Consumer-Facing Real Estate Blog Network Started

By
Mortgage and Lending with San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751

HomeGain announces personal blogging network for real estate agents:

Early this morning we launched a free consumer-facing blogging service for our hundreds of Source4Sellers customers.

The free, bundled Agent Blogs form a part of the HomeGain Blog and are also accessible through HomeGain’s free instant home valuation tool and from HomeGain.com.

HomeGain Source4Sellers Agents Profiles and Blogs are featured exclusively in an ad-free environment.

I'm not surprised to read this.  I was asked by HomeGain general manager, Louis Cammarasano to be the first "guest real estate blogger" on HomeGain blog.  While that weblog was geared towards his HomeGain customers (real estate agents), I've received two online loan applications (from consumers) as a result of my participation there.   When Louis asked me to contribute, I accepted because of the chance to elevate the discussion of blogging versus paid search (HomeGain's popular PPC product is BuyerLink).  What I realized after I started was that I was writing and linking from a Google Page Rank 7 website.  I took a page from the Dustin Luther blogging playbook (linkation, linkation, linkation), and used my position there as an opportunity to:

a) talk to real estate agents

b) further syndicate my Mortgage Rates Report 

c) build some quality backlinks for my 8-month old weblog 

“Since the success of our agent customers is HomeGain’s mission, we wish to provide them with blogs of their own to supplement the visitors, phone calls, emails and leads that we send them,” Louis continued. “The Agent Blogs offer Source4Sellers real estate agents yet another contact point with potential home buyers and sellers and further lessens the reliance on the lead form as a way of attracting potential prospects.

Louis' quote doesn't surprise me at all.  When he approached me to start this group weblog, I insisted that he not treat it as the afterthought he considered it at the time.  When I explained that it was important for me to associate my "brand" with excellence, he took it to heart and built a group site filled with some prominent real estate bloggers

I also got a chance to watch Louis develop this product.  While I didn't KNOW he was headed here (until yesterday), my gut told me he would.  I encouraged him to offer such an option for his agent clients from the beginning and Louis said he would "when he realized it could add value for them".  I'm guessing he found that value this Spring.

Greg Swann broke the news first about the HomeGain release:

Both Brian Brady and Mike Farmer write on the HomeGain blog, so I hope they’ll keep us informed about how the new blogging platform is working out. Free blogging platforms are not always a slam-dunk success, but I think HomeGain’s offering makes more sense than does ActiveRain, for instance. I have felt that free weblogs would be a better solution than discussion fora on Zillow.com: Weblogging creates a middle-management structure, providing a cadre of volunteers to keep bad behavior from oscillating out of control.

Not a bad compliment for someone who categorizes Web 1.0 as "Chokepoint Charlie".

Here's where Greg is wrong.  Activerain.com will yield far superior results for the "industry talking to industry players" than Homegain weblog will.  The connections agents and originators will make on ActiveRain come from the voluntary participation on an advertising-supported site.  The stickiness of the points system will continue to drive Active Rain as the ultimate real estate industry destination for real estate professionals. The "virtual water cooler", to which Jon Washburn likens Active Rain, will be hard to duplicate.  

Here's where Greg is correct.  HomeGain agent blogs could very well be the piece of the puzzle they missed at HomeGain.  My initial criticism of HomeGain was that they were a CD operating in a MP3 world; effective but fast becoming a dinosaur.  To continue with that analogy, my opinion about CDs and HomeGain have changed. We still need a tangible back up device for digital audio and HomeGain offers that equivalent in online real estate marketing.  HomeGain's performance for delivering focused buyer clients to agent's web suites is unparalleled.

Moreover, agents have an opportunity to "plug-in" to a Googlicious platform with "baked in" SEO .  The result?  Higher rankings in the crowded GoogleSearch.  Long-tail searches from a PR7 platform should yield superior results to any other real estate blogging platform available.  The offering will be consumer focused so I believe the results will supercede any consumer-facing real estate blog platform available.   

