March 2009 Archives

Dina ElBoghdady:

David H. Stevens, president of Long & Foster, the Washington real estate firm, is expected to be selected tomorrow to run the Federal Housing Administration.

Though the Obama administration declined to confirm the appointment today, sources said Stevens has been undergoing the required background checks. These sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not have the administration's permission to speak publicly.

If confirmed by Congress, Stevens would be the only FHA commissioner in recent years with a strong background in single-family home mortgages. After more than two decades in the financial services industry, Stevens has overseen every aspect of home financing, from originating mortgages to selling them on the secondary market. That experience appealed to the administration, the sources said.

James Hagerty & Ruth Simon:
The Obama administration is expected to appoint David Stevens, a veteran mortgage executive, as head of the Federal Housing Administration at a time when that agency is taking a critical role in the ailing U.S. home mortgage market, according to people familiar with the plan.

Melanie Roussell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which includes the FHA, declined to comment. The planned appointment was first reported Sunday evening by the Washington Post.

The FHA insures mortgage lenders against the risk of defaults on home mortgages and specializes in loans for people who can't afford sizable down payments. FHA-insured loans are available on loans with down payments as small as 3.5% of the home's value.

Because private mortgage insurers have raised their prices and shied away from riskier types of coverage amid huge losses, the FHA is taking on a huge share of the risk in the mortgage market. Its share of the U.S. mortgage market soared to nearly a third of loans originated in last year's fourth quarter from about 2% in 2006 as a whole, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication.

Buy a House, Get a Visa?

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Richard Lefrak & Gary Shilling:

The Obama administration should seriously consider granting resident status to foreigners who buy surplus houses in this country. This makes more sense than the president's $275 billion housing bailout plan, which Americans greeted with a Bronx cheer.

The federal bailout forces taxpayers to subsidize overextended homeowners who bet on ever-rising house prices and used their abodes as ATMs, and it doesn't get to the basic problem -- the huge inventory of excess houses. We estimate that 2.4 million houses over and above normal working inventories are left over from the 1996-2005 housing bubble. That's a lot, considering the long-term average annual construction of 1.5 million single- and multi-family units.

Excess inventory is the mortal enemy of house prices, which have already fallen 27% since the peak in early 2006. We predict another 14% drop through the end of 2010 if nothing is done to eliminate the surplus.

Doing nothing to eliminate the excess inventory might well push the recession through 2010 and into a depression. Declining home values, for example, are eliminating the home equity that has funded oversized consumer spending for years.

Via Alex Tabarrok.

Video: Henny Sender @ Financial Times. This three part interview includes discussions on:

Apollo Management owns Realogy, parent of NRT, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA and Sothebys. Apollo has taken Realogy and its predecessors public and private a number of times over the years.

Average Time Spent on Facebook: January, 2009

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Nielsen via the New York Times.

Jay Deragon has more on the "price of ignorance":

The irony is that if you build solid relations, provide never ending value. make relational decisions rather than result decision etc etc....the end results are economic gains. However the process requires faith in relationships rather than pursuit of the end result. Get it? You Better or you'll loose. The price of ignorance is not having healthy relations. One other thing. Ignorance spreads fast on the social web. Try and survive alone.
Related: Social Networking Tools from Virtual Properties.

comScore:

The number of people using their mobile device to access news and information on the Internet more than doubled from January 2008 to January 2009. Among the audience of 63.2 million people who accessed news and information on their mobile devices in January 2009, 22.4 million (35 percent) did so daily; more than double the size of the audience last year.

Social Networking Tools

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This short video summarizes the many ready to go, real time tools Virtual Properties customers have for their social network marketing initiatives.

Getting Started
I would start your social networking initiative by implementing a Main Street company blog. Frequently update your blog with market information, links (including short listing, agent site and vanity addresses), media, recruiting opportunities, enewsletters and concierge/finance suggestions. A well run (and frequently updated) blog provides a significant amount of internet material for your social network marketing. Agents and staff can quickly post links to your site/blog and, over time, grow traffic and leads to your business. Remember, all links and traffic should arrive at your services, agents and listings, not a third party site.

This blog also provides the material for periodic eNewsletters automatically published by Main Street's powerful Customer Relationship Management (CRM)/weblead system.

I have posted a number of useful articles on social networking sites below. Good selling and please contact us with questions at 877 901 9601 or via email zellmer@virtualproperties.com

Useful links for your consideration:

  • Generations Online in 2009 by Sydney Jones & Susanna Fox:
    Over half of the adult internet population is between 18 and 44 years old. But larger percentages of older generations are online now than in the past, and they are doing more activities online, according to surveys taken from 2006-2008.

