WARNING TO ALL REALTORS AND BROKERS: The Future is Now When Parents Are Buying Domain Names for Babies!

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photo of The Pankow Family by Paul Connors, AP

Technology and innovation are roaring into the Real Estate space at warp factor 5 and there is nothing agents and brokers can do about it but accept the sweeping changes that are taking place. The next generation of online marketing through Google, for the Real Estate community, is blogging. A big factor of this new wave is Web 2.0, widgetry, and the idea that no matter who you are or what you do-you must have a presence online in order to be taken seriously.

With all of this said, the trend continues with the fact that Harvard, the icon of all American Universities (Sorry Kevin!), is suggesting that each applicant write a blog and show that they have an online presence. Consequently it is of great interest that more and more parents are securing domain names for their unborn children. Anick Jesdanun wrote an excellent article on this growing trend. “It is the starting point for your online identity” according to Warren Adelman, president of registration company GoDaddy.com Inc.

Adding to Adelman’s claims is Peter Grunwald, Grunwald Associates, who specializes in researching kids and technology. “Given the pace of change on the Internet, it strikes me as a pretty impressive leap of faith that we’re going to use exactly the same system and the same tools 15 to 20 years from today.”

What does this mean to the Realtor or broker who is scratching his/her head at these notions? The focus is not on these unborn children who will have a domain name waiting for them in the year 2022 when they will need to begin looking at colleges. The focus for a Realtor or broker is the fact that these home buying parents, like the Pankows, are looking for agents and brokers who speak their language, understand the internet, and show the same concern for online identity/presence.

For those agents or brokers winding down their careers, this message is really a moot point. But make no mistake about the facts. For agents and brokers building a career, in mid career, or looking for lead generation tools-an online presence on Google using blogging and technology is akin to Career Survival 101.

“Walk Score” Awesome Widget for Realtors: My San Francisco Digs vs San Rafael Digs-Can You Dig It?

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In another of a plethora of fun widget sites, www.walkscore.com rates your home’s proximity to “walkable” landmarks, plotted on a map, within a neighborhood. The landmarks are then listed by name and address in the left sidebar for your convenience.
According to Walk Score: “ We help home buyers, renters, and real estate agents find houses and apartments in great neighborhoods. Walk Score shows you a map of what’s nearby and calculates a “Walk Score” for any property. Buying a house in a walkable neighborhood is good for your health and good for the environment.” For information on how Walk Score derives their “Walk Score follow this link: How It Works.

If you drill down on the “Walk Score” link provided above you will see that my former digs in San Francisco received a very high Walk Score of 91 out of a possible 100. This is a information rich tool and it does give any newbe to a neighborhood tons of ideas for exploration.

On the other hand, the sensitivity to distance seems to be a real issue with Walk Score. Most of the bars and restaurants listed were within a few blocks (.25 of a mile) of my former address in the Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. These bars and restaurants were mom and pop joints which I visited infrequently. Why? Fillmore Street was only 4 blocks away and crowded with some of the best restaurants, bars, and people watching in the city!

An example of the curious results: Walk Score’s listing of John Lee Hooker’s Blues Club “The Boom Boom Room” which is a long walk from my old condo. Why is this odd? They failed to list incredible world class restaurants that were half the distance yet reside on the same street (Fillmore Street) as the Boom Boom Room.

In Walk Score’s favor is the fact that they provide a transparent page about why Walk Score doesn’t work called: “How It Doesn’t Work: Known Issues with Walk Score.”
I found this a saving grace and a very important reason to like Walk Score.

In the same vein as my questions about bar and restaurant choices within my San Francisco Walk Score, I was left to wonder why natural beauty was being left off the criteria list. I live on the water with full use of a boat dock, marina, and yacht club-I don’t own a boat. Yet Walk Score never took this into consideration when calculating my new suburban digs score. Even though all of these facilities are open to the public, within a stones throw of my doorstep, none of the water related facilities were mentioned in my scorecard.

Consequently my San Rafael score, a below average 31 out of 100, took an unfair beating in my opinion. But of course that is the fun of Walk Score-nobody will ever agree and it leaves tons of room for debate.

I would love to propose to the Walk Score folks the idea of a board game for adults. Make it a cross between “Charades” and “Mad Libs” with adults testing their neighborhood knowledge.

