Friday, December 29, 2006

The 'Hybrid' Realtor

There has been a lot of discussion lately in our Brokerage about the evolution of the Real Estate Agent in Chicago (or across the nation for that matter) Hybrid Realtor. Eric Rojas alluded to this in a previous post and I'm pretty sure our Broker/Owner Joe Pinto came up with the monicker during one of his many sleepless nights planning the future. Our agency is as much 'think tank' as it is Real Estate sales I believe, and this is one of the great freedoms associated with working in a boutique environment

My first experience with the traditional Real Estate process was on an out-of-state 'house hunting trip' in 1984 when I submitted an offer on a Baltimore rowhome for $84,000. I called the listing agent out of the Sunday paper and she agreed to meet me that afternoon at the property. She was a 'veteran' Realtor to be sure, and as she pulled up in her big fat Cadillac, dressed for church, fifteen minutes late and talking a mile a minute, I knew at once that I had already lost any little control I might ever have over the entire situation.

An hour later, trapped in her office (she insisted we take her car) I signed a full price contract. Less than 24 hours later I participated in my second and third Real Estate experiences--killing a deal (I'm certain the Realtor had a mini-stroke before my eyes) and then promptly submitting an offer on a similar rowhome in the same neighborhood for $10,000 less from a F.S.B.O. down the street. I ultimately backed out of that deal, as well---and it really goes without saying but I'll say it anyway; there were more than a handful of people that were hating me pretty badly by the end of that weekend, including my wife at the time and even myself on several different levels.

The thing is, the Realtor wouldn't let me look through her MLS book. I "wasn't allowed to," she scolded, clutching it tightly to her chest as if it were a purse and we were walking through an unlit alley. It's very funny now as I think back on the whole scenario. I was attempting to make the biggest purchase of my life from someone I hated, who apparently thought little of me as well and didn't even represent me. And then I took my newly found negotiating knowledge immediately into another deal where no one was represented and it ended just as poorly, if not worse because the second guy didn't want to give me my earnest money check back. I subconsiously blocked out the next seven years of my life I believe, so I'm not really sure how it all even ended except to say I did wind up buying and selling from an array of Realtors over the next 15 years until 'Corporate America' quit transferring me around the country and abandoned me in Chicago where I'm presently enjoying the best years of my life.

My point being, I learned exactly how I didn't want to be perceived as a Realtor. I've met a lot of them. Almost all of them are what my Broker would refer to as traditional agents. Traditional agents are fine...I just don't want to be one. They tend to approach the business the way it was shown to them and it's...well, traditional--mailers, reliance on print advertising and assistants, an unhealthy dependance on referrals, magnets at Christmas, a lot of 'in the box' sales talk, etc. I am fortunate to have entered the business at the same time Technology entered the business. So let me make a short list about how I view myself and aspire to be, a Hybrid Realtor. And again, this is just my take on the subject.

  • I traded my big fat S500 Benz for a Mini-Cooper after it literally cost me $100 to fill the tank with fuel. (I't's the coolest car {the Mini} I've ever owned and I've pretty much owned them all)

  • My wife, being the great supporter that she is, promptly traded her Jag convertible for an X3 BMW SAV a week later. The Jag was a hog as well.

  • I cancelled my Brooks Brothers credit card as there is nothing in the store that suits my fancy these days and while I still dress daily for work. think Italian--sans neckwear.

  • If I were informed tomorrow that I could never spend another cent on print advertising or 'mailers' I'd probably just smile.

  • If my connection to the internet gets interrupted, my PDA crashes, or my GPS navigation goes screwy in the suburbs, I immediately lose my mind---just kidding about the suburbs because I never go there although I hear it's quite nice.

  • I strive to have 80% of my business come from people I do not know and have never met because everyone I do know is either a Realtor, or becoming a Realtor, or dating/marrying into a family where someone (other than me) is a Realtor. Several of my past clients have even become Realtors. In other words, the future for me does not lie solely in referral business even though I still receive them on a monthly basis.

  • I do not need a personal assistant because the 'back-end' of our website is so powerful and advanced (in conjunction with my handheld devices and real time virtual access), it serves as my assistant.

  • No more clunky 'sales talk' or catch phrases will pass through these lips (not that they ever much did): "I want to earn your business," "Unbe-liev-able" and all those other Real Estate 101 sayings that went out with the 'double windsor.' The consumer is over all that gab. (besides, its so un-hybrid!)

  • Because of my Blog and Web Page I'm open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, every remaining year of my life.

