBS. I think they got almost 20 seconds on NBC... just enough to say who they were... and hear a VERY short clip of music.

I think that both of these networks have forgotten what the parade is about. While one could certainly argue that it isn't a non-commercial event... sponsored and even owned by Macy's... it isn't PURELY a commercial event. It is a Holiday Event. Don't the kids that raised thousands of dollars to travel to the parade to perform, because they thought it would be an honor, deserve more than a passing mention on the way to professional performers that are their to promote their latest product?

One thing that was mentioned on CBS in their short mention of the Stephenson High School Marching Band is that the graduating Seniors have garnered $10,000,000 in musical scholarships for college. If they read the teleprompter right... all I can say is WOW! Congrats to the Stephenson High School Marching Band for getting to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade AND The Rose Parade.

Get 10% off at Lowe's!

If so, I have a deal for you.

Sign up for my email list, and I'll send you a 10% discount coupon for Lowe's.

It's that easy. Seriously. Ok, it does mean that you have to give me your address, and your real email address, but here is what I can promise in return...

  • I will NOT sell your information.
  • I will NOT give away your information (except to Lowe's for the discount coupon).
  • I will NOT trade your information.

This is what I plan to do once you give me your information:

  • I will send the discount coupon.
  • I will send occasional emails (I promise that I won't send anything more than a couple times a month... normally just once a month)
  • I will give you updates on big things happening on my website.
  • I will send you an occasional postcard or other piece of mail (again, once per month maximum).

Here is why I want to do this:

  • I want your business.
  • I want to keep my name in front of you, so that when you buy and/or sell a home in this area, you will think of me to assist you.
  • I want you to think of me for a referral if you know someone buying and/or selling a property in another area.
  • I want you to think of me if you know of someone else that is buying or selling a property here.

Here is what I ask:

  • Please be thinking of buying or selling a property in Gwinnett or the surrounding area in the next six months or so.
  • Consider me to be the real estate agent to help you with the transaction(s). This doesn't mean you are required to, it just means that you will give me a shot.
  • Please don't be represented by another agent.

And, if you think that is all I want to offer, please think again...

  • Client Gateway (for Buyers and Sellers)
  • New Methods
  • Performance history
  • Real Pricing (Absorption Rate Pricing Analysis - for Buyer and Sellers)
  • Appropriate Promotion (not just MLS and pray - for Sellers)
  • Access to the right Presentation (We'll get you staged and ready to sell - for Sellers)
I look forward to hearing from you. I'd love to give away a bunch of these certificates.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Open Property Search for Gwinnett County, GA and surrounding

I've gone and done it now... I opened up the search capability on my website. Search the MLS without having to register or give up your private information.Image Chef...

As long as there have been real estate agents, we have been gatekeepers of information. In the early days, agents and brokers held their own listings. They wouldn't even share them with other agents and brokers. Then, somebody figured out that other agents had listings, too... and they might be willing to all cooperate and share... and EVERYBODY would benefit. And so the Multiple Listing Service was born. It was real estate brokers in a specific area cooperating with each other and making all of their listings available to each other.

It was... "The Book." I can remember back in the 1980s (and the book goes back WAY before that) going to the agent's office to see "The Book." It was guarded, and seldom allowed out of the office. It was updated every week or three... depending on the market. But, agents guarded it like a treasure. The information was power...

And then came the listing computer. I remember this as well (no, I wasn't in the business. I was a buyer). One actually had to go to the office of the agent to look at "The Terminal." It was on an intranet, and tied into the MLS. Agents could only see it at the office, and there were still books, but the listings were updated daily, and somewhat searchable on "The Terminal." But, if a buyer wanted to have access to new listings, the agent had to pour over the machine each day or every few days to see what was updated. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Then came "The Website." Soon, the listings were available via IDX (this is a data exchange where the listings are sent to all of the brokers that want them). Because the internet was still not widely adopted, and the information was prized, the only way to access "The Website" was through a broker's site... with a password... that one got by giving up their information.

Now, the information is out there. We all have it. I have it on one of my websites as an IDX feed.

When I surf, I hate putting in my private information. I want to be anonymous until I desire to give up my information. I assume that most web surfers are like me. So, I decided that I needed to give the same anonymity to my surfers that I want when I am out on the web. The Golden Rule and all that.

There was a little reluctance from some of those that were entrenched with the "control of information", but they have caved... Search away.

If you wish to give me your information, I'll be happy to put you on my email list. Or, you can get my RSS feed from my blog, confident that I am still in the dark as to your identity. If you want to look through my site and search the listings and then use another agent for the transaction, that's ok. I hope that you decide that I should represent you.


