Saturday, January 13, 2007

Go Seattle Seakhawks or Go Chicago bears?

Big Question. Especially when I live in Seattle, but I'm from the Midwest, have family and friends who live in Chicago. My sister lives in Chicago, my editor is a die-hard Bears fan, and our first Real Estate IDX Solutions client, Vicki, is in Chicago. So I have to say, "Let the Best team win." Whoever does, I have to cheer them to the Super Bowl. But of course I have to cheer on New Orleans, too. What an inspiring story for a city that has been so devastated. Go Seahawks, Go Bears, Go Saints!

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Brief History of the World… of MLS - Part 2 - IDX

Okay, back to basics for a moment.

We constantly talk about real estate website IDX solutions, IDX this, IDX this, IDX that. I’m sure there is more than one of you out there saying, “HOLD UP, what exactly is the IDX, dagnammit?!”

To put it simply, IDX (Internet Data eXchange) is the tech-savvy kid brother of the MLS. To put it bluntly, IDX is literally the hottest thing since sliced bread. It’s basically the deployment of your local MLS Listings for reciprocal real estate brokers to take advantage of the information revolution and it works something like this.

Similar to MLS, the IDX allows for real estate agents and brokers to share vast amounts of real estate listings (say for a city or region). Unlike the past, where only broker listings were presented on each brokers website. With National Association of Realtors IDX protocol MLS listings can be shared mainly all brokers and agents in an MLS, IDX takes a cue from the free-source movement and allows everyone – buyers, sellers, agents, brokers, your Auntie Josephine – to view, access, and share listings and information. Well almost, all brokers within a local real estate board of Realtors must participate in the IDX reciprocal program. Once, they do, they can help to pass real estate listings information to consumers.

How does it work? Well, it’s a two way street. Brokers and agents who use IDX submit all their listings to be viewed on the website of other brokers and agents. Conversely, all those members’ listing will also be available on your own site, as an IDX participant of a local MLS. There are strict rules and regulations that must be followed, and the data integrity is protected and all must honor the privacy of the home sellers and other brokers.

What’s the advantage for real estate brokers/agents to join MLS IDX programs? Obviously you get vastly more listings on your site. This means potential clients will spend more time with you and have more incentive to stick with one agent/broker throughout the search process. Agents can also opt out of using IDX, keep their listings to themselves, and basically shoot themselves in the foot by ensuring they get the fewest leads in the market.

What’s the advantage for buyers/sellers? Buyers get a huge wealth of information at their fingertips about every listing available. IDX is a more complete source for home buying than any retail operation. Sellers get their houses seen 10x more often (if not more) than with traditional MLSnon-IDX versions, opening up their market and hopefully improving selling price.

The best part about all this is how easy it is for everyone involved. Buyers/sellers access vital information through their agent’s site. Agents and brokers can rely on quality MLS IDX website solutions to ensure that clients continue to traffic their sites. Welcome to MLS 2.0, it’s called the IDX, well no again. The web 2.0 is where you the consumers get more information at your finger tip, and IDX solutions make it possible. We have had NWMLS IDX on our website at our Seattle Washington Real Estate website since 2003. We have worked with 2 real estate idx companies and none could do what we wanted, so we just created a better solution. Our friends at North Seattle real estate experts of Keller Williams North Seattle check out their website to see the system in action.

For more information about our real estate IDX website solutions, check out,coming to a professional real estate agent near you!



Thursday, January 11, 2007

It’s Oh So Easy Building Green

There is no way to balance the topics of real estate and environmental issues without stumbling over the Build Green Movement several times. This topic could fill a thousand blogs all on its own, but let’s start with some basic background information about this hot trend designed to add a touch of cool to urban landscapes.

The term “Green Building” in its most basic form implies the conscious decision to build structures and cityscapes that provide the least amount of malicious impact on the environment as possible. Not only are green practices beneficial to the environment, but are also designed to improve the physical, mental, and psychological health of the people that inhabit and work in them.

