Author Archive

Can you beleive that 1 in 4 homes have negative equity

By Jim Marks
Foreclosure plague: It's spreading

Las Vegas always wins the title for worst foreclosure rate in the country. But these 5 cities have the fastest-growing foreclosure rates. And they’re not the usual suspects.

Life after foreclosure

After losing their homes, these 4 families thought they’d never recover. They’ve found it difficult to rent and their credit is wrecked, but life is looking up.

Mortgage Rates
30 yr fixed mtg 5.02%
15 yr fixed mtg 4.55%
30 yr fixed jumbo mtg 5.89%
5/1 ARM 4.18%
5/1 jumbo ARM 4.74%

NEW YORK ( — In a sign that more foreclosures could be on the horizon, 23% of people with mortgages owe more than their home is worth, according to a report released Tuesday.

Almost 10.7 million U.S. mortgages were “underwater” as of September, said research firm First American CoreLogic.

Another 2.3 million homeowners are within 5% of negative territory, the report said. The two figures combined comprise almost 28% of all residential properties with mortgages.

Negative equity, also called an “underwater” or “upside down” mortgage, has become more common as home values plummet. The report is closely watched because borrowers who are underwater are more likely to be foreclosed.

Foreclosures have been rampant for some time, but lately the tide of decay had seemed to be slowing — so Tuesday’s report could dent optimism for the housing market over the next few months.

On the other hand, the trend that turned so many mortgages upside-down — falling home prices — has reversed the past six months. The S&P/Case-Shiller HomePrice Index has reported two consecutive quarters of increasing prices.

If home prices continue to go up or, at least stabilize, fewer mortgage borrowers will find themselves underwater in the coming months.

CoreLogic changed its methodology for the third quarter — now it accounts for payments that reduce principal, and it no longer assumes home equity credit lines have been maxed out. Using the old method, 33.8% of borrowers would have been underwater in the third quarter compared with 32.2% in the previous quarter, according to a CoreLogic spokeswoman.

State totals: The majority of underwater mortgages are heavily concentrated in five states that have particularly suffered from the housing bust: Nevada, at 65%; Arizona, at 48%; Florida, at 45%; Michigan, at 37%; and California, at 35%.

These five states have been especially beleaguered because of a high rate of prime loans that went bad. Many of those loans were option-adjustable rate mortgages, in which borrowers could choose to make minimum payments that were so low they did not even offset the interest being accumulated.

When that accumulated debt reaches a certain point — usually 10% to 25% more than the original principal — the option-ARMs loans are recast into fixed-rate mortgages. When that happens, many borrowers cannot afford the new payments. To top of page

First Published: November 24, 2009: 7:41 AM ET

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This is a bit disturbing… but at least we know…

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Check out this article from TechCrunch about Google Maps for Android

By Jim Marks

google-maps-navigation-layersA few weeks ago there was a lot of excitement surrounding the launch of Google Maps Navigation. Unfortunately, it only worked with Android 2.0 and up, which means only the newest devices right now, like the Droid. But today Google has given

an early holiday present to its other Android users: Maps Navigation to anyone running at least Android 1.6 (Donut).

Yes, that means anyone with an Android device can now use this awesome new feature. This even includes users with the original Android phone, the G1. But apparently not all of the features found in Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 will work in the 1.6 version. The one example Google gives is that you can’t use the “navigate to” voice command.

This new version of Maps Navigation also includes a new feature included called “Layers” which allows you to put various information such as Wikipedia articles on top of your map as an overaly.

The update is available in the Android Market today, obviously for free. Sadly, the service is still U.S.-only, and Google warns that it’s still in beta, something which we’ve come to ignore the meaning of thanks to Google’s own Gmail.

Android image

Company: Google

Android is a software platform for mobile devices based on the Linux operating system and developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance. It allows developers to write managed code in Java that utilizes… Learn More

Google Maps image

Company: Google

Google Maps is Google’s free web-based mapping application.

