Set Down the IPhone and Be Human

“Building Great Relationships.” Its not just TRI Commericial’s tagline, it’s an expression of our business plan. As we embrace the many technological advances in our world today, we still strive to be as “human” as possible with every client. It is just what’s required in our industry’s services. This article says it all.

By Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo


We need to be as interactive with our clients as we are with our devices, says Gersten.

WASHINGTON, DC—I rely on my Uber app, but it’s the driver who gets me where I’m going. brought my friend an introduction, but there wasn’t a true connection until she went on the date. And while Siri is helpful, it’s no substitute for a personal assistant.

Technology helps us save time—both in our personal and professional worlds. It’s important to remember, though, that our industry’s services and expertise are best delivered when we come out from behind our keyboards and meet in person. We need to be as interactive with our clients as we are with our devices.

I won’t argue that a great deal of preliminary work can—and often should—be done online. A renter who’s taken some time to explore their options in general can begin a more meaningful conversation with their agent all the sooner.

Urban Igloo, which helps renters find homes in the Washington and Philadelphia metro areas, is currently developing an enhanced website that empowers renters to first choose the neighborhood that best fits their character and needs. This preliminary step fosters a common understanding between our agents and clients, leading to more qualified and trusting relationships—and better enjoying an otherwise stressful process

Of course, there are additional online and social tools we also use to enhance our face-to-face experiences. Versus a leasing process that’s 100% online, we believe in a model that encourages human touch. We treat our clients the way we would want to be treated. That means learning more about the individuals we’re assisting, serving as their residential guidance counselor, and helping them learn about and begin to immediately enjoy a new neighborhood. Those services—and others that expert firms in this industry provide—cannot be fully replicated online.

Choosing a home is an experience that benefits from the application of online tools, but it’s not like researching and buying a television on Amazon. Ours is an industry full of wonderful people who are eager for our assistance. Let’s set down the iPhone and help them.

Rick Gersten is the founder and CEO of Urban Igloo. He may be reached at The opinions expressed here are the author’s own.

Grammar Rules in Real Estate –

By Sanette Tanaka –

It’s not just English teachers who notice misspellings in luxury-home listings; typos and missing commas can slow sales and drag down prices

Real-estate agents, better take out that red pen.

An analysis of listings priced at $1 million and up shows that “perfect” listings—written in full sentences without spelling or grammatical errors—sell three days faster and are 10% more likely to sell for more than their list price than listings overall.

On the flip side, listings riddled with technical errors—misspellings, incorrect homonyms, incomplete sentences, among others—log the most median days on the market before selling and have the lowest percentage of homes that sell over list price. The analysis, conducted by Redfin, a national real-estate brokerage, and Grammarly, an online proofreading application, examined spelling errors and other grammatical red flags in 106,850 luxury listings in 52 metro areas in 2013.

For an industry without a universal stylebook, real-estate agents vary greatly in their listing descriptions. While some brokerages have created internal guidelines, much of the actual writing is still left up to the discretion of listing agents.

“It’s ubiquitous in this business. Bad grammar, misspellings, stray commas, missing periods—it’s all part of listing descriptions,” says Mickey Conlon, associate real-estate broker with Core in New York.

Good spelling and grammar may indicate the agent is attentive to other details as well, like pricing the home correctly and weighing offers, says Karen Krupsaw, vice president of real-estate operations at Redfin.

  • Most commonly misspelled words in listings: throughout, separate, oversized
  • Riverside, Calif., has the highest rate of listings with misspellings (57% of listings)

    Source: Redfin and Grammarly

“You can get a sense of what the transaction will be like based on the listing description. If it’s exceptionally sloppy, then it’s a warning sign of a potentially sloppy transaction,” Mr. Conlon says.

Aside from errors, the analysis also looked at style preferences in listings. One of the most common: phrases written in all-capital letters. These listings saw the least success in terms of sale price, with only 5.6% of homes selling above list price. The practice is most common in Las Vegas, where 28.5% of listings were written in all capital letters in 2013, compared with 8.4% of listings nationwide.

Las Vegas had the highest rate of for-sale listings in all-capital letters, even though the practice led to smaller comparative gains in sale price, according to Redfin and Grammarly. Zuma Press

Common abbreviations, like “bdrm” for “bedroom,” and short phrases fared well by comparison.

Amy Williams, a broker with Century 21 Real Estate Consultants in Charlotte, N.C., says abbreviations are necessary in multiple-listing services with low character limits. “That’s why we see people resort to abbreviations, to fit everything in,” says Ms. Williams, adding that her MLS caps listing descriptions at 500 characters.

Last year, Francine Chalmé Meyberg, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Encino, Calif., had a $1.499 million listing for a five-bedroom home in Bell Canyon. In addition to the home’s many features, the listing boasted a kitchen “updated w/ redone cab. & recs. lit., & opens to the the bk. area & lg. fam. rm. w/ fipl. & access to the majestic outside.” Her cramming paid off. She sold the property within months of listing for $1.425 million.

Original article can be found here

Is there any room for a Contrarian view?

Post by Bill Wilson – more at

I was not predicting the future, I was trying to prevent it” – Ray Bradbury

Currently, there is “dancing in the streets”, figuratively, by the owners of San Francisco office space, after the announcement of the largest (714,000 sq.ft.) office lease in history by SalesForce. Still, we question whether the upward rush of rental rates can be continued. Recently it was announced that, on average, Class A rates rental rates have advanced by roughly 80% over the past three years. How many firms’ revenue has increased by a similar amount? The answer: very few, concentrated in the tech firms.

It used to be that firms who wanted to cut lease costs could go South of Market Street. Now, new buildings on Howard and Mission Streets, completed only in the last decade, are full at upper-market rents. The tech firms are displacing the Legal and Financial professions, which were the traditional residents North of Market, leaving them with few choices of inexpensive rental facilities. Moreover, the recent announcement that Microsoft is going to lease 50,000 sq.ft. of space in the B of A Building reinforces the message that this district, which was a home to the financial profession, is changing.

Alternately, the Legal and Financial fields have had to cut staff expenses or to “right-size” to get rid of the huge offices created over the last 40 years. This has taken many forms. For some examples: Wells Fargo has shifted some staff members to Salt Lake City, Portland and Seattle; Schwab is moving 1000 workers to Austin, Texas; Gordon & Rees, a mid-sized commercial litigation firm has chosen to send 20,000 sq.ft., largely consisting of staff workers, to Oakland.

Referring to the quote at the start of this letter, it is human nature to extrapolate trends. The fact that “the market” has performed so nicely, from the landlords point of view, has led to a myriad of construction cranes, promising over 4 million square feet of new space by 2017 at asking rates beginning at $65-75/sq.ft. to justify construction costs. Can you afford it?

If you have been at your current location for more than 5 years, the chances are that you aren’t reflecting the savings your competitors have been able to achieve. If you have a move to consider in your future (six months to two years), there are several defensive measures with which I can help you. Don’t go into the Market without a qualified representative!