To add your Walk Score widget to your blog or website go to http://www.walkscore.com and follow the simple instructions for your free widget.

If you have further questions please comment here or write Dean Guadagni at ddguad@aol.com. Thanks!

1031 Tax Group Assets: By Land, By Sea, By Air

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The San Jose Mercury News has become a leading source of information on the ongoing saga of victims of the 1031 Tax Group fiasco. They have concentrated on the mess that is 1031 Advance, based in San Jose, one of the 1031 Tax Group companies. Deansguide highlighted the assets of Ed Okun( “Is This Where the 1031 Tax Group Victim’s Monies Disappeared?”) as reported by the San Jose Mercury News through U.S. Bankruptcy Court records. The following is a more detailed list of assets as outlined in the August 4, 2007 article “Ed Okun’s Assets” published in the San Jose Mercury news:

On land

1967 Sunbeam Alpine

1979 Ferrari 400

1999 Cobra replica

1982 Manta

1982 GTO replica

2001 Ferrari 550 Barchetta

2002 Dodge Caravan

2003 Aston Martin

2003 Hummer H2

2004 Lamborghini Murcielago

2005 Gallardo Lamborghini

2005 Bentley Continental GT

2005 Harley Davidson

2006 Harley Davidson

2006 Land Rover Supercharged

2006 Rolls Royce Phantom

Four Indy racing cars

In the air

Helicopter

78 Lear Jet 25D

69 Gulfstream G2 N511BA

70 Gulfstream G2B N982B

On the water

26-foot Morin boat

37-foot Heim Wooden replica

Ski Nautique

Alu-craft

Simone

38-foot Cigarette

Jet Skis (4)

26-foot 1979 replica Dodge Gold Cup Racer

I can not say that I would not want to own a list of cars, boats, and planes like the one above. I hope that this mess can be straightened out, debts repaid in full, IRS penalties against delinquent exchangers removed, and new laws enacted to bring this industry back to respectability in the public eye.

 

Alternatives to College Financing: 10 Ideas You May Never Have Considered

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The incredible costs of a college education has every parent and student concerned for their future plans. The following is a list of 10 methods to cut college costs. The list is provided by www.bankrate.com and it could provide help to those people looking for any room to breathe.

1. Get College Credit in High School: Students can take AP college credited classes, with the help of a knowledgeable counselor, which will help to cut down on the number of courses need to graduate from college. Most AP courses are paid for by the high schools so as not to deter students from enrolling.

2. Junior Colleges: If you can convince your student, spending the first year or two in college at a JC is a huge cost savings. In many cases, students have yet to declare a major. In these cases, general education requirements can be fulfilled at a JC. The cost savings in tuition, books, supplies, housing, food, and travel may give a student and parent a head start on costs for graduate tuitions.

3. Cash in on Tax Credits: “What students need to know is that there’s the Hope and the Lifetime Learning tax credits,” says Joseph M. Re, author of “Financial Aid Financer: Expert Answers to College Financing Questions.”

“If you play those right, you can pick up $7,000 from Uncle Sam (over a four-year period) to pay for college. The Hope credit provides a $1,500 tax credit for each student for the first two years of college, as long as you are the one paying for college — rather than the federal government or private financial aid. (Parents who claim the student as a dependent on their tax return would be eligible for the credit.) The key to taking advantage of this credit, Re says, is to plan ahead and be aware of the stipulations.”

4. Rewards for Public Service: Some organizations like Americorps, the Peace Corps and Teach for America all offer educational service awards to students seeking cash for college.

5. Work for the College: According to Susan Hall her job with the University of Richmond (VA) comes with the “school’s tuition remission program which allows her, her spouse, and any of her dependents to attend the university for free, provided that they have the grades and test scores to make it into the school.” The benefits are obvious.

6. Pay Lower Out of State Tuition: Due to the complexity of this strategy, I am quoting www.bankrate.com :

“Get an out-of-state education, pay an in-state price. That’s the beauty of the Academic Common Market. Designed for students who can’t find their desired program of study in-state, the Academic Common Market allows students from any of the 16 member states to enroll in an institution in another member state without footing an out-of-state tuition bill. Reciprocity agreements such as the Academic Common Market, the National Student Exchange, and the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (which allows students to attend out-of-state public schools in member states at 150 percent the cost of in-state public school tuition or offers a ten percent discount at out-of-state private schools in member states) are some of the best-kept secrets of the financial aid world. If you’ve got your eye on an esoteric program of study (18th century French architecture?) or are set on a certain out-of-state school, taking advantage of a reciprocity agreement can save you money.”

