Economist.com City Liveability Rankings: Vancouver, British Columbia #1

The well respected, if not sometimes controversial, economist.com came out with their Liveability rankings or what they describe as ” world’s most liveable city.” The findings provided by the “Economists Intelligence unit” rank 140 cities worldwide. The winner and #1 most liveable city in the world this year is Vancouver, British Columbia. Not one American city appeared in the top ten cities. It is interesting to note that three Canadian cities, Vancouver-Toronto-Calgary, were all ranked in the top 10 most liveable cities in the world.

Methodology

First the economist “quantifies the challenges” that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide.They then score each city on 30 qualitative and quantitative factors over these 5 broad categories:

1. Stability

2. Health care

3. Culture and environment

4. Education

5. Infrastructure.

The Intelligence unit then assigned scores based on a 100 point system with a score of 100 being the most ideal, liveable city in the world and a 1 being the worst. The following are the rankings of the Best and Worst cities:

Courtesy of the economist.com Intelligence unit:

Advertisements

Blogging Realtor’s New Content Tip: Blog Article “Mashup” Provides Variety and Measurement

The mashup content post is a concept that combines 3 subjects, in tip or list format, in one blog article. Today’s first edition will provide 3 tips on 3 different subject categories: Anchor Text, Social Media Construct, and Focus and your plan.

Mashup Article Benefits:

1. Variety for the writer and reader

2. Measure your reader’s enthusiasm for each subject with traffic analytics

3. Valuable information in multiple areas

Tip #1 Anchor Text:

Anchor text is according to Wikipedia “is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink.” According to Marilyn at Seoshootout.com you will “Improve your SEO and build relevant anchor text by using an important keyword as the hyperlink – preferably linking it to another, relevant page on your site or linked to an external site that is relevant.”

Ex: SEO Shootout is the premeire SEO blog in the blogosphere

Tip #2 Social Media Construct: Chris Brogan-Darren Rowse featured by James Helm’s todaysbesttools.com

Here is a great description of the construct for Soc Media sites

a.) Blog is Home where all sites should point and all readers funneled

b.) Outposts (Darren Rowse) “are third party sites where he creates “Relationships, ideas, traffic, resources, partnerships, community and much more emerge from the outposts” Darren’s idea is a powerful method to multiple points of exposure for the blogger

c.) Frontiers (Kyle Lacy) feels these are “a website or service you have a presence on but rarely go.”

Tip #3 Focus

According to James Helms the best method to stave off burnout and feelings of overwhelming angst over the massive crush of available social media sites and tools is to consider the following:

“When it comes to social media don’t focus on the tools before the goals within your strategy. Said another way, first focus on your campaign and then leverage available tools that help you meet your goals.”

Great advice and very important to remember–your efforts to leverage tools is useless if you don’t stay connected to your planned campaign

Courtesy of James Helm’s todaysbesttools.com and inspired by Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, Kyle Lacy and James Helms

Meetways.com: Realtor’s Meeting Mapping Tool

Chicago Sun-Times published this deansguide article October 23, 2008

Emily Chang and her ehub site are one of the most valuable tools a blogger can utilize. Due to her constant stream of reviews on the latest and greatest new Web 2.0 sites available, I am able to deliver new tool information to the real estate community. The latest fun and easy to use tool is Meetways.com.

Ever have a tough time finding a place to meet clients that is in the middle or half way between your location and theirs? Now you have a fun little tool that will map out all of your choice and pinpoint the midway point between you and your clients: MeetWays.com.

“Meet Me in the Middle”: The Utility

Meetways.com plots halfway points aka a point of interest between two addresses.

Powered by Google Maps

Meetways provides a map that identifies restaurants, coffee shops, meeting office space locations

Business Tool

According to MeetWays you can support your business with this tool:

1. Setting up a Conference or Regional Meeting

2. Managing Sales Reps on the road

3. Managing Mileage and Fuel costs

4. Meeting clients for business

MeetWays supports their tool with an informative blog and special deals through partner companies offering internet services, travel, food and drink, hotels, car rentals, and even traffic school.

Realtor’s Floor Duty Tip #1: Stop Hard Selling-Start Engaging

This morning I called an agent to find out the listing price of a condo in my condo complex. The longtime resident is a good guy and I wanted to compare prices with some of the other properties as a measure for our market. When I called the agent I asked the question: “Hi, Tom can you tell me the list price on 123 Main St?”

The answer I received made me think of a few things I want to share with you since I am a consumer and NOT an agent.

Questions Are Not Buying Signals

1. Asking a question about a property is NOT a buying signal. Check out Mark Dembo’s article on buying signals for practical advice. When I asked for the price, I followed up that question with “What is the square footage of this condo?”  Tom the agent answered the square footage is “1,408” but then.  .  .

