Reflections on this weekend

This weekend I had the opportunity to meet with two different buyers, both of whom are going to be Medical Residents at UVA, and I hope I listened well.

1) “Your blog is very helpful – more-so than your website.” While somewhat difficult to hear, this reflects the changing dynamics of how people search for homes. Buyers and sellers can search for homes anywhere; finding the information interpreted in a cogent way seems to be more challenging to find.

2) Email cannot replace interviewing Buyer’s Agents face-to-face  – but having a blog can help, as that Buyer has the opportunity to learn more about who that agent is.

3) I have a new project – a flow chart depicting the various steps of the home-buying process.

4) People notice when you listen and take notes (which I do).

5) When I am meeting with Buyers or Sellers, I look at the initial meeting as a job interview, and I hope that they do too. Not taking anything for granted – ever – is crucial to success.

As a side-note, Jott has been an excellent addition to my business. Now I don’t have an excuse for not “jotting down” ideas or meetings – now I just have to implement these ideas.

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  1. Michael Wurzer April 16, 2007 at 10:49

    Jim, do you think there is a way to combine a blog and search? I just posted on the FBS Blog about some design decisions we’re making right now for our MLS software, and the blurring between the public and private side of MLS systems is a key issue. We see the two merging and I’m wondering if you feel the same way. Or is it simply easier to keep them separate?

  2. Jim Duncan April 16, 2007 at 11:03

    Michael – first, thank you for visiting and commenting. I read your blog daily and admire your insights and your writing. I am going to print out your post, read, analyze and respond later. Your question really is the question.

  3. Michael Wurzer April 16, 2007 at 14:17

    Thanks, Jim. The post referenced in my comment doesn’t go in depth on the question of public/private blurring in MLS systems, so I’m not sure it will provide the kind of background the question deserves. Here are some further thoughts and questions:

    1. Listings are important content, but they’re very specific or, to be buzz worthy, long tail. Blogs are more general. I’ve seen very few blogs engage with listings in a way that’s interesting. Rather, the successful blogs present overviews (statistical or descriptive) of listing activity and communities. Is there a way to blend/link such summaries into search or as a lead-in to search?

    2. For example, would it be useful to include a link from listings to blog posts and vice versa? For example, perhaps the MLS system could provide an easy way to link search results for specific areas in posts. If you’re blogging about a specific community in or around Charlottesville, you could link to the active or sold listings for that area. Or would a link to some statistics for that area be better? I suppose it depends on the context. At the same time, would it be useful to provide the opportunity to “tag” a listing with a blog post or series of blog posts?

    3. Who defines the relevant area? I think this may be the most interesting issue of all. MLS systems generally have “areas” and “sub-areas” defined that are more specific than zip code or city or even subdivision. While these MLS areas often do a better job of isolating relevant communities, none of these actually do a great job of defining the individuality of specific areas, which can often differ dramatically in just a few blocks. With the innovations from Google and others in annotating maps, it might be interesting to see what would happen if agents or customers were able to define their own areas and have those be saved and shared with others. These “areas” could then be a way for agents to interface blogs with the MLS database through tags

    4. Or is this a good example of Occam’s razor where simpler is better and blogs and the MLS should stay separate? Zillow and some others are creating some opportunities for this, but they do not have the depth of data of the MLS and eventually will become complicated environments for competitors given the advertising model. It seems like there’s an opportunity here to do more with the advertising-free MLS system for bloggers and so I’m excited for this discussion.

  4. Michael Wurzer April 16, 2007 at 15:45

    Jim, I’ve been browsing through Brilliant. I love the community map. Have many asked for the username/password to help edit it? I think this would be cool to integrate that community data back into the MLS system. Solid Earth does a nice job of allowing you to integrate saved searches into the site. I agree with your assessment that there is a fine line between effective blogs, especially a community blog, and advertising of listings. You seem to have struck a good balance by including searching on your blog but sort of “off to the side.”

    P.S. I just heard about the shootings in Blacksburg. Horrible. My thoughts are with everyone there.

  5. Jim Duncan April 16, 2007 at 20:19

    Michael –

    Still working on the MLS response, but I wanted to thank you for the kind words about I have actually been working on a story about that site. I have had several requests for the login information, believe it has been shared a few times, and was very lucky to have had one person add about 30 locations.

  6. Jalane Schmidt April 17, 2007 at 10:30

    Long-time reader, first-time poster. Your blog is very helpful, Jim. I am a buyer who just bought a home in C-ville, and your blog helped us learn the lay of the land, providing the “interpretive” piece for the reams of data that are available. For what it’s worth, your blog has more credibility being separate from MLS. You’ve got a hyper-link that folks can consult MLS or your website if they want to.

  7. Jim Duncan April 17, 2007 at 11:26

    Jalane –

    Thank you so much for your comment. I truly appreciate your remarks and feedback, especially the note about the credibility.

    One question from a market research point of view – did you find my blog before or after you started searching, and if before, why did you not contact me? (I am asking purely from an analytical perspective)


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