Why the Investment Crowd is Buying Las Vegas

April 19th, 2012


Las Vegas, one of the hardest hit real estate markets in the US, has recently found itself in a rising market as a result of its shrinking inventory. The market currently only has a six week supply of properties. The main factor in this is a change in legislation (AB284) which had the impact of preventing banks from issuing notices of default. This has result is a drying up of foreclosures which is just as extreme as the glut that was previously flooding the market with cheap homes. New homes builders are stirring from a long, cold hibernation.

The Las Vegas inventory was already declining, but it fell off a cliff with the passing of new state law AB284 after 1st October 2011. In 2011 Las Vegas sold a record 48,186 homes, of which 38,153 were single-family homes and 10,033 condominiums and townhomes. This year the market is on track to sell an even greater number of homes. Taking March 2012 we see that 4,388 homes were sold, versus 4,316 in the same month last year.

In March 2012 we have seen single-family home sales increase by 15.8 percent from the previous month, and sales of condos and townhomes increasing by 15.2%. In March 2011 single-family homes sales were up my a mere 4.4% and condos and townhome sales were actually down 8.4%.

But the factor that most people looking for Las Vegas homes for sale are interested in is pricing, and homes increased 1.7% from February, but are still down 2.3% on the same month last year – the March median price is $123,000.

This increase in pricing really results from the constrained supply rather than economic fundamentals, with 18,200 single-family homes listed for sale at the end of the month, down 3.6 percent from 18,870 single-family homes listed for sale at the end of February and down 18% percent from one year ago. If the foreclosures start again and all other factors remain equal then it is logical to expect a reverse in pricing, but whether those other factors remain equal is difficult to predict.

The cash-buying crowd remains the dominant force in the Las Vegas market, with 54.5% of all homes purchased cash. Another factor is that short sales made up 26.6% of the market. A large amount, although this is down from 34% back in June 2010. The banks are still the majority of the market at 40.7%, which is why a slow down in foreclosures has such an impact.

The total value of real estate transactions in March was $537 million, and 58.8 percent of all homes and 66.6 percent of all condos and townhomes sold within 60 days. .

Share this post with the crowds?
  • Sphinn
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • RSS
  • Reddit

Time for a new online encyclopedia?

January 21st, 2010

Wikipedia is the fifth most visited web site in the world, and the most often cited example of crowdsourcing, but there is trouble in paradise. Created by Jimmy Donal Wales, and its army of users, some say that Wikipedia’s credibility issues are expanding along with it. Is it time for a new online encyclopedia?

Wikipedia has always had its critics, but the Britannica-lovers are getting more vocal of late. The problem is that Wikipedia’s volunteer editors are not increasing at the same rate as the articles, thus the quality of the content is under threat. Compounding this is the fact that the site is being very slow at introducing quality-control measures. Set up with a utopian vision, even a simple change such has having new user entries checked prior to publication is facing resistance because it is seen as being contrary to the wiki ethos.

The site may have reached a tipping point at which expansion reduces the quality of the product. This is a dangerous state of affairs, as once an encyclopedia has too many examples of errors it can rapidly lose the credibility on which it relies.

Right now there is also no clear way to measure who the good editors are, and it is not known how Wikipedia will attract the increase in editors that it needs. Furthermore, there is no way for a reader to assess the quality of an article when they land on the site. The site has crowd contribution, without using that crowd resource to make sure that the cream rises to the top. Should they Digg the site up a bit?

What interests me is that Wales thinks that Wikipeida’s dominance is safe because of its charitable status. He says of Google, “They don’t look at us and see a $1bn revenue opportunity they should be competing for.” I disagree: even though Google’s Knoll is only just over 100,000 articles I wouldn’t count them, or a new entrant, out of the game. Just because Wikipedia doesn’t monetize its eyeballs it does not mean a new company can’t. And if Wikipedia’s problems do expand, then expect a nimble competitor to come in and offer an alternative. One thing we can say for certain is that the top five sites is not going to be a static list over the next few years.

What do you think would make a Wikipedia killer? Have editors share in the AdSense revenue of the pages they edit?  Have an international network of universities create the encyclopedia in return for branding and revenue share?

Share this post with the crowds?
  • Sphinn
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • RSS
  • Reddit

Crowdsourcing is a BS Idea

January 20th, 2010

Every day I come across at least five new crowdsourcing tools or companies, and what always strikes me is how diverse they are. This crowdsourcing stuff is a phenomenon that is sweeping through many industries.

