When a Stranger Calls: Rumors, Innuendos, and Whispers What is Going On With the 1031 Disasters?

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Search Engine Optimization is a wonderful concept when you become a blogging “citizen journalist.” All that the wonderful Web 2.0 revolution offers an amateur writer like myself is the opportunity to be noticed, read, and contemplated. Obviously I have hit a cord with the people who have been victimized by the Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group scandal, hit a cord with people within the 1031 industry too afraid to voice their opinion for fear of reprisal or loss of job, and I have hit a cord with one mysterious caller.

That is right! I have made my “journalistic” bones. Tony Soprano would be proud, “Tommy” would be ready to fold under questioning, and “Chili Eye Charlie” would fully approve of the nerves I have been hitting with my coverage of the Ed Okun and Donald McGhan scandals.

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On this bright, sunny California Saturday afternoon I received a mysterious phone call and message. The message was short but to the point. The caller was “tipping me off” to the next move in the Ed Okun trial. The caller claimed, without siting any evidence, that JPS Capital Partners “will not fund” the outstanding 1031 debts that Ed Okun’s 1031 Tax Group is responsible to fund.

The mystery caller sounded like a man in his 30’s or 40’s, I did not perceive him to be a professional within the legal community, he did not sound like somebody who had been victimized by the 1031 Tax Group. No instead my impression was that this guy reminded me of a east coast hustler or street guy. Why did I get this impression from a voice message left on my cell phone? I lived on the east coast for 7 yrs between Baltimore and Washington D.C.. I spent considerable time in Philly and the Apple and when you get the feel for the east coast mentality-then you know what I mean!

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So the question is simple: has Ed Okun’s knight in shining armor, JPS Capital Partners, decided against bailing him out of his debts? Have the God’s of 1031 Past decided to rear their collective heads and leave the entire mess up to the courts?

As I have stated in the past, I am but one man with a small voice in a vast empire that is the world wide web. I bare no grudge, bare no burden, seek no retribution. I simply wish to see the truth in this episode of American history come to a positive conclusion for so many who have been so very deeply hurt by the actions of so few individuals.

What comes around goes around? All that glitters isn’t gold? A day late and a dollar short? It ain’t braggin if you can do it? Money talks and bulls_it walks? American proverbs one and all. May we find more than lip service in our quest to understand this sordid mess.

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Alexa.com: Free Web Monitoring Tool With Fantastic Features Every Realtor Should Implement in Their Marketing Plan

The world of real estate marketing has become even more critical to the success, if not the survival, of every agents plans to stay “in the game.” The greatest revolution in marketing is now upon us: blogging. With the advent and adoption of blog marketing blasting into the stratosphere as web 2.0 takes off, Realtors and brokers are just beginning to understand this pioneering new medium. As social networking and creating “your voice” through blogging gains momentum, the need to understand the technology side of blogging becomes ever more critical.

Within the technological side of blogging lies a virtual avalanche of free share ware type of “widgets” which will add depth, clarity, convenience, and richness to the blog. Maps, chat boxes, and instant internet phone calls from net to blogger are just a few of these great widgets.

Just as important and exciting are widgets within the “monitoring” niche that help bring clarity and traffic measurement to a blogger’s efforts. One of the greatest such tools is the traffic/reach measuring site: www.alexa.com.

Alexa.com measures a blog’s traffic (number ofusers combined with page views) and reach (number of users) and ranks that blog within the total blogs measured on the internet. A big scoreboard scenario if you will.

1. Traffic Rank according to Alexa.com: ” traffic rank is based on three months of aggregated historical traffic data from millions of Alexa Toolbar users and is a combined measure of page views and users (reach). As a first step, Alexa computes the reach and number of page views for all sites on the Web on a daily basis. The main Alexa traffic rank is based on the geometric mean of these two quantities averaged over time (so that the rank of a site reflects both the number of users who visit that site as well as the number of pages on the site viewed by those users). The three-month change is determined by comparing the site’s current rank with its rank from three months ago. For example, on July 1, the three-month change would show the difference between the rank based on traffic during the first quarter of the year and the rank based on traffic during the second quarter.

Although this may seem a bit detailed at first, the Alexa rankings allow a blogger to measure his or her progress against a large “population” of blog sites and users on the internet. This type of measurement is invaluable as an added incentive to blogger’s who strive to acheive more readership, more potential leads, ultimately culminating in more sales.

