Geeks Of The World Rejoice! Behold The First-Ever Twitter-MLS!

July 22, 2008

I’ve been accused — rightly, I might add — of being a geek. I also happen to be in real estate. You put the two together, plus a keen interest in using new social media tools like Twitter, and what do you get? The Twitter-MLS!

For a long time, MLS searches have been available via email. Recently, some real estate search providers — like our friends at Trulia and at Diverse Solutions — have enabled MLS searches via RSS feeds. (That’s actually the technology I use on the sidebar to provide the link searches.)

As the latest new big online thing, Twitter has attracted a massive cult following, and as a permission-based communication tool, it’s ideal for sending out news snippets such as new listings.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for an account at Twitter if you haven’t done so already.
  2. Head thither and “follow” my Twitter “Menlo Park MLS” account. Other towns in the Bay Area will follow shortly.
  3. Sit back and enjoy the “tweets” that will come your way by cell phone, email, Twhirl, online (depending on how you configure Twitter). These “tweets” will be little news snippets about new homes to hit the market. Want more details? Click on the link in the tweet and you’ll see pictures, details, and much much more.

If you’re more of a FriendFeed type, I have the same offering available in FriendFeed room format. Find your way yonder, select your favorite city, and click “Join This Room.” And, as our British cousins would say, “Bob’s your uncle!

FriendFeed room example for Burlingame:

Twitter example for Menlo Park:

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“I’m Sorry, I’m Twittering” — A Shameless Parody Of An Old Classic

July 21, 2008

Sorry I'm Twittering


Introducing … Cindy Lin…Stager Extraordinaire!

March 17, 2008

cindylin.jpgI’m delighted to announce that local stager Cindy Lin has graciously agreed to become a 3 Oceans contributor.  She runs Staged4More and its accompanying blog.  Talented, opinionated, humorous, a little sassy and irreverent  … what more could you want in a contributor — or a stager?

Her inaugural post gives us an Elliot Spitzer object lesson…

Take it away Cindy!

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Introducing The World’s Most Internet-Marketed Property: Come Along for the Ride!

April 9, 2007

I've been waiting for the right opportunity to really push the envelope of online real estate marketing, and, well, it's here!

I'm working on a listing in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood that fits perfectly into this new online marketing world:  it's slick, chic, and contemporary, will likely attract a younger and web-savvy crowd of buyers, and the sellers simply love the idea of creating a buzz online.

We're passing on the normal full-color ads in traditional local media like the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, and we'll be spending that money online instead.  To hedge our bets, we will be placing open house display ads in print media.

I'll be collaborating with several real estate online marketing companies to promote this property.  They'll be showing me — and, by extension, my readers — how to get the full benefit of their products.  I intend to chronicle our adventures here and invite you to follow along.  If you have some ideas, feel free to join in!

I'll announce the first collaborator tomorrow.

In the meantime, as part of our adventures, let's see how high this site currently ranks for the search, "San Francisco Potrero Hill Real Estate" — I suspect it won't be that good, since I've never written about Potrero Hill before!

Sure enough, on Google, Yahoo, and MSN, I'm nowhere to be found, not even in the top 100.  :(


3Oceans doesn't rank at all in a Google search for



3Oceans doesn't rank at all in a Yahoo search for



3Oceans doesn't rank at all in an MSN search for

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Multiple Offers Up Again: Chiropractors Still in Business

March 20, 2007

Previously I reported that buyers appear to be more patient, less ready to pile on, and generally doing their best to avoid “buyer whiplash.

Turns out that was a blip in market activity for perhaps a week or ten days.  Feeding frenzies seem to be now be back in force.  Last week clients of mine were one of 21 — twenty one!! — offers on a property.  Alas, we didn’t get it.  Rumor has it that the winning buyer threw in a Hawaii vacation, naming rights for their next child, and a promise to run up and down the street naked on every anniversary of the sale, waving a banner singing the praises of the seller.