And finally, I realize that the general public has as much access to the Real Estate world as they care to have. I do not need to 'clutch' my knowledge like a purse in a dark alley. (And yes, my sister bought me a 'man purse' and what of it? Anyway, it's not the purse but what's on the inside that counts!) 'Transparency' is the way of the future. It's a wave I choose to embrace. It's a wave only The Hybrid Realtor will be able to ride, the way I see it

image by science.uwaterloo

Geno Petro

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

All's Well That Ends

Being a Chicago 'Northsider', a full-time Realtor and a part-time Cubs fan, I know a little about simply putting one foot in front of the other just to make it to the finish line be it a snow blizzard, a lengthy negotiation or another 'lovably' losing season. And having just completed my final quarter accounting entries and noting that, once again, I finished the calendar year in a virtual photo finish between closed Buy side and closed List side transactions, I can only conclude that the North Side Chicago housing market remained fairly stable throughout 2006 (with an actual slight up-tick in property appreciation). And believe me when I say that I really do make an effort to be objective before I commit such statements to publication. Few things annoy me more than someone who purports to be 'fair and balanced' then subsequently proves otherwise. So allow me to share with you some specific numbers from my personal spreadsheet.

My average closed sale amount (combined Buy side and List side) was $511,000 this year, up from $507,000 in 2005. My number of MLS closed transactions (more than 25 but less than 1000!) was exactly the same and the mix between Condominiums, Single Family Houses, Multi-units, and Land was consistent with my past four years in the business. The one area where I did notice an obvious deviation was in Market Time. Market Time was definitely longer in the past 12 months by a little more than 30% over previous years. In addition, I also closed three more FSBO's than last year representing the Buy side on each transaction and negotiating an average of 6% off each asking price for my clients. (and I mean this in the nicest of ways...'you've gotta love those For Sale By Owners!')

On the List side I did find myself with some "carry over" inventory from the previous year and unless I receive a handful of contracts that intend to close in the next two days (ha, ha), I'll have some carry over into 2007 as well. But all things equal, buyer interest and showing activity remains high even if the actual contract is taking longer to materialize and thus, negotiate out. And to be fair, my Buyers and I have likewise been a little more exhaustive in our respective searches and a little less rushed to bring our initial offers to the table.

So as the sun slowly sets upon these remaining hours of 2006 I am glad to report all is alive and well in my little 50 block corner of the Chicago Real Estate world. I've been to a few holiday functions in town lately where I've heard more than one Realtor state otherwise. I generally just take it all in and add little, if anything, to such conversations. I believe what I believe and when it comes to my business this means trackable improvement over the previous year, be it tremendous or ever so little. And in the end I suppose, it simply goes back to something I learned in the first seminar I ever attended..."Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right."

photo by usa.phillips

Geno Petro

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Ten 'Day' Of Christmas...!

That last ten days of December to me have always felt like one lonnng day fading in and out of each other until the end of the year; the 'morning' (rising action) being the 21st to the 24th with a lot of running around and preparation activity, last minute closings, (with some necessary conflict for dramatic purposes) and year-end business wrap-ups--I am afterall, a morning person (see my Meme in a previous post); Christmas Day and the 26th (universally designated vacation day) being the pinnacle at 'high noon' (climax); and the next 5 days carrying on through the 'afternoon' and into the 'evening' with my mothers birthday on the 27th (dinner!); and the 'day' finally ending with the proper (denouement) midnight ceremony on New Years Eve. Its a new day with a clean slate January 1st. (resolution) Get it?

For you non-Theater/English majors out there, this is a pretty sophomoric example of Aristotelean Construction, kind of like the show '24 ' except not nearly as engaging if you happen to live in the same world as me. Its like a dream that I keep slipping in and out of without really getting anywhere, these last ten days of the year. And like most others I suppose, I'm a little relieved when its all over--kind of like those last minutes of a sporting event when its necessary to dig down deep just to finish. (I was fortunate enough to be both a collegiate athelete and a Liberal Arts major---thus the career in 'sales'!)

Ironically, I negotiated and closed more transactions these last twelve months than in any previous year of my real estate career--even with a comparative 'slow down' in the Chicago real estate market this last quarter. It was a gift of sorts (the 'slow down') because it has afforded me the time to set up and launch my Blog. Before October of this year I had only posted once in December of 2005, once again in May, and a few more times thoughout the summer although I think two were "re-edited reposts." Anyway my friends, as I mentally prepare for this last long 'day' (and to be honest, the post up to this point was pre-written....I'm actually on a beach in Cabo San Lucas as we speak, stealing a satellite signal from the Pamilla One and Only) I in turn, wish you the best--especially my new friends and associates in the 'Blogosphere.'