Oh yeah... You can do the search through ANY of my websites. LaneGetsResults, LaneBailey, GarageHomesUSA or directly.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gwinnett County Schools looking at a major redistricting

I'm a little late to the party on this, but I would bet that there are a lot of people that were even further out of the loop than me...

The Gwinnett County (GA) Schools are looking at a major redistricting. I have put them in the list based on the High School Cluster. Some of the schools affected are elementary, some are middle schools, others are high schools. The clusters that look to be affected are:

  • Grayson
  • Mill Creek
  • Lanier
  • North Gwinnett
  • Central Gwinnett
  • Dacula
  • Grayson
  • Archer
  • Mountain View
  • Collins Hill

Here is a link to the information on the Gwinnett County School System website.

It looks like there are a few Elementary Schools that will be affected in 2008, and then the bulk of the plan will be taking effect in 2009. In all, there will be 12 new schools added, and 3 replacement schools.

The Board of Education held public comment meetings on November 13th and 15th. They will be issuing their decision on December 13th.

While wandering a little deeper in the school system's website, I came across their future projections. On this page, I see that the school system projects (conservatively) that they will need 35 new schools before 2012. By my math, it looks like the recently proposed changes only cover 1/3 of that need, so I would expect more of the same.

Monday, November 19, 2007

So, he's hit the "But that's the way I want it to be" stage...

Many of you might know that I have a three (and a half) year old son. He has graced a variety of my posts, and is one of the primary inspirations for me being in real estate... but I digress... Often.

Gotta SleepSo, while it isn't the first time, I wanted to relay a little story involving the "Boy Wonder."

Upon my return from the NAR Convention, my wife promptly left town... to do a little scrap-booking with her mother. She left Mini-Me in my care for the weekend. During one of our dinners, he became impatient. It went something like this...

"Daddy, is dinner ready yet?"

"No buddy, I just started it... give me a few minutes."

"But, Daddy, I'm hungry nooowwwww."

"Well, a few minutes ago when I asked if you were getting hungry, you said that you weren't."

"Is it ready yet?"


"Yes it is!"

"No, it isn't... no matter how much you want to change it... it won't be ready until it is ready."

Seems simple enough, right?

So, Lane... why are you writing this on a real estate blog?

Simple. He isn't the only one that is prone to statements like that. I've been seeing a lot more of them in the last few months. Sometimes it is from those that lobby on our behalf. Other times it is from those inside the industry.

"Real estate sales are off by 15%"

"That isn't bad."

"The trends aren't pointing to a recovery yet. It could happen, but we can't know."

"Yes they are! Everything is hunky-dory. We are already seeing the recovery."

"No, it isn't... no matter how much you want to change it... it won't be ready until it is ready."

Let me make this clear. I believe that real estate will see a large scale recovery in the next year or so... but it might not. Then again, it could be sooner. Where I have the problem is when we are faced with a difficult market, some in the NAR, and many agents simply say that everything is great. One might almost think that they feel if they say it enough, it will be so. But, just as with the media talking of values "tumbling" when they drop a few percent, saying that there is "nothing to see here" when there clearly is... doesn't help make us look honest and transparent.

There are incredible opportunities. But, as investors know, there have to be risks. Those that get in BEFORE the recovery is piling away at full steam will get the best returns... and, as in the last cycle change, the last ones to the party just get to clean up and don't get to play in the fun.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Can we ease the water shortage?

It looks like there is an idea to do just that.

If the US Fish and Wildlife Service signs off, the water coming off Lake Lanier could be dramatically cut. Right now, we have about 79 days left. If this plan goes through, there would be a reduction in the Apalachicola River of about 10%, but the outflow from Lanier could be cut more than that... maybe even more than a year.

So, we'll see what this does for the drought situation. Of course part of the problem is that the USFWS hasn't decided when they'll decide... Of course, it isn't like there is some sort of clock dripping... I mean ticking in the background.

Here is a great blog with sources and further info regarding our wonderful water situation here. I'll also keep posting as I get new info.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blog Anthology, Posts 124-133

It is time once again for more updating of my historical posts. I said I would try to get in here every couple of weeks... and it has been a couple of weeks. So, off we go. If you noticed the skip on 116-123, those are the previous anthologies.

For Halloween, I mentioned that the roads in Atlanta go NUTS every year. The traffic is truly scary on Halloween. So, Abandon all hope, Ye who enter Atlanta's roads on Halloween...

