more real estate spam

I’ve posted before about my frustration with Real Estate spam, (I have since marked my license ‘inactive’ since I can’t  dedicate time and money to it), I have been fighting a personal battle with “Listing Eflyer” or some combination of the above.  Essentially, I am blocking on my mail server, several versions of this:

/listingseflyer/ REJECT  Spam not tolerated [100]
/listingeflyers/ REJECT  Spam Not tolerated [101]
/listingsmove/ REJECT  Spam Not tolerated [102]
/listingeflyer/ REJECT  Spam Not tolerated [103]
/listing eflyer/ REJECT  Spam Not tolerated [104]
/^Subject .*listing eflyer/ REJECT  Spam Not tolerated [105]

These guys totally sucks.  They prey on R.E. agents trying to drum up business, but in reality, these agents are paying for the privilege for ending up in someone’s spam folder.

I hate this person.

Notice the amount of Spam this guy generates.


He sucks, and my heart goes out to the hungry agents out there that he’s preying on.  If you are a Real Estate professional, check out my other posts on responsible email marketing.  Don’t let this chump take your money so you end up in someone’s spam folder.

where’s waldo? now you can know!

I’ve been playing with new social networking site, Brightkite.  At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would use it, but now I find it as addicting as Twitter.  It’s really neat.

One of the more interesting things that I heard years ago was that applications would be “location aware” of where you were.  The context of these applications were more centered around phones and IM clients.   Brightkite takes it beyond this level, and I find it pretty enlightening.    Sure, if you use Pidgin or other IM clients, you can have different “resources” identified as “Home” or “Work.”  Brightkite allows you to update wherever you are either by the web or by SMS.   If you can send emails from your phone, you can email pictures of whatever is interesting at the location you “checked in” at.

Today I “checked in” at my barber and I got a message from a friend that said, “Hey, you’re in my ‘hood!”  How cool.  Think about this in larger terms if more people were on board with this.  I could “check in” and if my online or social friends are nearby, they can announce it, and who knows?  Maybe we can meet for coffee.

Imagine how this service could help Realtors or other professionals that travel around a limited area.    Imagine how cool this would be if people could have GPS units that could somehow update locations?   Imagine if you could update via Bluetooth?

This is a different kind of service and it might take some getting used to.   But I like it and I’ll use it.  If you are on Brightkite, please feel free to make me a friend and if you are Twitter, feel free to follow me; if you aren’t a ‘bot or something, chances are I’ll follow you back.

more on real estate martketing, 2.0-sytle

I have to thank all the people that viewed and commented on my previous post, “responsible email marketing… for real estate professionals.” I got a lot of views from that post and I got nominate for a weekly web award.  That was the first time and I was pretty honored, so thanks!

But I am still pretty frustrated at how many emails are in my “Spam” folder that are advertising properties.  I’ll never look at them and the fact that is is spam; email that I never asked to receive, is frustrating.  I imagine that 99% of the recipients of those types of emails either never see them, (since they’re in the Spam folder), or you just receive so many of them, that anything that comes into your inbox is so insignificant, you either just delete or mark it as spam.

Now, here’s the rub.  It’s a hungry market out there and there are a lot of hungry agents and brokers.  I, myself am a licensed agent, but that ain’t my bread n’ butter.  I have other things I’ve been doing to make some money so I don’t feel the pinch as bad as some might.  So no doubt, there are agents out there pulling out all the stops trying to generate some business.  It’s not your fault.  You are being preyed upon.  I get tons of emails from people offering to “blast my listings to their 500k+ database.”  I don’t bother opening these emails.

I know there are a lot of agents out there that have been in the game for many, many years.  Some of these seasoned agents out there, still have a voice mail box phone number they give out; you can’t call them directly.   Some of these agents and brokers haven’t really made themselves available on the Internet.  And that’s okay since they’ve been doing business in a traditional way in non-traditional times.  They’ll find customers who also use the traditional ways.  These folks tend to be less Internet-savvy.

But the wave of the future is being able to be contacted.  My generation is people who like to send emails and like to look at webpages and like to be able to find out some information online about the person who is going to help them buy the most expensive purchase they’ll make in their life; their house.

You got to have an online presences these days.  If you don’t the person that does will get your business.

I wanted to post a picture of all the spam in my spam box that is related to properties for sale.  I got a fair amount of Viagra spam, (some of which is actually kind of creative) so I decided to pass on that.  Rather, I’ll share my thoughts on not only your online presences, but also how to be affective with online marketing.