Today I enjoyed reading about the ways lawyers are now keeping tabs on each other by crowdsourcing information from within individual firms for industry-wide dissemination. Take a look at http://lawshucks.com/lateral-tracker/ to see how colleagues are reporting on each other’s job moves from firm to firm in the hope of winning an i-Phone. Although it is not really about the prize: attorneys want to contribute so that this becomes a useful resource and they can keep an eye on who might be coming to join their firm. Junior lawyers can make sure that Scott H. Greenfield isn’t coming to take over their practice area and give them a hard time about trawling for clients on Facebook :-)

Over at Banco Sabadell they have launched BS Idea – a new platform to crowdsource employees’ ideas. It sounds like they have made some efforts to ensure that is more than just an online suggestion box:

  • People can vote on their colleague’s ideas, which creates a sense of competition
  • People can suggest new ideas without censorship. Apparently, somebody in the company classifies the ideas in 5 levels and 17 categories, deppending on how they can be used internally
  • People use the corporate intranet, so they don’t need to use a new login system
  • There is an electronic newsletter in which the best ideas are shared, together with some info on the ones that have been selected
  • Special requests for participation will be addressed by the company periodically so that employees increase the use of the tool related to a certain concern in the bank.

This type of bespoke corporate platform is getting easier and cheaper to set up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the growth of private platforms take a big chunk out of the profits that the big social media platforms are targetting.

Amongst all the euphoria I always a good post about the challenges of the wiki world. The post by Gasellit is a good one because it provides practical advice on how to overcome the challenges of crowdsourcing.

Share this post with the crowds?
  • Sphinn
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • RSS
  • Reddit

The Whisky Web

January 20th, 2010

How can you compete when you don’t know who your competition is? The mistake that dinosaur Murdoch, the foe of Google, and the rest of the old publishing world made was competing against each other in a dwindling space, whilst agile new companies stepped in and ate the fresh new lunch that was there for the taking.

When you look at a company like Whisky Media you can only admire what it is up to. After raising another $2.5m from from friends and family at the end of last year, it noted, ‘We believe that we are at the center of a new wave of publishing that is socially-centered, and is also in the truest sense authentic to its category. We believe that the media brands we have developed with our “Whiskey Powered” process and technology platform will truly change how we all enjoy media, and we’re looking forward to going to even more categories we love next year. It looks to be a great time.’

Cartoon Crowd

So what is this whisky power all about? Well, it uses technology to harness the crowds to create community, to create content, to share a common interest. One of their products is Anime Vice – an anime and manga community that anyone can edit. Another is the world’s largest editable video game database The platform that they use is a cross between wikipedia and a forum, with some social media spice thrown in.

Recently I have seen more newspapers making an effort to engage, especially in their travel sections where readers are invited to send in their favorite trips. But this is the exception rather than the rule. Even a paper that gets it like www.guardian.co.uk has comments switched off for many of its articles. This just isn’t good enough. These days we expect to be able to comment at a minumum, and as the whisky web expands it is those sites that we will gravitate to.  Sites where we can co-create and share a richer experience.

The changes that Whisky Media is making to available technologies seem incremental to me, but often a small change can make a big impact. What they do very well is create authentic communities, and that seems to come from the fact they have a genuine interest in the topics before creating an online space for them. I look forward to seeing what new sites they launch this year.

Share this post with the crowds?
  • Sphinn
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • RSS
  • Reddit

Why Facebook Works

January 14th, 2010

As the data above illustrates Facebook is a platform where the users are highly engaged – 661 page views per month for the average user. This is the sort of environment that brands love to be in because it is more likley to lead to a meaningful relationship. Also, a Facebook fan page has a third-party independent feel to it as fans can leave comments, and are providing endorsement by allowing their Facebook profiles to be associated with the products.

The combination of these factors means that Facebook fan pages are fast becoming major branding tools. See http://www.facebook.com/jcrew as an example. Digitial branding platforms are growing off the back of companys’ desire to access social media in a strategic manner. Buddy Media’s business looks like an interesting one.

