What Your Realtor Should Really Be Sending You…The Goods

I am pleased to announce the launch, and early adoption by Paragon Real Estate Group, of the newest addition to the San Francisco real estate scene “The Goods“, real estate marketing made simple.

The goal of this new offering is to make it easy for real estate agents in the San Francisco/Bay Area to provide their clients with what they need, and should expect, from their agent…time sensitive, factual, market data that pertains to the area in which their property is located, or the area where they would like to be. We’d like to put an end to unnecessary print marketing (think of the trees!), stop the sending of mugshot branded magnets, notepads, Zagat Guides, coffee mugs, and all the other crap clients don’t need, or necessarily want from their real estate agent. Keep in front of your clients with valuable real-time market data they can use.

The Goods will provide your company with a new link every two weeks to newly listed, as well as recently sold property data your clients can browse by location, property type, price, beds, baths and DOM. You can include the link in your marketing pieces, and also receive a raw html snippet/preview of the data to include in your marketing, inviting your clients to click through and track sales in their area.

Paragon Real Estate Group is the first to adopt and use this great new product for their agents’ clients, and positive feedback is already rolling in.

-The Goods is a terrific tool for our agents to deliver to our clients: It’s fast and easy to use and it provides our clients with extremely timely and valuable information about new listings and what’s selling in the market, which is at the top of the list of resources our clients want most from us. -Patrick Carlisle, Chief Marketing Analyst, Director of Business Development, Paragon Real Estate Group

Here is a sample of how Paragon incorporates it into their marketing. You’ll notice they call it “Market Watch”. You can call it whatever you like.
ParagonMarketWatch

In this age of Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and the countless apps hitting the market which afford your clients the luxury of tracking the market without your help, you can’t afford to let this opportunity slip you by. Brokers of every company in the Bay Area should be jumping on this offering, as simply put…it’s a no-brainer.

For more information about The Goods, visit www.theGoods-SF.com.

Hey Buyers! Turns Out There’s More Inventory Than You Thought

Have a look at what hit our email in the past couple months, and the companies heavily marketing “pocket listings”, “off market” property, or “not on MLS” opportunities.

You, the buyer, would probably like to know about these opportunities, wouldn’t you? Well…you can’t. Not until these brokerages wake up and join the year 2013, move beyond “private” or internal email as the method of choice for delivering these opportunities, look to social networks for some guidance as to where the buying (and selling) public lives, and get with the program!

Pacific Union, McGuire, Zephyr, Paragon, TRI Coldwell Banker, Vanguard, Sotheby’s, the list goes on and on…you ALL have pocket listings, and you’re all marketing them “privately”, so let’s make an effort to encourage each other to participate in an alternative marketplace to bring these opportunities to your fellow agents and the public, rather than continuing to shove this growing marketplace under the massive bureaucratic rug that is our National, State, and Local Association of Realtors. And for heaven’s sake, quit throwing your colleagues (Climb Real Estate) under the bus for taking a step in the right direction! (You know who you are.) It’s high time an alternative to the MLS takes shape, and the opportunity is right here and now.

[The same properties shown above, with links to the site:]
-Dominican Estate [Decker Bullock/Sothebys]
-53 Clifford Terrace [Vanguard]
-1299 Bush Street [Vanguard]
-219 Brannan [Vanguard]
-524 Roosevelt [Vanguard]
-2876 25th Ave [Vanguard]
-466 Hill [Vanguard]
-2509 Polk [McGuire]
-855 Folsom [McGuire]
-2094 Bush [McGuire]
-66 Parker [McGuire]
-2200 Pacific [McGuire]
-171 Caznea [McGuire]
-615 Buena Vista West [Sotheby's]
-2245 Francisco [Sotheby's]
-29 Oak Springs [Sotheby's]
-26 Sanford Lane [Pacific Union]
-1200 Laguna [Zephyr]
-1278 Stanyan [Zephyr]
-50 Lansing [Zephyr]
-Nob Hill Secret address [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-2325 Divisadero [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-2220 Sacramento [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-465 10th St [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-6 Emlin, Kentfield [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-595 12th Ave [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-850 Powell [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-287 Mangels [Barbegelata]

[Editor's Note: Some of these properties were placed on PocketListings.net, and others have since hit MLS and are now sold, but they did land in our email a very short time ago. You can expect some of these links to be killed by day's end, due to panicking brokerages.
Finally, if you'd like to be alerted when these opportunities hit our inbox, drop us a line, and we'll figure out a way to get them to you.]