Hard Sell Launch

1. Agent Tom, thinking he had permission to slam me with a sales pitch launched into the following ramble:

Tom: “This is one of the biggest units in the complex (that’s not true-I know for a fact it is avg); this unit has one of the biggest garages in the complex (that is also false); you have private use of your own boat dock (that’s true); you have plenty of parking; two bedrooms 2 1/2 baths; community pool” and the list of features continued.

Note: During this Features “Puke” Tom was on a roll, never stopped to measure my interest, and continued at a speed where I could not ask another question. His attitude was just sit back and listen to how great this property is and how great it would be for you.

My Reaction

1. Run, run fast, run away immediately. So that is what I did to Tom. I told him: “Thank you I appreciate the information have a good day.” I hung up before Tom could react with ANOTHER DOZEN FEATURES I COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT.

2. My perception of Tom:

a.) Tom knows the Hard Sell

b.) Tom does not know how to engage on a personal level and create a connection

c.) Tom is desperate, he is selfish

d.) Tom is unprofessional

e.) Tom did not attempt to brand himself

f.) Tom did not give me a feel for the buyer’s situation

g.) Tom did not ask one probing question

h.) Tom did not care for anything but puking his information all over me.

i.) Tom does not know how to give value in order to connect

If I Were a Betting Man: Tom’s Reaction To My Call

1. I was just another tire kicking clown

2. I was not serious

3. That call was a waste of time

4. That guy was rude as he did not let me continue my mindless info puke

5. Floor duty sucks!

Opportunities Tom Missed and Things He will Never Understand

1. I could be somebody who could help his career- I would write about him and help him with Web 2.0 transition or sales transition if he had just engaged with me

2. He doesn’t know who I know- I know lots of friendly people here on Active Rain. He needs to be here and I will bet (sorry I would make this bet) my house he is not aware of Active Rain or the power here

3. He did not try to befriend, engage, or create a personal relationship-again I do know the county as I grew up in Marin County when the market for starter homes was $19,500-I know lots of people even today

4. He did not ask permission to provide more information– this would have shown respect and I would have gladly accepted his info puke

5. He did not brand himself and offer a glimpse of his differentiating factor

6. He did not offer any value give, any value information, any value advice

The Secret That Is NO Secret

Every call is an opportunity to show why a person should be interested in you. The method to gaining access to people, their confidence, and their group of friends is to provide free information that people value.

5 Strategies to Branding “You”: Realtor’s Guide To Career Success

Branding "You" to be memorable

Branding

Reuters.com published this deansguide article September 2, 2008

What exactly is the definition for the word “branding”? We are talking about creating an aura, a perception, and a truth about a person, service, or product that allows people to identify and recognize them instantly.

Branding according to Whatis.techtarget.com definition

Branding “You” What Are You Waiting For?

You spend a lifetime promoting your employer, their products, and their services. You derive your substance factor from your experiences. Is it not about time you tell the world about you and why you are special?

Tips To Branding “You”

1. Recognize: You are a brand. You have recognizable qualities and you must consider yourself special in order to promote your unique qualities

2. Begin the Shift: Recognize you are worthy of brand recognition and begin to shift the emphasis to your qualities and differentiating factors that make you unique. Why are you so effective? How can you deliver value? Begin to market you as the source

3. Education to Expertise: in order to become a brand, you must be knowledgeable in your niche. Gain confidence and expertise by studying and learning about your business from mentors, online resources, workshops, seminars, and books. Building your knowledge base builds confidence in you as well as your potential clients

4. Writing Platform: create a writing platform with the goal of establishing your own blog within a 3-6 month period. The following are places to start:

a.) Submit articles to ezinearticles.com

b.) Create a newsletter

c.) Become a contributor to a blog

d.) Ask to contribute to a newsletter or local newspaper

5. Public Speaking Platform: Create a workshop or speech aimed at providing value to your audience.

a.) Ask to represent your company at local meetings or conferences. Work up to bigger venues

b.) Ask to speak at your Kiwanis Club, Rotary, or Chamber of Commerce

c.) Create a Free workshop for you affiliate partners

d.) Join a industry organization and submit your request to speak

Results

The best strategy to support your career as an entrepreneur or as an employee of a company is to create the brand of “You.” In so doing, you become recognizable to both potential clients and potential employers.

Your entrepreneurial business is positively effected when potential clients know you, like your brand (You), and understand the value you bring to the table

Your employer’s business is positively effected when customers know you, trust you as their “brand”, and understand the value you bring to the organization you are working for with the client’s best interests in mind

Realtors “Measure” Your Success For An “Unfair Advantage”

FoxBusiness.com published this deansguide article on August 5, 2008

Guy Kawasaki talks about the differentiating factor in a business being that businesses “unfair advantage.” The one person, product, or service that nobody else in the niche or industry can duplicate or “touch.” This must be quantifiable and measurable in order to illustrate the true value to the market.