What originally started as a "predatory" Web 1.0 company, positioning itself between the agent and internet client, has fast become a useful paid online marketing compliment for the tech-savvy REALTOR.  

The interesting feature of the HomeGain agent blogs is the library of content they'll offer.

In the coming months we will be adding syndicated content to supplement our real estate agents’ blogging efforts. 

While I expect commenters here to criticize HomeGain for being a "predator", I further expect those commenters to criticize the ability to use "pre-written content" on their blogs.  We've been through that argument here before.  You'll say ghost-written content won't work because it's not authentic and I'll show proof that it does.

I'll ask you to not try to draw me into a debate about either of those issues.  I recognize the evolution of HomeGain and I've seen proof that paid-blogging can work.  Notwithstanding, the news here is that an effective online real estate marketer just offered a powerful tool for real estate professionals; let's see if we can keep the discussion to that topic.

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Rainmaker
274,211
Ron Tarvin
Residential, Investment properties, rehab projects, property management, luxury homes, new construction! - Katy, TX
Broker, Katy, Houston, Cypress 77450,77494,77095
Aren't MOST lead generating companies becoming dinosaurs?  I think agents are wising up the the fact that they can generate MORE leads for LESS money that put MORE MONEY in their bottom line by doing it themselves than by hiring one of the many lead generation companies to do it for them with questionable results.
Apr 30, 2008 03:04 AM #1
Rainmaker
311,669
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA
858-777-9751

I think agents are wising up the the fact that they can generate MORE leads for LESS money that put MORE MONEY in their bottom line by doing it themselves than by hiring one of the many lead generation companies to do it for them with questionable results.

Prove it. 

Apr 30, 2008 03:09 AM #2
Ambassador
582,126
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker
I think any effort that strives to connect real estate professionals with consumers and encourage meaningful interaction is a worthy endeavor. I read Greg's article yesterday and noted his usual glowing affection for AR. I appreciate your take, as always, and for pointing out where you feel he is wrong. I would agree that up to this point, the primary strength/value of AR has been in the so-called 'water cooler' aspect. Localism has been languishing in BETA form for much too long (not intentional on our part), but will rise up soon to fulfill its destiny, as originally conceived. I, for one, applaud Louis for stepping outside his comfort zone. In our ever evolving market, old dogs must learn new tricks to survive. 
Apr 30, 2008 03:17 AM #3
Rainmaker
311,669
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA
858-777-9751

I appreciate your take, as always, and for pointing out where you feel he is wrong. I would agree that up to this point, the primary strength/value of AR has been in the so-called 'water cooler' aspect. Localism has been languishing in BETA form for much too long (not intentional on our part), but will rise up soon to fulfill its destiny, as originally conceived

Ya see why I trust Rich?  I may disagree with him at times but his integrity is unparalleled.   

I, for one, applaud Louis for stepping outside his comfort zone. In our ever evolving market, old dogs must learn new tricks to survive

Don't we all?   It's been fun getting to know him.  He's opened me up to the whole PPC piece of the equation and I've been stunned.

Apr 30, 2008 03:25 AM #4
Rainmaker
472,839
Colleen Fischesser Northwest Property Shop
RE/MAX Advantage | Managing Broker - Chelan, WA
A Tradition of Trust in the Pacific NW since 1990!
Brian, I agree with Ron's position if you're in a small market like I am. The big lead generating companies just cannot offer the number of quality leads to a small market like I can do myself and for considerably less money...Emphasis on quality by the way. I've worked with Homegain and Housevalues so I'm speaking from personal experience.
Apr 30, 2008 03:27 AM #5
Ambassador
920,196
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
I like Louis and I'm closing on a homegain lead, err client now on May 16th.
Apr 30, 2008 03:30 AM #6
Rainmaker
311,669
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA
858-777-9751

Colleen, I grew up in Philly and cheered for the Eagles-Tose didn't give him the horses he needed to do the job