2. Reach according to Alexa “Reach measures the number of users. Reach is typically expressed as the percentage of all Internet users who visit a given site. So, for example, if a site like yahoo.com has a reach of 28%, this means that of all global Internet users measured by Alexa, 28% of them visit yahoo.com. Alexa’s one-week and three-month average reach are measures of daily reach, averaged over the specified time period. The three-month change is determined by comparing a site’s current reach with its values from three months ago.

Granted “Reach” can be a very humbling statistic as I can attest from my stratospheric rankings. But if you put your ego aside, this measurement gives bloggers another opportunity to measure their writing efforts effectiveness, their social networking progress, and their ability to popularize their blogs by developing their “voice” that compels people to read the articles.

If you are wondering why I feel humbled by Alexa here is the proof:

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Where Do You Go When You Know Your Job Is Not Your Purpose In Life: Step Into Your Purpose With Susan Hanshaw

This article is about all of us, our journey, and Susan Hanshaw of Sanctuary for Change; it is about many people who have experienced in their life’s what I refer to as the “moment of truth.” Over the course of a 22 year work life, I have stepped into and out of 5 different industries in the capacity of business development. From Retail Fashion buying to loan officer to national
software account executive, I have spent many years convincing people to buy, sell, adopt, or try the product or service I am
supporting. During that time I have had successes and failures but one constant has remained: a feeling of unsettled and unfinished business.

My “moment of truth” came when my father was diagnosed with cancer and given a death sentence with a 3-5 year window. My family found the courage and conviction to fight and not give into this disease and my father is still here today as a living testament to the power of positive thought. Although I learned, I had yet to fully adopt a sea change in my thinking.

My “moment of clarity” came on a unseasonably warm Washington D.C. night in early November of last year. It was on that night that I went to pay my last respects to my closest friend: Chili Eye Charlie. Charlie lost a 7 week battle with throat cancer, losing over 50lbs in the process, one of the deadliest forms of the disease. It was Charlie’s words that kept coming back to me: “Deano find your purpose. . . you have to much to give. . . you are not doing what you were put here on this earth to do.” From that moment of clarity ,in that funeral parlor, viewing my friend in open casket came a realization that he was right. I decided from that moment on I would think positively, live as lovingly a life as possible. My goal was to help or save at least one life every year for the rest of my life.

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Is it time for you to figure out what you should really be doing with your life?

Do you want to show up for your purpose, yet are unsure how to go about finding it?

Do you know what your purpose is, but need support with staying confidently focused on the path?

It was part of my purpose to help and support Susan Hanshaw in her endeavors. If you have been searching for a purpose for your life, searching to leave your corporate environment, or just wish to think in a positive manner, then Susan is a great source. She runs a weekly group session “Stepping Into Your Purpose” every Tuesday night from 7-9pm at Marin Ballroom Dance Theater in San Rafael, California. The session is ongoing and drop in’s are welcome. The freight is $20 per meeting and well worth the cost for the clarity she can bring to an often convoluted world.

Susan is the blog author of susanhanshaw.wordpress.com; she is the author of the book “Unleashing Your Soul: Finding the Courage to Follow Your Heart”; she has been appeared on Martha Stewart Living Radio’s “Career Talk” with host Maggie Mistal; and she is an ordained, non denominational, minister educated on “A Course In Miracles” platform.

If you, like me, have been searching for your purpose. If you, like me, have a path but seek more clarity. If you, like me, want to be more positive in your life then please consider Susan as a great source of inspiration and clarity.

Does a National Database of 1031 Exchange Professionals, “Tools”, and Investment Property Listings Make Sense Today? 1031netex.com Responds To Our Analysis

Last week I asked the question, “Does a National Database of 1031 Exchange Professionals, “Tools”, and Investment Property Listings Make Sense Today?” In that article I took on the idea that was being solicited to me by 1031netex.com’s Michael D. Fox. I pointed out the obvious: the 1031 industry has a black eye from the multiple embezzlement cases that have greatly shaken consumer confidence. I outlined the FEA’s role in policing the industry and pushing forth new legislation on a national political platform. And finally I noted the fact that a national database might be helpful to Realtors and 1031 professionals-yet how would it benefit the consumer? I finished by pointing out the lack of significant traffic 1031netex was receiving; to be fair I illustrated my own traffic patterns by using both Technorati and Alexa the best blog site traffic measurement tools available.

