Category: Seattle Real Estate

By nerds, for nerds?


As a preview of what goes on at Bloodhound Unchained, Greg Swann and Brian Brady came to Seattle last week to lead a 1/2 day seminar at the Zillow headquarters in Downtown Seattle.

Blogging, social media, search and Real Estate 2.0 was discussed in earnest, and the day wrapped up with Mr. Swann and Glenn Kelman debating whether or not VC-backed real estate firms are going to eliminate the Mom-and-Pop real estate brokerage.

I don’t think they actually resolved this question, but Kelman’s musings on his business plan and the profile he presented of his current and future customer was interesting. (You can view the video here.)

Kelman said that he doesn’t expect to get all the real estate buyers out there, but a certain kind of buyer would be attracted to his business model. Typically those buyers would be techies, perhaps even described as nerds. He even told of a story about one of his employees wondering aloud why their clients were all so weird!


He recounts the story of the purchase of his first home. He said he was annoyed because the sales agent wanted to be his “friend” when all he wanted was to be shown houses that fit his criteria. He was especially annoyed when the agent wanted to take him to dinner. Kelman would have been just as happy to stay home and get the money instead. He guesses that there are other anti-social buyers out there that don’t want a personal relationship and would prefer to communicate via email and text message and avoid actual human contact as much as possible. For this person, Redfin was created.

Under discussion for several years now has been the observation that a great many people employed in the IT industry share some of the same traits as those described as having autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. Many seem to lack basic social and motor skills, seem unable to decode body language and sense the feelings of others, avoid eye contact, and frequently launch into monologues about narrowly defined – and often highly technical – interests. They often want to avoid interaction with other humans and prefer numbers and logic to emotion and human interactions.

(Video from Wired)

Aside from some usual suspects from history (Isaac Newton, Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein) and fictional pop culture (Mr. Spock, Mr. Bean, Sherlock Holmes), the name that most often comes up when discussing Asperger’s is that of the Master Geek himself, Bill Gates. (I doubt, however, that a true Asperger’s individual could ever endure the social requirements of Gates’ public life.)

I was wondering how I was going to work this photo into a blog post...
I was wondering how I was going to work this photo into a blog post...

After listening to Kelman discuss how Redfin was created and who it was created for, there appears to be a definite link between their creators, their customers and the range of the autism/Asperger’s Syndrome.

What I’ve noticed with my business and the type of client I do best with, are those who buy for emotional reasons. They rarely ask about statistics or the market, they just seem interested in how the house makes them “feel” and in envisioning their future home full of love, family and happy moments and memories. This seems to be completely opposite with a Redfin-style of buyer. Redfin’s individual city blogs have been converted from chatty commentary about homes and neighborhoods to columns full of dry statistics, mathematical formulas, bar graphs, charts and numbers, compiled by nerds for nerds.

I thank God for nerds, as we’d probably still be living in caves without them. We certainly wouldn’t have modern engineering, automobiles, airplanes, skyscrapers or computers. But obviously, society needs those who “think” and those who “feel” to function fully and thinking about that dichotomy in this way makes me understand their business model much better.

Asperger’s and IT: Dark secret or open secret? from Computer World

Revenge of the Nerds from the Autistic Society

Napoleon Dynamite: Asperger’s Disorder or Geek NOS? from Academic Psychiatry

Lovely link assortment

Government may begin to subsidize at risk homeowners mortgage payements

-The plan under consideration would aim to reach borrowers before they fall behind on their payments.

Congress says no to the $15,000 buyer tax credit

-In a surprising reversal, lawmakers remove the needed incentive that was unanimously passed by the Senate. The first time home buyer credit is increased to $8,000.

Washington sees the largest drop in home sales in the nation in the 4th quarter

-A reminder to sellers that they need to ask themselves if they are prepared to do business in this market.

Retail sales unexpectedly rise in January

-Consumers begin to take advantage of lower prices and sales.

Inventory in some local areas indicating a sellers market?

Seattle real estate meet-ups

We’re all going to be sick of each other by the time this month is over:

1. Rain City Guide Meet Up at Crossroads in Bellevue on February 4th at 6:30 p.m. with Ardell, Rhonda and Jillayne.

2. Bloodhouse Unchained Preview Event where you can catch a preview of the marketing curriculum in Seattle on February 12th. It will be at Zillow HQ, 999 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA, on Thursday, February 12th from 1pm to 5pm. Scott Cowan is organizing the event with help from Drew Meyers and David Gibbons from Zillow. The grand finale will be a debate between CEO Glenn Kelman and BloodhoundBlog iconoclast Greg Swann, moderated by Brian Brady.

3. REBarCamp is a free One-Day Event where industry experts share freely with those who want to learn more about marketing and the business. The Seattle meetup is Friday, February 13, 2009 at 9:00am at the Zillow Corporate Headquarters, fancy penthouse-style offices at 999 3rd. Avenue, Floor 41 in downtown Seattle.

I am so in to carpooling (I’m on Capitol Hill), so let me know if you want to.

Chaos in Condo Land

Buyer makes an offer on a Paul Allen/Vulcan owned building.

Buyer used Paul Allen/Vulcan site agents and Paul Allen/Vulcan-recommended mortgage broker.

Chaos ensues.

Read the comments. Apparently, the wronged Buyer consulted a independent Realtor and was told not to sign the contract, but Buyer went around Realtor and used site agent to sign Paul Allen/Vulcan/owner/developers contract. Terms of the loan have changed and Buyer cannot complete and close sale and Paul Allen/Vulcan wants to retain the non-refundable earnest money.

Paul Allen & Vulcan are behind the redevelopment of South Lake Union in Seattle and major funders of money-losing brokerage “Redfin”.

#1 Do NOT use site agents to make your real estate purchases. Hire a Realtor or a lawyer, do not use the site agents.

#2 Make sure you have a Financing Contingency in your contract, so you can get your earnest money back if you are unable to get your loan.

#3 You may get a better deal with site mortgage brokers, but you may not. Shop around. Get references from your Realtor or lawyer.

#4 Think twice about buying anything UNBUILT. That’s a risk I would be unwilling to take.