Friday, January 05, 2007 – Why Not

One of the hottest new sites making news and turning heads is – a forum whereby college students are able to critique and comment on the professionalism and knowledge of their professors. It’s basically an independent, unbiased way for consumers (with tuitions in the $40k range, you better believe college students are big-time consumers) to get an honest and fair assessment of the services they are paying for.

Great idea. So why isn’t there a In every facet of economic, political, and social life, there are leaders whose dependability and professionalism affect our daily lives and our bank accounts. Should we, an educated Populus, be the ones policing them? Maybe so.

How do institutions such as the NASDAQ get policed? Do its members hold checks and balances on themselves? Is that enough? What about the NAR? What about the MLS? Well, in that case, yes, they do get policed. Case in point:

I saw a familiar name come up on the NWMLS “Most Wanted” list the other day. It was a high-flying high-tech-exec wannabe who is now a real estate broker. His ethics, or lack thereof, have caused him to be fined $5k by the local NWMLS board. We recently saw this jerk bad mouthing real estate agents on his blog. I’ve also run into him often over the years and his ego and poor sportsmanship shock me every time. Luckily, he got what was coming to him. But what about the other real estate sharks that don’t get caught? Do the overseeing boards do enough to weed the bad ones out of the crop?

Maybe there is an underlying problem in the real estate industry. Why else would the NAR force realtors to take ethics classes? How many actually follow those codes of conduct? The issues in real estate transactions are almost identical to securities exchanges and financial institutions – and we all know the headlines that those industries have made in the past few years. Big money often means that full disclosure can come at a big price. Once a top real estate agent from a big time firm told me that he has a “if you don’t ask, I won’t tell” policy with his clients. He rather not offer up all the information for fear of losing big commissions.

Well, Jack, that’s straight up wrong. My little daughters could tell you that. For myself, I’d rather be radically honest and make sure my client is aware of all the risks, all the rewards. Is that crazy? No. Is it unusual in today’s competitive business, like real estate websites? Perhaps. But it’s worked for me. That radical honesty has brought me huge success in the Seattle Washington real estate market, so much so that I was named Rookie of the Year 2004 at my old world company. That office by the way, Coldwell Banker Bain’s West Lake, was the tenth largest our of 2,400 Coldwell Bankers. Not too shabby just for speaking the truth, well wait till we get out the real estate agent rating system.

So let’s get to the point. How can we introduce more honesty into this industry? Well, real estate blogs like this are a good start; getting unbiased information and ideas out into the hands of the people who can benefit. Another idea would be a real estate agent ranking system, a, if you will. A forum that allows consumers to review in an honest, fair, and non-defamatory way the work of agents in their area. Perhaps it could even be expanded to hold stockbrokers, loan officers, banks, lenders, contractors, developers, lawyers, doctors all accountable. Let’s cut out the teachers sleeping with 14-year-old students. Let’s stop under qualified doctors from doing more harm. Let’s rid this industry of sleazy, lying agents and bankers.

Some of you know me as strong voice of reason. Some of you might think I’m just another real estate guru tooting his own horn. Well, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. We at MyTypes Inc. are proposing the launch of a controversial, yet honest assault on those who don’t play by the rules. We need to bring to light those people who betray our trust. We need to spread the truth. So pass on the good news, remind us of the bad news, and let’s look out for each other. Please check back soon for the new site and share your two cents. This is the first we are speaking of this, we have been too focused on our real estate idx solutions.

Confucius says: Only three things cannot long be hidden – the sun, the moon, and the Truth.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Painting the Real Estate Masterpiece in '07

No, Leonardo DaVinci didn’t use decimals, percentages, and figures to design his legendary artwork, but in the Louvre of the real estate industry, fresh numbers just might paint a pretty picture.

The numbers compiled from of residential housing sales for November ’06 just rolled in and they begin to validate the housing trend that many experts are expecting – and, fortunately, show promise for ’07 being a comeback year.