As of May 2008, Google Maps includes photos, videos, and user-created maps along with location searches. It uses Panoramio and… Learn More

Information provided by CrunchBase

I really like this article because the ANdroid is becoming more and more popular with Agents…

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My newest marketing idea – Sean LaRue’s Site

By Jim Marks

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By Jim Marks
— Sent from my Palm Pre, I am all thumbs…

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How do you spell Twitter without a Strategy? T-O-Y…

By Jim Marks

imagesIt didnt take me near as long to decide I didnt agree with the message in Rob Hahns post The Tragedy of a Twitter Strategy as it did for him to write it.  Rob is kinda known for his lengthy, pithy and well thought out introspections of current social media culture and habit. Usually, I can full heartedly agree with him.  Ocassionally, I get the grand AHAH! and am amazed at the insight and vantage point he scribes from.  Every Blue moon?  He is just dead wrong.

Today there is a blue moon…

To fully understand my sentiment you really need to read Robs entire prose.  But if you are short on time or terrible ADD. (guilty as charged) Let me sum up for you the paragraph that raised my cockles and sent the “that is the exact opposite of how I feel” feeling down my arm, through my fingers and ultimately out to my keyboard…  Here is the flawed opinion…

Rob Hahn says “Plus, please recognize that Twitter inherently assumes that you already have a relationship of some sort; it’s the only way in which a 140-character text message makes sense. If we don’t have a relationship, or a distant business relationship, I really don’t care what you’re having for lunch.

If we’ve embarrassed ourselves at karaoke together one drunken night, then I actually care that you’re doing laundry. Probably. Maybe. Sort of.

So, want more followers on Twitter? Go out more. Throw parties and events. Want to maximize your investment in Twitter? Go make more relationships — you know, away from the keyboard. Then use Twitter to maintain and expand those existing relationships.

This just is not right…  and I was forced to respond…


Hey my, “did he really use his YALE education to come to that conclusion?” dearest friend…

You are missing the point as duly expressed within this pearl of wisdom…

So, want more followers on Twitter? Go out more. Throw parties and events. Want to maximize your investment in Twitter? Go make more relationships — you know, away from the keyboard. Then use Twitter to maintain and expand those existing relationships.

Look, if you WANT to use twitter as a toy, go for it. No rules, no holds-barred. Go ahead and sling it around like a toy gun at a shooting range. If it brings you friends, maintains relationships or destroys your existing ones… who cares, its a toy.

But if you WANT to use twitter as a sphere of influence building tool? (the SOI is still the number one quoted source of biz for agents) then have a strategy. A strategy means, decide WHO you are going to invite into your SOI, decide how to convert them, and go about it in a systematic method.

Look Rob, if you and I didn’t know each other, and JeffX and I were best friends… and you and JeffX were best friends… You probably NEED to be in my SOI, and I, yours. I may be an asset to you both socially and professionally and visa versa. But outside SM, I cant just call you and say.. Hey Rob, I know a guy you know…etc. etc.

It breaks my social contract with MY friend, JeffX… (this is the Seinfield equivalent of “worlds colliding.”) But with the SM space and Twitter I AM allowed to contact you, reach out and talk about Jeffx as our mutual friend, and common interest. We share this in common. Much more meaningful than a bad song in a Karaoke bar.

Imagine, now if I reached out, deliberately and systematically with all my current friends of SOI. These are people who I have a ton in common and the only distance between then now, a total stranger and members of my SOI? (which they will soon be)One conversation.

Twitters’ relaxed social nature facilitates this type of conversation. I ge the opportunity to reach out and meet new people with whom a have a ton in common and my SOI grows strategically and exponentially. Most important is these are people who have a valuable third party reference of my caring and trust worthy character. (which makes them perfect SOI members and possible future clients)

Now ask your agent clients this question. What woould it do to your business if you could use twitter to reach out to people just beyond your current SOI, and increase your SOI by 3 times… or 5 times.

What would this do to your business?

Now, instead of meeting people over a course of “you make me feel like a natural women,” and inviting them to hang with me ONLINE.. I will be meeting people in a designed manner and inviting them to meet me OFFLINE..

This is how you build friendships and future clients.

What a Day… Partners Trust goes LIVE!