Dump Spam. I don't know about you, but I get too much. I have adopted a lot of measures to limit the spam that comes my way, but because I NEED to keep my identity out there in front of people, I will alwaya have some to deal with. This post was about how I deal with it.

Just a little insight into the real estate business and the internet. Web Progressions.

Market Update for Gwinnett County, September 2007 was the next post. I try to jazz them up... but a lot of it is still pretty dry. The predictions are fun, though. I will be revamping the way I present these in the next few weeks.

I managed to get 5 other real estate agents to agree on a time for a community open house for one of my listings. We also did a one day sale. While the property didn't get an offer that day, we did have a LOT more traffic than normal open houses bring. One Day Sale!!! For a condo... and an Uber Open House!

Just a quick question, What do you want?

I think that the Client Gateway for Buyers... a cool bonus, is a great tool for buyers in any market, but especially in a market where there are lots of houses for sale. It helps buyers sort through the chaff to find the jewels they really need to see.

The appointment was canceled, but I am going to try to get it rescheduled for this coming week. I really want to do this. I'm giving away $1000... Read for details.

With the costs for energy climbing, and more people staying put in their homes for a little while longer, I thought I would mention a way to save money and improve air quality. Crawlspaces? Same money...

Since mine looks terrible (you'll have to follow the links to see how terrible), Loan me your "too cool" garage... ok, just tell me about it. I'd love to have some great garages profiled on my site.

That catches me up to 11/9/07. That is a week ago. Look for another anthology in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thinking of visiting Las Vegas?

Today is my last day here. I'll be hopping on the "red-eye" tonight and arriving back in Atlanta tomorrow morning. Look for my post tomorrow to be a little late...

So, what do I think of Vegas? Well, I've had a great time so far. It is a beautiful city, but not without its warts. Now, I can't talk about the areas away from the strip... because I have only been in the tourist zone, but the first thing that strikes me as a wart is the strip traffic. If hasn't affected me much, as I've walked almost everywhere. However, I've seen gridlock near the strip at all sorts of times.

The next thing I noticed is that the Blackjack rules in a few of the big casinos really suck. In stead of the 3 to 2 payout on Blackjack, I see a 1 to 1 payout. The balancing factor is that the dealer has to hit on a soft 17... so they should bust a little more. But, I haven't actually had a chance to sit down at a table... yet. I'm going to try to get in a few hands this afternoon.

Now for some good... I have met a lot of really nice people here locally. Some are in the real estate business (if you are moving here, I'd gladly give a referral). I also have felt much safer wandering around town (even off the strip) than I thought I would. Keep in mind, this is just an impression, and I just caught the end of a news report this morning and the chopper shot looked like it was on the corner near my hotel where the Police were apprehending some evil doer.

The very sight of the hotels/casinos on the strip is amazing. The lights, sounds and spectacle are impressive... and I haven't even seen the dancing water or sinking pirate ship yet. I don't even think I will have a chance to see a lot of it. The scale of Caesar's or the Venetian is also pretty daunting. I had someone tell me at one of the receptions last night that they were staying at Caesar's across the street from the Venetian (where the Convention is) and they think they might be walking farther than I am each day.

All in all, I definately plan on coming back, especially if I can do it without as many time constraints. It would be nice to meet back up with the new friends I've made here... Maybe I'll come back for the SEMA Show... ok, that won't be less time constraining, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New pricing model

I'm still out here at the National Association of REALTORS(R) Convention in Las Vegas. So far, it has been a pretty cool experience. Sorry I don't have any pictures, I actually have carried my digital camera with me everywhere... but I haven't even seen the strip.

So, what interesting stuff is here for consumers? Just about nothing. But, as a REALTOR(R) there have been quite a few interesting revelations. One thing I can say for sure is that I have found a new pricing model that has amazing potential. CMAs (Comparative Market Analysis) look to be a thing of the past for me. I attended a seminar yesterday on "Right Price Analysis", or Absorption Rate Pricing models.

I don't think it could sound any drier... Oddly, the session was the most entertaining one I've been to. The material was extremely interesting, and the presentation was excellent.

"So, what are you going to do about it, Lane?"

Look for a new method for me to deliver my market reports. I will be using absorption rates in my market reports. Basically, this will cover how much inventory is on the market in different segments, and what percentage of listings are actually selling. It will be a much more accurate picture of the market, and can be scaled up or down. I will literally be able to give a reasonably accurate picture of the market activity in a subdivision, as well as its direction.