Thank you so much to Christine Forgione who brilliantly posted on my site yesterday and received critical acclaim as well in her 'landslide victory' in the first ever Real Estate Yankee Blog Swap. (hey, shame on me for being from Chicago and not being able to 'fix' a vote even if the reviewer... "can’t stand people with their hats turned backwards." Apparently he wasn't looking at who has my back!

So folks, keep your eye on the misletoe...

Feliz Navidad to all and to all a good life.

image by newsgd

Geno Petro

Monday, December 18, 2006

You Silly Rabbit - Trixies Are In Chicago...

A quick note from Geno Petro:

'Okay, here's the dealio. I'm in NY for the day doing my blog thing there while Carollo Real Estate's Christine Forgione
{pictured and posted below} from NYHouses4Sale in Queens is posting her repartee here. And it's not just CF and me. It's the First Annual Real Estate Yankee Blog Swap (other national participants are linked at the end of the post). So without further adieu, folks...analyze this'.....

Just to set the record straight - These words are from a Female Blogger from NY Queens, at this point I would like to apologize for what I might say, will say or have said to anyone that could be offended.

While I was searching around Geno’s blog – I realized that he lives and works in one of the areas that I found quite interesting, Lincoln Park. My New York friends who think that they pay a lot of money to buy a home here, should check out the prices in Chicago - Woohoo, they are not cheap either. I almost felt like I was back in my town of Whitestone. Look at this listing which is an “Oversized (30x125) lot with 2-Flat on beautiful Lakeview Street. Zoned R3.5, with an asking price or $750,000." Now, us New Yorkers know about zoning and building. So while I was venturing into Chicago, I found an area the I fell in love with. It seems like it is so “close to home” for me, and it has history, major history. I want to first give you some history points that I found quite interesting.

Lincoln Park had one of the biggest growth periods after 1871; this would be because of the Great Chicago Fire. This fire burned for two days and three nights, and stretched up Clark Street to Fullerton, burning down all the original homes that spanned over 34 blocks. The original story of how the fire started was that a lantern was knocked over by a cow in the O’Leary’s' barn. The original address was 137 DeKoven Street - It was later declared that this story was untrue. Ironically, today there is a fire academy located at what is now called 558 W. DeKoven Street. But while the fire blazed through the city, the residents ran to seek shelter in Lincoln Park.

Today the area seems to have a lot of newly built or refurbished Condos making it a very sought after neighborhood. If you are in your twenties - then this is the place that you NEED to live. When I started looking into this affluent area, I started to wonder if maybe this New York Italian Chic was maybe at heart, a Trixie? Maybe if I had been in my early to late twenties I could have been.... Nahhhhh

How do you know if you are a Trixie?

  • You work in a PR firm or a Marketing Firm (failed).
  • You rent or own a condo in the Lincoln Park area, (ugh, failed).
  • You drive a Jetta (failed).
  • You get manicures (one for me) .
  • You drink lattes with no foam (failed again).
  • Your real goal is to have more so you search to date and then (hopefully) marry a Chad (failed).
  • You wear your hair in a ponytail with a Cubs hat (I failed there).

(oh, and practice "GO CUBS!" - you will need that).

Ok - I failed. How about you? I think while I was reading up on the Trixie, I found that I liked them. If I had a daughter would I allow her to be a Trixie? Umm - perhaps no. While most people find the Trixies to be "gold diggers", I did find them quite interesting. My New York Friends are scratching their heads and saying – “Huh, what”? Well let’s just say fellow New Yorkers, that the Trixies and Chads would be equivalent to our Guido and Guidettes from Howard Beach. But the difference is that the Trixies work – don’t get me wrong, they either rent or own a condo (one bedrooms start in the low $300,000 range), Ok - so maybe daddy is paying for it lets give them some credit.

But the fact of the matter is most "Trixies" have a bachelor’s degree and they went to college. Guidettes did not go to college - unless you consider beauty school a college education. Now, one important factor that a Trixie needs is they need to know how to scream "GO CUBS" while attending a Cubs game at Wrigley’s Field, with their Chad.

My first impression of a Chad is that he would be a white collar worker, who wants and could make a lot of money while climbing the corporate ladder. A Chad will only work Corporate - and his goal is to drive the blackest BMW, have the HOTTEST Trixie and make it big as a trader. Where as a Guido does not work, but he thinks that he has a job and he thinks earns a lot of money by staying under the wing of “Uncle Vinny” or "Uncle Tony", if ya know what I mean. Now the true Guido’s signature fashion statement would be gold chains around the neck, a "wife beater" T- shirt and a trademark pinkie ring. (Watch "GoodFellas" or "A Bronx Tale" to understand).