-PocketListings.net: How To Tutorial [blog.pocketlistings.net]
-Climb Real Estate, PocketListings.net Join To Bring You More Buying And Selling Opportunity [theFrontSteps]
-It’s not listed, but it’s definitely for sale [New York Times]
-Remaking Real Estate, Again [SF Gate]

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 1: Get Pre-Approved / Provide Proof Of Funds

Congratulations! How exciting that you’re taking the steps to buy a home in the San Francisco / Bay Area. You can consider yourself extremely lucky, as this is one of the best and most expensive markets in the country, and you’re clearly doing alright, so you should be rewarded by capturing some prime California real estate.

Let us make the home buying process a little more simple by sharing some important steps we’ve learned over the past decade (plus) helping buyers find property.

Step 1 – Get Pre-Approved / Provide Proof Of Funds

Getting a loan? Don’t even start looking (fantasizing) for property until you know without a shadow of a doubt what you will be able to afford, what the banks will lend you, what interest rate you think you’ll get and how any fluctuation in that rate will influence your buying power. What’s the point of looking at property you aren’t confident you can afford, or come to find out you can get more than you thought!? Focus, focus, focus. You’ll need it in our competitive market.

Who would we contact for pre-approval?
Tim Wood- Terra Mortgage Banking (twood@terramb.com, 415-464-1374)
Sergei Andruha- Guarantee Mortgage (sandruha@gmwest.com, 415-309-0157)
Doug Barta- Wells Fargo (douglas.barta@wellsfargo.com, 415-819-7784)
Gannon Tidwell- GT Financial (gannon@gtfinancialgroup.com, 415-272-7373, Specializing in TIC/Fractional loans)

Pre-approval is ideal, but a pre-qualification (quick over the phone conversation and verification of funds, credit, income, etc.) is good enough, and any of the blokes above can certainly get it done quickly. Once they do, get it in writing, and keep it handy.

Cash purchase? Be prepared to provide Proof Of Funds with any offer you submit, and (depending on the price range) before you are shown property. If you’re oozing money and it’s obvious, or you’re famous and we know it, you might still be asked to provide proof of funds. Don’t take it personally.

As Jerry Maguire so eloquently says, “Show me (and everybody that will be involved in your purchase) the money” and you’ll be amazed at how much more focused your search can be.

Check back tomorrow for Step 2…

Closing Time – Simplifying The Escrow Process With Technology

I’ve written before about technology that is here to stay, and how the real estate industry can benefit from all the brilliant people in the world creating it, and I’ve recently come across another good example of a new company that’s applying technology to attempt to solve a big headache for buyers and agents alike: the escrow (purchase) process.

closingtime

I met founder Jonathan Aizen when he reached out to me through TheFrontSteps, and he took me through an early version of his tool, Closing Time, telling me about how he built it based on his own pain navigating the closing process on his Noe Valley home last year. Basically, Closing Time takes a bunch of information about a buyer’s property and finances to generate a customized checklist of steps to complete prior to close of escrow (read: get the keys to your home). These steps include things like “Get homeowners insurance” and “Submit your W-2s to your lender.” The steps generated and their due dates are based on the information you give Closing Time (it asks you simple questions like “what kind of property are you buying?”, etc.). For pre-contract buyers, Closing Time simply provides a checklist of things to prepare that might make escrow run more smoothly (like getting your financial documents in order, who to use for inspections, etc.) after you beg, borrow and steal your way to convincing the seller to accept your offer over one of the 15 others he just received.

It’s an interesting concept, and it’s certainly worth checking out. While great strides have been made in document management and e-signatures to reduce the amount of crap you actually physically have to sign (now you just click, click, click your way through), the actual escrow process has remained mostly untouched by technology (especially for the buyer). I’m still thinking about how this would work with my own workflow, as there’s an agent-interface that helps agents track buyers through their escrow process, and I’m actively giving them feedback about how to make it more user friendly and as little a drain on my already tapped time for technology and new processes, but I invite all of you to give it a shot and tell me or Closing Time what you think.

To that end, Closing Time is offering a free trial for agents, and buyers, who read TheFrontSteps. Agents can invite in as many buyers as you want for the first three months. Agents can sign up at http://www.closingti.me/agents. Buyers can try it too, even if you’re not yet under contract, by going to http://www.closingti.me to play around. Both buyers and agents can use the invite code “TheFrontSteps.”

