Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher

Archive for August, 2009

For some time now, I’ve been asking myself if I’d missed the point about Twitter. Give it some time, I told myself. Sometimes these new technologies just need to shake themselves out. Originally, Motorola  shelved the mouse as an input device, only to have someone dust it off years later and make it the tool of choice for personal computers. So I gave Twitter a chance. I tried it myself, and even started to “follow” some people online. Alas, with the release of a new study, I now know  that I should have stuck with my initial reaction. Twitter is  Read more

A recent Businessweek article featuring Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz should be required reading for REALTORS. Its main point – that the Starbucks that told its employees “do anything you feel like” has finally met the cold reality of customer expectations. With sales dropping and stores closing, the Seattle-based giant has had to wake up and smell the coffee. Gone are the boom years, when Starbucks opened a store a week, hired “partners” not employees, and left it up to them to “organically” figure out how to pour coffee and make customers happy. Turns out that was a stupid business model.  Read more

Yesterday found me on the 15th floor of the New York Times building in Manhattan, part of a trio of industry thinkers including Mike Staver and Steve Harney. Joining us for three hours of  “ask anything” discussion were some of the city’s finest brokers and managers. The host, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, had brought us together for a second time (the first in Phoenix) in a brainstorming session that had audience and panel each doing equal work. And unlike one of the usual presentations you might attend, the learning flowed both ways, from industry experts both on  Read more

Which is harder to spot: The Loch Ness Monster or the housing industry recovery? Given the number of false sightings for both, it’s not hard to imagine that we’ll ever see either. It seems that few people can tell if they’re looking at a recovery or not: Even the “Voice of Real Estate” changes its mind every month. Should we call a recovery just because downward trends are slowing, or do we have to wait for them to actually rise? Is a one-month rise sufficient, or should we wait for two quarters positive balance? Can housing recover if consumers continue  Read more

Making mountains out of molehills seems to be a favorite activity in the real estate industry. First, it was the “internet” going to put brokers out of business. Then, it was websites who were “selling” real estate consumers back to agents as leads. Along the way the industry even ate its own, claiming REALTOR.COM was “stealing” the value of brokers’ data because they used it to create a profit selling ads. None of these issues turned out to really be anything more than a few busybodies being, well, busy. So it’s no surprise that over at Inman, they’ve been humping  Read more

So the government has launched another wildly popular subsidy program with its Cash for Clunkers program, offering consumers up to $4500 for trading in their classic cars for purchasing a new one. In fact, the program is so popular that more than 250,000 trades have already been made and the original $1 billion earmarked by Congress spent in days. Uncle Sam will just request a credit increase on his credit card, though, potentially finding another $2 billion to keep the program going. Reasoning: trading in old cars for new ones creates consumption, which trickles-down income throughout the automobile industry network  Read more