The predecessors to today’s green buildings included 19th century structures like London’s Crystal Palace, which took advantage of roof ventilators and underground cooling chambers. The early twentieth century saw the rise of the skyscraper and denser cityscapes. Architects and engineers of the time experimented with the use of deeper set windows, awnings to create natural shading, and reflective glass among other technological advances to make buildings more affordable and efficient.

The 1970s saw the true birth of today’s “Build Green” movement. An increased awareness in the way humans impact their environment spurred leading environmentalists, developers, architects, and engineers to begin searching for ways to cut down on the impact of urban sprawl.

The first official green building program began in Austin, TX in 1991 and soon sister programs popped up around the country and overseas. Today’s hot spots for green building include Texas, Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, and New England. As technology and demand increased throughout the ‘90s and into the 21st century, so did the number of builders following green practices. Between 1990 and 2004 over 61,000 new homes were built following local green guidelines. Green practices have been adopted by more than just environmental advocates, the building industry as a whole has picked up more and more environment-friendly practices over the years. A new home built today is twice as efficient as one built 30 years ago.

The benefits of green building are obvious and extremely beneficial. Eco-friendly energy systems costs less to operate and blend more seamlessly into a building’s superstructure. Beneficial ventilation, heating, and lighting systems provide tenants with a cleaner environment, thereby decreasing sickness rates and raising morale. Most governments give companies with green buildings significant tax cuts because their stamp on issues like waste management, flooding, and pollution are that much lighter.

The future of green building is bright – especially with more local governments, companies, and contractors coming to understand the benefits and ease of implementation. We hope to bring in some market and construction experts to further discuss the important issues regarding green building, the real estate market, and our little blue planet.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Northwest Not Bubble Burst Whipping Boy

With the outpouring of data from the 2006 real estate market, more and more experts are predicting trends similar to our future telling here on the SeattleHouses blog.

One of these experts is noted real estate economist Matthew Gardner. In a recent Seattle Times article, Gardner pointed out that the doom and gloom outcome of the housing burst didn’t affect the Northwest in the same way it did nationwide.

Overall sales and pricing didn’t bottom out in Seattle and surrounding areas the way it might have in other parts of the country. Instead, the market simply slowed to a more manageable rate. In fact, last year, housing prices were up 11% in the tri-county area according to the NWMLS – far from the prediction that prices were going to drop well below the 2005 boom levels. And many like Gardner think the softer price increases will continue into 2007.

This can be a good – no, a very good – thing for the market. A less frenzied environment allows buyers and sellers the opportunity to take their time and make the right decision. The same is true for investors – a slower price increases makes buying and selling a much less hectic operation, not to mention lowered risk.

As always, prices and inventory depend greatly on the specific location of the property. Areas closer to downtown Seattle or Bellevue will see greater appreciation because of the convenience factor. Other factors that can affect appreciation and inventory levels include economic inflation and, of course, mortgage rates. Many experts predicted the mortgage rates would increase dramatically in 2006. When that didn’t happen, further appreciation of prices was the benefit.

For more detailed information about listings and properties in the Seattle and nationwide, check out and for all your online listings needs.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Hydrate Hypothesis and Runaway Global Warming

Current research and public sentiment has finally put the global warming ‘debate’ to rest. Global Warming is a modern plague of FACT not of discussion. The lie that the issue was even up for debate was born of propaganda created by Big Business in the 1990s. While all decision makers today agree that huge consequences are in our future, the jury is still out about what form they will take and why.

A brand-spanking-new hypothesis has arrived on the scene with a dismal outcome and a very serious warning. Many outspoken activists – Al Gore being perhaps the most famous – are calling for the world to wake up and take immediate measures to slow and reverse global warming. One reason why a change is so important NOW, is not only because we need to stop our evil ways, but because if global warming is not held in check soon, it may be completely out of our control to stop at all.

This phenomenon is dubbed Runaway Global Warming – where natural forces have been altered so much that even if human factors were diminished or reversed, the natural cycle that has been created would keep the temperatures rising.