I isn't the most exciting thing to hear about, but I hope that the results will be more helpful to people getting in to the market as buyers and/or sellers. If you want to be ahead of the curve, call me or send me an email, and we can do a RPA for your home that you are looking to sell. (please keep in mind that if you are currently listed with another agent, I cannot talk to you about your property, or I could lose my license).

I have a few more classes today, and I hope to run across some more exciting information.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm in Vegas

I promise to do better than this later, but for now... I'm in Vegas.

What can I pass along?

If you are flying with a laptop, take it out of the bag and run it through the X-ray machine by itself. I didn't know that.

I will try to get back on later today and post up some pictures as well as anything else that looks interesting.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Going to Vegas for the NAR Convention

I am getting ready to go to my first NAR Convention. The NAR is the National Association of REALTORS(R).

I haven't been to one of the national conventions, but I am looking forward to it. I was able to schedule it at the VERY last minute. I do plan on posting each day, even though I know I will be very busy. I doubt if I'll even have time to squeeze in a hand or three of Blackjack, as I am scheduled to hit info sessions all day, every day.

Sorry for not having a normal post today, but I promise to make up for it... maybe I'll come up with something on the plane... or I'll watch "The 300" instead... we'll see.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Today is THE day! One Day Sale for 2324 at Tuscany in Midtown Atlanta

Living RoomThis is it. If you are in the area of the Tuscany condos in Midtown Atlanta (between Juniper and Piedmont and 8th and 10th streets) drop in. We have 6 units open today from 6 different agents. The unit I represent, #2324 in the Bocce building, is marked down $10,000 for today. Don't wait. It may not wait for you.

This is a GREAT place to live. Only a couple of blocks to a MARTA train station, close to Piedmont Park, a score of great restaurants and clubs, and all that Midtown Atlanta has to offer.

This is a great 1 bedroom/1 bathroom condo that also features a den/office. With 966 square feet (tax records) of interior room, and a 103 square foot patio (builder's plan), there is more space than in other 1bd/1ba floorplans.

This is a great top-floor unit with a view out to mid-town, overlooking Juniper Street. It features a lovely double sided fireplace between the living room and the den, halogen track lighting, and a huge walk-through closet in the master bedroom. It also features beautiful wood floors throughout, and luxurious solid surface countertops in the kitchen and bath. Bedroom
Den All kitchen appliances will remain, as will the washer and dryer in the laundry room off of the kitchen. There is also a covered parking spot included with the unit.
Walk to Piedmont Park, or to one of the many restaurants in the area. Located between 10th Street and 8th Street, just one block off of Peachtree, Tuscany is incredibly convenient. While others are still fighting the traffic on I-75, I-85 or GA400, you can be home and relaxing in front of the TV, working out in the complex gym, or floating in the pool.

Welcome home. This rare floorplan is offered at $209,900. The seller is motivated.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What has been in the Lane stable... Cars I've owned

Ok, most of these were prior to me having a digital camera... or prior to digital cameras at all. But, I having been wanting to sit down and write a list of all of the junk I've owned through the years. I'm looking at getting a film scanner, which will allow me to scan the thousands of rolls of film (I'm not kidding) and use more of my own pictures.

So, in no particular order:

1973 Ford Mustang Coupe, Grande (w/ Mach I hood)
1970 Plymouth Satellite Station Wagon... with a big block... and 2 4vs
1965 Shelby Mustang Fastback
1966 Ford Mustang Fastback (my street racer)
1967 Mercury Cougar (with a stick)
1974 Triumph Spitfire
1979 Triumph Spitfire
1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Turbo (my Autocross car)
1985 Toyota MR2
1955 Willys Jeep M38A1
1971 Kaiser Jeepster Commando
1992 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
1949 Mercury 2 door (chopped of course)
1974 Ford Mustang II
1977 Ford F250 HiBoy (4x4)
2000 Ford F350 (DRW, CC, 4x4)
1977 Dodge Ramcharger 4x4
1985 Subaru Wagon (Turbo)
1984 Subaru Wagon (not Turbo, but drivable)
1995 Saturn SC2
1984 Nissan Kingcab Truck 4x4
1985 Ford Mustang GT
(Does these count? They are/were my wife's)
2001 Dodge Durango SLT 4x4
2005 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
She had a 2000 Jeep Wrangler when we met

So, if you have cars like these moving in and out of your life, and like to have a bunch of toys around, I AM THE real estate agent that knows exactly what you are doealing with. I'd be happy to help you find the right place for your stable. Hit the new site (still constructing...) and give me a shout.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Football Night in America... ok, Lilburn

We just got back from a fun event. Ok, if I were a serious fan of Parkview, it might not have been as fun... but if I were a serious fan of Brookwood, it would have been a hoot. But, I'm not going to actually talk about the game, except in the most circumspect of ways. I want to talk about the event.