The Chad in my opinion would be a savvy dresser. He most likely wears top of the line suits (and say a blue/periwinkle shirt?) for work and the classic polo shirt for his going out attire.Ken and Barbie – Eh, I mean Chad and Trixie seem like they have a lot of fun. Their Friday and Saturday nights are pure night life. You might be able to hang out with them at one of the local bars like the Max Bar, Blu and or Raven's or perhaps even catch them at Wrigley Field during game season. (Seeing as the last time that the Cubs played in the World Series against Yankees was in 1938--Cubs Lost), I think that the Chads and Trixies still wait for THE DAY that the Cubs actually make it into the World Series, let alone maybe win it (yeah, ok - that'll happen).

You see much like my home in Queens NY - you can only be either a Met Fan or a Yankee Fan - there is no crossing over and there is NO common ground. Chicago is very similar - You can not be a White Sox fan and a Cubs fan (in my opinion they both stin.. Never mind). You just can't have it both ways. I am sure, much like in my town the Yankee fans and Met fans can be best of friends but when the Subway Series is going on - us Yankee fans would much rather take our own cars to the game, and we will meet up after the Yankees win!

Pictures on the Great Chicago Fire.

Posted by
Christine Forgione, Queens

The Whole 'Yankee' Gang... (with a special thanks to Mary McKnight, for booking the gig)

Transparent Real Estate’s Pat Kitano vs. Zillow’s Drew Meyers
RSS Pieces’ Mary McKnight vs. Future of Real Estate Marketing’s Joel Burslem
St Paul Real Estate Blog’s Teresa Boardman vs. Phoenix Real Estate Guy's Jay Thompson
3 Ocean Real Estate’s Kevin Boer vs. SLC Real Estate’s Nigel Swaby
Issaquah Undressed’s Larry Cragun vs. Maury Properties’ Andrew Maury
Chicago Home Weblog's Geno Petro vs. NY Houses 4 Sales’ Christine Forgione
Phoenix Arizona Real Estate Blog's Jonathan Dalton vs. Real Estate Snippets Bonnie Erickson
The boys of Sellsius vs. Real Estate Tomato’s Jim Cronin
ML Podcast’s Michael Price vs.’s Elise Wright
My Tech Opinion’s Reggie Nicolay vs. Ubertor’s Steve Jagger
Redfin's Glenn Kelman vs Rain City's Ardell DellaLoggia
CondoDomain's Anthony Longo vs. miOaklandCounty's Maureen Francis
The San Diego Home Blog’s Kris Berg vs. Urban Dig’s Noah Rosenblatt
The Property Monger's Jon Ernest vs. XBroker's Jeff Corbett
Realty Blogging's Richard Nacht vs. The Mortgage Reports' Dan Green
Christian Real Estate Network's Justin Smith vs. Wanna Network's Tony Senna
Sacramento Voice's Gena Riede vs. Max Sell's Brad Nix

Sunday, December 17, 2006


The next post you read here will be written by a guest Blogger from Queens, NY. I in turn, will be posting my writings there for the day. Stay tuned for Tuesday's show! The other nationally recoginzed Bloggers listed below will also be trading off posting duties in their respective market places. Its Real Estate's 'First Annual Yankee Blog Swap' and I am indeed, honored to have been asked to contribute.

Other 'Yankee Swappers' (most of whom aren't Yankees)

Transparent Real Estate’s Pat Kitano vs. Zillow’s Drew Meyers
RSS Pieces’ Mary McKnight vs. Future of Real Estate Marketing’s Joel Burslem
St Paul Real Estate Blog’s Teresa Boardman vs. Phoenix Real Estate Guy's Jay Thompson
3 Ocean Real Estate’s Kevin Boer vs. SLC Real Estate’s Nigel Swaby
Issaquah Undressed’s Larry Cragun vs. Maury Properties’ Andrew Maury
Chicago Home Weblog's Geno Petro vs. NY Houses 4 Sales’ Christine Forgione
Phoenix Arizona Real Estate Blog's Jonathan Dalton vs. Real Estate Snippets Bonnie Erickson
The boys of Sellsius vs. Real Estate Tomato’s Jim Cronin
ML Podcast’s Michael Price vs.’s Elise Wright
My Tech Opinion’s Reggie Nicolay vs. Ubertor’s Steve Jagger
Redfin's Glenn Kelman vs Rain City's Ardell DellaLoggia
CondoDomain's Anthony Longo vs. miOaklandCounty's Maureen Francis
The San Diego Home Blog’s Kris Berg vs. Urban Dig’s Noah Rosenblatt
The Property Monger's Jon Ernest vs. XBroker's Jeff Corbett

Geno Petro

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Meme--No Tag Backs!