The newest theory behind Runaway Warming is the ‘hydrate hypothesis’. We warn that this theory is merely weeks old and has not gone through rigorous testing as of yet, but the consequences it foresees are so dire, one must contemplate its possibility.

The ‘hydrate hypothesis’ works like one dismal feedback loop. In the arctic Northern Hemisphere, great stretches of permafrost (that’s soil and organic material kept frozen by arctic temperatures) exist that contain billions of tons of semi-decomposed organic material, water, gases, and organisms. These reserves of frozen material, called hydrates, house greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. If these layers of permafrost were to defrost (as they have already begun to do in Alaska and western Siberia), vast majorities, perhaps 100s of billions of tons, of methane gas (which is 20 times as strong as CO2) would be released into the atmosphere, further intensifying the warming process.

It gets worse. The methane that is released by slowly melting permafrost will exasperate the cycle by raising local temperatures, thereby hastening the defrosting process.

It gets even worse. As the permafrost thaws, not only does methane get released, but all the organic material that was frozen will become active again. This huge amount of material, such as the peat bogs of Siberia, is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. As the bacteria digest the rich material, they further give off more greenhouse gases as a byproduct into the atmosphere.

It gets much, much worse. Methane has a very short lifespan in the atmosphere. Most decomposes in about ten years, mixing with oxygen and turning into even larger amounts of carbon dioxide, which lasts for tens of thousands of years. However, just like many chemical reactions, this oxidation gives off energy in the form of heat. Not only will we have to contend with the heat pouring in from solar sources, but we will actually be cooking ourselves within our own atmosphere.

The consequences of this cycle are endless. Loss of crops, melting ice caps, increased temperatures, more dramatic weather, droughts, and famine, just to name a few. These will lead directly to starvation, disease, and war. And it could happen in the next quarter century.

The real warning that the hypothesis offers is this: Once we reach a certain point in the cycle, there is no technology, no amount of commitment, no government regulation that can turn back the clock.

The time is now. Find out how to make your life emissions free and other ways to actively fight against the ultimate crisis of mankind at


Monday, January 08, 2007

Ask and You Shall Receive

One of the ongoing questions in our little real estate quest is how much the Internet is impacting the industry, and how? Well, we received an emphatic answer this weekend with the announcement that online e-commerce have surpassed the $100 billion mark in 2006 for the first time ever. This is an incredible 24% jump from online sales in 2005.

So the million-dollar (or should I say 100 billion-dollar) question is, why? The explosion of available information may shed some light. With big name players and small-guys-turned-moguls flooding the web with profitable information, the floodgates are beginning to open. More buyers and sellers are doing their research online, rather than through professionals, than ever before. Recent polls show that 77% of homebuyers first view and search for home listings online before even contacting an agent. Would it be safe to say that at least half of those actually stay online the whole process through, finding it easier to research, buy, and close online without have to shell out big cuts to agents? I would say that’s a good possibility.

The possibility of saving money, time, and effort is quite a tempting idea.

Of course, the skeptics will point to other figures. To put numbers in perspective, the real estate industry was an $18 trillion dollar market last year? That mind-boggling number makes $100 billion look like a drop in a bucket, that is just for ecommerce for now. Many of those old-timers will say the iMLS is nothing but a niche market, a fleeting fad that will go the way of the eight-track or beeper.

Smart businessmen see it another way. I, for one, foresee the possibility of HUGE increases in the share of the industry that will be driven through the Internet. This rise in Internet transactions over the past year may be just the beginning of an avalanche. Another number that points this direction: last year agents, brokers, and seller bought $3.2 billion worth of real estate technology, software, and Internet services. This bodes well for us at MyTypes, but also shows that a new breed of agent is becoming more and more dedicated to the evolving face of real estate industry in the digital world. First and foremost, we are here to help consumers, while helping real estate agents, well the ethcial ones any ways, with real estate idx solutions, real estate websites, and real estate marketing. A little self promotion never hurts anyone, and our success is only to make others envy:-)

Learn more about our real estate website idx, real estate marketing tools, and real estate idx website at our Seattle Washington Real Estate website and