Good luck with it…and Happy New Year!

PocketListings.net Version 2.0 Goes Live: Introduces Real Estate Match™; Privacy Options; Sharing; Saved Search; Email Alerts; Principals Only; More!

I’m pleased to announce the rollout this past weekend of PocketListings.net version 2.0!

It is jam-packed with new features to help you, the agent, do more deals, and give you, the client, more options when selling and searching for real estate. There is a fabulous tutorial on all of the great new features and how they work, so please take five minutes of your day and check it out.

Some major new features to highlight:

Real Estate Match™: As buyers and sellers post to the site, we do a little Match.com magic to match criteria and facilitate a potential transaction. Agents can post any property they have that is not listed on MLS, and ALL of their buyers looking for homes. If no matches are found immediately, when some do show up, emails will be sent. It’s online dating for real estate.

Privacy Options On Posts: Pocket listings are tricky in that some clients want the most exposure possible, while others want little to none, but they still want their property sold. When an agent posts a pocket listing on our site it is immediately searchable, but agent controls what information about the property to share, and with whom.

Principals Only: Inspired by our friends in commercial real estate, we give you the option to request anybody that contact you act as a Principal.

Saved Searches For Members: Do a search, save it. Refer to it later. Get emailed when posts fitting that criteria show up on our site. Simplifying your success.

Sharing with Social Networking: Whether you are the person that posted, or you’re someone browsing our site and you come across an opportunity that you absolutely must share, we make it easy. Using third party applications you can “Like” or “Send” any posts via Facebook, and share or repost via Twitter, LinkedIn, email, Digg, Stumbleupon, and so much more. Do a post, spread the word, and tell those in your circle to spread the word too.

Email Notifications of New Matches: Whether you save a search, or posted to our site and we’re looking for matches for you, we’ll notify you via email when something shows up on our site that might be a match.

How We Use Twitter To Get Posts More Exposure And Deliver Results In Real Time: It’s pretty simple really. Every post that hits our site is fed to our Twitter profile. It becomes searchable and we create hashtags for the city (#city) and a unique hashtag for our site that allows Twitter followers to see results only in their city of interest (#plcity). The more followers we get (and we’re getting a lot), the more exposure you get to your post (respecting your privacy options).

Those are just a couple of the big new features we released with this version. We actually have several more features lined up that we’re hoping to release as soon as possible.

We’ve already been written up in Top Agent Magazine, and press inquiries are coming in. The bottom line is that there is more real estate opportunity out there than what is on MLS, and clients deserve an alternative. Please help us help you by spreading the word and using our site today!

-PocketListings.net Tutorial
-PocketListings.net
-Top Agent Magazine

Price Squares Gives You The Price Per Square Foot Data You Crave

I can’t begin to tell you how many clients, friends, family, and co-workers base their entire real estate purchase or sale on price per square foot, and for good reason…it is the benchmark. Thank goodness a colleague at Zephyr Real Estate came up with this brilliant website, PriceSquares, so that all of you can check it out on your own. The concept is as simple as they come. The site strives to show you what is the average price per square foot of property listed and sold in a certain area, whether the average is going up, down, and whether a certain property represents a good buy or not.

Or as they say, “Price Squares is a new and easy way to see how San Francisco real estate is trending. Price Squares takes recent sales and shows you instantly whether the average price per square foot is increasing or decreasing giving you a real view of how the real estate market is fairing…”

If you have enough time to check out this post, you have enough time to check out this great new tool.

-PriceSquares.com

Get Ready For “Social Buying” And The Arrival Of The “Echo Boomer”-An Interview With Sherry Chris, CEO Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (BHGRE) and Advisory Board Member of Zillow.com. I had every intention of grilling her on the state of the market locally, more specifically hyper-locally, and concluding that just like Zillow, the CEO at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate is more concerned about the national picture than the hyper-local reality that is San Francisco real estate. I was wrong. Chris knows a lot about San Francisco real estate. The conversation then quickly turned out to be like all of the others I have with so many people regardless of where they rank in the world of real estate knowledge and forecasting…the market is going to do what it does, San Francisco is stronger than the rest, and we, as agents, possess nothing in our bag of tricks that can change the way the market ups and downs are going to play out. We have to adapt, roll with the punches, embrace technology, listen to the consumer, and become “collaborators of information” rather than the “gatekeepers we have been for so long.”