The following is Michael D. Fox’s response to that article, my analysis of his analysis, and a conclusion to this subject:

  1. Michael D. Fox | drfox@1031netex.com | 1031netex.com | IP: 72.219.148.44Thank you for your interest in 1031NetEx.Com. We are, as you said, an “online nation [1031 exchange] database,” and also much more. As well as being a national database for 1031 exchanges,1031NetEx.Com provides a powerful array of other tools and resources for investors and real estate professionals engaged in successful 1031 exchanges.Anyone logging on to our Web site at http://1031netex.com can join free of charge and list their 1031 exchange-ready property and/or their professional services, as well as search for 1031 exchange property and services. Free basic members have access to the 1031NetEx library and resource materials, and can search properties and professionl services. Premium members (who pay only $29.95 per month) can also post their own professional marketing materials and receive additional benefits.In addition, 1031NetEx.Com provides its Premium members with email alerts for all important exchange deadlines; individualized timeline management in an easy to read graphic format for each exchange; online access 24/7 to all 1031 exchange documents; secure and easy storage and sharing of exchange documents; secure and easy communication between all interested parties; a centralized, easy to use, and constantly available management hub for all aspects of 1031 exchange transactions; and independent, objective, reliable, and easy to understand 1031 exchange information. The combined thrust of 1031NetEx.Com’s tools and resources is to empower our members to proceed with knowledge and confidence in undertaking 1031 exchanges.You mentioned the lack of consumer confidence in the 1031 exchange market caused by some presummed embezzlement of investor funds by qualified intermediaries. 1031NetEx.Com addresses the question of consumer confidence by making the consumers themselves more prepared and confident in managing their 1031 exchanges and selecting their professional team. By eliminating the fear factor and closing the knowldege gap in regard to 1031 exchanges, 1031NetEx.Com directly empowers investors and real estate professionals to make intelligent, strategic investment decisions regarding their 1031 exchanges.
  2. 1031Netex.Com will “gain the traction” we need on the Web to become the “go to source” for consumers and 1031 exchange professionals. We began our online operations in late June 2007. Since then, we have more than doubled our Web traffic each month and continue to grow. We are constantly working on improving our SEO, as well as our marketing, online and off, and we expect even greater growth momentum in the future.Your closing observation about 1031NetEx.Com was that “there is a need for a database 1031 site if it is done properly.” Agreed! That’s exectly what 1031NetEx.Com is doing – and more.Sep 26, 5:49 AM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — Does a National Database of 1031 Exchange Professionals, “Tools”, and Investment Property Listings Make Sense Today?

Let’s analyze the points one at a time:

1. Mr. Fox described the embezzlement of funds, ie the Donald McGhan Southwest Exchange and Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group fiascos, as “pressumed (sic) embezzlement of investor funds by qualified intermediaries.”

I can not go on without addressing this statement. It is more than presumed that funds were stolen. The problem is that everyone, except for the victims who lost their money to the defendants, is calling it something else. Let’s be honest here and make no mistake in calling the situations what they have become. The funds are GONE and they did not just get up and walk away. They were spent, misappropriated, diverted, or whatever term softens the blow. The fact of the matter is that these funds were SPENT without investor permission or the investor being aware that the funds were being removed from the accounts in which they began.

2. Mr. Fox outlines the “tools” members can use: email alerts for important deadlines; time line management; 24/7 online access to all 1031 documents; storage of said documents; secure and easy communication between all parties; centralized management hub for all aspects of the 1031 transaction; and 1031 exchange information aka a library of information.

Fox maintains that “The combined thrust of 1031NetEx.Com’s tools and resources is to empower our members to proceed with knowledge and confidence in undertaking 1031 exchanges.”

The tools that Mr Fox outlines will be helpful but they are a far cry from building consumer confidence. They do NOT address the major concern in any 1031 exchange for investors: control over the investor account. Every professional I have spoken to, every investor who has been embezzled, every attorney who performs exchanges, every person who has an insurance industry stake, and every single tax account who has weighed in on investor protection all agree on one simple solution: who holds the keys to the investor’s cash bank accounts?

The solution as it has been related to me by these professionals is the absolutely unwavering contract by both the investor and the exchanger that the investor’s funds will reside in an account that can only be accessible when BOTH parties sign off on the funds movement AND this fund will NEVER hold co-mingled funds aka funds owned by the investor and by the exchanger in the same bank account. It is that simple yet so many consumers do not seem to understand this fact.