Meanwhile, I am still a one fan man. Feel free to increase that by 100%!
http://www.facebook.com/pages/crowdmanage/221221204057

Share this post with the crowds?
  • Sphinn
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • RSS
  • Reddit

Linchpin Marketing

January 14th, 2010

After my premature review of Seth Godin’s Linchpin I have been eagerly awaiting updates from my American cousins so that I can see what we Euros are in for when it ships. With the official launch on January 26th and the advance copies in the hands of Seth’s Tribe the tweets and posts are very positive. I like this review by Trebuchet because it succinctly summarizes the advice that Seth gives to succeed in the shifting sands of today’s business environment. There is a full list of the reviews over at Squidoo.

I continue to be impressed with the marketing campaign behind this book, and it’s clear that Seth walks the talk. Following the pre-release copy to the first 3,000 people who made a donation of at least $30 to the Acumen Fund, the book signing sessions offer a two hour Q&A: http://www.squidoo.com/thelinchpinsession I would snap tickets up for this if I was in New York.

The review over at Lowell’s they note that many of the themes in Linchpin will be familiar ones to readers of Seth’s previous writing, which is the impression I got from the preview. It also seems I may be right in suggesting that this is more of a self-help book than previous works. The team over at Lowell’s, ‘struggled with how to categorize this remarkable book. Is it a self-help book? A leadership book? A business strategy book?’ I can’t anwer that yet, but I look forward to being able to soon.

Share this post with the crowds?
  • Sphinn
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • RSS
  • Reddit

Assault SERPs with Twitter Lists

January 12th, 2010

I knew real-time search was up and running, but hadn’t been incorporating it into my SEO. After a tweet from @eric_andersen I realized I am missing a trick and better get on with it. See video post below for the full story.

Some people are quite rightly criticising the way Twitter Feeds are showing up, and the best posts I have found on this topic are http://www.wolf-howl.com/seo/twitter-lists-orm/ and http://www.wolf-howl.com/google/google-monkey-games/

Share this post with the crowds?
  • Sphinn
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • RSS
  • Reddit

BMX Bruce Marler and Facebook

January 12th, 2010

Along with people like Elliot and Tyler, one of my favorite blogs that combines business with personal details is Bruce Marler’s. His missouri.me site is an inspiration to me as I work on my own geo domain. Mine is a vacation focused domain, so it will be quite different, but one day I’d love to build a consulting and services business around a geo domain in a similar fashion to Bruce.

Anyway, after my last Facebook post, Bruce has assured me that it is well worth building a Facebook presence so I will keep plugging away. But for now I’d like to give a shout out to Daniel Seyde who is my first so-called ‘fan’. Gotta say I hate the word fan in this context, as my Facebook page is about sharing ideas.

You can see how Bruce clarified things for me below. His comments section usually has some thoughtful dialogue so if you have any interest in domaining give his site a look.

@crowdmanage
What I am asking myself is why people would want to drive traffic away from their own blog onto third party Facebook when Facebook doesn’t offer any extra tools to interact with the people that you send there.

You could say that they you will attract new Facebook fans as you will appear in the feeds/on the page of those people, but I don’t see evidence that this networking effect works. Do you?

I am going to be experimenting with Facebook, but so far the site has demonstrated that it is good for connecting to old friends and selling online games that rebill you mercilessly. This idea that you get access to 350m people – does it really work? Maybe more for advertising that organic networking?

One benefit of Facebook.com/missourime is that you get a PR4 back to your site, but Facebook isn’t going to monetize off the back off small SEO-savvy companies using it for link-building.

Bruce Marler
The great thing about fan pages is that you drive people to your website that are fans to see more content, i.e. if a restaurant has a coupon special there is a chance that people are not actively going to the site to look for it, BUT if they are fans they may see a link to it posted to the feed.

On the other side, you can use a link from your site to the fan page to gain fans which means they are interested in your site, then when you post links they are more likely to be driven back to the site even if it was out of their mind.

It works.

(Yes that is Bruce on the BMX!)

Share this post with the crowds?
  • Sphinn
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • RSS
  • Reddit

Facebook Networking is Giving me a Headache

January 8th, 2010

@crowdmanage on Facebook

As you can see I have set up a Facebook page connected to this blog:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/crowdmanage/221221204057

As the spiel goes, with 350 million users you can’t afford not to be there. But I am going to suspend judgment until further investigation.

