A wrinkle in the time/space continuum

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Photo from Gizmodo

This week marked the validation of a facet of Einstein’s theories, the existence of gravitational waves.  In looking at artist conceptions of how the average non-astrophysical Joe could understand what the scientists were celebrating, I couldn’t help but think of the Red Dwarf episode where a rift is created in time/space, and members of the crew from two different dimensions are able to interact.  The paradigm of Dave Lister’s birth is only created by an interaction outside of normal time lines.  For those who have not watched Red Dwarf 1) I’m sorry that this introductory paragraph means little and 2) do yourself a huge favor and rent the discs on Netflix.

Realities are shifting now as well in the real estate market.

For a year or so, we have been dealing with a shortage of available houses.  This has been driving up prices and causing no end of headaches for buyer’s agents who are putting in multiple, multiple offers/client, only to find out they are 5th in line and the top of the heap are either cash investors or flippers who can still make money, even at a higher purchase price. Continue reading “A wrinkle in the time/space continuum”

Yes, you should care about Bitcoin, and here’s why

I wonder how large currency transactions would be handled under Bitcoin? Do you ever foresee mortgages being handled through this type of currency? Can you loan money already? Is anyone familiar enough with Bitcoin to chime in?

Gigaom

Everybody’s talking about Bitcoin these days, which is quite remarkable given the highly technical nature of the crypto-currency. So why is it such a big deal?

To explain why, I’m going to start with the implications of Bitcoin, then get into the technical nitty-gritty. Why that way round? Because there’s more to Bitcoin than the technical wow-factor, or indeed the crazy speculation that’s going on now. Even if Bitcoin itself fails, it’s a sign of things to come.

All about decentralization

Bitcoin is to state-issued currencies – often referred to as fiat money – as P2P file-sharing is to traditional broadcast media. There is no centralized source for it that can be controlled or moderated or regulated. It is difficult if not impossible to track from the outside. It is more complex to use than its better-known counterpart, but there are at least theoretical advantages to doing so.

network

In the…

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Master of your own destiny

normal calculatorDo you tire of having to go to BlueGill, Key Bank of America Fargo or some sleezy real estate broker’s site to figure out what your mortgage is going to cost you monthly?  Good news!  For people using Windows 7, the built in calculator includes ta-da, a mortgage calculator feature!

Fill in 4 of the known fields, and it will provide you with the 5th.  The default is monthly payment, but if you needed to know how much you could afford, select the Purchase Price option, and work backwards to see what range you should be looking in.

To access this handy tool, from your Start menu choose:

  • All programs
  • Accessories
  • Calculator
  • View
  • Worksheets (at the bottom of the drop down dialog box)
  • Mortgage
  • Voila!

 

Readable contracts

Passing documents back and forth between agents and their clients, each transmission gets a little more difficult to read.  Beginning in the fall the NWMLS is going to have online signing, which will speed things up, and make the documents more legible.  Hooray!

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, serving Western and parts of Central WANWMLS will offer an electronic signature service to its members and subscribers beginning Fall 2011.  The Authentisign service provides a secure browser based online document signing process which enables multiple parties to participate and sign documents online.  Authentisign will be integrated with Xpress Forms to allow for a convenient and efficient electronic signature process.

Quango

Quasi autonomous non-governmental organizationI learned a new word today.  I found it reading an article in the British press about entities which the coalition government is targeting for closure, to help with the budget issues facing their government.  What struck me was the extensive list they had to choose from.  I kept scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling …

Then I started to do the math.  If each one of these entities employed 15 people (and you know it takes that many just to push the elevator buttons in some organizations), and if they paid each of those people a mere £35,000 a year (that’s Alt+0163 for those of you wondering, “How can I put a pound sign on my numbers?”), what sort of bunker busting number would we come up with?  As I didn’t actually count all the title listings, we’ll just say, way more money than we would need to buy a small house in the country and fill up all the sinks with precious stones.

Continue reading “Quango”

Comps and why you shouldn’t trust the Internet

The air in the room was thick enough to cut with a knife.  The man at the front, the one who held the answers to all questions was about to tell us how to value properties so we could then springboard into buying only the best of them.

He said ….

He said ….