Suffice it to say, 1031netex’s tools are more suited, in my opinion, to Realtor’s selling the properties, exchangers exchanging the properties, or any other service professional- not the consumer.

3. The final piece to the puzzle is the idea that 1031netex will gain enough consumer and professional traffic (eyeballs) in order to make it a viable source and player in the SEO wars for google search engine searches within their niche.

Mr. Fox’s response to my analysis about 1031netex’s lack of traffic:1031Netex.Com will “gain the traction” we need on the Web to become the “go to source” for consumers and 1031 exchange professionals.We began our online operations in late June 2007. Since then, we have more than doubled our Web traffic each month and continue to grow. We are constantly working on improving our SEO, as well as our marketing, online and off, and we expect even greater growth momentum in the future.”

Mr. Fox does not provide proof to his claim that netex.com has “more than doubled our Web traffic each month (since June 2007). In order to become the “go to source” for consumers consumers first must know you exist! In my initial analysis I used screen shots of Technorati and Alexa to show where 1031netex’s traffic ranked so far.

On September 13 Technorati showed that http://www.1031netex.com had 1 blog reaction (97 days before!) by a myspace blog named “1031 Net Ex: The Most Powerful Tool on the Web” Here is the screen shot from my previous article showing 1031netex’s responses as measured by Technorati:
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Here is today’s Technorati responses measurement for 1031netex dated September 26, 2007. Note there are only 2 reactions the old one from the myspace blog 97 days ago and my initial article on this subject 13 days ago-no links exist into this blog and links are the life blood to a traffic campaign for optimum SEO:

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The final challenge for 1031netex is their Alexa Rankings. Alexa measures the amount of traffic a site receives in proportion to the amount of traffic on the entire world wide web. Here is the Alexa Screen shot for 1031netex on September 13 and their ranking:

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Alexa ranked 1031netex 2,267,353 most visited site on the world wide web. Mr. Fox claims his traffic has doubled each month since the company’s inception in June of this year. Why then do we have the results reported below by Alexa in today’s traffic rankings>

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According to this graphic, 1031netex has LOST traffic rank. They have fallen from a rank of 2,267,353 down to 2,271,827. That means 4,474 sites have surpassed 1031netex’s traffic rank position since our initial investigation. Hardly a good sign but one that is typical for a brand new site with very very little traffic. If Mr. Fox is out there and reading, if you have actual unique visitor numbers you can state with documentation we are more than willing to document any corrections or new upward fluctuations in traffic.

Consequently the time is right for a information database on 1031 exchanges outside of the Federation of Exchange Accommodators. Yet with the case of 1031netex, I would be more inclined to look for something that will provide more help to the consumer than netex’s “tools” claim. This seems like a good site for Qualified Intermediaries and any professionals performing exchanges. For consumers and investors stick to hands on legal controls over your exchange funds whereabouts and movements throughout the process: two signatures should be your mantra!

Selling a Home: It Is As Easy As Holding a Raffle!

In today’s challenging real estate market one thing that is in massive supply is inventory. Many sellers have tried “Help You Sell”, Realtors, and auctions to unload their precious cargo-with little luck. What does a creative home seller do in this market? Why not sell raffle tickets?

According to Richard Halstead’s article in the Marin Independent Journal, Community Action Marin (a non profit that provides programs for the poor) in 2 1/2 weeks has sold $1.5 million in raffle tickets to win a dream Marin County home. The San Rafael home, valued at $2.1 million, is the prize in this “lottery.” The total number of tickets sold thus far is 10,000 at $150 per ducket. Russ Hamel the agency’s director stated “It’s beyond our wildest expectations.”

Community Action Marin supports programs that are directed toward mental health services and issues, AIDS, food programs and the homeless amongst it’s menu of services. This worthwhile cause has drawn ticket buyers from as many as 15 states outside of California.

The home, at 204 Southern Heights Blvd in San Rafael, California, has a final drawing day of Feb 9, 2008. Two additional drawings, for cash prizes, will be held October 10 and November 28. The deadline for eligibility for the first drawing on October 10 has expired-but the second drawing is still open.

Even better is the fact that if the grand prize winner does not wish to opt for the home, a cash prize of $1.7 million is available as an alternative.

Either way, it seems like everyone wins in this raffle: the program, the citizen, and the winner of the drawing.