Despite our best intentions, we didn't get up to Parkview High School until almost 7:15. Since the game was scheduled to start at 7:30, we thought it would be ok... and if it weren't for the fact that the average fan was parking no closer than Snellville (where everybody is somebody!), that would have been plenty of time. So, we saw people walking a mile away... and I was thinking that with a pregnant wife and a three year old, it wasn't going to be much fun making that hike... twice... second time with me carrying both. But, after a few laps of some churches, other school's parking lots, a soccer field and some side streets, we found a place to plop the ol' minivan. And it was only 7:25...

So, we gathered up the supplies and began the trek. Little G-man could hear the band... and he was excited. As we got closer to the sound, he was asking more questions. After a few miles, we were within sight (ok, we had been walking about 10 minutes). This thing was big... I mean really big. We knew that there was a big rivalry, and we knew that it was the last game of the season before State Championship Playoffs, but this was big. The place was PACKED.

After getting in, we managed to find a seat in what I would describe as the Not Old Enough to be a Student section. I felt old... Gail felt old... Garret even felt old. The girls around us were young enough to give him a third look (note to self: I think the issues will start in about 8 years). So, despite the frantic activity in the kiddie section, there was an interesting football game going on. But, with the "Rush Hour on I-285" traffic in the aisle next to us, we decided to seek other accommodations before half-time. My wife is a "recovering" band geek, so we had to be in a good position for the Halftime Show.

We abandoned the 70 pound crowd and made our way to the fence near the Parkview drum corps while they practiced. There are few things that can hold the attention like a drum corps. If they didn't stop, he would stand there until Bob the Builder walked by and grabbed his attention away... or the Chik-fil-A cow... who just happened to walk by as the drum corps got ready to line up with the band.

My wife wanted a better perch, and we figured there was no better place that the area reserved for the band... they weren't using it. Are you thinking that there was no way we would be able to stay there? Let me tell you, my kid is cute. Aside from the people that walked in front of us constantly, it was a great spot. But, there was still less traffic than in the NOES area. We knew we would have to abandon the area after the band was done on the field, but, the ex-band geek wanted a higher view...

So, we found a perch about halfway up the aisle next to the band. We had watched Brookwood HS's band first, now it was time for Parkview to perform. Since the little guy couldn't see, it was up on the shoulder time. There he sat for the next 13 minutes while the band marched... asking "what are they doing?" about every 30 seconds. "they are marching"... still the answer.

Good time. We really did enjoy the show. Garrett was having a serious ball. And he'd spotted a kid with pompoms. So, after the band finished up, we headed to the concession area... and the bathroom (pregnant wife, remember?) We found different pompoms. And the stand had one of the blue and orange ones left... scored for free for the cute kid. Hurry past the funnel cake booth... ok, we slowed down. the line was long enough that even the three year old didn't want me to wait in it. Now, the search for a new spot, sans middle schoolers.

Woo hoo. We found a spot. This was next to the band, and slightly in front of the Angry Dads Yelling Out Plays to the Coaches section. That really isn't as bad as it sounds. This was great. Short guy was enjoying the band. I could actually see that there was football going on. Wife was also enjoying the band. Short guy was people watching... when he wasn't assaulting the guy in front of us with the pompom. then he got a Parkview football from a passing guy (seriously, the kid scored more than the Panthers...).

We knew that we needed to get out in front of the crowd. Pregnant wife and three year old were not up to sprinting for the minivan... me neither. So, with about 9 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, we made our escape. Ten minutes to get back to the minivan and we were off... after loading up. We just managed to beat the crowd out onto the road.

A quick stop into Bruster's for ice cream... the kid was seriously good during the whole event... and back home.

It was a great night in Lilburn, Georgia. We got to watch two State Championship caliber football teams face off. We got to watch two great marching bands perform. If you want to be in either of these excellent school districts, give me a call. Or drop by my website and take a look at what is available. If you are a Parkview Senior... stay tuned for details about the $1000 scholarship I will be announcing next week.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Lend me your "too cool" garage... ok, just tell me about it!

I was going to call this post "A funny thing happened on my way to the Search Engine Results..." and then start it with... I got hijacked. It was one of them long-tailed searches. They sure are sneaky. But, I got hijacked with a different idea, sooo...

