Nest In The News

Frequently, I am asked how Nest is going. “It’s great!” seems a bit trite. So, rather than tell you how I think it’s going. I thought I would just point out how other people think its going.

Discussing Nest Realty:

From The Hook:

“changing the way real estate is transacted in Central Virginia” by using a more “technologically savvy” and “client-centric” approach.

Discussing our web site:

Charlottesville Real Estate_s New Breed of Broker_ Nest Realty Group.jpg

From 1000 Watt Blog

But this is about more than a website. … Brokerage companies are in for a serious brain drain unless they can use their assets in a manner that supports, rather than inhibits, these stars [referring to Jonathan Kauffman, our Principal Broker].

From PropertyLight – A UK On-Line Marketing firm (We have no idea how they found us)

  • Nest Realty Group has created the property website you wish you had.
  • In the US, a small property broker has created a website that should make most of the industry here in the UK re-think how they present themselves online.
  • Inspiration. This website does something that we’ve yet to see in an agent website here in the UK…. it inspires.

Discussing our Custom Signs:

From NBC 29

Killer Signs from Keith Davis on Vimeo. | Nest Realty, Jim Duncan’s new broker, joins the custom sign club | National real estate marketing and technology blog | Realtors and real estate, mortgage and investment news.jpg

From the Bloodhound Blog

First, I think these signs are striking, very interesting graphically. The grid layout is sweet and fine, a very clean style of communication.

From RealCentralVA – This is Jim Duncan’s site who is one of our agents. But, notice the comments he got, many from other agents and brokers.  (A few of the more than 20 comments are below.)

  • What’s not to love? They look great and I am happy to see “single property signs” spreading, I think they are one of the best services you can bring to the seller.
  • really impressed with this. love how it’s modular (top and bottom are on each sign, the big portion goes with each house). brilliant. well done!
  • Talk about transparency! That is awesome and I think the gen. public will love it. If the house isn’t what they’re looking for, then “no harm, no foul” and no one wasted anyone’s time.
  • I like this! Not only do you get a price on the property without stopping the car, but this sign is actually more about the property for sale than the agency representing it. That’s refreshing. I would love it if I were a seller.

(Emphasis Mine, WKD)

Coming Home to Nest (or, My Most Important Post Ever)

Originally Posted February 15, 2009

Today marks a huge shift. For me, and I believe, for Charlottesville real estate. Today marks the official launch of Nest Realty Group, a team of four experienced Realtors who believe that the consumer has changed, the market has changed, and its time that Realtors change as well.

For more than a decade, I have found myself working at start-up companies in information and technology fields. I suppose it’s not surprising then, that I would head for the start-up route again. Each company in which I have been involved has existed in a mature industry, but has changed the way in which the industry operates. From a company that used genetic algorithms to train and schedule employees, to a firm that used simple (it’s all relative) bio-data from premature infants to predict illness before there were any physical symptoms, every company I have helped steer has believed that there is always a better way to do things. Well, here we go again.

Nest is another real estate firm. We will help list and sell real estate. To that end, we are the same as other firms. I’d like to think that the similarities stop there.

Over the next few days, I will be writing far more in depth posts about the ways in which we are different, but I will give you a few teasers here.

  1. No Dual Agency – Would you ask a Divorce attorney to represent both you and your spouse in your divorce? No. Then why would you believe that a Realtor could represent two sides of the same transaction? They can’t. In my posts in the next few days, I will delve into this more fully. Do I need to be at Nest to refuse Dual Agency? Absolutely not. In fact, I have never worked a deal as a Dual Agent, and I have been very forthright from the start of my career that I have no intention of doing so. Then why Nest? Because we believe that as a firm, our outspoken stance on rejecting Dual Agency will be an asset that Clients will recognize, and it will be a first step in establishing a higher standard for all ethics in our business.
  2. Experienced Agents Only – We are not a training firm. We are not designed to handle hundreds of agents. We don’t want to. We have built our Nest to house only the best, and only experienced agents. All of our team have been in the business more than three years, and within the next few months, we will all complete our Brokerage license. It is a company policy that anyone who joins us down the road will have similar experience and will already have or will pursue their Brokerage license as well.
  3. No Part Time Agents – Nest Agents will not be involved in real estate as a side business. We believe that Realtors who are not fully vested in the industry do their clients a disservice. The value that a Realtor brings to a transaction does not come from simply having a license, it is developed over years of learning every detail of a market and being able to interpret trends from that information. When a Client hires a Nest agent, they will know that their agent is committed to them fully, not just when they are off duty from another job.
  4. Technology – A quick look at our web site will point out that we are different. Clients can find information on listings, but not by stumbling through generic user interfaces. Our clients will be able to begin with maps, or schools, or neighborhood features, or price. Our searches can be saved, and they can be meshed with school information and proximity to shopping… and yes, even the closest vineyard.
  5. Marketing – I can’t go into too many details here, as we are still working with some providers to ensure that Nest does more to market properties than any other firm in Charlottesville. PERIOD. Consumers are changing, and we want to ensure that we are targeting every conceivable market that we can. This means using the MLS, as well as a plethora of on-line services from to Trulia, Zillow, and about 20 more. It means utilizing social media in ways we may not yet fully understand. It also means revamping the way we think about advertising media that we have been using for decades. Print ads are dead, but that doesn’t mean the only place to advertise is on-line. More about this later.
  6. Transparency – I work for my clients. It’s that simple. Anything I do in the course of business should be an open book. When they make an offer on a home, I will share with them all the information I have analyzed in helping them understand the market. I will share my marketing plan, showing information, everything. There should never be a question as to what I am doing to work FOR my client.