Overall residential sales in the U.S. rose a modest, but satisfying 0.6% from October ’06, along with a similar rise in prices. This is the second month in a row that both sales and pricing have returned to a climbing trend – and this bodes well for market analysts.

On a regional scale, the Northeast did the best, rising 6% in sales. The West saw a modest increase of 0.8%, while the Midwest stayed even, and the South took a slight loss. These numbers averaged out to a positive 0.6% nationwide.

But this modest rise must be put in prospective to understand the big picture and define the rollercoaster of the housing boom and bust. Despite the growth, sales in November were still down 10.7% from the same time a year ago and prices were down 3.1% from ’05.

The numbers told the story, as realtors watched the market bloat by nearly a million sales between 2003 and 2005, with the peak of the boom reaching 7,075,000 sales by late ’05. The bust came even more quickly, with sales bottoming out in September ’06 at just over six million.

But the rising trends in October and November have market experts grinning. Evidence supports that this modest rising trend should continue well into the new year and beyond. The good news about the small gains approach is that it is much more sustainable over the long run than the huge gains witnessed in ’03 and ’04, and their corresponding free falls.

We’ll keep you up-to-date on the beautiful strokes of real estate watercolors as ’07 works out its own fresh canvas. As always, check out more real estate news for Seattle and the country at and take advantage of our website IDX tools at


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Real Secret of Success is Enthusiasm, not Excitement - or - The Art of a Five-Year-Old's Questions

Walter P. Chrysler, legendary American industrialist and entrepreneur, once stated, “The real secret of success is enthusiasm.” I take those words to heart as a businessman and citizen of planet Earth. I started a company based solely on the URL just for this reason (and here I have to give credit to my co-founders, Matt and Phillip). But why is ‘enthusiasm’ more important than ‘excitement’? Well, ‘excitement’ is, yes, exciting – but it can also be fleeting and, at times, frivolous. ‘Enthusiasm’ on the other hand, is a more measured, matured sensation. The Great Wall of China, the Egyptian Pyramids, were not built by excited Emperors and Pharaohs, they were created by enthusiastic leaders.

But maybe we need to stand the statement on its head in some cases. Is Al Gore enthusiastic about delivering the world from Global Warming? I think everyone knows that. But if he were more exciting, could he take the issue further? Perhaps. I think maybe his ego got in the way somehow. I think he could have done well to surround himself with more smart, creative, radically-thinking people – and there is no lack of such passionate beings involved with this issue. Did he think that this serious issue would lose credibility if it were developed in a creative way? Really, Al, did you think that? His campaign may very well have been damaged by listening to too many experts.

By now you can tell that we’re back on the Global Warming issue, and you might be asking yourself how this fits in with the title of this blog. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: real estate discussion is a moot point if there is not healthy Earth left for us to live upon. It’s just that simple. And so we are here to weave together these two issues, Global Warming and success in Real Estate. Some people may think these are mutually exclusive, maybe even antithetical to one another, but I assure you they are not. And that’s exactly what we aim to show.

I watched the movie Ice Age last night with my daughter. Though a bit dramatic, it definitely makes the Global Warming issue accessible to kids. It’s truly a smart and subtle way of breaching the subject to the masses – finally, subconscious messaging working for the common good! The idea raised a lot of questions in my daughter’s young, curious mind.

What is Global Warming? Why is it happening? What will be the consequences? How can we stop it? What can I do, daddy?

It made me take a step back and think about all this. How can I answer these questions to my five-year-old daughter? How can the real experts answer these questions to us? Why aren’t more people pushing harder on these tough questions? As with most important things in life, there are inevitably more questions than answers. But that is the first step, curiosity. We should all take a lesson from my little daughter. Funny that it was she that taught me more than I could ever imagine answering her.

