Foreclosure film “American Winter” to be screened in the Pacific Northwest

snow

The foreclosure film “American Winter” is coming to Tacoma, where foreclosure is two times Washington state’s average rate. Tickets are free and the film will be shown at the Grand Cinema October 24, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM.

The event is sponsored by the Pierce County Foreclosure Prevention Roundtable, which is a collaborative group of foreclosure prevention service providers and allies working in Pierce County to prevent foreclosure and help the community deal with its effects.

The film is directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Joe and Harry Gantz (Taxicab Confessions, The Defenders), and it follows the personal stories of eight families struggling in the wake of the economic downturn. Shot over the winter of 2011-12 in Portland, Oregon, this powerful film reveals the human impact of budget cuts to social services, rising poverty and economic inequality, and the fracturing of the American Dream.

Free Tickets for this event at Event Brite

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Japanese Rooms for Rent: Weigh Less, Pay Less

scale

Rental rates for shared houses are usually determined by location and the number of rooms. But at one shared property in Osaka, Japan, the monthly cost has nothing to do with the size of the structure. It’s all about the size of the resident.

Weigh Less, Pay Less from MSN

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Bank forecloses on wrong home — again

Empty House

How often have we heard this story before? The bank forecloses on the wrong home and takes all the owners belongs out of the house by mistake. A sad reality is that this is probably a civil matter and not a criminal one, so the poor lady can’t just call the police, she’s going to have to get a lawyer and sue.

Ohio bank forecloses on wrong home – Huffington Post

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Seattle NW Multiple Listing Service announces new forms platform and document storing service

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the MLS used by almost all of the real estate brokers in Seattle and Washington State, announced an agreement today with Instanet Solutions to provide a new forms platform and document storage system for NWMLS members and subscribers. This new core service will include online forms, document management, cloud storage for real estate documents, electronic signatures, and fax to email services. NWMLS is in the early stages of the implementation process and expects the new service to be available to all members and subscribers in the first quarter of 2014. NWMLS will continue to offer the Xpress Forms service as a secondary forms platform.

Brokers who use “Authentisign”, a service already included in the NWMLS package, probably store their documents online there, but this is just another tool to make the truly “paperless transaction”.

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Did someone die in your house?

Coffin in the living room

A new website called “Died in House” has launched with over 118 million death records and purports to searche millions of records to determine if a death has occurred at that location.

Because it is not a standard practice to document the address of a death, The DiedinHouse.com report also includes previous residents and their vitality status. .
It’s not standard practice to document deaths in the home as the older the home, the older the home, the more likely someone died there. At the turn of the 20th Century, most people DID die at home, though now that figure is estimated to be between 20-30%. So is the average buyer ready to cross off 20-30% of the housing market off their list just because someone passed away there once? We’re not talking about a murder or a suicide, we’re talking about old-age deaths here too.

Anyway, if you’re curious, visit DiedinHouse.com

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NWMLS Mobile App unveiled today

The new NWMLS Mobile App allows brokers to quickly navigate Matrix using iPad, iPhone and Android devices, an option that was not available with the regular website. The App is fully integrated with a brokers Matrix account, including access to saved searches, contacts, carts. Search for listings using a favorite search, or use the mobile device’s GPS to search for listings around your location. The App is available for $3.50 a month plus tax.

This is a welcome upgrade to NWMLS offerings and will be helpful out in the field with buyers on the go.

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Seattle Realtors: Jumpstart your business at the Inman Reboot

Looking for some inspiration for the new year? Don’t become a dinosaur — learn what all the cool kids are doing in real estate for the new millennium at the Inman Agent Reboot seminar on Wednesday, March 28th at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

Yeah, you’ve got to cross the bridge to Bellevue, but it will be worth it.

You may already use Twitter, FB and other social media, but are you seeing results? Join Katie Lance, Social Media Director & Contributing Editor and Chris Smith, Chief Evangelist, & Contributing Editor, plus other exciting speakers and hear about the latest tech trends and what you can do to jump-start your business in 2012.

Tickets still available at the Inman Agent Reboot website.

Want more information? Make sure you listen to this live interview on Monday, March 26th, of Katie Lance by the Bellevue Business Journal on Spreecast.

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Ruminations on The Scab: RIP Jack London

Every year on November 22nd, I like to pause and reflect about the body of work from writer and rabble-rouser Jack London. Jack London, who died today in 1916, was most famous for writing “The Call of the Wild”, but he was also a brilliant union organizer and author of “The Scab”.

What is a scab? Simply, a person who purports to do the same amount of work as another person, but for less money. According to Jack London, anyone who undercuts another person, as far as wages or compensation for labor, may be considered a “scab”.