My blogging friend, Christine Forgione in Queens, just 'tagged' me with a holiday Meme. Click here (Sellsius), here (NYHouses4Sale), and here (BloodhoundBlog) for three very human definitions of this phenomenon. So in this joyous season I hereby accept this gift and in turn, pass on five things most people do not know about me:

1) That while I like to quote The Godfather and Scarface {"...first you getta the money, next you getta the power...then you getta the woman...}, Its a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie.

2) I take a nightly mental inventory of my words and actions and silently vow to be a better man on a daily basis although for several years now, I really haven't noticed too much of an improvement in what I say or do.

3) I've been an 'early morning riser' ever since my first memory of climbing out of my crib (bed...not house) to check things out by myself. And because of this, my first job was a morning paperboy (which I could do again tomorrow if this real estate thing went away! )

4) My life changed instantly and took an incredible turn for the best, the day I met my wife Mona.

5) I believe in God although talking to me, you'd never know it.

And now I pass this Meme along to Christine (you didn't call 'no tag backs'), Eric Rojas, Pat Kitano, and Joe Pinto.

image lifted from sellsius

Geno Petro

Friday, December 15, 2006

DIGG THIS! week of December 16, 2006 Vol. 7

The following real estate-centric teasers are newsworthy items that I happen upon during my research and readings for the week and post on The titles and descriptions are mine (thank me very much!) but the actual stories are pulled from a variety of daily and weekly news sources. Click on the Digg Story button below each feed to view the original story--and if you "dig it" then Digg it! The feedback is helpful and appreciated for this Chicago real estate blog.

photo by x.lux.solis

Global Virtual Listings: Transparency is the Future

Pat Kitano's most recent article on his site will link you to the coolest new trend in international residential real estate marketing. His link will take to a virtual map, click a home icon in your desired (coveted) country and "Voila! Monsoir...Le Chateau!"

read more digg story

Housing Market Trend Statistics For Chicago

Jeff Kerr, who authors the ChitownLiving blog in Chicago, posted this interesting article. I'll admit, I have been a little afraid to look at hard numbers these past several months but I decided to take a sneak peek. Here is the true scoop on the housing activity in the 'market where I market'; The Great Midwest city of Chicago, Illinois.

read more digg story

Living on a Niche Cul-de Sac?

This linked article discusses 10 future trends for Boomers. One in particulare caught my eye #6) Housing/Micro developments featuring streets based on niche interests will pop up, with cul de sacs dedicated to a single activity--marathon mews, aerobic avenue, song street, hiking heights, golf grove, tennis terrace. I knew it...

read more | digg story

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"So How Do You Really Feel About That, Geno?"

There used to be this young lady in our office---a woman in her early thirties actually, but she reminded me of a 'valley girl' by the things she said and how she used to say them. Whenever I'd express something opinionated or even make an offhand remark within earshot of her, she'd blurt out the same hackneyed question..."So how do you really feel about that, Geno?" At first it didn't bother me but then after a month or so I started to notice it all the time, "So how do you really feel about that, Geno...So how do you really feel about that, Geno...So how..." And it started to make me crazy. I began to silently loathe her. I don't know...perhaps it was me.

And she wasn't even in our 'group', so to speak. She was in the office suite next to our group in the same wing of the same 'big box' company. Anyway, in all fairness she could have probably asked me anything more than once and it would have disturbed me. Maybe it was just me but finally, after one last "So how do you really..." question and a dirty look back from me that may very well have melted snow on a Chicago sidewalk that day, she never spoke to me or looked in my direction again.

Almost seven years later it's an entirely different universe. Only the core of that original team remains and we presently coexist in harmony within a small but powerful boutique Chicago office. (We may be small but we 'play big' to quote Joe Pinto, my broker.) The 'girl' has long since left the business and the 'big box' got dismantled and sold for scrap by a new parent company. But I am left wondering (since there's no one around these days to ask me) 'How do I really feel about things these days?'

The following three items are a few of those answers to myself:

On Pricing a House Correctly...Everyone believes that a) their baby is the most beautiful child on earth and b) their house is worth more than it really is. Gentle persuasion is key with the latter. With "a"...its always nice to agree.

