Tag Archives: Real estate

REAL ESTATE: Congressman Berman Meets with Roger Ewing and Ernie Wish


Congressman Howard Berman

Congressman Howard Berman

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By Roger Ewing

This past week, my business partner Ernie Wish and I had the pleasure of meeting with Congressman Howard Berman of the 28th Congressional District in California.  The goal of our meeting was to explain to the Congressman what reality looks like from ground zero in Southern California’s residential real estate industry.  Specifically, what are the challenges and what work needs to be done to move the economy forward?

There are several issues that are preventing the real estate market from making a full recovery that Ernie and I hoped to communicate to the Congressman.

First, the home sales market is a continuum that cannot be segmented when creating policy.  While it may be politically correct to offer financial support to first time and low value homebuyers, one cannot ignore the high-end market.  These two market segments operate in concert with one another.  Without a healthy “move up” market, that includes the upper price points, all market price segments will struggle and grind to a halt.

Second, the real estate market is hypersensitive to negative changes in employment.  Individuals who feel secure in their jobs, and have an expectation of doing better in the near term, will buy homes.  When a home is offered for sale an explosion of spending often follows.  Sellers and buyers invest in their homes both before and after the sale occurs.  This healthy spending results in jobs, which in turn results in economic growth.  As a result of this phenomenon, the residential real estate market is responsible for 10% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Third, the home buying market in Southern California, while enjoying more transactions this year than in 2008, is not as healthy as current press releases may lead us to believe.  Nearly half of all reported sales are either REO or short sale transactions.  Most of these sales are occurring in a low price environment created by the recession, and many of these buyers are investors who are offering cash for homes while freezing out families searching for shelter.    The result is that only about half of the transactions occurring today are the result of individuals and families searching for a home to live in.

Fourth, the federal government needs to do more to help create a secondary market for “jumbo loans”.  Loans over the $729,750 conforming limit are very difficult to obtain.  Would be home buyers in the price segment of $1 million to $2.5 million are struggling to obtain financing, even though interest rates are at or near historic lows.

Jumbo loans in excess of $729,750 are critical to creating and sustaining a healthy move up home market.  Under current restrictive lending standards, the market is held captive beneath a glass ceiling that is preventing discretionary, well-qualified homebuyers from selling their existing home and purchasing another.  We effectively have a “bottle-neck” that is hampering the real estate recovery in all price segments.

We found Congressman Berman to be engaging, animated and inquisitive.  He is very concerned about the state of the real estate industry and the unemployment problem facing California.  After 26 years as a United States Congressman, he is keenly aware of the difficulties associated with creating policy change in Washington, and clearly understands how to navigate the political hierarchy.  I believe he was genuinely interested in learning about real estate in his district, as evidenced by the fact that he originally committed 30 minutes to our meeting, but then spent well over an hour with us.

With a vibrant, active home market, all of us are winners.  Business thrives, investment increases, tax bases increase and the federal government will spend less on financial bailouts in all sectors of the economy.

In future blogs I will explore in more detail how the financial system works in conjunction with home sales and why real estate is a critical ingredient in preventing our fledgling economic recovery from stalling.


Corporate Marketing Peeps Misjudge Power of Social Media

True Story – Corporation Makes Three Social Media Mistakes

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By Roger Ewing

True story.  A large corporate sales organization launches a regional print media magazine in southern California.  The initiative in itself is not unusual.  What happened next however is very insightful for all of us who recognize the blossoming power of social media and the consequences, both positive and negative that can result from a corporations voyage into digital marketing.

The corporation launches it’s new magazine to great fanfare and announces the primary distribution point will be to include the piece in local newspapers in their target regional market.  The magazine will be “stuffed” into the newspaper each weekend and will replace the traditional newspaper advertising that has characterized their corporate advertising model for many years.

As part of their launch they include online support via web site, Facebook and Twitter.  The strategy is clearly well planned, executed, and the printed piece is generally well received by the sales force and the public.  This is the point where the corporation failed to recognize the potential for problems.  The corporate marketing peeps did not anticipate the opportunity for uninvited competitors to crash their ‘friendly” social media party.

I am a competitor and, as the leader of my company, one of my jobs is to discredit any new initiative my competition creates. This is part and parcel of what we do every day in business.  I create new initiatives for my business, while at the same time, ethically devaluing my competitor’s strategies.  Once Facebook and Twitter were launched in support of the corporation’s new initiative, I saw an opportunity to reveal the weaknesses of the new magazine to a large number of individuals, both inside and outside my competitor’s organization.  The beauty of it is, they welcomed me in.

The open forum of Facebook and Twitter gives individuals and small business owners communicative power they never had in the days of print and television.  I simply made my competitor my “friend” on Facebook and then let the fun begin.  Following are three major mistakes the corporation made in their launch strategy.

Mistake 1.  The corporation proceeded to post, or should I say spam, my Facebook pages with ads for their new magazine. These “ads” were being posted three, sometimes four, times a day.  Since I did not want to be a partner in the corporate ad campaign, I was faced with a dilemma.  Remove the corporation from my Facebook and Twitter pages, or write a comment.  After weighing the options, I chose the latter.

