Cicerone's Top 20 Bloggers of 2007

Mortgage and Lending with Cognicorp Mortgage Banking Advisory

Without a doubt, this is the hardest post I have ever made. Compiling a list of my favorite bloggers was easy, the hard part was limiting the list to twenty. There are at least twenty other bloggers just as deserving and for them I truly meant no slight.

However, I'm positive you will find this elite group of twenty individuals incredibly talented, smart, insightful and very deserving.

Cicerone's Top Bloggers of 2007

The Thinkers (Egg Heads):

Brian_bradyBrian Brady - From a pure marketing perspective, Brian Brady is a combination of Jay Conrad Levinson, Tom Peters, Milton Friedman, John Boyd, Claude Hopkins and Dan Kennedy with a dose of Jesuit Priest all rolled into one. Yet, before going further, let me make three clarifications:

  1. He is an updated 21st century version of Jay Conrad Levinson and Clyde Hopkins
  2. Is much more polished and articulate than Dan Kennedy, and
  3. Brian is a rare intellectual that can apply theory while making it profitable and efficient in the real world

We all know Brian as the ubiquitous guy in suspenders, America's Mortgage Broker and America's Most Opinionated Mortgage Broker. Yes, he is all those, yet his substance and intellectual prowess runs much deeper than most realize. If you want to learn and master strategies on bridging the digital divide via social networking, no one from a mortgage perspective does it better than Brain...why do you think he's ubiquitous?

Brian is also a contributing author at Bloodhound Blog.

In a nutshell, Brian is the rare individual that possesses both streets smarts and book smarts. If all Villanova business school graduates are as impressive, they really have something special going on in Philadelphia.

Hopefully, in the future we will be referring to Brain as Professor Brady or better yet, Dean Brady. Both the mortgage industry and the academic community need Brain Brady...the real Mortgage Professor.


Pat_kitano Pat Kitano - I don't know Pat personally, yet he impresses me. Pat Kitano authors Transparent Real Estate and is the co-Founder, Managing Principal of Domus Consulting Group, a management consulting firm working with real estate brokerages and Web 2.0 companies to develop technology marketing strategies, and with venture investors on new business models.

Since graduating from Cal Berkeley (Geophysics) and Columbia University (MBA), he has been involved in four competitive industries - films, investment banking, Internet technology and real estate.

Hopefully our paths will converge in the near future.


Ed_rybczynski Ed Rybczynski - Ed writes the best, smartest and most insightful title industry blog I have read. His blog, Titleopoly focuses on fraud issues that prevail in the title industry. From 1988 - 2003, Ed Rybczynski was the owner and president of a Baltimore based title agency named Liberty Title. In November of 2003, Ed plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges (postal fraud) stemming from property flipping and mortgage fraud.  Ed was an inmate at the Lewisburg Federal Prison Camp located in central Pennsylvania.

While incarcerated, Ed successfully developed a general studies curriculum for learning disabled inmates who were studying for a GED in a multi-cultural environment.  Before being released, Ed was asked by prison officials to head the camps career development program.

Today Ed is a highly regarded public speaker who travels nationally to give presentations to groups of title agents, corporate executives, mortgage brokers, elected officials and other concerned groups. His current project is the positioning of Rybczynski Consulting as the nations leading authority in the areas or professional development, best practices, and fraud mitigation for the title industry.


Brett_rogers Brett Rogers - I have had the fortune and pleasure of working with Brett in the past and believe me when I tell you - he is one smart free-thinking cookie! He currently works for a very large financial services company  (a Fortune 20 corporation) as a strategic consultant to help them re-discover its strengths by learning what drives its culture internally. Brett analyzes why people like to do business with the company and dig to see how deep that loyalty is. Looking at the company's strengths both internally and externally then enables him to see what blue oceans they might explore to grow their business.

While Brett's blog is not focused on mortgage banking nor real estate, what he writes about will force you to think. His blog, was written/programmed (by him) from scratch. No Blogger, no Wordpress- he wrote it himself. Why? As I told you, he's smart and he wanted creative control, so he could stretch the bounds and not be contained by the limitations of other tools.

Brett is a true Renaissance Man in that he is a top notch strategic thinker, skilled programmer, painter, photographer, social scientist and truly a decent human being.


Dan_melson_2Dan Melson does not have the best looking site, yet his insight and perspective about issues related to the mortgage industry are top notch and well thought out. What I like about his posts are they are relevant to what we as mortgage professionals need to know, yet no one else seems to be writing about.

Dan is not your typical loan officer...In a roundabout way, he is the anti-zeitgeist of popular mortgage blogging herd-think and definitely not an SEO driven blogger. 