7. Refinance Your Home: The home is normally the greatest asset a parent can count on for quick cash. A cash out refinance can provide the majority of funds needed to get a student through to their degree.

8. Qualify Student as “Independent”: “If you qualify as an independent and your income is very low, you probably would be eligible for a Pell grant which would be for $4,100 and you would probably be eligible for an FSEOG grant which would be another $4,000,” says Joseph Re. An independent student therefore would have a much easier time qualifying for grant monies than a family with an income in excess of $50,000 per year.

* Consult your tax accountant or attorney on all of the strategies outlined here but especially this one.

9. Attend a “Work College” : Work Colleges allow a student to work a part time job at the university between 10-20 hours per week. The becomes an employee of the college and as such earn a sizable reduction in tuition costs. Check out the Work College Consortium.

10. Establish Residency in the State of your College choice: “If you really want to pay in-state prices, the best way to do that is simply to live in-state before you enroll in school. To establish residency, independent students or families (when students are dependent) must show proof of living in state for at least one year prior to enrolling in school. Remember to throughly check and investigate the requirements of each state/college in regards to residency. Check out The College Board’s Web site.

DEADLINE WARNING: Is August 24, 2007 Really the Last Day To File Claims Against Debtors aka 1031 Tax Group?

The following notice box below came from the 1031 Tax Group information site for people following the court proceedings of the 1031 Tax Group and it’s affiliates owned by Ed Okun:

This information can be found by typing http://www.officialcommitteeinfo.com/1031/as my attempts to hyper-link to this website have been unsuccessful. The site was named:

Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of the 1031 Tax Group, LLC, et al.

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*IMPORTANT NOTICE:The following information regarding deadlines for filing claims against the 1031 Tax Group is merely a report of information received by a valued reader as well as the web site documented above. I do not have any inside information nor do I bare responsibility to debtor or victim in their quest to recover or payout owed funds. I am not guaranteeing that this date is accurate or correct. I am simply publishing this date in order to make victims of the 1031 Tax Group aware that there IS a final date to file their claims. It is up to each individual to do so on their own.

I recently received a request, through comment, that I publish an article regarding August 24, 2007. In this comment was a story about “mistaken” addresses, confusion, and lost notifications that could be very unfortunate for anyone attempting to recover their funds from the 1031 Tax Group.

The following is the comment I received:

  1. Dean, would appreciate your help getting the word out to the 350 victims of Okun’s bankrupted 1031’s that the DEADLINE for filing “proofs of claim” against the bankrupted 1031’s is NEXT WED, August 24,2007, 5:00 PM EST, by which time the form (and supporting documentation) must be received by the Bankruptcy Court in NY. The information re how and where to send the document is on the Committee website http://www.committeeinfo.com/1031/pdf/99.pdf.
    I’m concerned that not every one of the claimants will have gotten the word (which should have arrived in a hard copy letter to their residence) because the attorneys for the Debtors had my address totally wrong (different stree/city/state — not one I’ve ever lived at) and I wouldn’t have known it if someone else hadn’t mentioned they’d rec’d mail I hadn’t. If they garbled my contact information that badly, they could easily have garbled others’ and how would anyone know? So, your help headlining this deadline for Okun’s victims who may not be aware would be very helpful.
    Thanks,
    Elizabeth H. CallananComment by Elizabeth H. Callanan — August 17, 2007 @ 9:02 pm | Edit This

If you have questions please contact Dean Guadagni at ddguad@aol.com. Remember please INVESTIGATE the filing date information on your own do not leave it up to me or Elizabeth!

Plugoo: Mr. Magoo, The Who, Cindy Lou Will All Love This Widget

Like so many cool cartoon like names on the internet, Plugoo’s name brings to mind for me the adventures of Mr. Bill, Slugo, and Mr. Magoo. But when the Real Estate community takes a closer look at this important widget, they will be incorporating one of the most powerful tools to access consumers since the advent of the open house. Simply put, Plugoo allows a person to chat directly from their instant messanger with consumers, friends, and family. They can hold conversations on their blog, personal webpage, or e-sales site.