Mistake 2.  The corporation never anticipated negative feedback appearing in their social media space.  As a result, they were slow to react to my postings that pointed out the inherent weaknesses of their new magazine.

Mistake 3. The corporation whined about my comments placed on their Facebook and Twitter posts.  This only created drama, which in turn gave me more power.  The individual versus the corporation.  The classic struggle of good (me) versus evil (them).

Ultimately, of course, they removed me from their Facebook page and blocked me from Twitter, but not until I had time to post numerous responses to their advertising posts.  The corporation was caught flat footed and had played into the unfolding drama by breaking the primary rules of social media blogging.

Never hard sell your product, and whatever you do, don’t allow your posts to morph into spam.

There are powerful lessons we can all take away from this true story.
To be continued…

The Importance of Social Media in Real Estate Marketing

As Seen In Wall Streeet Journal On line

Property presented by Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty, property ID #4165935. Tel: 818.222.9500


(Wall Street Journal On-Line Article)

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Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, flickr and YouTube are the new buzzwords in the online marketing world of social media. Whether you are buying or selling real estate, it is critical that you understand the important role social media has come to play in today’s market.

Social media has been described as a convergence point where public relations, marketing and advertising meet on the World Wide Web. The basic list of social media Web sites starts with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn and others. They work by enabling users to create and maintain their own personal profiles.

A real estate professional well-versed in the social media space knows how to use these mediums to create a consistent, fresh image for themselves that helps develop strong industry relationships. They know how to assess their own strengths to create an online presence that is both authentic and transparent. Creating a compelling profile for themselves using social media is an important first step in marketing your home to other high profile agents on the Web.

Each social networking Web site is unique and has its own audience. Scott Monty, head of Social Media at Ford Motor Company says, “LinkedIn is the business meeting, Facebook is the hallway conversation and Twitter is the cocktail party.” A technological real estate professional is familiar with all these Web sites and understands the subtlety of the digital communications that occur there. After all is said and done, your buyer is probably someone who knows someone, who knows your agent.

For example, our company, Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty in California, recently had a listing on a home owned by an entertainment executive. We produced a YouTube video of the property and e-mailed the link to the owner. He was so excited about the video, he posted the link to his Facebook site. From there the video of his home was viewed by his Facebook “friends” and distributed by them to various other sites and venues on the Web. This is a great example of “viral marketing” where a marketing piece behaves much like a pebble tossed into a still pond.

Finally, an important question to ask your real estate professional is what networking sites are they active on. For example, Active Rain is a Web site where they can blog about the industry. Despite the multimedia world we live in, at the end of the day relationships are what matter most. The savvy techno-agent spends their time and resources on sites where they know the most productive agents and motivated buyers may be found. Recently we were successful in obtaining an offer to purchase from a buyer who was referred by an agent from out of the area, who learned of our listing through an e-correspondence flyer sent to them as the result of a blog entry on a well-traveled agent site.

Social networking is the wave of the future. Those that can find success in this space are true technological players in today’s marketing world. They are the agents that will be selling tomorrow’s homes.

More thoughts on using social networking to market real estate from the Sotheby’s International Realty® network:

“One of the most effective things we do is to have our agents become friends on Facebook with those people who have always been on their direct mail databases. When the agent has a sale, we upload a photo of the home and ‘tag’ the agent who sold the listing, along with information on the home. Tagging the photo instantly informs the agent’s friends/database that they are busy and successful. Not only is this an affordable way to market to their sphere of influence, it is environmentally acceptable and it is fairly subtle.”
— David Boehmig, President, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, Georgia

“Social networking is an important part of our online marketing program. We want to meet the consumer where they are getting their information, which is largely on the Internet. Social networking is highly-targeted and, if done properly, more effective because it is more personal.”
— Jenny Pruitt, CEO, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, Georgia

“Social media has provided an exciting new forum for conducting business and I am thrilled that we as a company are whole-heartedly embracing these emerging opportunities to better connect with our clients and further separate ourselves from our colleagues,” says Erika Paul, President and Broker-Owner of Hallmark Sotheby’s International Realty in Hopkinton, MA. “We consider ourselves pioneers in leveraging technology to advance our business initiatives, and social media is just the newest tool in our arsenal. We use forums like Twitter and Facebook to recruit and promote some of the brightest technology-focused Realtors in our market. We have set-up our own YouTube channel to showcase our growing catalog of property videos. Our office Flickr photostream helps instantly publish our inventory of listing photography to a global audience.”
— Erika K. Paul, President, Broker-Owner, Hallmark Sotheby’s International Realty, Massachusetts

Paul’s company and their social media efforts were recently highlighted in best-selling author David Meerman Scott’s newest book, World Wide Rave. “Real Estate will always be a ‘people’ business and we see social media as a fantastic vehicle to better connect with our clients and associates,” says Paul. “There has been a noticeable dramatic shift in the way people research, buy and sell real estate and we are extremely proud of our social media efforts to better connect, share and discover with our community. It’s such an exciting time to be in this business!”