The first step is to wonder. The second step is to act.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Why I Get Up Every Morning and Do What I Do - or - How the Real Estate Industry Will be Changed by Technology

My father-in-law was looking over my shoulder this morning as I was writing an email to one of our main investors and advisors. He was asking me about our real estate IDX Solution business, and wondering how excited I am about the launch and the future of the company. Frankly, I’m super excited, but that may be just because I’m in the real estate web business. Honestly, I would rather focus on Global Warming issues, or ending world poverty, or saving children from abuse, etc. If you read the past few posts on this blog, you know what Evan and I mean. But everything comes in due course and, for now, this ship is sailing on the waters of the information revolution.

I think most people would agree that the future is looking bright. Especially for Internet-based business, and particularly for those in the real estate technology industry. Look at the splashes made by the likes of Zillow, RedFin, Trulio, HouseValues; even GE (yes, General Electronics) is getting in on the action with their new real estate department, Rappatoni. These major players in the Title market are buying up MLS data outfits fast. Just look at the big acquisitions Fidelity and First American have made recently.

Real estate agents, brokers, major market players are all going to be affected in one way or another. What we’re trying to do at is latch onto the upswing of these new trends. But who else is going to be able to take advantage of this shift? Before we answer that huge future-telling question, let’s ask our faithful audience some of the important background questions. I invite one and all to weigh in on these hot topics with advice, experience, and opinions.

So, let the interview begin. Questionmaster Evan, lead the way:

eth: How was the real estate business conducted before the Internet came along?

VS: Very, very slowly. The industry was controlled by the few; information was slow-coming and hard to act upon. Real estate agents and brokers were forced to collaborate (for better or worse) and they came up with these joint real estate marketing systems called Multiple Listing Services.

eth: How has the Internet made life easier for the average consumer?

VS: It’s oh-so-much faster to find a home. Not to mention sell. So much information is available online, which can help support more educated decisions. But there is a downside, too. You have to be a master at boiling down that wealth of information to find out what is truly important. Yes, in some cases people have made vast amounts of money. In order cases, they’ve lost a lot due to bad research, lack of expert advice, too much inconsequential knowledge. What you don’t know won’t kill you, but it can sure cost you a pretty penny.

eth: How has the Internet real estate market changed the landscape for agents and brokers? Who are the real winners and losers?

VS: I don’t know everyone, but I know a lot of people that made good on their investments and others that didn’t do so hot. I did pretty well myself by gathering Internet buyers and sellers leads. I took advantage for this niche market early by setting up a real estate marketing website with IDX called It’s truly become a brand name in the Seattle area.
So who else wins, beside sharp-minded opportunists? Well, real estate agents win, that is if they embrace the new technology and build it into their websites. Open-minded entrepreneurs do quite well by gaining a competitive edge over those old timers who won’t change. Those are the same oldies that poo-poo technology, saying that the real estate industry is based on relationships. Well, yes, it is. But if people are visiting my website via Google, then I am creating the relationships while you just keep shaking empty hands. I’m not being mean, I’m just making a point. Slow moving dinosaurs don’t roam the Earth anymore for a reason, folks.
The Winners are simply people. People who took advantage of a change in the wind via selling real estate using IDX Solution technology, creating better client relationships, and harnessing the power of the World Wide Web. The Losers? Well, I think history has taught us that the losers don’t make it into the history books.

Coming soon to a real estate blog near you!

How are the main needs of buyers and sellers being satisfied via the Internet today? What are the shortcomings?

What are the major trends in real estate for consumers?

What is the biggest weakness in real estate marketing for agents?

Why are brokers and local franchise owners of big companies stuck unless they can adapt quickly?

What will the NAR and MLS of the future look like? What challenges must they meet?

What is a true-blue real estate website? An IDX Solutions company? What are their market potentials? Does Art have anything to worry about? Does Bob, my father-in-law see the value in

What comes on page one of the Vipin Real Estate Bible? A donkey, a satellite map, and radical honesty from the heavens? Here’s one we can all answer – Is making money in real estate development or real estate investments a good or bad idea?

Until then.