So, here we go in a new direction. I can’t express to you how excited I am to be doing this. For years, I have been writing about ways the industry needs to change to accommodate the consumer. And now, I look forward to being part of that change.

I can’t say where the industry will be in 5 years, but I can’t tell you without a doubt, it won’t be where it is today. We are in a rapid fire time of change; one that should excite consumers and Realtors alike. I can’t wait to change, and I can’t wait to see how the consumer asks me to change.

Welcome to our Nest!

Bloomberg Agrees With Me

Originally Published June 19, 2008

OK, so I doubt that Bloomberg reported on real estate advertising sales just so my last blog posting would have some validation, but I’ll certainly reprint what they have to say. Bloomberg reported this week that in the first quarter of 2008, print ads were down 14% across the full spectrum of industries. But amongst real estate, ads were down 35%. Why so much emphasis on real estate? and, where have these ads gone?

As I wrote in my last post, advertising dollars are shifting. Bloomberg has confirmed this with dramatic numbers that quantify how much the shift is occuring. The national media is in for some more belt tightening, as the newspapers have reported that the amount of on-line advertising is not close to making up for the lost print ads. The problem, as Bloomberg reports, is that many of these historical advertisers have turned to creating their own advertising medium in the form of web sites, blogs, and more. Why pay to advertise on a newspaper web site when not all your viewers are looking for your product, when you can start a web site that captures exactly the audience that a company wants. It is target niche marketing at its finest.

Real Estate ads are down for two reasons: 1) Because real estate ads are down everywhere. The number of listings may be up, but the number of agents is down, and the need to conserve cash is becoming more evident. 2) Print ads are not good for real estate. A seller can get so much more information across in web advertising. Why place an ad with a 2″ x 3″ photo (which by the way is huge in newsprint) when you can devote a web page including floor plans, virtual tours, maps, local information and more to a single property?

Print ads continue to be a good way to increase public awareness for individuals not shopping for homes, but they don’t really help in selling properties any more.

Really Expensive Advertising For Sale

Originally Published June 11, 2008

While agents are forced every day to determine whether to spend money on print advertising or Internet ads, typically, we are looking at $150 – $5,000 purchase decisions. Landmark Communications out of Norfolk is hoping to fetch $1.4 billion for the sale of their advertising division that includes and many print publications (AutoTrader, TruckTrader, TraderOnLine, etc…). Consumers won’t notice the change, and frankly, most Realtors don’t know who owns these publications anyway, but it does show a shift that is being recognized by those in power, and profit taking is occurring before there are losses.

If you grab a copy of the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors adverstising publication The Real Estate Weekly and count the pages, and then look at the publication from 2 years ago, you’ll immediately see what is happening. What was once a lucrative business of publishing listings has become yet another industry to die off at the hands of the Internet.

Print publications, such as those for sale by Landmark, come out a week to two weeks after ads are submitted which could be as much as a month after a listing is available. So, six weeks after you need to get information in the hands of buyers, the information is there. Whereas the Internet provides instant accessibility. Landmark read the tea leaves appropriately years ago when they launched, but has had such a dominating market presence that the brand of has never really taken off. Now, with sites like Zillow and Trulia providing enormous amounts of information, pure advertising sites just don’t hold the value.

Ironically, while I am spending less and less on print advertising, my ad budget is larger than ever. I now have to pay for upgrades on, fees to Visual Tours, web hosting fees, SEO fees, IDX fees, and the list goes on and on. All for the sole purpose of driving customers. But, the truth is that buyers are overwhelmed with advertisements, they want information, they want to find what they want when they want. They only want the tools provided to them.

So, for Landmark, I wish them well in fetching $1.4 billion. But they are right again in trying to get some profits out before this advertising line up diminishes. The future is in information, and providing it in a useable manner. Not in listing home after indistinguishable home on a piece of paper with little to no shelf life.

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