Visit his site at


The Storytellers:

Mikemueller_3 Mike Mueller - A long time blogger that not only contributes at Lenderama, he maintains his own site at Mike's Mortgage Minute. His greatest asset however is his ability to use metaphors and parables to clearly explain complex issues and concepts. Mike never ceases to amaze me with his use of metaphoric devices to articulate daunting concepts...I wish he would have been my Calculus teacher in college!

Additionally, Mike is one of the good guys in the industry!


Rhonda_porter_2Rhonda Porter -   Rhonda is the Meg Ryan of mortgage banking (and I mean that as a compliment). She is truly one of the nicest yet professional human beings in our industry. As author of the Mortgage Porter and R-Team, she has made her mark as one of the top bloggers and mortgage planners not only in her market (Seattle), but across the nation. What I love about Rhonda's writing style is her ability to tell a story and make it so relevant to her readers. Rhonda writes from her heart and with honesty. From the moment you read Rhonda's posts, her compassion and drive to help consumers is evident.

Rhonda is also a contributing author at Rain City Blog.

Over the last year I have gotten to know Rhonda and she is honest, ethical, knowledgeable, experienced, caring and best of all, the real deal!


Dan_green_3 Dan Green - Dan's ability to explain the multi-disciplined nature of economics and how it is a combination of sociology, history, political science, philosophy and personal finances all rapped into one is surpassed by no one in the industry. In fact, he reminds me of the late Robert L. Heilbroner and his ability to make the lives and concepts of the great economists interesting even to college freshman taking their first economics course.

In addition to Dan being the consummate mortgage planning professional in Chicago-land, he is also the driving force behind Bring The Blog



Morgan_brownMorgan Brown - In a short year, Morgan's Blown Mortgage blog has become one of the most visited and popular mortgage related sites in the blogosphere. Quite frankly, that didn't happen by accident...he works hard at his craft. Morgan writes with a dour bend towards the housing market while exposing many of the unethical or darker participants/practices in both the real estate and mortgage industry.

Over the last few months, Morgan has upgraded his blog platform, improved the layout and added contributing authors to Blown Mortgage. In a nutshell, he keeps making it better and I for one look forward to seeing what 2008 has in store for Blown Mortgage and it's readers.

A University of California at Santa Barbara graduate, Morgan like Brian Brady above is a right coaster that switched to a left coaster.

Morgan is also a contributing author at Bloodhound Blog.


The Hybrids:

Todd_carpenterTodd Carpenter at Lenderama is in the midst of building a truly great mortgage and real estate blog. Over the last few months, Todd has re-designed his site and build a team of top notch contributers from across the the mortgage and real estate spectrum.

I'm very excited to watch Lenderama grow and find its voice as Todd learns and grows with his new format. Todd, I can feel the momentum building!


Greg_swann Greg Swann at Bloodhound Blog has build the standard in which any contributer based blog in the mortgage or real estate industry is measured. He has assembled an all-star group of contributers that are second-to-none and his layout is top-notch.

Since Bloodhound is so well know, I won't spend a lot of time singing its praises (they are numerous).


Real Estate:

Soundbite_blogSound Bite Blog - There are two master minds behind this blog, Rich Jacobson and Mark Flanders.

Rich is the Realtor and Mark is the mortgage originator/site designer/webmaster. Truth be said, this is the first blog I fell in love with and in my humble opinion the coolest looking (compliments of Mark Flanders). Additionally, Rich and Mark write one of the top five hyper-local blogs in the industry. Every time I read their posts (pictures and all) it makes me feel like packing up my family and moving to the Puget Sound.

Another thing I have not mentioned, they are GREAT guys and truly professionals in each of their respective fields.


Athol_kay Athol Kay injects his site with humor like no one else in the mortgage or real estate industry. One of my mentors (Dennis Geist) taught me years ago that one can have fun and laugh while still being a top notch professional...Athol proves that point in spades!

Athol is a Kiwi that ads a punch to both the Connecticut real estate market and the readers who visit RE Agent In CT in droves for their daily viewing of Bad MLS Photo of the Day.

Athol is also know in his market as the Leonardo Da Vinci of taking MLS photos.

If Athol reads this - Two things I really miss. (1) The Sock Puppet and (2) The Feedbag.

RE Agent In CT is one site I check out every day!


Jeff_brownJeff Brown aka The Bawld Guy is also a thinker. Jeff specializes in working with real estate investors. Anyone interested in learning the essentials of real estate investment must read Jeff's Bawld Guy Blog.

Jeff is also a contributer at Bloodhound Blog.