By Jim Marks
Click here to download:

PT_site.skitch (801 KB)

Over the last few months I have been creating websites, Social Media Strategy and support, etc. for a COOL new brokerage named Partners Trust.  These guys are big hitting LA Realtors that are forward thinking and GET social media…  I cant wait to talk more about their progress and success stories as time goes by… Stay tuned and I will keep the info coming…

Jim Marks | | 949.436.6106
Ping me here Google Talk: jimmarks551 Skype: virtual.results
Read VR's Latests Blog Post 10 Fave Twitter Tools for Realtors

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10 Fave Twitter Tools for Realtors

By Jim Marks

Although is great for some things, (searches, etc.) Twitter beceomes a MUCH more powerful tool when used with a host of 3rd party tools.  There are 100s, if not 1000s of such tools.  Here is a list of some of my faves.  Please do not feel you need to use any or all of these… Read the descriptions and see which ones might work for you and then learn to use ONE at a time…  As you become more and more experienced with Twitter, you will figure out JUST which of these tools fit into your twitter style and schedule…

This is step two on your journey…  Have Fun!!

1. TweetDeck is a desktop Twitter and Facebook application. Like other Twitter applications it interfaces with the Twitter API to allow users to send and receive tweets, view profiles, and organize your Twitter friends into groups.

2.HootSuite is the professional Twitter client. With HootSuite, you can manage multiple Twitter profiles, pre-schedule tweets, and measure your success.


3. Twellow‘s web site has huge database of Twitter users sorted nicely into categories! Very good way to follow and get some related followers. There’s many categories 3, Tellow is the Twitter Yellow Pages. If you haven’t registered your Real Estate Twitter account on Twellow, it is time to do so.


4. Nearby Tweets monitors the buzz on your business and local markets.


5. Search Yes, Twitter search.  Learn all the ways to search for prospects.  For example, if you enter in the twitter search box…  near: 92660 house, you will get everyone who lives in that zip that has used the word house in their tweet.  A valuable tool for agents.


6. TweetLater is really great tool where you can automatically follow people that follow you and you can submit tweets to be published at specific times. Very good and very effective tool for all Twitter freaks for sure.


7. Demand Spot is a Twitter mining tool that allows you to search (by keyword) and tweet people who are looking for homes to buy or rent in your local area.


8. allows you to shorten share and track your links.


9. Twext.Me is a cool service by Jeff Turner that sends your Twitter mentions to you via SMS text message. Go about your day and never miss another conversation!


10. BubbleTweet adds a personalized video to your twitter account.


Real Estate Marketing- Does Personal Brand just mean Being?

By Jim Marks

personalbrandAt what point do we try so hard to twist everything into a marketing cliché that “simply BEING YOURSELF” is branding?

There has been a disturbance in the force…

Over the last few days, some the brightest people I know.  People I really respect have taken positions on both the effectiveness of Social Media as a lead generator and whether a blog was lead generation or branding.  These conversations irked every fiber of my being.

I mean, I do this for a living…well.  I have copious clicks to prove that Twitter and FaceBook drive traffic to Virtual Results websites and these sites, painfully configured to convert, create leads. So if my clients use Social Media to drive traffic to their VR website and the website convert this traffic to leads…  This is not an opinion…This is MATH.  I will not argue whether or not SM is lead gen, again.

se·man·tics Pronunciation: \si-?man-tiks\  the study of meanings: a : the historical and psychological study and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms viewed as factors in linguistic development.

Yeah, semantics.  You see, I believe that a Brand is a promise that you make to your audience.  “I am the hardest working Realtor in California” is a promise, a brand.

Here is the wiki on Personal Branding…

Personal branding is the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands. It has been noted that while previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging. Further defined as the creation of an asset that pertains to a particular person or individual; this includes but is not limited to the body, clothing, appearance and knowledge contained within, leading to an indelible impression that is uniquely distinguishable. Personal branding often involves the application of one’s name to various products. For example, celebrity real-estate mogul Donald Trump uses his last name extensively on his buildings and on the products he endorses (e.g., Trump Steaks).

So how is blogging branding?  Well Rob Hahn, here gives the impression that any marketing created that does not target a key group of prospects is branding.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I have MAD respect for Rob. I hang on his every word…  (and you should too.) But in this case? I disagree.

Branding is a concerted effort to make and keep a promise to your audience.  If a Realtor blogs about his community, the parking, stores, community issues, etc.  If a Realtor blogs about everything except the Realtor, how can this be branding…

Is simply Being, now Branding?

