Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How I come up with the concept of a Lifestyle Neighborhood

I came up with the concept of a lifestyle neighborhood as a way to describe the type of neighborhoods my clients were looking for. My clients were telling me that they needed to have access to a variety of amenities and that they preferred to have these amenities within walking distance. I am finding that more and more people are concerned with their carbon footprint and that they want to have the ability to get around as much as possible without getting in a car. They want a neighborhood that supports their lifestyle. So I coined the term "Lifestyle Neighborhood" to capture what my clients were looking for.

Many of my clients are professionals who work from home and because they spend more time at home they want amenities that are in the neighborhood. Many work in a virtual global world and they take breaks in their day as they get an opportunity. Their day can start in the early morning and very often ends late at night. Every client is different but common desires are a park close by to enjoy during the day, a virtual office space in a friendly neighborhood coffee shop, and a grocery store or at least a farmer's market that they can walk to. They also desire other neighborhood amenities such as a café, a dry cleaner and hardware store. They also want the option of using public transportation and want to walk to public transportation.

My clients vary in age and background but they all seem to agree that a neighborhood that supports their lifestyle is important. One of the great things about Silicon Valley is that it has so many wonderful lifestyle neighborhoods at different price points and with multiple housing types. Almost every city in Silicon Valley is redeveloping their downtown area and creating neighborhoods that support various lifestyles. I will highlight some of my favorite "Lifestyle Neighborhoods" here in Silicon Valley in future blog posts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My real estate marketing campaign

Over the course of my high tech career I have engaged in many marketing campaigns, I have always found it was quite easy to come up with my messaging and my value props for my product. With a real estate marketing campaign the product is you and the process is much harder.

Why am I a better choice for your real estate needs than the other choices you have? How can I really create an unique value proposition about why I am so different than any other real estate agent out there?

Well for anyone that knows me, I am different in my approach to just about everything thing I do, so using that kind of logic I must be a different kind of real estate agent. However, I think an example may serve me better.

One of the biggest differences I see is that I am focusing on neighborhoods not cities. The Bay Area is a magnificent place to live and there are wonderful neighborhoods scattered across Silicon Valley. I am focusing on neighborhoods with a high walk ability index. I love the website, as it helps to illustrate the type of neighborhoods I am focusing on.

The neighborhoods I am following tend to get very high walk ability scores using this index and one of the great things about this website is that it shows you how close various amenities are to your current address or an address you are considering. It helps you evaluate what lifestyle each neighborhood has to offer.

For example, let’s say that you are very interested in two different houses in the same neighborhood but proximity to a coffee shop and a grocery store are is very important to you. Just put each of the addresses into and see how close they are to the two most important amenities for you. This gives you additional tools to help you evaluate the best house for you and the best neighborhood based on your unique needs.

I have coined the term Lifestyle Neighborhood to describe these types of amenity rich neighborhoods. I will be using this term and defining this term in my real estate marketing campaign.

I would love your feedback on this approach to branding myself differently in my approach to real estate.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Recipe: Smoked Prosciutto and Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza

Smoked Prosciutto and Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza

I love pizza but can never order it in a restaurant because I am allergic to cow’s milk cheeses. So I have gotten creative in making pizza at home that I can make sure does not have anything that will not agree with. I find even those who have no issues with cow’s milk like my cheese choices. I usually add whatever vegetables sound good or I what I happen to have in the refrigerator. Buffalo Mozzarella is a very watery cheese so I sauté the vegetables before adding them to the pizza to decrease the liquid on the pizza. I also use a very thick tomato sauce for the same reason. The smoked prosciutto adds a really nice flavor so do try and find it. Any smoky ham thinly sliced would be a good substitute.


1 pre-made pizza crust
(I love this pizza crust
½ C thick tomato sauce
4 oz Smoked Prosciutto, thinly sliced
4 0z Buffalo Mozzarella, thinly sliced
4 0z of chopped and sautéed vegetables- my favorite combination is zucchini, mushrooms, red peppers, and eggplant
1 oz Pecorino Romano cheese grated

Pre-heat the oven to about 400 to 425 degrees.
Layout the tomato sauce and the vegetables, then the smoked prosciutto, followed by the buffalo mozzarella. Finish with the grated Pecorino Romano

Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes until crisp. Serves two or three. Makes great leftovers. Often I make two as the crusts come in a package of two and the pizza reheats extremely well.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Do you really need a real estate agent?

I was chatting with one of the regulars at my gym the other day and the conversation turned to, "What do you do for a living?"

I said I was a real estate agent. She replied, "Does anyone really need a real estate agent with the internet?"

Well that was a question I did not have a well practiced script for! So I tried to answer as best I could. I told her the statistics show that over 70% of home buying starts on the internet and that the internet is a wonderful tool for getting a feel for homes. However, that a real estate agent lives and breathes real estate every day and can help a buyer understand what the right price strategy is for that home they might originally find on the internet.

I then later told my significant other about the conversation and he could see her point. He could see how real estate market today is in a similar position to where the stock market was when the internet changed how stock brokers worked with their clients.

Full service stock brokers still exist today but they are really providing value add or they do not survive. Is Redfin going to change real estate as much as eTrade changed the stock market?

All I know is that in order to best serve my clients I need to watch the market every day and understand what the market is doing today and understand where it is going or I will not be adding value to the information that my clients have access to already.

So yes you do need a real estate agent but only if they know more about the market than you do. We need to embrace the fact that our clients are doing their research before they find an agent to take them the rest of the way.