I got hijacked. It was one of them long-tailed searches. They sure are sneaky.

This one was called "cool garage toys". Now, if you take a look at my tags, you'll see that I have around 30 posts that mention garages. I have over 100 that involve real estate. One might think that I would get some search engine lovin' for real estate... but, nope. It's all about garages.

Seriously, my top six search terms are all garages. Now, I will say that there is one post I have here that has surpassed all others in contacts... my phone rings twice a week over it, and it is real estate related, but nobody that calls has the $20M to actually do it, and they just want me to tell all of my secrets... but, for the most part, I think that most of my Googling readers are hitting me looking for the grooviest and coolest garage stuff.

Being a tech savvy guy (think Steve Martin's "wild and craaazy guys" line), as well as a garage geek and swift thinking marketer, I have a solution. I want to see YOUR garage. That's right... YOUR garage.

So, being the swifty that I am, after a mere 4 1/2 months, I have figure out that I need to showcase some cool garages. Now, of course this blog isn't the best platform for it, but I do have a real estate and garage website (duh!) that would be perfect.

No charge. No geographical restrictions. No pressure. I'd just like to see some cool garages. I might even be able to put you on the front lines of a cool reward I'm looking to announce in a week or two as well.

The only thing I ask is that they look better than the sad sack I have pictures of here. This is a truly terrible garage. It is clogged with crap, and needs a much better system for storage. I just haven't had the time of money to finish the projects that is clogging it up... Talk to my wife. As soon as she let's me, I will clean it up and turn it into the 26'x24' one car garage it always wanted to be... with attached tool room.

So, comment and send me an email. I'll gladly feature YOUR garage on my website. For the whole world to see. Maybe my wife will stop buying purses long enough for me to do something with my own garage.

Oh yeah... If you need a bigger garage, let me know. I'm in Gwinnett County, GA and also work South Hall and South Forsyth. Furthermore, I have agents all over the country that would love to get a "car people" referral.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Crawlspaces? Save money...

I'm going to deviate a little from my normal pattern here.

I just ran across a story (printed, sorry no link) about encapsulated crawlspaces. It was touting the energy savings that could be realized by encapsulating the crawlspace. I have seen some claims as high as 15% savings in heating a cooling.

More importantly, I think there are some other benefits that could be realized, especially with older homes. one of the things I see all of the time is missing or incomplete vapor barriers. What happens then is that increased (uncontrolled) moisture can be introduced in to the house through the crawlspace. Even when the moisture barrier is complete and well sealed, the tradition is for the crawlspace to be openly vented to outside air. So... if it rains, that will also introduce uncontrolled moisture into the crawlspace. Of course, all of this moisture is going to end up in the house.

The moisture isn't necessarily bad, but the problem is that areas like crawlspaces don't have good airflow. Moisture + stagnant air = mold. Mold is bad.

So, if we can install a system that tightly controls humidity, lowers counter temperature air infusion, and therefore creates cleaner air that is more efficient to heat or cool, it sounds like a win/win.

The downside is that most of the systems I have heard of cost from $6,000 to $12,000 to install. For many homes, that is money that will neither be recaptured through resale or through energy savings. But, it may be something that decreases contaminants in the inside air.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I'm giving away $1000... a Senior at Parkview High School in Lilbun, GA. Now we just need to see who it is.

Sometime next week I hope to announce the details, but I have decided to offer a $1000 scholarship for a graduating Senior at Parkview HS. I hope that I am able to expand the program to some more schools in Gwinnett County in the next few years, but this is a start. I'm meeting next Monday with the counsellor at the school that administers these types of things, and we are going to figure out the rules and requirements.

So, if you are a high school senior at Parkview, or know one... let them know. There will be some qualifications, but they won't have anything to do with real estate or any other career choice. It will also not be income restricted or based on GPA or other direct school performance... or athletic performance.


I'd love comments...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Client Gateway for Buyers... a cool bonus.

One of the great features I offer to buyers is the Client Gateway. If you aren't familiar, it is a custom private webpage that lists all of the properties that meet the criteria we decide on. As new listings are entered into the MLS, they show up in the Client Gateway the next morning.

The example shown is a Gateway that I have set up to keep an eye on new listings of homes with 4 or more car garages in Gwinnett County, GA.

A great feature of the Client Gateway is the ability to organize the properties. While reviewing the properties in the Gateway, one can select "Like", "Possibility" or "Dislike". Properties that are shuffled to "Dislike" drop from the front of the site. Those labeled otherwise will have a bar showing that status. They can be arranged by price, age, number of bedrooms, subdivision or city name.