Lawyers measure their success, in many cases, through their percentage of wins in the courtroom. Professional baseball players measure their success through their batting average or wins. Chefs measure their success through restaurant reviews and Michelin stars.

Here Is The “Salesperson’s Problem

Unfortunately sales people often measure their success by pointing to their sales volume, innocuously siting vague buzzwords like “value add” and attempting to push the idea they are experts without providing any objective outside source for validation

Examples of “Old School Hard Sell” Measurement

When Realtors utilized their promo, marketing, or ad materials they often site the following “reasons” for consumers to blast down their doorway:

1. Sales Volume: Sales volume does not equate to salesmanship, customer service, or expert knowledge. Selling big volume can be, and has been in many cases, the product of nepotism, favoritism, smoking white hot markets, and the always present hard work

2. Top Producer: Brokerage top producer logo’s and marketing materials are an attempt to impress consumers by showing experience and effectiveness WITHOUT really showing anything of detailed substance

Top Producer “tags” are only relevant to a consumer if you can negotiate a great price to sell their home or help them buy a home. It is more relevant if you can show properties before they hit the market or warn the consumer about a problematic area

Differentiate Through Measurement?

1. Find Measurement: Find a stat that consumers can understand and appreciate. One that they find value in and believe is helpful to their needs

Differentiating Measurements

1. Sales Dollars Below Asking: Why not keep a running spreadsheet on sales dollars below asking? Or find a measurement that will describe your ability to negotiate and save your clients money

2. Go-To Source Before Market: Can you find great properties and offer a full list of properties no other agent can offer to consumers? Can you do this prior to the property coming on the MLS? Can you be perceived as a go-to source of information? How about a stat you keep of the number of properties you sold that were not on market as a method of showing your ability to bring more to the table?

3. Transaction Savings: Is their an affiliate relationship that you can leverage that brings dollar savings to your clients? If so can you total the dollar amount into an impressive measurement tool that shows how consumers benefit by doing business with you?

Has A New Ed Okun Arrived On The 1031 Exchange Scene: Vesta Strategies LLC Staggers From Wall St. Journal Story

In another apparent blatant rip off of 1031 exchange investor funds, Vesta Strategies of San Jose, California “has closed its doors, leaving investors scrambling to recover millions and pointing to flaws in the largely unregulated industry” according to the Wall Street Journal report “Behind the Boom and Bust of Real- Estate Player Vesta.”

Do we have another Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group on our hands?

The Founders

Chicago businessman John Terzakis and partner Robert Estupinian were the principles at Vesta Strategies. They founded Vesta in 2004 amid a firestorm of legal problems

History

According to WSJ’s Kris Hudson’s report:

“Mr. Terzakis had a history of failed real-estate deals and soured relationships — information Mr. Terzakis isn’t required to disclose to potential clients. Now the two men are accusing each other in separate lawsuits of diverting millions of dollars from Vesta for personal use.”

The Losses Sound Familiar

Christina Pappas a California investor, a familiar story to the “Trainwreck Victims of Ed Okun”, is out $2.5 million she handed to Vesta in April 2008 from the “sale of a property.”

When Ms. Pappas found a replacement property, another building, to purchase within the IRS’s 180 day exchange period, she requested her funds be wired in order to close the deal. To her utter horror, but familiar to the people following this industry, Ms. Pappas maintains that the “Vesta representative failed to wire her money to complete the property exchange by the June 16 closing, and still hasn’t done so”

The Numbers

According to WSJ story, Mr. Estupinian was quoted as saying that “Vesta Strategies held $10 million to $30 million in client money at any one time.” Okun like no, but no small sum of money in any case

Vesta Infighting And Meltdown

In a scene worthy of Ed Okun, the two principles Terzakis and Estupinian ended up in court with Terzakis initiating the legal action.

Mr. Terzakis allegations included

1. Estupinian misappropriated several million dollars of Vesta’s money for his family’s use

2. $96,000 salary for Mr. Estupinian’s wife, who allegedly did little work for the company

3. Expenditures on a $1.3 million house

4. A $160,308 oceanfront apartment in Long Beach

5. $50,000 for a pair of dogs-doesn’t everyone have $50,000 twin dogs?

6. $42,795 in tuition toward Mr. Estupinian’s doctorate degree-education is expensive

The Countersuit by Mr. Estupinian

1. Embezzlement of about $25 million and the following quote by Mr. Estupinian:

“Beginning as far back as 2000, John Terzakis has been treating the client funds as his own personal piggy bank in order to fund his many personal business and development projects”

Final Final

If this does not sound like the Okun case it certainly sounds like a close facsimile to it. The bottom line for Ms.Pappas and fellow investors serviced by Vesta Strategies could be the same fate suffered by Okun victims: no return on investment, IRS nightmare tax bill, and the prospects of a lost retirement fund spent in a lavish lifestyle befitting a crook