Maggie_dokic Maggie Dokic is someone I greatly admire as a person, Realtor and writer. Maggie has experienced challenges during her lifetime that would have buckled most, yet her positive outlook on life, her faith in God and her desire to help people never ceases. Originally from Cuba, she and her family escaped and emigrated to the United States. Additionally, As a young woman her husband passed away unexpectedly leaving her with several young children to raise by herself.  When reading her posts at Active Rain and The Blog That Ate Miami, one immediately senses her empathy and understanding of people.

Maggie inspires me and the Miami Real Estate Community is lucky to have her represent them.


Joe_zekas_2 Joe Zekas at YoChicago can be arrogant, brash and down right in your face at times, yet, I keep reading him religiously. Why? Because he is a damn good read!

How does one explain Joe? I think that is best left to Joe's self description of himself as a "dirt-poor Pennsylvania coal-town kid, shortest in class through 8th grade, New Jerseyan, hitch-hiker, motorcyclist, statistical typist, library clerk, delivery boy, classical scholar wannabe, gas station attendant, tuxedo salesman, psychiatric aide, social worker, civil rights activist, draft-dodger, gun-toting truck driver (Brinks), bartender, temp secretary, Lucey's Raider, Wisconsinite, large-firm attorney, real estate developer, condo converter, tax shelter syndicator, multi-level marketer, married person, newspaper publisher, money-losing tech gadfly, software developer to name a few."

Yo, check Joe out at YoChicago.


The Techies:

NiknikNicole Nicolae at MyTechOpinion writes a smart blog focusing on technology in real estate. I pick up numerous tips on a weekly basis and highly recommend it to anyone interested in maximizing technology in their real estate or mortgage business practice. To be fair, Nicole's husband Reggie Nicolae and Chad Johnson are also major contributers.



Photo_juliaJulia Wei is a litigation attorney with the Law Offices of Peter N. Brewer and maintains Dirt Law Blog. Dirt Law is a site providing commentary and insight into real estate and lending law, mortgages and foreclosure process from a legal perspective. While Ms. Wei addresses these issues from a California viewpoint, most anyone will find her posts informative and in most cases, applicable to their geographic area in which they live.


Omg_larry The Old Guy at OMG Larry consistently makes me laugh. While the old guy has nothing to do with mortgages and real estate, he is worth a daily read. We are in a tough business and sometimes a little humor is what we all need.

Plus, I bet he would be hilarious to meet!


Lani_anglin_2 Lani Anglin felt cheated, demanded a recount, and secretly believes Athol Kay rigged the final results. Like a true Texan, she called the original Cicerone's 20 Top Bloggers of 2007 list BUNK for not being fairly represented with skinny blonde Realtors with racks (her words, not mine).

Thus, because of the controversy Lani brought to our attention, I'm declaring Lani tied for 20th place with OMG Larry (since he is not in the business).

NOTE: Lani truly is one of my favorite bloggers and is very deserving.

Another post from The Mortgage Cicerone.

Comments (26)

Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services
I appreciate all the time and analysis that went into this post.  I must admit that I don't know all of these great bloggers. I will have to check some of these out further.  Others, I am very familiar with.
Jan 09, 2008 01:07 PM
Christy Powers
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Pooler, GA
Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent
HAHA....that was funny. I love how you made sure to put it was her words and not yours! Those were all great choices.
Jan 09, 2008 01:09 PM
Larry Bettag
Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001 - Saint Charles, IL
Vice-President of National Production
Great post dude....It takes a lot to go deep sometimes....thanks for your efforts.  Blessings to you this new year.
Jan 09, 2008 01:48 PM
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL
What an eclectic group of blogs - some I knew and some I didn't. I've bookmarked your post so I can come back and check them out more thoroughly. Thanks for your hard work in making and limiting the selection!
Jan 09, 2008 02:23 PM
Lisa Bosques
Burien, WA

I will check out some of these bloggers.  Bloodhound blog is fantastic, I thoroughly enjoy reading their intellectual yet humorous take on things.  I fantasize about being able to write like they do.

Jan 09, 2008 04:03 PM
Maggie Dokic | Miami, FL | 888.883.8509 X101
eXp Realty LLC - Miami, FL
GREEN, CDPE, SFR, Pinecrest | Palmetto Bay |
Tony, thank you again for this great honor.  I am humbled to be in such company and your words put a lump in my throat.  My best to you in 2008!
Jan 09, 2008 08:54 PM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
I've read most of these, but there is a few on there, I need to subscribe to. Thanks for the list.
Jan 09, 2008 08:54 PM
Gary Bolen
McCall Realty - South Lake Tahoe, CA
CRS - Lake Tahoe Real Estate Information

We know some of 'em Tony, others are a treat revealed. Thanks for purring this list together. Like that Rich and Mark is included.