When a Seller wants "Feedback" ...It doesn't really matter what "everyone" thinks of a listed property (showings, open houses, etc...) It only matters what ONE person thinks...the Buyer. The right person always comes around when the house is marketed properly.

On the Housing "Bubble" ...Approximately 1,000 properties a week close in Chicago. Even if the market slowed by 20%--800 would still close. Property is still selling and the Title Companies still have a full lobby the last day of the month.

So you see, even a cliche can be thought provoking if you give it a chance. Patience is a virtue but a dirty look is divine. And in case you were about to ask...

Yes folks, thats how I really feel about it.

image by matusic

geno petro

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas 'Cookie' Swap

Get it? 'Cookie'....As in Christine Forgione, a nationally recognized Blogger from Queens and myself, a virtual newcomer to the Blogosphere will be exchanging articles on December 19th thanks to the brilliant idea of another national RE Blogger, Mary McKnight out of Cape Coral, FLA. Twenty writers in all will be swapping their favorite 'cookies' for one day only and appear as guest contributors on their 'grab bag' partners' websites. Pat Kitano threw my name in the hat and for that, I'm grateful. The match-ups will be as follows:

Transparent Real Estate’s Pat Kitano vs. Zillow’s Drew Meyers

RSS Pieces’ Mary McKnight vs. Future of Real Estate
Marketing’s Joel Burslem
St Paul Real Estate Blog’s Teresa Boardman vs. Thompsons Realty’s Jay Thompson

3 Ocean Real Estate’s Kevin Boer vs. SLC Real Estate’s Nigel Swaby

Issaquah Undressed’s Larry Cragun vs. Maurey Properties’ Andrew Maury

Chicago Home Estates' Geno Petro vs. NYHouses4Sale Christine Forgione

Dalton AZ Homes’ Jonathan Dalton vs. RealEstateSnippets Bonnie Erickson

The boys of Sellsius vs. Real Estate Tomato’s Jim Cronin

ML Podcast’s Michael Price vs. Famous Agent’s Elise Wright

My Tech Opinion’s Reggie Nicolay vs. Ubertor’s Steve Jagger

Hey, and I'll only say one thing about my Queens counterpart: 'she's definitely from the neighborhood, if you know what I mean.' Don't miss it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Podcast! Ex-Con Mortgage Man Advises Foreclosed Kid

The only person I've read about with more intrigue of late than Casey Seron, I'm Facing, is Jerome Mayne. Mr Mayne is a nationally recognized author and keynote speaker but is even more celebrated as a felony convicted ex-convict who's criminal drug of choice was mortgage fraud. I'm linking you to a very engaging two hour Mortgage Fraud Podcast. I know this podcast thing is old hat for a lot of you (its been mainstream for what...ten minutes?) but to me it is almost 'other worldly.' (and I'll share my own thoughts on why a little further down the page)

Grab a cup of coffee, put on some comfortable lounge wear and listen in amazement how the young California kid Seron, and the seasoned ex-professional Mayne, interact in this inventive new arena of podcasting. The download process is a little 'steppy' but is well worth the experience, not only for the content (a little bone chilling I'd imagine, for anyone playing close to the ethical fence) but for the podcast medium itself.

I've referenced Casey Seron previously and many of you know the whole story of how he got buried financially in the foreclosure market. And it just seems to be getting worse for the kid as
bail-out mortgages begin to unwrap and the walls of his real estate world continue to close in, and as he even fears imprisonment himself.

And this Mayne guy...very smooth. And the comments from the audience on the blog pages? They range from sympathetic to relentless and his site has hundreds of them posted.

Now, if someone would have told me in 1984 (ironic year) when I accepted my first professional sales position that one day my phone would be cordless and in my pocket always, that this thing that looked like a souped up IBM Selectric connected to something that resembled a thin television screen but only the size of a large notebook with no cords would be how I communicated interactively with the world, that all the music and talk shows I would ever need to listen to would fit on something the size of a credit card, and that I'd be married two more times...If someone tried to sell me on that whole scenario I would have been hard pressed to bite my tongue much less not take a swing!

Anyway, whether its the riveting story line, the podcast experience itself or both, do yourself a favor and kick back this weekend and listen for an hour or two. Oh, and also think twice before pre-qualifying one of your clients on 'stated income.' Yikes!

photo by nu-risk services

DIGG THIS! week of December 9, 2006 Vol. 6

The following real estate-centric teasers are newsworthy items that I happen upon during my research and readings for the week and post on The titles and descriptions are mine (thank me very much!) but the actual stories are pulled from a variety of daily and weekly news sources. Click on the Digg Story button below each feed to view the original story--and if you "dig it" then Digg it! The feedback is helpful and appreciated.

photo by x.lux.solis

A.Finkl and Sons Moving South(side)?

