10 YEARS OF CHANGE...ON THE RIGHT TRACK??
Jeff Dowler has challenged all of us to come up with 10 or more changes that we have experienced; life-altering in my case and to this day I am not complaining.
The year was 2010: I began writing about my blogging; I was three years into blogging and I loved it!! That is when I took the long view that I was on my way to writing a book and I wrote "BLOGGING MY WAY TO A BOOK" in April of 2010. It has been my focus all along but I did get waylaid by the issues that I saw with the way real estate was so negatively affected by the internet tech companies that were rearing their ugly heads. At that time Facebook was a questionable character in my opinion and I have only grown in my concern about this social media platform. It was a very providential move to write this post back then. Look at the last year to see what I mean.
The year was 2011: I wrote a post called "THE MONKEY ON YOUR BACK MAY JUST BE SOCIAL MEDIA" and I intentionally drew a parallel of the use of social media to the addictive behavior of drug addicts... The post was featured here on AR and I have to date over 6000 hits on that post. It seems it hit a nerve. This was the beginning of my venture into trying to call out the "wasted lives" of the technology universe, seemingly trying to destroy human beings natural and normal interconnectedness. It was the start of my examination of a Zillow universe as it began to threaten all of us in the real estate profession. "PUTTING YOUR "LOCAL KNOWLEDGE" TO WORK FOR YOU" was another featured post that I wrote in 2011. It was the beginning of my focus on being a local expert; this was to begin to prepare for the onslaught of technology companies who were beginning to sneak in the back door of the brokerage business. Zillow was the main company whose stated goal was to put all real estate brokerages out of business--that was when they first opened the company after closing down all travel agencies through the use of their company "EXPEDIA". The owners were the same and they had sold EXPEDIA for billions and began the biggest challenge of all: Do the same thing to real estate brokerage!
The year was 2012: "ON BECOMING A LOCAL EXPERT" was written in 2012 and this was the beginning of the end of real estate as we know it here in The Hamptons. Zillow had begun to command a huge commitment of advertising dollars from agents all over the country. Little thought was given to the idea that they were not a brokerage and therefore they did not have to follow the laws of individual states and the advertising requirements that make it a violation to advertise someone else's exclusive listings. More would surface about that law in 2018 when New York State threatened agents that very large fines would be instituted if they were found to be in violation of the advertising restrictions. The states would not be able to fine Zillow-but the agents--YES!
The year was 2013: This was the bottom for me in real estate. I made very little money that year and was forced to sell my home. I listed it and Zillow pounced on it and made certain that the Zestimate was almost one half of the real market value of the house. I ended up selling it at a huge discount just to get it sold. My worst year ever in sales and in the price that I was able to get for my home. My local posts were getting a lot of attention and it ends up that my blog posts on local knowledge were the best way for me to get listings: "TELL ME A STORY...A Story About Local Information"
The year was 2014: Turns out, 2014 was one of my better years. I was teamed up with a developer and he was buying houses through me and then listing them with me for sale after they were built. It was a good match up and this was the year that prices began escalating beyond any reasonable level. It became impossible to buy a house in Southampton Village under $3mil. This is the year, however, that I stopped almost all my blogging on AR. Trulia bought out the database and I could not find my blog posts about Zillow after that. They owned it for a couple of years and I started blogging again in 2017.
The year was 2015: I have been very ill and have missed a lot of work. This was another year of almost no income from real estate. I have started to write my book and it is impossible to spend time in the office with my ill health. I was hopeful that my writing would pay off and gave thanks that I began blogging when I did so that I was prepared to devote lots of time to creating a well-written book.
The year was 2016: My struggles have been so monumental that I find myself in a very bad place indeed! I had sold my home so I rented one in 2013 that I found out was filled with deadly mold and free-floating asbestos in 2017. My budget was such that I was not living in the best conditions. I got very sick and in fact, was told that if I had not found out about the mold, I would be dead by the year 2020. I got out in the nick of time and am healing but it has been hellish and I still have some of the symptoms and may have them for the rest of my life.
The year was 2017: My focus became so Z focused that I rarely wrote about anything else for the last three years. I still did local posts but the common theme for me was the impact that Z was having on my real estate business and how the brokerage business was not paying enough attention to what they (Z) plan on doing...I became a pariah to most of my fellow agents as I warned and warned again about the threat this technology company was to our profession. "KILLING BROKERAGE...How Long Before Zillow Succeeds??" was written in 2017 and I was watching as my fellow agents began paying record amounts of money to the lead generator; one paid $6000 a month and I heard there were others who were paying even more just to get a handful of leads.
The year was 2018: Suddenly last summer--That is when Zillow bought out all the local databases here in The Hamptons, including our internal platform--they bought out Streeteasy first and then they bought HREO.com and renamed a public site Outeast.com as its replacement. HREO had been The Hamptons "MLS" so to speak but now it was something else entirely. Part of that deal with HREO included Realnet, our internal database. Then Zillow shut it down so we went into 2019, early spring, with NOTHING to work with. They literally were trying to put us out of business, just as I have always warned! I have had hundreds of agents here call me to say "You were right all along!" and "We should have listened to you!" Now, all agents are in a struggle for their professional lives...Between the shut down of all our data, the prices in this market went so high that the public now turns away from The Hamptons, waiting for a major price drop.
But nothing prepared the public for the onslaught of the national websites who have appeared here now--destroying the rental market. This is a summer resort and most people who own homes here have planned on a summer rental business that in many cases helped them pay the mortgage and property taxes--NOT ANYMORE! Now, these homeowners have to become weekend, 2-3 day rental landlords. No long term rentals anymore! Air B&B and VRBO, Zillow and Outeast have no understanding of this rare market...and they have begun to destroy the infrastructure with the masses of the weekend, overnight and other transient renters. Our waterways are in trouble; shellfish have been killed off and there is a green scum forming on the fresh waterways from the nitrogen gathering downstream--raw sewage is contaminating like never before.
The year is 2019: The real estate market is dead in the Hamptons. High-end houses are sitting for years before a price is accepted and that is usually a fraction of the asking price when it sells! The average homeowner is either going to foreclosure or trying to sell their houses at a fraction of what they may have gotten 3 years ago. Nothing is selling so it is a lost cause and a very frightening one at that! The earliest families have pretty much left the area and all the potato farms have been sold off to developers. It is a very sad state of affairs. I wanted to write about them so that they will not be forgotten.
So, I am back at square one. I am ready to publish my book about local life here in the Hamptons. It is called:
"THE HAMPTONS...Secret Lives" and it is fiction but it will enlighten those who think The Hamptons is only for the wealthy and the celebrity. I have included two chapters from the book in this post and I look to be published sometime this year, 2019.