Friday, June 27, 2008

USA Today features Benzie County

The national spotlight shines on the smallest county in Michigan. Got to love it!

Link to USA Today story

That's it for now. Greatest opportunity to buy in this area in a very long time... right now, but it won't last forever.

Monday, June 23, 2008

101st Congressional Candidate Forum

Michigan's 101st Congressional District is takes up a big stretch of Lake Michigan Coastline. Stretching from the Mason County line at Bass Lake well south of Ludington through Manistee and Benzie Counties and on to Leelanau County, it's an impressive chunk of Michigan's Gold Coast. In addition to coastline and lakefront towns, cities and villages, the 101st also makes up a large portion of Michigan's prime orchard and vineyard lands.

This year, the 101st district is up for grabs, as Rep. Dave Palsrok of Manistee is term limited. In the running are four Republicans and one Democrat. All the candidates recently met in Manistee for a forum that was aired on and recorded by Interlochen Public Radio and sponsored by the Manistee League of Women Voters.

While I've been as engaged in this race than any other race in the past, I'm still undecided. A good blogger would take a stance here, but I just can't, and not because I'm scared to stick my neck out. I'm just not moved to jump on board with any of them. Am I becoming jaded?

It was interesting to hear a candidate mention a REALTORs specifically in one of his answers, and reassuring to know our message is being heard, and in this case repeated. It's that kind of issues based politics that I can get behind. Supporting causes and policies is so much more interesting that arguing ideology to me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

US Real Estate and the Global Economy

Fast Company's Big Idea for June 9, 2008 was:

“The American housing bust has become responsible for a substantial portion of the world's problems. ” - Inspired by Mark Landler, New York Times.

My response:

"Housing is one factor that has us flirting with a bitter cycle of economic erosion. Is Housing the cause? I think more likely it's a symptom of the rampant consumerism and lack of thrift among Americans in general (including this American in particular) over the past decade(s). I think the quote stopped at least one step short of identifying anything that can be considered a cause.
Remember that real estate is a local phenomenon. We're a long, long way from global collapse of real estate markets. If folks were buying homes in the late 70's/early 80's when gas was scarce and mortgage rates were 18%, I think we can find our way through the current mess, where gas is still available, however expensive, and rates are hovering around 6%.
The silver lining here is that houses are becoming more affordable, not less, and pressure will continue to make our housing more efficient."

I'll note that I should have said our choices in housing more efficient, meaning that where and how we live will be affected, and what we view as necessities will be pared down.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Two old dudes and a magazine.

What do a hip, techy business magazine like Fast Company and a 100 year old bastion of the real estate industry like Coldwell Banker have in common? Innovation, a bit of cheeky humor, and my attention.

I began recieving Fast Company this past fall as part of a gift package for being selected to the 40 under 40 by Traverse Business News. Since then I've found myself looking forward to each issue. I don't know if the other winners enjoy it as much as I do, but it's my new favorite mag, and gets read from cover to cover (something I can't say for Rolling Stone.) If I can ever find the time, I'll be delving deeper into their website.

Why Coldwell Banker? Well, of course I work for Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors, one of their larger brokers. But what has my attention is their new "Founders" marketing campaign. The ads are entertaining while driving their message to the customer, but the best part is not the ads. It's the website. At the dedicated site you can challenge a smack talking Colbert Coldwell (well, his portait anyhow) to a game of Pong, have a staring contest with Arthur Banker, and follow the portraits on their road trip. Yes, the portraits actually have been out traveling the country, including visits to the Boston Marathon and the Liberty Bell, and they are blogging about it.

What's this got to do with real estate? Nothing and everything. Sure, you can learn the history of Coldwell Banker on the site, and link through to search listings, but what it's all about is relationships. This campaign makes a big national company personal and approachable, and drives our name recognition. Did I mention that the portraits of Colbert Coldwell and Arthur Banker are on facebook? It's a great example of using technology not to get more work done or to advertise a product, but to focus on the basics of this business. And that is that real estate is about building relationships.