Okay, Its a Chicago thing. And more specifically a North side Chicago thing but it is something that may drastically change the dynamics of the 'Clybourn Corridor' (also a Chicago thing). Hmmm...

read more | digg story

What The Numbers Don't Tell You (even if they could)

I came across this writing in one of my regular 'reading list' blogs, The original New York Times article linked here is one of several mentioned in the post. The setting is Naples, Florida. Oh, and if you've never been there think 'Beverly Hills'... with alligators.

read more digg story

Make Me Move? Take A Swing!

Everyone is talking about it. Its the buzz in the real estate industry. Listing agents are jumping from the roofs of their unsold penthouses... Zillow has launched a consumer targeted national multiple listing service--with a twist. There's a "Make Me Move" box which allows the seller to cut right to the chase and post their 'magic number'.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Yo....K an' A!

Lets take a mental road trip away from Chicago for a few moments and travel back thirty years to the intersection of Kensington and Allegheny Avenues in the north Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington. A guy I knew from college lived there and when we went home for Thanksgiving break the autumn semester of my first freshman year (don't ask) the first thing he screamed into the cold, fishy air when we stepped off the elevated platform and into the ghetto was YO...K an' A! ... one fist raised to the sky and the other clenching the strap of his worn army surplus duffel bag stuffed with two months of dirty laundry dragging behind him. He was instantly a different person. He was home.

Our initial collegiate bond hinged on the fact we were both from 'Philly' but I very quickly recognized that I was a fraud. I was not from Philly. I was from Levittown which probably needs no explanation to anyone within this readership. For those who do let me just say that while a little depressing in its own right these days I certainly wouldn't describe it as urban blight. It isn't even a city but a suburban town, for crissakes. Kensington in the 1970s could only be described as urban blight with its gap-toothed grid of city blocks lined up, down and back again with delapidated red brick rowhouses and vacant lots.

And as we walked through the alleys where Rocky had just been filmed the year before I suddenly realized that the place where I grew up, some 45 minutes north by interstate, was a different world entirely. Fifteen minutes later I also realized that buying and selling real estate was what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.

My friend had an older brother named Louie who was beginning to buy up the worst of the worst on Cambria Street--the left for dead rowhomes that were virtually unlivable to anyone but the 'huffers' --and attempt to do the 1970's urban blighted version of Flip This House.

"Fishtown, is too pricey. I like it here," proclaimed Louie, who looked more to me like a guy who sold pretzels than an investor. Fishtown was the next neighborhood over and even to my untrained teenage eye, pricey was the last word I'd use to describe it. Nevertheless, I listened with great interest as we spent the next couple hours touring his most recent acquisitions. "Getting rid of the huffers is the key to investing," he told me. "Glue sniffing is an epidemic." I had no idea. I felt I might be smart enough to buy and sell property but getting rid of huffers was totally beyond my world.

"What about the suburbs?" I asked. "I don't think there are many huffers there."

"Nah," he said. "I like the city. I like to see the air I breath."

It would be ten years before I made my first real estate purchase, ten more before I ever bought an investment property and five more on top of that before I even got licensed. Needless to say, I lacked whatever it took to make the real estate plunge at an early age and although the concept of investing in property always intrigued me, I was apparently, no Louie.

So now, after a lenghty 'corporate America' sales career crash landed me in Chicago a decade ago, I'm finally a Realtor. I live in the city and sell in the city and my primary sources of business are buy-side represented negotiations and exclusive residential listings. I seldom buy and flip property and I rarely venture into a 'bad' neighborhood (so defined by what a Realtor is not allowed to call it) to see what can be bought on the cheap. And I don't think I've ever met a real life huffer so I never had to worry about Louie's number one peril of investing.

Pat Kitano recently referenced an article of mine on his site. 'My new best friend' (my wife Mona's words) goes on to suggest that she and I be from here on referred to in the blogosphere as "Geno and Mona from Oakbrook..." , no doubt due to the rooted 'East Coast' tone and various Chicago settings from which I write. But Oakbrook? fugeddaboutit....Its a suburb, Mr. K. ...I like to see the air I breath!

Monday, December 04, 2006

For The Consumer

These are a few consumer oriented sites I think are noteworthy: Here in Chicago a site called takes the concept of publishing 'recent sales' to a higher level by posting a short bio and picture of each new property owner. The site is limited at this writing to the Lincoln Park and Lakeview neighborhoods and requires a little navigation but I like it a lot.