Blogging is an effective marketing tool for agents, here are its benefits.

1)      Long Tail Serp results (lead gen)

2)      Content, Google Loves Content (lead gen)

3)      Blogs create Authority (branding?)

4)      Blogs create relationships. (branding?)

5)      Blog contain Call-to-actions. (the focal point for you SMM efforts) (lead gen)

Most of the benefits are either to help with Serps, create call to actions, or establish a relationship with your reader.  Establish a Relationship… hah…branding? Lets dive in.

Scenario One:  If I am a door to door vacuum cleaner salesperson, and I knock on your door…  I hear and see your 6 Persian cats…  My conversation turns to, “I love cats.  How many to you have?”  Over the 20 minutes, we speak about cats, our lives, my job, your job, etc…  I am creating a bond. I am creating a relationship. I am being me.  Even if you tell me you are not in the market for a vaccum cleaner, and I come back every day for a year to speak to speak to you about your cats, until you are in the market…  AM I BRANDING?  NO.  I am selling.

Scenario Two:  I tweet “We have had 93 days in a row of perfect weather in Laguna Beach.. You really should move here…”  You go to my blog and see my post on Laguna Beach Weather.  It has a call to action, “you really can afford it here… check out these homes for under $500K” Branding? Nope.  Sales.

So creating conversation, is not branding.  And creating Business from that conversation is not Branding..  What is Branding?

Best I can tell, this is the new description…  Being You. But only if the person reading is not in the market for what you are offering.  If they are?  Lead Gen.

Just Not Buying this.  Here is my advice.  Stop Branding.  BE Honest, BE Transparent, BE Consistent…  BE.

Time to cut your comment links? Probably.

By Jim Marks

chainlinkcutterFor years, SEOs have engaged in a practice called Link Sculpting.  Link sculpting is merely the idea that each page of your site has Page Rank and that page rank can be passed to other pages on your site or elsewhere on the Internet.  Lets imagine PR points as currency. (Because it really is) If my Homepage has $20 worth of pagerank to invest and I have 20 outbound links on my site, it was common knowledge that Google would pass $1 worth of PR to each of the pages linked from that page. ($20/20=$1)  A thoughtful SEO, however, could manipulate that PR currency  to deep pages that he/she want to increase both the traffic and indexation rate.  We could do this by “nofollowing” some of the links, telling Google NOT to follow the link,  therefore making the existing links flow MORE Page Rank.  Let me explain.

If my Page has $20 worth of PR and 20 links, we can assume the each page linked to will get one PR dollar.  If I then NO FOLLOW 10 of those links, the balance of the PR cash will just average onto the rest of the links.  Therefore the 10 links that remain as Follow will get $2PR each.

With this theory, and thousands of PR points to invest, I can “sculpt” my page rank to drive traffic and indexability to pages that might not otherwise see the Google light of day.  It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, because as these pages index, rank and create traffic patterns, (and inbound links) THEY earn PR points which in turn can we sculpted off to other pages in need…  The entire site can be boosted, as it will have more indexed pages, a higher PR in general, more traffic, etc.


In a statement that rocked the SEO world, Matt Cutts, at SMX Advanced on June 3rd, stated that it is no longer effective to nofollow some pages in order to flow more Page Rank to the remaining followed pages.  Basically, Matt stated (this is an example) that if your page has $20 worth of page rank and 20 links, 10 of which are no followed, the no followed links will still receive NO PR, but the remaining 10 followed links will only receive the $1PR each.  In other words, nofollow links usurp PR, they just don’t pass it…

Here is a quote from Rand Fishkin, owner of SEOMoz,

“I’m saddened to say that given this change, we, as SEOs, are going to have to also recommend the best practice that comments (in all forms of UGC) no longer accept links. While Google has said that linking out to “good places” provides some value, that merely suggests that webmasters and site owners should select good resources editorially and link to them with live, followed links. Comments that contain links, unfortunately, will actively detract from a site’s ability to get pages indexed…

So who does this effect and does it effect you?