Chris agrees with me that, the “real estate industry missed the boat by not creating a central place for MLS listings”, and she congratulates Zillow and Trulia for doing so. She’s quick to point to their success in aggregating data the National Association of Realtors failed to aggregate themselves. As a result of our own missed opportunity in that regard, “we need to look long and hard at what is happening with the next generation of buyers”, who Chris calls the “echo-boomers” (80 million strong or roughly 1/3 of the buying population). “They are buying property based on recommendations from their friends and circles, and turning less and less to those in the industry for advice and knowledge about when and where to purchase. Echo-boomers have been raised with social networking and if the real estate industry doesn’t get into the game of creating a social platform that will engage these buyers and sellers, MLS and industry gatekeepers are going to continue to be left behind while the boat full of buyers and sellers sails off to sea without them.”

Thinking along these lines, Chris has championed a new kind of iPhone App for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate…one that doesn’t feed MLS listings! Gasp! Yes, they have come out with an app that allows users to take photos while they are at properties, arrange them into albums, share them with friends via Facebook or email, and easily refer to them later. The app allows users to search schools in the area, sites of interest, and refer to BHGRE website for more general information about buying and selling a home. And of course, you’ll be able to easily “contact an agent” and get in touch with a BHGRE real estate agent to put pen to paper (virtually of course) on that deal. Chris sees the process of buying and selling a home becoming a much more “social” process. Much less about receiving data (listings), hopping in a Realtors car, and making a decision based on this complete strangers recommendation, and more about searching property on their own, getting recommendations from their friends and family, collaborating with trusted “inner circle” friends on price and photos, and pulling the trigger based on social recommendations, not pushy Realtors looking to earn a commission. (Sounds a bit like where a certain company of mine is heading.) She went on to talk even further about a potential world of buying/selling real estate where price is less important than location, amenities nearby, WalkScores, and ultimately their friends’/family’s recommendation on whether to purchase a property or not, but we both agreed that although that is great, it’s a long ways off.

Sherry Chris has been in the real estate world for about 30 years, and so I was expecting to sit down with someone that is like so many other agents/brokers that have been in this industry for so long and still think farming, mailers (yes, actually through the post office), and cold-calling are the way to do business these days, but boy was I wrong. I’d even go so far as to say Chris is thinking further ahead than I am, and she happens to be at the helm of the third ranked well-established franchise in J.D. Power and Associates’ recent fourth annual Home Buyer/Seller Study. So she’s big-time, and she’s thinking ahead. This is refreshing.

I thank Sherry for inviting me to have a conversation with her, and I’m excited to see the direction the industry heads, because as many of you readers have known for a very, very long time I’ve considered the system marginal at best with TONS of room for improvement. Baby steps…baby steps.

For more information:
-BHGRealEstate.com
-The rise of consumer-centrid real estate [Inman News]
-J.D. Power and Associates’ recent fourth annual Home Buyer/Seller Study [J.D. Power & Associates]

Marina Has The Hotties, Inner Richmond…Apparently None

I was just clued in to a new startup website that is striving to allow you (people on the move from city to city, ‘hood to ‘hood, house to house) to learn about a neighborhood based on the reviews, comments, and opinions of locals. It’s a simple concept and easy to see the value. Hell, I tried going block by block to clue people in on the different San Francisco Neighborhoods in my Tour De San Francisco (real estate), but I only made it halfway through. Hence, the value I see in NabeWise.com.

It’s a startup, so the site is pretty lean with content at the moment, but I expect that will change over time. Regardless, how can you resist checking out a site that ranks where San Francisco’s Most Beautiful People hang out. Surprise, surprise! It’s the Marina! Sorry Inner Richmond (no really I am sorry cuz I live here), you are last on the list.

For the record, it is ABSOLUTELY imperative that you take such criteria into consideration when buying or selling a home in San Francisco, but you should not base whether you work with one particular Realtor over another on looks alone.

Speaking of hotties…check out the NabeWise Team.

-NabeWise.com [Website]

Pocket Listing. Not On MLS. Buyer In Need. No Problem. PocketListings.net Launches Nationwide!