Another cool blog I recently came across (actually he happened upon this site) is Kyle Else's Open House--The Tour Sheet Blog. The author is a "real estate consumer who follows the industry" hailing from somewhere within the borders of the USA!

Craig Schiller at both RealEstaging and Home Staging Rants & Ravings shares some great vision regarding the subject guessed it Home Staging! And as always there's My Mortgage Guru, Chris Hahn over at Lasalle ABN AMRO, with a top notch presentation of consumer oriented video clips in the sidebar.

photo by

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Did I Really Say That?

As I was writing a comment on Bonnie Erickson's Real Estate Snippets blog out of Minneapolis it reminded me of some of the things that have shot out of my mouth before I could help myself (and quickly grab them back!). So I'm posting a few of those that come to mind from recent real estate situations here in Chicago. Again, these are words actually spoken aloud within earshot of another 'party'. (I can't print most of what I didnt say.)

I must make one small disclaimer, though: These are all responses to another 'party's' very lame question or statement and usually after the editing chip in my mind finally fried and gave the old tongue the go signal. To be sure, all of my blurbs were quickly followed by a smile, chuckle or in a few instances, a merciful look of regret. (see my picture on that look)

On a Listing Appointment

POTENTIAL CLIENT: But Mr___ ___ next door just paid $___ for a house just like mine.

AGENT (ME): Unfortunately, Mr___ ____,already has a house just like yours. I don't believe he's in the market for another.

On A Showing a Week Later of the Above Mentioned Property

BUYERS AGENT: The house next door only sold for $___ a few months ago, why are you so high?

LISTING AGENT (ME): Great. Go knock on his door and see if he'll sell for that price now.

To Assorted Listing Agents Asking Me For Feedback...Repeatedly

ME: My client? My client was underwhelmed. (response to a top producer's over bubbly assistant)

* * *

ME: What does my client think of the property? Did I fax you an offer? I didn't. Hmmm...I guess that's what he thinks of the property. (this agent called me 3 times in one hour)

* * *

ME: For crissakes Myrna (real name), my client didn't even act like he liked it.

To My Teenage Dogwalker Who's Thinking of Becoming An Investor

ME: Think about it, Avi (real name) can't even buy a really good car for 80 grand. (my wife said I was being mean...but I wasn't)

To a New Listing Before A First Open House

ME: Do I look like I bake cookies? If I'm serving anything it would be liquor. (and I don't even drink.)

To An Open House Visitor Who Was Being Negative

VISITOR: What kind of people live around here?

ME: What kind of people live around here? (I sometimes repeat the lame question they ask so they can hear how lame it really is) ...People who can afford a home that costs a
Million Five Fifty.

VISITOR: A Million? Really?

ME: A Million Five Fifty.

VISITOR: A Million Five. Really?

ME: No. Not really. A Million Five Fifty!

I should probably post a second disclaimer stating all of the above took place in a much more robust market. My next posting in this series will focus on the best of my own begging.

image by

Friday, December 01, 2006

DIGG THIS! week of December 2, 2006 Vol. 5

The following real estate-centric teasers are newsworthy items that I happen upon during my research and readings for the week and post on The titles and descriptions are mine (thank me very much!) but the actual stories are pulled from a variety of daily and weekly news sources. Click on the Digg Story button below each feed to view the original story--and if you "dig it" then Digg it! The feedback is helpful and appreciated.

photo by x.lux.solis

Chicago...Now and Later

"In the year 2525, if man is still alive: Those are words from a 'one-hit wonder' musical group from the 1960s whose name escapes me. Hopefully, forgotten too, will be the predictions of this article from AOL Money via Moody's Economy via Hopefully like the grade school 'telephone' game of that song's era it will be mostly fiction by the time 2016 rolls around. The trend is pointing up which is good. but the annual appreciation rate is a little lukewarm for my taste.

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Selling a House Then Buying? 6 Helpful Tips

Here's an interesting piece I found this week in the Boston Globe. "You put in a contract on a new house. You can't sell your old house...and the sellers are getting pushy.. One writer from Boston has a few ideas on the subject.

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OK...What Exactly Is A Bubble?

The 'B' word. Every Tom, Dick and Realtor has been tossing this term around for the past two years but whenever I pose the question in the title to someone there always seems to be a lot of 'ers' and 'uhs' (along with the occasional blank stare). I know... we are a nation of repeaters so I'm linking you to the best definition I've heard to date. No need to scramble for an intelligent answer any longer.

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