Looks like chiropractors in this area will continue to see a steady stream of business.

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Real Estate Buyers, Tired of Whiplash, Becoming More Sophisticated

March 12, 2007

The Spring sellers’ market here in the Bay Area’s Peninsula continues unabated, with no rest in sight for buyers.  Multiple offers are still de jour on many sales in the area, with most listings selling for more than the list price.

Home buyers in the Peninsula in the Bay Area are becoming more patient to avoid getting buyer's whiplashThis week marks a growing trend that could perhaps be called “buyer’s revenge.”  Tired of the constant whiplash inflicted on them by sellers hosting an offer presentation rodeo and then squeezing out every drop of blood they can (wow — three unrelated metaphors in one sentence!), buyers are backing off and becoming a bit more patient.

Anecdotes abound this week about properties that had a dozen offer “maybes” turn into only two real offers.  On some other transactions there were more offers — say, 6 to 10 — but the final price was only a few percentage points above the list.

Buyers seem to be getting more patient, more sophisticated, more value conscious.  They realize that if they pile on during a listing presentation and drive the price of a property up by 20%, that sets the benchmark on the next properties they bid on.

Anyone else seeing this?

(Image courtesy of

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What can a stager do for me? Part 1 of a 4-part series

March 5, 2007

By now, most of us have seen those HGTV shows where a staging team bursts into a property, and, in a whirlwind, transforms it into a buyer’s paradise in a matter of what appears to be a few hours. Usually the premise is either: a) stage this property for sale on a miniscule budget or b) stage this property for sale – the sky’s the limit! But these shows fail to reveal all of the behind-the-scenes labor and preparation put into staging a house. Let’s face it – loading inventory into trucks just doesn’t make for good TV. So I’ve written this four-part blog series to introduce you to what the “typical” stager looks like, along with the services generally performed by stagers. There are, of course, exceptions and variations on what I’m writing, and I’d love to hear what others’ experiences have been with stagers.

So, what does the “typical” staging business look like? Generally, it is a team of one or two staging professionals who do a good deal of the work themselves. Not all stagers have a team of movers, painters and handypersons at their command – although most will be more than happy to recommend such people to their clients. Some stagers do have full-time employees, although many will simply hire assistants and movers as jobs demand. I even know of stagers who bring in their family members and friends as free labor to keep their costs down.

Stagers are often happy to recommend what a client should do as far as remodeling is concerned, but I do not know of many who would handle a job like this themselves. If you are a seller and believe that your property needs major structural remodeling before sale, you should contact a contractor or an interior designer for these things, and call in the stager to put the finishing touches on the property before sale.

Some stagers carry inventory of their own, while others choose to rent furniture or only use the seller’s own furniture for staging. Those stagers who do own inventory often store it anywhere from an extra bedroom in their home to their own warehouse. One of the benefits of carrying inventory that stagers have capitalized on is the ability to stage with a specific style. For instance, some stagers specialize in Craftsman bungalows or modern high-rise condominiums.

A stager with a huge inventory and multiple employees is not necessarily any better than the solo stager whose assistant is her teenage son. Stagers perform a multitude of services – which will be discussed later in this series – and sellers should look for the stager who provides services which best meet their needs.

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Rain or Shine — What’s your preference? Depends if You’re a Buyer or Seller…

January 26, 2007


After a long spell of unseasonal sunshine, it looks like the rain may be back.  The forecast for this weekend gives us nearly 50/50 odds of being rained out.

Here’s the question — if you’re active in the market right now, which would you prefer:  rain or shine?  I’d say it depends if you’re a buyer or seller.

If you’re a seller, you definitely want good weather.  Bright sunshine and balmy weather triggers the release of home buying pheromones and gets you lots of weekend open house traffic.  The more interest in your home, the better.

If you’re a buyer, especially a really committed one, you definitely want bad weather.  Cloudy, overcast days, and preferably rain definitely dampens home buyer enthusiasm and reduces competition for that home you’re after.