He said …. Continue reading “Comps and why you shouldn’t trust the Internet”

A close shave

j0439359There has been a lot of chat (twitter, blogging, etc.) lately about whether chatting (twittering, blogging, etc.) is a help or a hinderance to business in general and real estate in specific.  The camps are generally divided along these lines: 

  1.   Social media is new, hip, markets to Gen Y, Gen Z, Gen AA and beyond.  If you’re not using it, you are missing a market share.  Additionally, the connectedness social media affords is accomplished so much faster than traditional routes.  You can accomplish building your business network in reduced time frames and reinforce those contacts effortlessly and frequently.
  2. Are you kidding me?  OK social media is great and I love that I can put up my cat’s picture and tell you that I need a recipe for pumpkin cinnamon rolls, but in terms of building a business this is not the way to make your branding stick.  Real estate is a people business.  You need to spend time and develop relationships.  Better to invite someone over for a cup of coffee and some pumpkin cinnamon rolls than to list the latest 3 bedroom/2 bathroom cottage on a lake to your 357 followers, hoping your next buyer will be waiting by their monitor for you.

What we expect technology to do or not to do for us is illustrated brilliantly with this new product, the Pomegranate (click on the word Pomegranate to activate the link).  Please make sure you take a look at all the “explore” options to see how your world and technology can be blended seamlessly and aethetically beautifully with this ground breaking technology.

 At what point did disbelief kick in?

The IT Crowd

New Technology

I’m a big fan of Kris Berg.  When I grow up, I want to be her, so when I clicked on her blog and found a recommendation of N-Play, I decided to check it out.  The jury is out on how it will work, but I like several aspects of it.

  1. Reality check for sellers
    How often has a seller told you they need to have this place sold in under 45 days, asked you what it will take to move on that timeline, and then set their price significantly higher because they are pretty sure it’s worth more? 
    The usual feedback for a seller is lack of offers.  30, 60, 90 days go by and they can ask for more open houses, fliers, Internet listings and such, but eventually they will have to conceed price reductions, which of course screams “We were overpriced to begin with!”
  2. More buyer participation
    If making an offer on a house is as simple as clicking on a website to make a non-binding offer, being able to see what is already in play, doesn’t that sound easier than calling your agent, sitting down to sign a myriad of forms?  Does it encourage buyers to participate?  Ask eBay, Bidz.com, etc.  How about courthouse steps auctions of foreclosed homes?  Yes, of course.  Until the very end you can change your mind and really, playing is half the fun. 
  3. Puppy dog
    Huh?  There is a marketing ploy which says if you can take it home for a bit, in your mind it becomes yours and you then assume you will keep it.  Once a buyer who was teetering on whether this was the home for them, or whether they really wanted to drive around again next weekend with you to find something else, can put in a non-binding offer, their stake in the house goes up considerably.
  4. Trends of the times
    How many of your buyers bring you houses all the time they’ve found on Craigslist, agent’s websites or a clearinghouse such as Trulia or Cyberhomes?  The Internet, and ease of shopping from your desk chair is here to stay.  N-Play will allow them to complete the shopping process they began.  Settling on a deal means one set of papers to sign, and the seller is already copacetic.  What could be easier?
  5. Listing agent – you control the website
    I like being in control — when you relinquish that, you are at the mercy of other forces; it’s usually suicide for your deal and your sellers.  Take it back!  Make it work!
  6. One more tool
    Times are tough.  Your potential seller wants to know what they can expect from a listing agent.  This is one more item to put their property on a fast track to the closing table.

The process was relatively painless, and you can view my first one here!

Product Review

Very nice operating system
Very nice operating system

I am a launch host for Windows 7* and the OS was installed last night.  Fabulous is the one word review.  For more, keep reading.

I upgraded my machine rather than a clean install (back up everything first — it’s just a best practice thing).  The software came up, did some initial setup and gave me a compatibility assessment.  I had to uninstall one program and it recommended I do 2 others.  Once re-launched after the uninstall, the software informed me it would be several hours, would reboot itself a few times and basically told me I could go out dancing and come home to the process complete.

Everything went smoothly and the only other input which was required was the product key to active.

All the programs I have run have no issues.  The cool features they put in are cool, the stuff they took out, I don’t miss and programs come up much faster!  NWMLS, for you real estate agents, does just fine.

Recommendation – worth the upgrade.

*FCC compliance disclaimer — as a Windows 7 launch host, I received the software free, along with a party pack of goodies to be used at the party.  Feel free to come if you want!