Plugoo is super rich in tutorial information both visual and text. The following is a screen shot, by Capture Wiz, of Plugoo’s cool little cartoon “movie” which is essentially a flow chart on how communication works with Plugoo:

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Once you view this moving flowchart, drill down into the text tutorials. Again they are super rich in content, utility uses, and detail for the beginner on up to the advanced user.

In order to access this “library” of information, click on the word “plugoo” in the question “What is plugoo ?” that is located just below the “flowchart” box illustration I have provided (above). This will bring you to the “discover” page on the plugoo site.

The following is basic steps to opening a Plugoo account and beginning to open your online world to “instant talk.”:

How do I subscribe to get my Plugoo ?

1. Plugoo will ask for your Instant Messaging Account Address. Use the address you use to chat with friends on the Instand Messenger format such as Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Jabber, or ICQ.

2. Plugoo requires “another valid email address” in order to get a Plugoo account. Plugoo will only send you emails regarding Plugoo service: no spam

3. Choose a password dedicated to Plugoo. Your password gives you access to “your personal space within the Plugoo Community.”

* Note of Importance: Plugoo will never ask you for your Instant Messaging Account Password.

4. The final step is an email sent to your registration email address. Click on the link inside of this email. This process validates your Plugoo account. A new buddy’s invitation should pop up on instant messenger. This is the Plugoo Buddy. The is the method that communications with your visitors on your webpage/blog site will come to you the user. You then must accept the invitation.

Once your Plugoo account is set up and activated, easy to follow instructions are provided to place Plugoo on your blog/website.

The Advantages of Plugoo:

1. Potential clients do not need to install anything, they don’t need a Instant Messenger of their own, and they can not see your Instant Messenger account address.

2. Plugoo allows you to engage, on a real time basis, in conversation with potential clients.

3. Plugoo allows these potential clients to engage with you without revealing their identity. Maintaining anonymous status is important to consumers by making it more palatable for them to initiate conversations.

4. Plugoo gives Realtors a more technology savvy appearance to potential clients searching the internet for an agent.

With the speed of lightening like advances in blogging, social networking, and online marketing within the Real Estate space, it is only natural that widgetry becomes an extremely important tool within Web 2.0 strategies for Realtors. Plugoo is one of those important tools that Realtors should evaluate closely in their next generation approach to online marketing to consumers.

If you have questions please contact Dean Guadagni at ddguad@aol.com or leave us a comment.


Russian River Jazz on Johnson’s Beach: Historic Jazz Festival Marks the End of Summer in the San Francisco Bay Area

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     Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville, California has been the host of the Russian River Jazz Festival for decades. The town of Guerneville, at one time a bastion for the gay and lesbian community as well as a Hell’s Angels’ vacation spot, supports an open atmosphere of lifestyles and appreciation of the arts. This year’s festival, slated for Sept 8-9, marks the 31st year of music celebration in the Russian River Jazz festival series.

Festivities begin at 10:00am each day and conclude at 6:00pm. The music starts at 11:00am and it is suggested that concert goers arrive early for the best possible seats on the beach.

According to Amber Cancellier, very amiable and helpful executive at Omega Events, this year’s event offers two ticket packages. General admission seating is $48 per person per day. This is a general admission with a first come first served policy on seating choices on the beach.

The Gold package at $98, per person per day, is the equivalent of the VIP Vegas “Bottle Table” service experience. In this package, the concert goer is provided a premium beach chair with a front of the stage position. In addition each Gold Ticket receives 3 free coupons to the Wine Garden pavilion that is set up for wine lovers. In my opinion, if you are not supporting a family to this event then the Gold Package is the only way to fly!

Here is why you want to purchase that Gold Package according to www.russianriverfestivals.com :

Saturday Sept. 8 features Chaka Khan, Boney James, Poncho Sanchez, Ledisi, Forte, and Michaele.

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Sunday Sept. 9 features Joe Sample Trio, Christian Scott, Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, and Michaele.

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The following is a simple map of the area surrounding Guerneville, California:

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If you have any questions please contact Dean at ddguad@aol.com or comment here at deansguide.wordpress.com. Thanks!