Although you might think theFrontSteps has been completely sleeping these past months, you probably forgot we’ve been busy building a place for real estate agents to post the thousands and thousands of pocket listings they have throughout the year. Not only can they post pocket listings available to be sold, but post they have buyers who are looking for something they just can’t seem to find on MLS. There is no limit on how many times you can post, it’s completely FREE to join, and any type of property is fair game (Commercial, Residential, Land, Houseboat, etc.). It’s kind of like Craigslist meets Google meets eHarmony for off market real estate, and we’re not just for San Francisco. Today, we go nationwide!

Yup, we’re live (in beta) and we want you, and you, and you to check it out, use it, and tell 100 of your bestest of best Friends.

Non agents (i.e. Public) are welcome too! Just contact your agent if you see something you like.

Here’s the best thing…we’ve quietly been live and testing the site for a couple of weeks, and trying to keep it relatively under wraps, but already have agents who have joined us from Santa Rosa, San Francisco, San Diego, Burlingame, Belmont, Pacific Palisades, and Palo Alto, CA to name a few. Still other agents in Scottsdale, AZ, Miami Beach, FL, Bend, Oregon, and the number of agents joining are growing at a very surprising rate.

We’ve had great feedback from our initial users, four agents who’ve already contacted each other about potential matches, and we think we’re ready for all of you. So go check out and use PocketListings.net.

Here are some direct links to some noteworthy pocket listings already posted:
-Click here to see the very first pocket listing ever posted on our site (A $2.4M home in Scottsdale, AZ).
-Click here to see the most expensive pocket listing posted so far (A $5.5M home in Palo Alto, CA).
-Click here to see the most unexpected post so far (A $60,000 parking space in San Francisco, CA).

PocketListings.net is absolutely ROCKING and we haven’t even begun. Don’t wait, get in the game!

To keep updated on our happenings, we have a substantial number of “Friends” already on our Facebook Profile (also serving as our blog), so we’d be delighted to have you come join us there.

Our Twitter page is growing every day, and is also the place every single one of our posts is fed. Huh? Fed? Yep, you can follow us on Twitter, you can follow our hashtags for #plcity, and you’ll see every single post in real time. No need to search, no need to sort. Just browsing for all of you real estate porn addicts. Follow us @PocketListings.

If you liked watching theFrontSteps grow to over 500,000 readers*, you’re going to be more impressed with what we do with PocketListings.net, so we hope you find a way to be a part.

-PocketListings.net
-Facebook.com/pocketlistings
-Twitter.com/pocketlistings

*in our heyday, we had ~500,000 unique visitors per year, right here on these very theFrontSteps.

Pushing The Panic Button For Buyers In San Francisco

safeapp1We’re starting to see a much larger number of San Francisco real estate agents incorporate a home’s WalkScore into their marketing materials (not that a walk score really matters, because hopefully you’ll either research or already know the area you’re investing a few hundred thousand dollars of your hard earned cash, and not rely on a data crunch from a website), and now there is a company that has released an iPhone App for hyperlocal crime stats in San Francisco, complete with heat map available on the website that breaks down safety levels every 2 blocks. Talk about pushing the panic button!

Check ‘em out at AreYouSafeSanFrancisco.com.

For $0.99 we’d bet it would pay off in dividends knowing your significant other can sneak in or out of your home any time they choose. ;-) Then again, maybe not….

Ask Us: Does Blogging Work For Real Estate?

Where readers ask, and we try to answer:

Hello Alex,

I came across theFrontSteps today while researching local real estate blogs. My mother is an agent in NJ and she came to me about advice on creating a blog and testing other social media channels to help her business. I figured I’d research what others are doing and your blog is one of the best I’ve come across so far. Well done!

I’ve got a lot of experience in creating blogs and online marketing, so have a pretty good idea of the direction I’d suggest she take. Just thought I’d go straight to a source to see if anyone is having success with real estate blogs. My one question is – does it work? Are you gaining (great) leads from the search engines and your blog? I certainly understand if you’d rather not divulge.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have on blogging and online marketing. I’ve been in the industry for 12 years now.