  • Make sure you can be contacted easily:  No matter how you are found, make sure you can get your email address or phone number.  Okay, if you have a voice mail number, you can use that.  But please please please make sure you call back ANYONE who makes the effort to leave you a voice mail.   If you get an email from someone one, at the VERY LEAST, acknowledge you got the mail, even if you can’t answer it right away: Dear So-n-So, thank you for your email.  I wanted to let you know I got it and that I can’t answer you right away, but you are important to me.  As soon as I am able to get back to you I will call/email/fax/whatever…” Touch your customers in a meaningful way.  Tell them they are important and they matter to you.  Your competition isn’t doing it.
  • You heard you need to have a blog: There are those that say you NEED to have a blog  That is easier said than done.  A  blog needs to be tended like a garden.  You don’t have to post every day, but if you decide to have one, you do need to post at least a couple of times a month.  Your topics could include anything from good deals on interest rates to a sad goodbye to an agent who’s leaving.   But don’t commit to a blog if you don’t think you have the gumption to keep up with it, otherwise it will smell like a marketing gimmick.
  • You should have a website: Yes, you SHOULD have a website.  If you work for one of the major brokers, they might help you make one, but if you are an independent broker, you should have a website.  And it should have easy ways to contact you and be SEO-friendly, (Search Engine Optimization-friendly…  If I go to Google and enter “city-I’m-in-interested-in realtor” you want to pop up in the top of the search results).
  • If you have a website, allow follks to sign up for a newsletter: Back to responsible email marketing… you want to make it into your list subscribers inbox instead of their spam box?  Let them sign up on your website and use a reputable email marketeer.  There are several out there.  Do it yourself so you can learn about the technology, marketplace, and learn how to be effective.
  • Finally, do not give any business to the fly-by-night email spammers. Over the long haul, you are most likely to hurt your online reputation more than help it.  DO NOT sign up for offers like “send your listing to 10,000 readers!”  You will end up in 99% percent of those readers’ spam box.  And with search engine technology, you could show up as a spamming agent and potentially loseWeight Exercise business.
  • Use Craigslist: It’s free, somewhat anonymous, and readers go there to look.  Make sure you take advantage of the four picture upload limit.  Again, if you use Craigslist, make sure you can be contact by either email or phone really easy and follow up with your leads.
  • If you have a website, make sure it is updated frequently: If I am thinking about moving to a  particular part of town, I might bookmark your website.  Every time I get the itch to move, I am likely to check your website to see if you have any new listings.   If a listing sold, at least “mark” it as sold.

Having a presence on the Internet might be a little daunting for some agents out there.  The reality is that many of today’s buyers are using the Internet not only as a research tool, but also as a tool to find their next buying agent.  They are using the Internet to find your expertise.   Make it easy for them to find and show them you care about them as a client.  As always, I am happy to consult on these matters so feel free to contact me.

responsible email marketing… for real estate professionals

I felt compelled to write this post since I have been getting SO much SPAM from real estate agents and brokers here in Georgia.

A long time ago, I used to work in the Abuse department at a large ISP, so maybe I am a little over sensitive about this, but then again, maybe the advice I am about impart can really help someone trying to do a legitimate email campaign.

I am a licensed real estate agent, and a member of the Dekalb Board of Realtors. Somewhere, someone sold their list of members to “advertisers.” I have two email addresses that I have used for real estate and either the Board of Realtors or the MLS service I subscribe to sold the list of members.

I used to take a great offensive to all the SPAM I got to my email addresses; flyers, listings, etc, that I used for my real estate endeavors. My sister-in-law is my broker and she said, “That’s just the way it is.” So I didn’t give it much thought, beyond making the email as SPAM.

But then I started to think about it, and as usual, that’s the problem.

I run my own mail server and I was getting tired of the SPAM that was coming into it that were “real estate flyers.” so I decided to explicitly put these jokers in a blacklist. I’ll name the domains I am blocking here:

# Real Estate Spam 554 Spam not tolerated here 554 Spam not tolerated here 554 Spam not tolerated here 554 Spam not tolerated here

I am running postfix so if you are familiar with it, this is the structure of the blocklist.

So, the majority of SPAM I am getting is from these domains. If you go to each domain’s website, you will see that they do not appear to be legitimate websites. Either the main page is not set up or requires a username/password to view the root documents. Legitimate emailers don’t have anything to hide.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t fault the agents sending this out. Rather I blame the so-called emailers for this. It is clear, that the real estate agents that employ these bozos are either inexperienced in email marketing or lured in by there prices. I have NO DOUBT that these agents are good people with the best intentions and that these so-called email marketeers are misguiding them.

These email marketeers do include a list to unsubscribe from, but bases on their unaccessable websites, I simply don’t trust them. I am worried that if I click on the link to unsubscribe, I am only confirming my email address for more spam. I think of these guys as fly-by-night and it makes me nervous.

So by being “internet-savvy” and a real estate professional, I offer these suggestions to be an effective and Internet friendly email marketeers:

  • DO NOT let someone send emails out on your behalf. Make the effort and do it for yourself so you completely understand how the whole process works.
  • Do your homework. If you are thinking of working with an email marketeer, make sure they are on the up-n-up. A quick Google search can give you a lot of info. Be sure to check Google Groups to see if the outfit you want to work with is in the net-abuse group. If they are, move on.
  • Just because people are a member of an MLS listing service or a Realtor Board, they may not want to see your listings for a 2BR/1BA condo on the other side of town. Doesn’t it make sense that a real estate professional will already have access to the MLS listing service? Why send them SPAM?
  • Do your homework, part II. Make sure the email marketeer is legit. By offering an unsubscribe list, will that user be really unsubscribed? Or will that user just verify their email address for more Viagra and Xanax SPAM.
  • Be smart about who you are sending emails to. Are you simply just blasting your email to everyone? If you have a listing on the NW side of town, how about just blast your listing (via email) to those agents only in the NW? Does your email marketeer allow you to send to a subset of customers based on location if known?