While surfing in the properties, aside from being able to class them, one may also map them, email them to a friend or family member, make notes or send a message to me about the property.

We've long had the ability to send clients listings as they came on the MLS, but this is a MUCH better way than the old email system. Under the old email system, each day there would be a new email. If one liked one of the listings, then they couldn't delete the mail, or they needed to print out the listing for filing. Now, they are much easier to organize and retrieve.

The Client Gateway is just another great service I offer my buyers. If you are interested in having a Client Gateway to track properties you may be interested in buying, let me know. I'm happy to set one up for you while we work together. I look forward to hearing from you. Drop in to my website and send me a message.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

What do you want?

I just have a question.

I'm curious what you are looking for in your next house. You don't have to be in the market right now. I'm just curious how the real world stacks up to the National Association of REALTORS(R) Buyer Profile surveys. I'm not going to list the attributes that they have pointed to, because I don't want to pollute the results. Besides, I have written about the NAR surveys previously.

Feel free to comment, or even email me it you'd prefer.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

One Day Sale!!! For a condo... And an Uber Open House!

I'm sure I'll post up about it again later in the week, but mark your calendar for November 11th.

The Tuscany is a condo development in Midtown Atlanta between 8th and 10th streets (there isn't a 9th street there) and between Juniper and Piedmont. It has a decided Mediterranean style (ya think? It is named Tuscan, not Canadian) with tile roofs and plaster exterior walls. Inside, there are a variety of floorplans, and we will have resale units of most of them, ranging from 675 square foot one bedroom units, up to 1181 square foot two bedroom condos. In all, there are twelve units for sale in this desirable complex. We will have at least seven of them open on November 11th.

Unit #2324, that I have listed is a one bedroom with an additional den. According to tax records (all of the quoted Sq. ft. are from tax records), this unit is 966 square feet. The pictures all over this post are from #2324. It has a spacious master suite with a walk through closet. The kitchen is off of the living room and dining area, allowing a more open view between rooms. The kitchen also features solid surface counter-tops and a eat-in bar. There are wood floors throughout the condo. For more, look at my previous blog post about #2324.

Looking over the railing of the top level balcony, one looks down on Juniper. It exemplifies just how close to the center of it all this is. It's a block and a half to a MARTA rail station. Piedmont Park is just a couple of blocks away. If nightlife is the thing, there is a plethora of clubs along Peachtree and Crescent between 11th and 14th streets (Vision, Twisted Taco, Front Page News, Opera, Club Metro and others). There are also great restaurants like Spice, Mitra, Park Tavern and the Vortex.

And, on November 11th, the seller will be taking $10,000 off of the price of this great condo in a fantastic location. Macy's does it, we can too. You could be in for Christmas... or even Thanksgiving. It is available for immediate sale.

Stop in on November 11th (next Sunday). We'll be holding it open from 2 until 5. We look forward to seeing you there.

You can also stop in to to see more.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Market Update for Gwinnett County, September 2007

Below are the numbers for September 07. Before getting into the numbers, I would just like to mention again that I will now be working to post numbers right at the beginning of each month for the month that ended 30-35 day prior. I would love to be able to post up the October numbers at the beginning of November, but what I am seeing is changes are happening through-out the following month.

At this time I will be updating the September report.

September prices are pointing down for the first time since February when compared to the same month a year ago. September looks to be down 3% from September 06 (For comparison, Feb 07 was down 0.2% from Feb 06). I have been saying that I think we need to see a drop in prices to spur buyers into action. I still feel we need to see this price drop for a couple of months before buyers start to get excited. Let’s see what October, November and December hold. Currently we are up 2.6% vs. last year as a twelve month average. Last month, we were up 2.9% for the same period. This might also be partly a function of some of the new home sales on the higher end of the market. I would really like to see this flatten a little, as I think it would spur a little more buying.

Time on the market is also still trending up vs. last year. We are up to 90 days in September. That is 3 weeks (21 days) more than this time last year. Last month was 88 days on market, but that was also 18 days more than August 2006. May sales were the lowest this year at 76 days on the market. In fact, May was the lowest since last October (2006) when the DoM was 72 days. May and June of 2006 were in the mid sixties.

The one "bright spot" that I see is a 6% reduction in new listings compared to last year. Of course, to offset that, there is a 61% decrease in closed sales and a 34% decrease in pending sales (homes under contract). I really need to see another month to sort that out.