Cheers,
-T

Dear T,

Thanks for the kind words and writing in. Glad you were able to find us and glad you like what you see. Your question couldn’t have been more timely as we were preparing a post on this very topic. The long and short of it…YES! This site is a tremendous source of quality leads, and if we chose to chase every lead down I’d certainly be one of the Top Producing agents in the city, but somehow leisurely activities like surfing, skiing, and golf seem to continually get in the way. ;-)

Some examples of what kind of business this blog brings in: We received a lead to price (and eventually sell) a $2.4M condo at the St. Regis, which led us to meet a buyer at the open house, who then went on to purchase a $1.6M home on a hill; A lead came in because of the Tour de San Francisco I used to write and just yesterday we closed on a $3+M pad in Palo Alto, and those clients are dear friends now; To put icing on the cake, a deal was closed last year based off a lead that came as a result of this blog and a few Tweets on Twitter.

So the answer is a resounding YES! It works, and it works well. Almost too well. I feel badly for the readers and potential clients that contact us and we let slip through the cracks. Sorry all…it’s not personal.

Oh, and by the way. I came across the below blog while researching. Looks like they have good content and a decent readership. They just closed shop. Might be worth looking into acquiring.??

San Francisco Schtuff

Best,
T

Thanks for the tip…we like, but can’t afford, their Schtuff. ;-)

Success Story: A Buyer Finally Becomes an Owner

 

This blog is graciously donated by Missionite, long time reader of and writer for The Frontsteps, as well as writer of his own blog, Submedian.

FINALLY GOT ONE

Well we finally got one. We just got the keys and haven’t moved in yet. Despite the market conditions we didn’t get a steal, paid over asking, and in fact the home didn’t appraise so we had to bring some extra money to close as well as convince the sellers to come down a little. On the other hand the home needs only a paint job and a chimney sweep, is big enough for our family of four, is close to things that are important (school, shopping, park, friends, backyard), far from things we don’t like (noise, crime) and is as good a fit for our needs as we could hope for. Most of our new neighbors have lived in the neighborhood for ten years or more so we have a nice stable piece of San Francisco to call home.
With two little ones in desparate need of a yard we weren’t in a position to wait anymore and frankly we were just out of patience. Our criteria was what can we afford right now that we can bear to live in for the next ten years. And on that front we are satisfied. The big lesson I have walked away with here (which will make the realtors happy) is that what you pay for a house has no correlation to it’s actual value. As some of you probably know we have spent literally years bidding on foreclosures, fixers, probates, stale fish, etc trying to get a bargain and have come up empty handed every time (I haven’t blogged about the last couple misadventures but there have been a few and one in particular just about broke our heart). But the times we were denied did give us more time and eventually our savings caught up to the point that we could actually compete and in the end we wound up buying in a normal deal with normal sellers putting our well-over-asking offer in the day it listed and even then apparently not having the highest offer, but winning because we offered a damn fast close.
The asking price, the comps, everything you think you know about a property is meaningless when it comes to the final price. It all boils down to whether you are in a class that has a lot of other buyers. As a family looking for a family home in a city that isn’t exactly loaded with quality inventory for families, we eventually learned we were going to have to either pay more than we would like, or not have anything at all. If you are in the market for a condo, or something on the top end of the market I think it’s a different experience, but reasonably priced homes appropiate for a family with young children are tough nuts to crack.
Anyway, I’m happy to start worrying about lawn care now. Home depot has new meaning to me and I can’t wait to make my first visit there with serious intent.

_________________________________________________________

Congrats to you, and thanks to you, for sharing your win, Missionite. Your advice will be of help to buyers, as will your fabulous rent vs.buy calculator, a resource so good it’s been co-opted by Apple and will soon appear as an app for the I-phone! Check it out here.

Photo: homeownershipu.com

Map of Retrofit Projects Completed in the Bay Area since the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

Living in earthquake country, we get asked all the time, “Is this home on bedrock or landfill.”

The next question, “Do you know if this building has been retrofitted?” Usually, we don’t, but that might be changing. Check out this new user-generated mashup where you, the visitor, can add a project that has been retrofitted. We’re guessing it’s an honor system type thing and thinking it could be pretty useful. What about you?

Click to find out what buildings have been retrofitted in the bay area

Cool idea, cool map, but we’re thinking when the users start adding all the retrofitted projects to the map, those bubbles (pinpoints) might get a bit cluttered. No big….Along comes the 9.0 shaker, we clear the map, and start all over….if we’re still around.