Popurls: A Real Estate Agent’s Blog Content Goldmine

Bloggers in every business niche, especially real estate, often find themselves intimidated by the “task” of writing five articles per week for their blog. Even though the ever changing, and often daunting, aspect of technology used to produce a successful blog is the real challenge to new bloggers. The fact remains that many people resign themselves to the misconception that they could never find enough material to write about on an ongoing basis. Fear based thinking which paralyzes the thought process often gets in the way of new bloggers joining the blogishere.

Mining for content through email in-boxes, reading blogs, reading acclaimed syndicated media outlets, and perusing hyper local news sources for content are all solid methods to finding subject matter. The best idea to aggregate all of these sources is to implement a feed reader, something akin to creating your own customized newspaper, and use it on a daily basis.

One of the newest and best sources to find “hot” news on the internet and in the blogishere is a site called Popurls. According to Guy Kawasaki’s article “Reality Check: Popurls: “. . . a site that aggregates feeds from the likes of Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit, Flickr, Stumbleupon, Slashdot, Google News, ifilm, BoingBoing, Fark, etc. This enables you to see, on one page, what much of the Internet is buzzing about—think of it as an Internet “dashboard.”

I agree with Mr. Kawasaki on what I perceive is the major value to bloggers when considering using Popurls: functionality in compact and rich presentation. The “dashboard” description is a good one. The reader of Popurls can quickly and simply peruse through the major social networking sites, news sites (google news-yahoo news-netscape.com), video sites (youtube-ifilm.com-odeo.com-metacafe-videosift) and it concludes with a very cool “Quickies” section with everything from the “Animal House” like Onion to the serious Techcrunch.com. And for the Twitter junkies, there is a twitter section at the very bottom of the “dashboard.”

If you have been pondering the idea of writing a blog or if you currently author a blog, check out Popurls for the freshest content/source available. This rich aggregation of many of today’s most popular sites is a welcome weapon for any writer in the quest to bring fresh and appealing articles to their readers.

Russian River Food and Wine Festival: Culinary Samples and Tastes From Super Star Chefs

The Russian River Food and WineFest is one of the most elaborate displays of culinary demonstrations, fine food samples from world class chefs, and rich wine tasting a foodie/wino will ever find in one place. Centered in the tiny, bohemian 60’s conscious burg of Monte Rio, near the Sonoma coast, this tranquil river side location is the perfect setting.

Sunday, September 30 from 12:00-5:00 for admission prices of $25 advance general admission or advance $50 VIP admission patrons are treated to “A Tasting and Sampling MarketPlace at the Peak of Our Sonoma Harvest Season.” The following is the schedule of food sampling and wine tastings. The “Meadow” is for general admission and there is the “VIP Area” for those willing to pay the extra freight

The schedule in the Meadow:

12:15: Jeff Mall of Zin restaurant and Ziggy the wine gal cooking demo

1:15: Mark Stark of Wili’s Wine Bar cooking demo

2:00 Eco Hero Awards

2:15 Author’s Panel with Scott Peacock, Carrie Brown, Scott Hocker, Michele Anna Jordan, and Davia Nelson

3:15: Mateo Granados formerly of Dry Creek Kitchen and now Mateo Granados Catering Flavors of the Yucatan

4:15 Scott Peacock Watershed restaurant

The schedule in the VIP Area:

12:45

Mark Malicki, Chef owner of Cafe St. Rose

1:00

Holistic Wine & Food Pairing with Chiara Maria Kae, PhD (at the EcoRing Table)

1:15

Carol Shelton, the Most Awarded Winemaker in America

1:45

Paul Thornton of Paul’s Smoked Salmon

2:45

Sonoma Wine and Cheese Pairing with the California Artisan Cheese Guild and Andreas Wilkamsch of Farm House Restaurant

3:00

Holistic Wine & Food Pairing with Chiara Maria Kae, PhD (at the EcoRing Table)

3:15

Carol Shelton, the Most Awarded Winemaker in America

3:45

Dan Imhoff, publisher & author of “Farming with the Wild” and

FOOD FIGHT: A Citizen’s Guide to the Farm Bill

4:45

Artisan Sweets tasting with Patisserie Angelica

5:15

VIP Ticket Holder Reception

If you prize great food and wine. If you are a foodie or a wino. If you absolutely love the Russian River area and it’s outdoor beauty. This festival is what you have been waiting all summer to attend!