IMHO,  this by and large only will effect those with moderate or low-level SEO experience.  If you do not do SEO on your site, or have hundreds or thousands of pages with PR to pay with  then this change will have little or no effect on your site.  On the other hand, If you are a LARGE site with 1000s of pages and have, or are a talented SEO, you will simply revert to the practices of old.  Unless this policy changes, I will start creating my outbound links in a manner the robots can’t see or follow (in Flash, external Javascript with blocked calls, in plugin content,etc…)  My gut tells me there is a WP plugin on the way that will do this. (Developers get busy)

But if you have a decent sized site, with lots of PR and don’t know SEO really well, this conceivable could hurt.  Frankly, I just dont understand why Google would do this. It seems really counter-intuitive to me.

Commenting and sharing community traffic IS web 2.0.  If I can engage this community and leave a link that explains my credentials, that is cool.  If I can carry the conversation back to “my place, even cooler.  But a comment, without a link feels less authoritative to me.  It loses some of its street cred, whuffie, social currency.  I want to give the link to my commenters.  I want my readers to know who is commenting on my site…and their authority within my community.

But until I hear a change in this policy, UNFORTUNATLY, my advise to my clients may have to be…  “You just cant allow comment links until Google figures out the ramifications of this decision to our social media world, (and hopefully) reversed this decision.

Trulia vs Zillow (A spirited Real Estate “SEO” discussion)

By Jim Marks

800px-steel_cage_match_-_angle_vs_cenaMy guess is that when Teresa Boardman posted this message to Twitter:

“O.K. if an agent could only use one, which should they use? Zillow or Trulia?”

She had very little idea (or did she?) what an inspired discussion would commence.

As it is with Twitter, both David Gibbons, Community Director of Zillow and Rudy Bachraty, Social Media Guru of Trulia were listening, and what transpired over the next hour or so was a spirited discussion on SOME of the merits of Zillow and Twitter.

Now, this discussion fell quite short of discussing the ENTIRE difference and benefits of the two (although consider this a formal offer for VR to host that discussion…  TokBox, maybe?) between the two sites and concentrated mostly on the Search benefits of both.

Having a passion for SEO, this is what caught my attention and this is what THIS post will concentrate on.  He

re is the transcript, best as I can assemble it…without any additional interjection..below I have included a video of the discussion as well…

davidgibbons: @TBoard LOL, do you really wanna see @trulia & me get into it or what? Ur listings should be on BOTH but Zillow offers more traffic, leads & SEO

davidgibbons: @trulia LOL, only if you let me lead … [you see @TBoard !!!]

And for those of you who are “Twitter Challenged, ” Jeff Turner put together this VERY cool video of the exchange…”

Zillow Vs. Trulia – David Vs. Rudy (The Movie)

Now, that you have read the tweetalogue, (just made that up) you probably understand why this is of interest to me…  SEO.

Within this spirited discussion, there where QUITE a few statements concerning the SEO of both sites.  I would like to first create a series of questions from these statements and hopefully provoke a discussion on the benefits of both.

1) Do temporary inbound links, help your website… (and why don’t BOTH companies just mark the property “SOLD” and let the link live, and grow old and VALUABLE.”

2) Do links from profile pages help your website and how can you best MAXIMIZE this feature. (Proper Anchor Text, Multiple links, Deep Links, etc)

3) Do links that do NOT have favorable anchor text matter.  In other words, If the anchor text is an address, and not a keyword you are trying to rank for.

4) Is the address search, a valuable search.  I believe David when he states that he has a few million searches a month by address. But WHO AND WHY is someone searching by address and this really a home buyer?

5) How valuable is the long tail in Real Estate.  I see analytics all the time showing the QUANTITY of long tail page views, but is a searcher searching “Restaurants in Laguna Beach” or “Laguna Beach Architecture” really a valuable page view? (Bloggers get involved here…)

6) And a little “pet peeve” non-SEO question.  I have always taught that Realtors should create listing pages for their websites, because the MLS descriptions should be written to help OTHER REALTORS sell the house.  Realtors should be able to edit ANY outward facing listing page to appeal to the consumer.  I am under the impression, that neither Trulia or ZIllow allow this.  Am I correct, and how come?

I absolutely have my opinions on ALL these questions…  and will back them up with analytics.  Lets here your answers and opinions…  Please forward this post to anyone you think is interested in the SEO value of these two popular websites, and be sure to subscribe below to keep up to date on the conversation…