My gut tells me that everyone is fed up with this and simply marking this sort of email as SPAM, and thus it just sort of disappears into their SPAM folder. But how effective is that? Are your readers just marking your emails as SPAM? That’s bad, right? Does your email marketeer have some way for you to gauge the return on investment for your email campaign? If not, you need to find someone who does.

With Craigslist, a free service, how can you determine how effective your email campaign is? Craigslist is FREE and people GO there to view the postings. As an effective real estate agent, you might want to post to Craiglist AND do an email campaign. How do you do it?

I think you have to use a legitmate email marketeer that gives you the tools that you need to measure your potential success, and allows you to be a good internet citizen.

I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting the MailChimp guys and i was floored by their technology, but also the length they went to, to make sure their clients are good Internet citizens. I like these guys and their tech is top notch. At my son’s school, they use Constant Contact as the email method of communication. While I really like the MailChimp guys, my personal experience says that both of these providers are on the up and up.

If you are really in the dark about this, contact me and I’d be happy to consult for you. At the very least, I can point you in the right direction towards getting the best ROI on your LEGITIMATE email campaign. Just don’t buy into these emails that claim a massive amount of coverage. The best you’ll do is have your email address added to the clients’ SPAM rules.

There is no question that an email campaign can be effective, but if you take the extra steps I mentioned here, you be ahead of 80% of the competition.

With more and more buyers going online to research, the client is going to be more and more Internet savvy. Any agent that can “speak their language” and embrace the future will be ahead of those agents who are trying to catch up.

a couple of minutes of fame

Tonight, I had the sheer pleasure of being in the live studio audience for a TV special.  If you live in Georgia, you might know who Clark Howard is.  He’s great.  I’ve been listening to him for years and think he’s a great person that has helped a lot of people.  Tonight we taped a show for next Monday’s airing of a real estate special.  My sister-in-law and I were picked to be in the audience.

Some of you know that I am a real estate investor, property manager, and  agent.  My sister-in-law is my broker and we have worked together on a couple of interesting deals.    I have intended this to be my “Plan B” but as you might know, now is not the best time to fall back on this… maybe just not yet.

Anyways, we both enjoyed the show and the message Clark had to say.  If anything, I am more convinced that my philosophy on real estate is definitely solid and on track.  So, that’s a good thing and I am looking good, (if I do say so myself).

I don’t want to take anything away from the show so I won’t post pictures or what was discussed until the show airs.   The show airs on 9/10 @ 8PM Eastern on Channel 2, WSB.  Be sure to set your TiVos’.

i’d love to be your realtor!

Did you ever see those magnetic signs people have on their cars if they’re a Realtor? I have to laugh whenever I see one since I think of it like those huge inflatable gorillas or dinosaurs car dealers have:

Oh hey, that car dealer has a big inflatable gorilla… I think I’ll buy a car from them…

i’d love to be your realtor!

Anyways, I passed my Post License exam with what I think you’d call a “B.” I’ll take it. I took the class online and really enjoyed it. It was full of a good amount of real practical information that happens to be very applicable to my situation. So, yeah, I guess I’d love to be your Realtor. I’ll plug my broker:

I’m not on the website yet since I haven’t given them a picture yet.

I just wanted to post an update since I actually had a few people ask me about the follow up to this post:


mother, did it need to be so high?

Today was one of those surreal days where it takes some time to sink in. This week has been and is going to be busy since all of our children have last days of school and end of year parties. As it is, I’ve volunteered at my son’s luau on Thursday. I don’t know what to expect but I love working with children so I am looking forward to it.

The surreal stuff, is sort of hard to explain. I rear-ended a Hispanic lady in the morning after she slammed on her brakes for a lame brained reason, (no real damage it was a love tap), I got some good feedback from someone I look up to, I heard good things about myself from another person, I had to leave work early since my wife was really sick, I talked for about two hours with a Polish neighbor and walked away with some Polish cookies and showed him my framed picture of Papiez Jan Paweł II, and then I spent a fair amount of time working on my blog.

Just before this writing session, VH1 was showing “Pink Floyd, The Wall.” I had seen this almost 30 times when I was younger and Midnight Movies were the cool thing to do. Sometimes, I feel like Bob Geldof in the movie. If you’ve seen this movie, you can relate to what I am saying.

I have been busy. I have finished my Real Estate Post license class the other night and am merely waiting to take my final exam. I also got a lot of work done on my blog over the last two days since I finished my online class.I’m pretty wiped out, so I am going to go eat some Melba toast and go to bed.