Nice to meet you :)

(read Colleen's profile to understand the personal comment) 

Apr 30, 2008 03:32 AM #7
Rainmaker
188,958
Susan Milner
Florida Future Realty, Inc. - Cape Coral, FL
Cape Coral Real Estate Broker, FloridaFutureAgents
I prefer to blog and advertise my listings where the buyers can contact me directly and not through a third party lead generator site. We'd all be much better off without them in the middle. That is not to say that I too, wouldn't go ahead and use their platform along with others - links back are good and you never know where the consumer may come from.
Apr 30, 2008 04:09 AM #8
Rainmaker
139,008
Louis Cammarosano
Smaulgld LLC - Hampton, NH
Smaulgld

Brian

Thanks for the support and mentorship you have given that has made HomeGain's entry into the 2.0 world easier and certainly rewarding.

Louis

Apr 30, 2008 06:47 AM #9
Ambassador
582,126
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

"Thanks for the support and mentorship you have given that has made HomeGain's entry into the 2.0 world easier and certainly rewarding."

And that, my fellow Rainers, is why I have the utmost respect for my friend, Mr. Brady.... 

Apr 30, 2008 06:54 AM #10
Rainer
209,246
Marc Grossman
Marc It Sold! - Longwood, FL
GRI, Greater Orlando Real Estate Broker
Brian,  Thanks for your take on what's going on.  I've read pretty much about this coming about and was wondering. 
Apr 30, 2008 09:56 AM #11
Rainmaker
176,383
Rebecca Levinson, Real Estate Marketing and Online Advertising Consultant
Real Skillz-Clear Marketing for Your Real Estate Vision - Lake Geneva, WI

HomeGain's move to real estate agent blogs isn't surprising, it was inevitable.  And probably a game plan shortly after the inclusion of more guest bloggers.  Louis now letting real estate consumers connect directly with real estate agents is just taking the "interloping" that has long been an industry criticism. 

While the profile part isn't new, as I have commented and Louis has acknowledged in kind, it is new for HomeGain's lead selling ways.  It is also a significant move for the company, this embrace of Web 2.0.

As to the "pre-written" content, no debate from me today Brian. 

Apr 30, 2008 11:05 AM #12
Rainmaker
311,669
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA
858-777-9751

As to the "pre-written" content, no debate from me today Brian.

THANK YOU- today's not the day 

Apr 30, 2008 11:37 AM #13
Ambassador
605,385
Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552
I'm glad you wrote this, Brian.  I did have a preconceived idea about HomeGain, and I'm glad to see that they've evolved.
Apr 30, 2008 01:06 PM #14
Rainmaker
595,381
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate
I just took a quick peek at the Home Gain blog. So it's not an open-to-all platform? They're only allowing a select few to blog there? That's pretty pretentious.
Apr 30, 2008 01:12 PM #15
Rainmaker
272,575
Ross Quintana
Real E Smarter - Spokane, WA
Real E Smarter Real Estate Coach - 509-362-1966
going after goliath I agree it's a race between the tech savvy realtors, which there are more of and the companies trying to sift and power over them in google to sell them rights to the leads, then the scary ones are the ones selling leads and allowing user uploaded content so that you good information will attract the leads then they can sell them to you. I'm rooting for the independant realtors to step up and compete.
Apr 30, 2008 01:30 PM #16
Rainmaker
311,669
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA
858-777-9751

So it's not an open-to-all platform? They're only allowing a select few to blog there? That's pretty pretentious.

Incorrect- read the linked post. 

Apr 30, 2008 02:58 PM #17
Rainer
2,778
Jeremiah Arn
First Ohio Home Finance - Westerville, OH

Thanks for the insight.  Hope to see you there soon, Brian.  Keep up the good work!

Jeremiah Arn

May 06, 2008 11:45 PM #18
Anonymous
Kusadasi Real Estate

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Aug 03, 2008 05:14 AM #19
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