My initial frustration is that there are a number of restrictions on what you can do with a ‘fan page’ versus a personal profile. I couldn’t even use the search function without also setting up a personal profile. Although this personal profile is not directly associated with the fan page, it is the only way I can reach out to other users on Facebook to let them know about our shared interest and the page I have set up.

Of course I already have a personal profile on Facebook which I use for connecting to friends and family. To my knowledge none of them are interested in crowdsourcing, and I shouldn’t think any of my blog readers are interested in seeing photos of me intoxicated in a New York bar, or riding my bike through the Formentera countryside wearing a funny hat. So the ‘fan page’ and personal profile stay separate.

But this means that I don’t have any profile on Facebook with which I can network with like-mined people. I don’t want to use my personal details to join internet marketing groups and then have my buffoonery show up in their feeds. Furthermore, it is very fiddly to adjust privacy settings on Facebook so I don’t want to constantly adjust my settings for different types of friends.

So this means that I have a fan page, but the only way anyone will find it is if I refer them to it from another site such as this blog or my @crowdmanage Twitter account. This doesn’t make much sense because I am already interacting with people on these sites, and Facebook doesn’t offer any extra features that encourage me to direct them to it.

Another problem is that there is no easy way to synch your Twitter updates with a fan page. There was an ap that did this, but the designer took it down as it was unreliable. The only option I know of right now is the Selective Twitter app which will sync updates to your fan page so long as you end them with the #fb hashtag.

An alternative is to set up a group, but you come up with the same issue. As Mashable wrote, “Groups are also directly connected to the people who administer them, meaning that activities that go on there could reflect on you personally.” The Mashable article covers all the differences between group and fan pages.

Right now I am not sure what I will do. Maybe I should start a group using my personal profile, and just decline friend requests from the people in the group. Or maybe I should just forget about having a Facebook page for discussing crowdsourcing. When I look around at my peers such as Elliot’s Blog I don’t think that it is really adding much for him to have a fan page – take a look at the page he set up a year ago. With Elliot having such a vibrant blog with rich comment threads I guess that this fan page is surplus to requirements.

I see what Facebook is trying to do – push genuine profiles onto the web to encourage higher quality interaction. It makes sense and I am a big fan of Facebook Connect. But on the other hand Facebook is a great tool for sharing some intimate moments with close friends across the world, and it seems to me that you have to compromise this if you want to make the best use of Facebook for networking purposes.

I’m not going to give up though – I will investigate and let you know if I can make Facebook work for me.

Share this post with the crowds?
  • Sphinn
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • RSS
  • Reddit

Buy my Snakeoil

January 8th, 2010

Ah, the lure of affiliate marketing. There is nothing that I would like better than to spend $5m a year on AdWords and collect $6m in revenues. I’d be so satisfied that I wouldn’t even feel the need to write a blog telling people how I did it. But of course that is how most of the ‘super-affiliates’ actually make their money, and why not when folks like me have a tendency to read the dream rather than live it!

Anyway, one of the uber affiliates in my feed reader has recently been publishing some interesting posts about his use of Twitter. With companies now lining up to pay for sponsored tweets it seems that this is the new holy grail, and instead of running PPC, I am going to tweet myself rich. Or not. Anyway, Jonathan Volk published the results of his sponsored tweets, and it turns out that it costs advertisers 42 cents per click for him to send out a sponsored tweet. Not too shabby for reaching the make money online crowd that make up Volk’s followers.

What interests me is that Volk has 16,000 followers yet he is averaging less than 50 clicks on a sponsored tweet, or 0.3%.  This follows Anil Dash’s recent comments that most of his 200,000+ followers have zero interaction with him.

I think the most valuable type of Twitter account for advertisers is one where there is high levels of interaction between followers and the account. I have accounts I created for web sites with over 1,000 followers that are essentialy worthless since I used auto-follow tools.

My guess is that the conversion ratios from Volk’s click thrus don’t match that of Adwords and thus the 42 cents may not be such a bargain. However, luckily for tweeters companies have proved over the years that they need to spend on advertising even if it doesn’t work, so maybe I should look at registering some of my accounts for sponsored tweets. I am not talking about @crowdmanage here as that is my account for using Twitter as is should be used – for a genuine dialogue and exchange of ideas.

If you were an advertiser what sort of characteristics would you want the Twitter account to have?

Share this post with the crowds?
  • Sphinn
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • RSS
  • Reddit