    Contrary to the image of Generation Y as the "Net Generation," internet users in their 20s do not dominate every aspect of online life. Generation X is the most likely group to bank, shop, and look for health information online. Boomers are just as likely as Generation Y to make travel reservations online. And even Silent Generation internet users are competitive when it comes to email (although teens might point out that this is proof that email is for old people).

  • Adults & Social Network Sites by Amanda Lenhart:
    The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years -- from 8% in 2005 to 35% now, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project's December 2008 tracking survey.

    While media coverage and policy attention focus heavily on how children and young adults use social network sites, adults still make up the bulk of the users of these websites. Adults make up a larger portion of the US population than teens, which is why the 35% number represents a larger number of users than the 65% of online teens who also use online social networks.

    Still, younger online adults are much more likely than their older counterparts to use social networks, with 75% of adults 18-24 using these networks, compared to just 7% of adults 65 and older. At its core, use of online social networks is still a phenomenon of the young.

    Overall, personal use of social networks seems to be more prevalent than professional use of networks, both in the orientation of the networks that adults choose to use as well as the reasons they give for using the applications. Most adults, like teens, are using online social networks to connect with people they already know.

  • When Everyone's a Friend, Is Anything Private by Randall Stross [Facebook NYT Profile]
  • How Sticky Is Membership on Facebook? Just Try Breaking Free by Maria Aspan
  • Facebook's Users Ask Who Owns Information by Brian Stelter
  • At Social Site, Only the Businesslike Need Apply by Brad Stone
  • Primates on Facebook
  • The Rise of the Social Nervous System by Joshua-Michele Ross
  • How to Twitter by Julia Angwin
  • "What we are building now is the nervous system of mankind, which will link together the whole human race, for better or worse, in a unity which no earlier age could have imagined."

    - Arthur C. Clarke, "The Social Consequences of Communications Satellites," paper presented at the 12th International Astronautical Congress, Washington, DC, 1961, and published in Arthur C. Clarke, Voices from the Sky: Previews of the Coming Space Age (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), p. 139.

  • Be it Twittering or Blogging, It's all About Marketing by Jan Rosen:
    He rebranded the shop, which was founded by his father, Sasha Vaynerchuk, a Russian immigrant, in Springfield, N.J., as the Wine Library and began online sales in 1997, when he was still in college. Since then he has steadily advanced his Internet-based marketing skills. His sites are tv.winelibrary.com, where his daily webcast, "The Thunder Show," has won a wide following, and garyvaynerchuk.com.

    Last December, seeking to enhance sales, he offered free shipping and promoted it three ways. As a result, he said, a direct marketing mailing cost $15,000 and brought in 200 new customers; a billboard ad cost $7,500 and won 300 new customers; and tweeting the promotion on Twitter attracted 1,800 new customers. No wonder he loves the online approach and is in demand as a consultant by businesses as large as Disney and as small as neighborhood hardware stores.

Finally, it is important to remember that while 35% of American adults have a social network profile, the majority (65%) should be part of your marketing strategy. MySpace was the "place to be" a few years ago....

Doonesbury has been running an excellent spoof on the folly of some of these things, starting March 2 to the 7, 2009 and March 9 to the 14th. Well worth reading.

UPDATE: Are There Any Social Media Risks?

An Interesting Interview: Ford CEO Alan Mulally

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Keith Johnson:

Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan Mulally is apparently willing to go to great lengths to win back customers for the auto maker.

Speaking at the WSJ ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara, Calif., Mr. Mulally said Ford has made great improvements in quality, and acknowledged the company hadn't always produced the best cars in the past.

When a member of the audience said he hadn't owned a Ford since the Pinto was in fashion, and wondered what the company was doing to win back this "lost generation," Mr. Mulally made an immediate offer: "I'll meet you in your room later."

As laughter rippled through the audience, Mr. Mulally himself smiled and chuckled at the double meaning of the remark.

"We really have lost a generation," he said, turning back to the issue at hand. In the past, Ford "did not have a consistency of purpose," he said, but is now committed to producing vehicles that are "best in class."

He reiterated that Ford's mix of vehicles will do a 180 in coming years, with light cars--rather than trucks and SUVs-representing two-thirds of the automaker's lineup, as rising energy prices make fuel-efficient cars a priority for consumers.

Visualization of the Credit Crisis

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