This may explain the unusually early spring buying season we’ve been experiencing.  We often get Seattle-type weather this time of year, with week after endless week of drizzing rain.  As soon as the rain stops, the spring buying season starts.  Last year the rain stopped late, and so the buyers came out late too.  This year the rain stopped early — or so we thought — and the last two weeks have seen pretty frantic activity.

If my theory is right, and this rain persists, the market may taper off and wait until the rain really ends for the season.

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Just what exactly does the Lesotho Loti have to do with Palo Alto median prices?

December 5, 2006

Pat Kitano notes with his usual insight that spontaneity is both the joy and bane of blogging. In a rush of post-Martian Flu exuberance, I showed what looked to be a pretty neat correlation between the NASDAQ and Palo Alto median home prices. Alas, the spontaneity of that moment led me to not dig quite deep enough…

Enter reader Greg, whose facility with numbers and patterns has led to previous interesting discussions. He suggested running some regression analysis (for those who missed Stats 101, “regression analysis” is simply finding relationships between different groups of numbers.) I did that and came up — surprisingly — empty-handed: it turned out there was actually very little correlation, mathematically speaking, between the NASDAQ and Palo Alto median home prices. Puzzling, puzzling indeed, because the graph showed at least a rough correlation.

Greg ran a regression of his own comparing Palo Alto median home prices vs. the number of months since January 1997…and found a reasonably strong correlation, an R-squared value of 75% for those who care about such things.

Here’s a graph:

The wavy blue line indicates Palo Alto median home prices; the straight pink line is the prediction, based simply on the number of months since January 1997.

Fortunately, all was not lost, as it turns out that while the NASDAQ alone was not a very good predictor, adding it to the mix turned out to increase the accuracy of the predictions, resulting in an R-squared value of 85%. The chart:

Again, the blue line represents Palo Alto median home prices, while the pink line represents the predicted median home price, based on both the number of months since January 1997 and the NASDAQ.

What does this all mean? In a nutshell, this entire analysis proved what we all already know to be true: Palo Alto real estate prices in the last 10 years have tended to go up. The key predictor of prices is simply time; adding in other variables like the NASDAQ improves the predictive power, but the main indicator — by far — is simply that of time.

Which brings us back to the Lesotho Loti. Just for the fun of it, I ran one more regression, this time between Palo Alto median home prices and two variables: the number of months since January 1997, and the exchange rate between the US Dollar and the Lesotho Loti. (Yep, I’m the kind of person who “just for the fun of it” runs regressions. For other like-minded people, the R-squared for this regression was 75%.)

The graph:

So does this mean that the exchange rate of the US dollar vs. the Lesotho Loti is an accurate predictor of Palo Alto median home prices? Not at all…it simply means that adding in that variable doesn’t really detract from the predictive power of the time factor.

Geek out.

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Stop press: Palo Alto housing crash delayed by one more week…bubblistas left fuming again

December 4, 2006

Once again, the big news in Palo Alto real estate this week is what didn’t happen. Prices thishousing-bubble.jpg week did not melt down to 1870 levels. Over-leveraged Palo Altans have not been foreclosed on and are not pushing shopping carts along El Camino Real in search of some cheap Ramin noodles. Traffic along the 101 is still clogged by our local high-tech work force. Entrepreneurs are still making the pilgrimage to Sand Hill Road in neighboring Menlo Park to get funding for their start-ups. Google’s stock is still above $100 $200 $300 $400 $450.
The Palo Alto transactions announced in our office this morning included:

~$1.1M — 4 offers
~$2M — 3 offers
~$? — 1 offer

and the winner of this week’s “Why won’t the sky just fall already?” Palo Alto real estate competition was a property listed around $800K that sold with 23 offers. 23 offers!

I’m reasonably confident none of these offers came from our friends Patrick, Keith,
or Ben.

Image courtesy of

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