I think we are in the midst of two serious phenomena. First is the Sub-prime Mortgage Meltdown. I’ve been talking about it for a few months, but I think that in September, we saw the full effects for the first time. Buyers that were marginal even six months ago are out of the market now. Buyers that are solid are still solid. If anything, those buyers are in a stronger position. Since there are fewer buyers, they have increased strength with sellers. Furthermore, I’m starting to see lenders trying to court those strong buyers. Face it, mortgage lenders make money by loaning money. They can only stop writing for so long before they need to look at making money again. Obviously the marginal buyers aren’t popular with the secondary market, so getting “A paper” mortgages back into the stream will become more of an imperative… and so I still expect to see rates slide a little for the best buyers. I am also seeing creative options creeping back in to the market. If Washington can keep its grubby fingers out of the market, and not try to “fix” it, we should be seeing a balance and recovery in that segment next spring. The second issue we are facing is the seasonal slowdown we see each fall. I will step out on a limb and say that there is an amplification this year because of the overall market health… or lack thereof.

I think it is getting to be time to say that smart investors need to get back in the market. Buy & Hold strategies will be heavily rewarded in the long run. Prices are good, rates are kicking for those with good credit. There might be a slight easing of prices in the coming months, but I wouldn’t count on it, and we won’t know that we’ve hit bottom until we are off of it.

Finally, remember that we can only get an accurate look in the rear-view mirror. We will only KNOW there has been a change in the market when we see it has already changed. We’ll know that change has taken place when we see all of the best deals are already gone. Currently, I can’t get an accurate picture of overall market activity for at least 30 days after the end of the month. That means that the market could be well into a turn before the numbers will bear it out. And, while I don’t know that we should expect increasing values terribly soon, I don’t think prices will drop much either.

When the market turns, I believe it will turn with force. I am basing this on the fact that we are seeing rising rents and a lot of hold-out buyers. That means that when we hit the tipping point, there will be a ready source of buyers. They won’t trickle in as much as rush back in to the market. The bigger question is when we have a market turn, once the pent-up demand is released, how long will the strength last. I think that the market will be more balanced after the initial surge.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Web Progressions

photo courtesy of got to thinking after responding to a post, and I thought I would expand upon that and write a whole new post.

Gayle Rogers points out the drawbacks of a company website for real estate practitioners in her post Websites that Your Company Provides. She outlines her experience with building the SEO and traffic for a site, only to abandon it when she changed brokers. I think that many of us have been there. I know that I was. This was my reply:

There is a path, and a few of the stops along the path are:

  • company branded site and email ( and
  • Personally branded, but company templated site ( and
  • Our name as a domain ( and
  • Separate domain which would be more directed towards our niche, and could be sold upon retirement ( and

>>Please note, in the actual comment, all of the links were dead to make sure that no one could say I was just self promoting<<

It seems that these are the steps most of us go through in order to get to the final goal, a site that resonates well with out consumers, and can be a stand alone business when we decide not to be in it any more.

So, what could I add?

Every broker that tries to recruit me tells me about their fabulous website, and all of the cool things that are going to happen as soon as I join their firm. Most will even give me a FREE site, much like the first example. But, if I were to leave, the traffic that I generate with my marketing (postcards, business cards, ads, etc.) will all go to the brokerage. The site is also LOADED with the broker's branding. So, in effect they are giving me a free site and I am building their brand.

Photo courtesy of to the second example. I thought the first address was clunky, and it was. So, like many agents, I transitioned to a catchy name. But, I didn't actually change the site. So, I am still building my broker's brand as much as my own (if not more). But, at least now I own the domain name and can take it with me. However, because of the platform, I couldn't have the domain in my email address.

Iteration three. I bought my name. I will never let it go, because I think that in this business I need to own my name. I can use it for my email, and there are a tremendous number of benefits that come with owning a domain that includes mail. I use disposable and trackable email addresses (ePro folks will understand this.. but I haven't taken the course). There are also ways to use third level domains and other tweaks ( is a third level domain). This is where many agents settle, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is a nice place to retire.

But then there is number four. I didn't understand this, even though I read Millionaire Real Estate Agent. But, if I ever want to pass the business along, or sell it, it is MUCH more marketable if the domain and the business aren't quite as tied to me. So, concentrating on my niche, I came up with a name that would mean more to clients. My name (even though I like it) doesn't mean anything more to them than what I provide. So, if I pass this along to my kids, or sell it outright, the business can survive without people asking who I am.

My advice to rookies is to just start out with the fourth one. Get the third if you can, but if you can't you'll be ok. Tie your website to your business, not to yourself.