In the real world, a scab would be someone who either crosses a picket line to work or someone who agrees to do the same work for less money. “Scab” is also used to refer to workers who cave too easily to concessions or someone who offers their services for less money specifically to undercut a competitor. (In labor terms, what is a scab?)

It’s a good old-fashioned term with a rich history and those who choose to go through life participating in scabby behavoir should embrace the term and own it. Those who undervalue themselves and their labor, who choose to undercut their fellow workers, who give rebates and price cuts, you sir, are a scab.

Writes London:

In a competitive society, where men struggle with one another for food and shelter, what is more natural than that generosity, when it diminishes the food and shelter of men other than he who is generous, should be held an accursed thing? Wise old saws to the contrary, he who takes from a man’s purse takes from his existence. To strike at a man’s food and shelter is to strike at his life; and in a society organized on a tooth-and-nail basis, such an act, performed though it may be under the guise of generosity, is none the less menacing and terrible.

It is for this reason that a laborer is so fiercely hostile to another laborer who offers to work for less pay or longer hours. To hold his place, (which is to live), he must offset this offer by another equally liberal, which is equivalent to giving away somewhat from the food and shelter he enjoys. To sell his day’s work for $2, instead of $2.50, means that he, his wife, and his children will not have so good a roof over their heads, so warm clothes on their backs, so substantial food in their stomachs. Meat will be bought less frequently and it will be tougher and less nutritious, stout new shoes will go less often on the children’s feet, and disease and death will be more imminent in a cheaper house and neighborhood.

Thus the generous laborer, giving more of a day’s work for less return (measured in terms of food and shelter), threatens the life of his less generous brother laborer, and at the best, if he does not destroy that life, he diminishes it. Whereupon the less generous laborer looks upon him as an enemy, and, as men are inclined to do in a tooth-and-nail society, he tries to kill the man who is trying to kill him.

Before someone writes in complaining that this definition of a “Scab” is defamatory, consider the following:

After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue.

This passage figured in a 1974 Supreme Court case, in which justice Thurgood Marshall quoted the passage in full and referred to it as “a well-known piece of trade union literature, generally attributed to author Jack London.” A union newsletter had published a “list of scabs,” which was granted to be factual and therefore not libellous, but then went on to quote the passage as the “definition of a scab.” The case turned on the question of whether the “definition” was defamatory. The court ruled that “Jack London’s… ‘definition of a scab’ is merely rhetorical hyperbole, a lusty and imaginative expression of the contempt felt by union members towards those who refuse to join,” and as such was not libellous and was protected under the First Amendment.

Jack London wrote The Scab in 1903 and died in 1916 at the age of 40…..

How Labor Scabs Work

Labor Unions in the U.S.

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Redfin’s Glenn Kelman makes about-face regarding paid advertising

A few weeks ago, prior to the announcement of another $14M cash infusion, Redfin’s Glenn Kelman said “If Redfin has to pay a media site for traffic, we will not be able to make real estate better.”

Just a few months before that, he spoke again about not buying advertising: “The only ads we’ll pay for are the ones we show to millions of people on our own site, for free.”

But in a dramatic about-face, Redfin has begun buying advertising again, this time paying for such key words as “Seattle Real Estate” and apparently appropriating the name of my own business “Seattle Dream Homes” in an advertising campaign using Google Adwords.

What is the cause of this sudden advertising campaign and why the likely appropriation and use of a tiny competetors exact business name?

As the Business Journal points out, Redfin is not in the top 10 of most-visited real estate sites, which gives them perhaps a 1% market share.

They recently accepted another $14M, even though in interviews Kelman claims Redfin is profitable and doesn’t need it.

Zip Realty recently converted their employees to independent contractors and also discontinued making rebates to buyers. If Zip couldn’t make it, how could Redfin, with their 100’s of employees and 50% commission rebate? With that kind of business plan, they need to make up the refund with volume, which could explain the sudden backtracking on advertising.

Interesting enough, they don’t seem to be advertising in every city, just Seattle. I suspect that is because Seattle remains their cash cow and the media here is particularly friendly to them. A certain tech writer reports every burp and fart and that continues to give the company free publicity. They also seem to have the most employees located in Seattle and they seem to be very top-heavy in administration and technical support here, and they are advertising for dozens of new jobs in the Seattle area.

It’s interesting that Redfin appears so desperate as to try to siphon off my customers using the exact name of my business in their Google Adwords. Could this really be the business plan of a successful and profitable company with 100′s of employees and millions of dollars, to try to skim business from one little tiny real estate broker? Wow.