Jan 09, 2008 10:25 PM
Jason Sardi
Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina - Charlotte, NC
Your Agent for Life

Tony - What a wonderful group of contributors, some of which I haven't read.  Brady is a Marketing Guru & Ed is smart as a whip.  As far as Rich, what else needs to be said...he's Rich "Freaking" Jacobson and Flanders is pretty darn good too:-)


Jan 10, 2008 02:06 AM
Jean Doyle
RE/MAX House Values - Mount Arlington, NJ
Morris and Sussex NJ Real Estate
Thanks for the post I will have to check them out.
Jan 10, 2008 02:55 AM
Jan Wood
None - Gallatin, TN
Tony:  Great post and I have bookmarked it because I'm afraid I didn't get to all 20.  The Old Man Guy was very funny!  The Mortgage Cicerone is great!
Jan 10, 2008 03:11 AM
Lori Gilmore
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Joliet, IL
Realtor - Will County Illinois
Tony -- You have mentioned some of my favorites here and introduced me to some that I am going to check out. Thanks!
Jan 10, 2008 04:08 AM
Alex Zokan
Advisor's Realty Group - Orlando, FL

Congratulations to those who made the list!


Alex Z

Jan 10, 2008 11:22 AM
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate
That's a solid top 20 list, Tony. I've read many of these here in the Rain and on their outside blogs. And thanks to your list, I've found a few new ones to add to my reading and widen my perspective.
Jan 10, 2008 01:59 PM
Tony Gallegos
Cognicorp Mortgage Banking Advisory - Marietta, GA

Jeff Belonger - Yes, long time no talk. Of course you were on my list of good reads. Was trying to give compile ecletic list and as I said, there were plenty of other deserving people as yourself. You are one of my top mortgage bloggers and of course you posts are great and educational. I baiscall only have time to write during weekend anymore.

Rich J - How's Mr. Crabs? Hope all is well with you and family? As I said, yours was the first blog I fell in love with.

Ed Ryb. - Everything is fine, just very busy. Only have time to write during weekends. How's the new home office working out?

Jason T - Appreciate your kind remarks and thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Teri E - So happy you found value...they are great bloogers along with so many other bloggers!

Kim C - Hope you find some keepers, they are very talented.

Joan W - Always great when you find new gems!

Christy - I may look stupid, but not that stupid - LOL. Thanks for stopping by.

Larry B - My man in St. Louis. How is the family? And blessing to you too in 2008

Sharon S - Hope you enjoy...some very talented people on list!

Burien - You are absolutely correct. Greg Swann is a MASTER as blogging and has in my humble opinion one if not the best contributer based blogs in the whole blogosphere!

Maggie - You are very deserving!

Missy C - There are some good ones...hope you like the rest.

Gary and Richard - Mark and Rich are fantastic. Hope you find value in the others.

Jason - They are amazing people at what they do!

Jean - I'm sure you will enjoy reading them.

Jan Wood - Thank you for you kind words. Is OMG Larry (the old guy) hillarious!

Lori G - Thanks and hope you enjoy the others as much as I do.

Alex Z. - They are a very deserving group for any kudos they get!

John N - Happy reading and hopefully you get introduced to some other favorites!


Jan 11, 2008 12:22 PM
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

You're just going to have to do another post of 20 MORE "top bloggers" - I expected Jeff Belonger on any list of top-blogging mortgage lenders, and I'm sure he must be on that other list.  l've not read some of these people, so I'll have to check them out - thanks for the recommendations.

Nov 06, 2008 10:46 PM
Kathy Toth
Ann Arbor Market Center Keller Williams - Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Real Estate Experts - Kathy Toth Team

I will go to each post to educate myself on the positive of how to have a conversion/blog as with talented writers. I was unaware of these people and thank you.

Nov 06, 2008 11:08 PM
Benjamin Clark
Homebuyer Representation, Inc. - Salt Lake City, UT
Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert

I'm really glad I didn't make the list! I like the freedom of blogging without expectations!

Nov 11, 2008 04:57 PM
Marian Gregor-Ann
Keller Williams - Ann Arbor, MI
Arbor area Real Estate

This was cool. Of course, I got distracted by checking out many of their posts. There is so much good information to be had by following these people.

Jan 05, 2009 10:41 AM
Maggie Dokic | Miami, FL | 888.883.8509 X101
eXp Realty LLC - Miami, FL
GREEN, CDPE, SFR, Pinecrest | Palmetto Bay |

Tony, holy cow!  Has it really been almost 2 years since you last posted on AR??  So happy to see you back!

Sep 22, 2009 07:50 PM