-earthquakeretrofit.org
-Map of Bedrock Vs Landfill (San Francisco

Average Property Rental Rates In San Francisco

Being heavily focused on selling real estate in San Francisco, and not renting it, we’re always on the lookout for a quick and easy tool to help answer that question, “What do you think this place would rent for?” Aside from actually contacting a true expert in the field of rentals and having them go in and take a look at the property, our hands have been tied. Not any more. There is a new website out there tackling this very problem, rentBits.com, “a free national rental search engine that also offers free rental rates pages for over 4,000 cities in the United States. Using data from over 7,000,000 rental houses, condos and apartments, the service gives renters, property managers and leasing agents key information on average rental rates in their city.”

rentbits1

The above screenshot is from their San Francisco page (obviously we only care about San Francisco), and you can get to that page by following this link. Have a look around. We find it pretty informative, but then again we only have a few minutes to check things out these days and put them out there for you to pore over in detail.

-rentBits.com

More Sara, Less Zestimate

Having just spent 4:45 of our lives watching this entire spiel about “while the Zestimate’s fun to kind of get an idea…”, it’s really not accurate so don’t waste your time, we’re left with a few thoughts.

1. Sara is cute
2. Sara’s lip gloss sparkles
3. Sara’s hair shines, but how would it look brunette
4. Sara is really thinking the Zestimate is a total load of shit and will go up and down 3 times a week whenever they refresh the data, and she can’t believe she has to read that drivel, but her options will pay off someday, so she’ll keep reading and thinking of her next pedicure
5. Why a turtle neck?
6. More Sara, less Zillow psycho babble
7. Yes, we love poking fun at Zillow, always have, always will…that doesn’t mean we don’t admire their technology and vision.

Google Goes Real Estate Search

To the untrained eye it might look as if our lovely city by the bay has the Chickenpox. Alas! ‘Tis not the case. It’s just Google getting into the game of real estate, and leave it up to them to do it right (maps.google.com/realestate).

[Note: These below maps are embedded on this site and you can play around all you want right here...how cool is that!?]

Not a fan of the Satellite image search, and need to know your streets? Go for the basic street map:

Wondering if your future home is on a hill and whether you can sell your Thigh Master? Zoom in and go Terrain:

[Note: You can even go Street View]

Wondering if you’re future home is close to public transportation and how the traffic in the area is? They have that too.

In fact, you can get photos, webcams, wikipedia and all sorts of information about the area you want to put down roots all by clicking around the maps.

Proximity to good coffee? It’s probably on there too.

It makes searching for a home by area so unbelievably simple (not as simple and effective as actually getting in the car or walking your future ‘hood…assuming you’re not relocating cross continent), but simple nonetheless. Contacting those with the listings and not getting shuffled to some third party site that is essentially rebroadcasting MLS data on their site (which Google is then able to “crawl” and display…we’re guessing) is a bit tricky. The information certainly has a time delay as to what is displayed, when you click on properties there is enough error that we’ve discovered to make us not entirely certain about the price or details of a property and whether it is, in fact, still available, and price reductions aren’t showing up all too real time either, but the data is there, and it’s cool. Really cool. It just needs to find its wings, and we have no doubt it will.

Check it out, if you haven’t done so already.

Neighborcity.com…Waste More Time

A reader kindly forwarded us to a “new” website called, Neighborcity and we gotta say, aren’t Trulia, and Zillow enough?

neighborcity1

We didn’t see anything on this site worth discussing that isn’t already found elsewhere. To us, this site is a complete waste of time. Focus your time on Trulia, Zillow (if you must to get a very, very, very rough estimate of your home’s value), and your local MLS. If you want community, go to Trulia, but beware the Realtor answers are usually loaded to bait you in.

Oh, one last thing, check the ranking of agents on Neighborcity. We’ve learned our lesson about calling out fellow agents, but that data is clearly flawed.

Thanks for the tip to the site, best of luck to them. We are fans of technology in real estate and applaud all efforts, but we weren’t impressed. We look forward to be proven wrong.

[Editor's Note: Okay, we took another look at the site from the perspective of someone shopping for a home somewhere in the country. We're used to dealing with internet savvy buyers and sellers, so we're a bit jaded. We can see value in the site for those that are just beginning their home search and land on this site a la Google.]

