Blog Archives

InventoryGate: Fact checking “tight inventory” & “the rest of the story”

The headline, “Home buyers face tight inventories, rising prices this spring” followed a predictable script for the past two years, but the level of sensationalized reporting in the Boston Globe’s recent story may have crossed a line.  First a cash bidding

Posted in Bubble Hour, Buyer agent, Counterintelligence, Crowdsourcing, Defensive Homebuying, DIY Homebuyers, In the News, Intention Inventory, Proactive househunting, Tipping Policy

Extreme house hunting: Go hard or go home?

  A story yesterday on the leading real estate technology site revealed two findings worth sharing or should we say exposing — ? 1. An agent in Denver estimates that 25-30% of the sales right now are occurring “off-market.”

Posted in Bidding wars, Consumer protection, Counterintelligence, Defensive Homebuying, DIY Homebuyers, Dual Agency Detective, Extreme Househunting, Proactive househunting, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Seasonality

Best money-savings tools & trends for home buyers in 2008?

The Real Estate Cafe’s "Booth Sleuth" is eager to attend the leading real estate technology conference in New York this week so we can identify the latest tools and trends to help clients save money.  To raise funds, we’re repeating the "fare sale" we offered in November 2007.  If you think you’ll be using our services anytime in 2008, we encourage you to prepay for them now so you can enjoy savings of up to 50%.  More details upon request.

If you’re looking to develop a new product or service to help real estate consumers save time and / or money, we’re also willing to conduct sponsored research at the conference.  For examples of our work, see Twitter posts and "Live Notes" from last real estate conference on The Real Estate Cafe’s public wiki.  Confidential inventory of Web 2.0 applications in real estate also available.

Posted in Change Agents, Counterintelligence, FSBO: Best Practices, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends

What’s in a [real estate blog] name?

The excerpt below was sent to a fellow real estate blogger in San Francisco who wanted to know why The Real Estate Cafe named it’s blog, "Counter Intelligence:"

"Over the past decade, we’ve used a handful of restaurant metaphors to communicate that we provide services to our clients "a la carte," and that we’ve encouraged our customers, clients, and any others to share their perspectives peer-to-peer to get a more insight into what’s really happening in different segments of the real estate market in Greater Boston and beyond. 

In cafes, those kinds of conversations usually occur over coffee tables and sometimes at lunch counters.  Since the real estate industry puts out so much self-serving spin (see our recent blog post on the National Association of Realtors anti-bubble reports), we felt it is important to provide a forum for alternative perspectives, hence the name "Counter Intelligence." 

Call it anything you like, we’re delighted when anyone visits our site, and doubly delighted when they share their opinion in writing or by calling our reader line, 617-876-2117, and recording a brief sound bite [for our real estate podcasts]. 

Posted in Counterintelligence, Inside The Real Estate Cafe, Moblogging in Real Estate, Podcasts, Real Estate Blogs: Best Practices, Real Estate Bubble, Social Networking

Buyer agents’ chatter revealing what’s really going on behind housing stats?

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors releases housing statistics for
the second quarter of 2005 today.   Since that’s the strongest season
of the year, it will mostly likely give home buyers the wrong impression about
what really going on in the local housing market.  For that, you need to listen to the
chatter between real estate professionals, particularly buyer agents on their
own password protected mail lists (something you can’t do ;-).  There, buyer agents in different areas
have already begun asking their peers if they are also
seeing a new phenomena in the market:  houses selling for below their appraised value.  That’s right, not below their asking price, but below their appraised value.  That either means that those lucky homebuyers just made money on their purchase
(the difference between their purchase price and the appraised value of the property) because they were smart enough to use a REAL buyer agent,
or that prices are already falling but that emerging trend has yet to appear in statistics.  Time will tell if these are isolated incidents or not.  In the meantime, put MAR’s upcoming stats into seasonal context or a longer timeframe.  Some argue the 2nd quarter statistics may reflect the top of the market, and years from now will be regarded as a turning point before the housing industry slid into a multi-year recession.

Posted in Counterintelligence, Market trends, Real Estate Bubble

The beginning of the end of the bubble

Posted in Counterintelligence

Back to the future

Posted in Counterintelligence

Blogs and Citizen Journalism in Real Estate

Businessweek1One of The Real Estate Cafe’s first posts was in February 2004 fifteen months before Business Week’s cover story today, in response to a debate among blog gurus at Harvard about where
blogs would strike next: 

"Despite the setbacks to Howard Dean’s
first-of-a-kind Internet operation, the current discussion around the
Blogosphere seems to be centered on when and where the next major
impact point will be, and not whether the Internet will be an important
player from this point on in the American political panorama.

…there is a sea change in the air, and some of the bulwarks of
conventional control of the information stream are crumbling under the
relatively free-form innovations from the digital frontier."

The February 2004 post continued, "This is where blogs might find an entry point in the real estate
industry. As you know Ralph Nader and Steve Brobeck of the Consumer
Federation of America both called the real estate industry a cartel
more than a decade ago. One of my visions is a network of home buyers
who post reviews of open houses and report on local market trends from
the consumers’ perspective. As the air comes out of the real estate
bubble and the industry slides into a multi-year downcycle, home buyers
will become increasing cautious and hungry for this kind of ‘citizen

Fifteen months later, it’s no accident that one of the Business Week articles featured, the leading real estate blog in New York if not the nation, because "[it] dishes the dirt the brokers don’t." Explaining the popularity of his blog, founder and former Massachusetts resident Lockhart Steele told BW, "People trust blog posts more because
they sound like e-mails from a friend."  Since it’s founding in May 2004,’s traffic has soared to over a million page view per month.

Posted in Counterintelligence, Moblogging in Real Estate, Real Estate Bubble, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance

We Media

About "We Media"

We are at the beginning of a Golden Age of journalism — but it is not
journalism as we have known it. Media futurists have predicted that by
2021, "citizens will produce 50 percent of the news peer-to-peer."
However, mainstream news media have yet to meaningfully adopt or
experiment with these new forms.

Posted in Counterintelligence

Will expired listings surpass 2003?

Originally posted to Harvard Law School blog: 1/28/04:

My goal is to develop a forum for real estate consumers, particularly home buyers, to post comments about what is really happening in their local housing markets. Despite the Boston Globe’s headline yesterday, stating that 2003 set a record for existing home sales in Massachusetts, 2003 also so the highest number of expired listings since 1998.

During the last 90 days of 2003, approximately 12,000 listings expired or were canceled. This represents approximately 40% of the homes on the market in Sept 2003, and totals approximately $5 billion in listings.

What does this mean for ordinary consumers? The housing market is not as "hot" as the press is reporting, and expectations that prices will continue to rise at approximately 10% per year in 2004 could result in thousands of buyers overpaying for properties.

Posted in Counterintelligence
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