Update: It was pointed out to me that one gets similar results when one searches for Seattle discount brokerage “Findwell

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Seattle buyer featured on HGTV’s House Hunters tonight at 11pm

An episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters” featuring Seattle resident Valerie Sloane and her friend Mary Jo Reynolds will air Monday, November 7th at 11pm, and again later at 2am.

I played the real estate broker. It was a stretch, but I made it work.

You’ve probably seen House Hunters before where the premise of the show is a buyer decides to make a home purchase and then the agent “presents” 3 homes to choose from. By the end of the 30 minute show, the buyer decides which home to buy.

Valerie was renting a house in West Seattle and realized she wanted to move closer to the city and she was ready to be a homeowner. I showed her homes in the Central District, Seward Park, Mt. Baker, Madrona and Capitol Hill.

The HGTV producers try to create some drama about what the buyer will decide and even show the buyer and her friend making the big decision. However, it’s all faux, as the buyer has already bought and closed on the house by that time! That’s why some of the shows look like the buyers and the agent are acting. Because they ARE!

In real life, I took Val to look at dozens of homes, she bought one and then they went back and “re-enacted” the home search for the film crew.

Then, after Valerie moved in to the new home and fixed it up, the film crew came back and filmed an “after” segment to show how cute her new home is.

The buyer, Valerie Sloane, is a private tutor, but the family she works for did not want their children on the show, so my son Sam David, a student at St. Joseph’s School in Seattle, was the stand-in stunt double.

Don’t have cable? You can watch the House Hunters episode from the comfort of your computer screen HERE.

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Foreclosure lawyers dress as foreclosure victims and homeless for Halloween

The law offices of Steven J. Baum, a firm that specializes in foreclosures and is under investigation by the NY Attorney Generals office, had a Halloween party and the New York Times has published a series of photos that shows the costumes: people dressed as the new homeless. Wow.

What the Costumes Reveal in New York Times by Joe Nocera

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New “Scouting Report” from Redfin

Earlier this week, Redfin announced a new feature on their website, the Scouting Report, where one can look up any agent by name, including Redfin agents, partner agents, and agents who are not associated with Redfin, and see their home sales and listings back to 2008.

Though this sounds like a good thing, Redfin routinely manipulates these figures for their own benefit and I’m guessing will continue to do so. If they did not believe that the Scouting Report will help them in their goal of market dominance, this feature would not be rolled out.

One will often see their agent stats touted on their websites and sent out in press releases “Seven Redfin Agents in the Top Ten in King County” or “Five Redfin Agents Rank in the Top 10 Boston Area Buyers Agents”, and this looks impressive.

The statistics are presented as accomplishments of individual agents, and if that were true, would indeed be notable. But is it accurate?

From their website and articles published online, we are informed that the company uses “field agents” to show homes. The Redfin agents who negotiate the deals do not ever visit the home they have sold. Is this good representation? Yet, these transactions are counted as sales for that agent.

Redfin agents who write up the deals have field agents to show the homes and transaction coordinators to track the sale, and other employees to arrange the inspections and reinspections, order title, open escrow, collect and deposit earnest money checks and the countless other tasks associated with a real estate sale. Yet this one agent is listed as the “sales agent” for the transaction. Is this really an accurate representation?

Aren’t we really comparing apples to oranges?

Most traditional real estate agents would do all of the tasks associated with a sale. They would preview all homes in a buyers selected price range and neighborhood (which is not typically what a Redfin agent does.) They would then show the most promising homes themselves, to the buyer. Again, Redfin agents don’t do this, they only show homes upon specific request.

When a traditional agent and buyer locate a home, that agent then draws up a contract. At Redfin, the buyer is passed off to a 2nd agent, one who has not seen the subject property, and that person prepares the contract and negotiates the sale. A 3rd agent might arrange for the inspection, and other agents and administrative people may do other tasks associated with the sale.

In a recent Redfin transaction I was involved in, 4 different agents accessed the property on behalf of one buyer, but none of those agents were the one who finally wrote up the deal. Yet that sale was attributed to the agent who wrote up the transaction, not the agent who showed the house.

How then is this an accurate accounting of that particular agent’s sales?

Doesn’t this mislead the consumer into thinking that their individual Redfin agent is more successful than they are? I think it does.

And ultimately, this Scouting Report has the power to do the same thing. It will compare traditional agents with the Redfin office staff agents who get all the credit for a sale, but who actually share that accomplishment with a dozen other support and administrative personnel.

For all their talk of transparency, Redfin should take their own advice instead of continuing to manipulate statistics for their own marketing purposes.


Redfin releases Scouting Report, the most disruptive online real estate play in years
(1000 Watt Consulting)

Redfin hits roadblocks with real estate agent ‘Scouting Report
(Geek Wire)

Initial Thoughts on the Redfin Scouting Report (Phoenix Real Estate Guy)

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