Realtors Take Note: Real Estate Marketing Report Card Is Here

Real Estate technology is absolutely booming (judging by the daily emails we get pitching new products), and every so often we come across something clever enough to post and share with you. This application (website) is definitely not something that is going to change the world of real estate (we’ve been known to be wrong), but it is certainly something useful for both Realtors and their clients (if nothing else it’s kinda fun).

propertyreportcard2

Didn’t pass your G.E.D with flying colors? Now is your chance to get straight A’s on your “Real Estate Marketing Report Card“. Transparency at its finest.

Since we know you’ll look, we scored an “A” for 241 7th Ave, and a “B+” for 469 Clipper, which is odd, because they’re marketed identically. Anyone else care to give it a go?

-Real Estate Marketing Report Card

SeeClickFix: A new community website to report and get stuff done

It seems we’re on the receiving end of quite a few press releases these days. Some get shuffled to the trash, and others sit in the inbox with a little red tag screaming “post idea!” and eventually make it to the pages of theFrontSteps for a little promo. If you haven’t seen this site (SeeClickFix.com) already, it is worth a look.

It’s also kind of fun to click on the bubbles to see what you find. We found, “Urine Alley”.  What can you find?

Oh, and the best part, each new fixit request is emailed directly to the Supervisors!

To read more, follow the break. Continue reading

Roost.com: Every Home For Sale… (Well almost…)

What’s that Beastie Boys lyric? Something like “Technology is wizardry, what you got is…” Anyway….we now have more real estate technology and listing search capability thanks to Roost.com, which apparently just launched its San Francisco listings.

Looks to us like they partnered with Zephyr Real Estate to get those listings (smart on Zephyr’s part), and from what we could tell there are quite a few listings available to browse, and you’ll even get email alerts for new matches. You can filter by map, price, bedrooms, bathrooms, area, and all kinds of stuff. It is pretty darn quick with spitting back results and is simple and straight forward. It is lacking the capability to search anything that is not “active”, but what do you expect? MLS owns the data, and they’re protecting it, and keeping Realtors (like us) employed. There are, however, other sources for enhanced search and alerts when properties you might be tracking change status, and you can even get sold stats from more and more real estate sites, so if you know where to look, you should be able to find everything you need online these days when searching for homes in San Francisco.

Your homework: try Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, SFARMLS, Clean Offer, sfnewsletter, Roost, and any others we’re forgetting and report back, which is the best.

-Roost.com

-Enhanced Listing Search [Clean Offer]

-Sold Properties Reports [sfnewsletter]

Technology and Real Estate: N-Play (make an offer)

We’re constantly on the lookout for new companies/technologies that might alter the scope of the current real estate system and this latest press release we received from N-Play might have something to offer.

The concept is simple, agents get listings and add the “N-Play” button to the online listing, buyers make offers on properties by clicking the button, offers are non-binding and anonymous, sellers negotiate directly with the buyers online (hopefully multiple buyers), the parties reach an agreement, the agent comes in to shuffle some papers, buyers get keys, seller gets money, everyone’s happy. Simple enough, and brilliant at the same time. It’s the simple things in life……

For the full press release read on: Continue reading

HomePredict.com, and knock yourselves out

We’re constantly introduced to new technology to help the home buyer, hinder the real estate agent, and put money in the pockets of the company behind the technology. So, we’re doing our part and bringing it to you.

Introducing, HomePredict.com. The concept is pretty simple (we think), where they crunch current data, take your predictions, to determine where the market will be in a year. This is what they came back with for condos worth $800,000 in San Francisco:

Things are looking pretty good (especially the +$7,999,920 “home value impact” they give condos in ’08…condo owners rejoice!)

However, we think it should look something more like this value they give “Houses” worth $500,000 in San Francisco…do they really still exist?

The moral:

New data crunching goodness is all around and they all profess to provide the second coming, but there is always room for error and they need to be taken with a grain of salt (or browsed on your iPhone during incredibly boring meetings.) The site did become more informational as you enter zip codes, but still…not that great.

Personally, we found it an incredible waste of time, because the data is not presented in a manner that is easily understood..

Are we missing something?

-HomePredict.com [website]

theFrontSteps is trying Twitter!

Testing out yet another new (to us) time vacuum, I thought we’d give this Twitter thing a go on theFrontSteps. If you care to track it, you can do so here (I think): twitter.com/theFrontSteps.

There is certainly going to be a learning curve for this, but it does have some potential for real estate obsessed people like us, if for no other reason than to see what us like-minded individuals are doing (all the time!)

-theFrontSteps Twitter Feed

-twitter.com/theFrontSteps