Top of Mind Networks

The Lones Group Is Suing Someone Over A Zebra

February 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Updated 3/9/2011:  Daniel Rothamel takes the high road for the sake of his family: 

http://www.realestatezebra.com/in-which-i-explain-my-decision-to-retire-the-stripes

My original article minus a few minor revisions follows:

Meet the new press – you.  Earlier this month, we witnessed the impact of social media in toppling a dictator in Egypt.  The story I’m sharing this morning certainly pales in terms of scope – but is no less powerful an example social media’s role in bringing people together in the pursuit of justice.

You don’t really need me to rehash the controversy on our blog.  There are much better articles summing things up elsewhere:

1)  The Lones Group Lawsuit Summary Page on WannaNetwork.com

2)  Inman News Original Article of The Lones Group Lawsuit

3)  Jay Thompson’s Coverage and Opinion On the Lawsuit

I am inclined to share my personal take on the issue:

There used to be a saying in the advertising/PR business – “There’s no such thing as negative press.  If people are talking about you, it’s a good thing”.  Well I’m not so sure that’s true anymore.  Case in point, the article I shared above written by Jay Thompson had already risen in Google’s Search Rankings to the #5 position – after only one day.  (Author’s note 3/9/11:  Mr. Thompson has since “de-indexed” his blog article on the Lones Group vs. Rothamel suit, meaning that it will no longer rank prominently on Google).  If you’re a prospect checking out The Lones Group with the idea of working with them – this firestorm of a story might give you some pause.  I can’t imagine people are going to read all these blog articles and twitter posts and rush over to spend money with Ms. Lones.  That’s for sure.

Our civil legal system is inherently flawed.  In our society, someone with enough money and/or malevolence toward another can practically ruin them emotionally and/or financially.  This is because we don’t have a “loser pays” system.  I wonder if Ms. Lones would have filed her lawsuit if she’d be on the hook for Mr. Rothamel’s legal fees once the verdict came in?  I wonder what would happen if Mr. Rothamel also could be compensated for all the lost sleep, stress and wasted hours Ms. Lones suit will inevitably cause him.  Tort reform is absolutely a critical issue that must be addressed in this country.

I believe we all want to make a positive difference in others’ lives – and having a blog is an affordable and powerful way to help others.  That being said, before you start blogging and jump to someone’s rescue, I do have one piece of advice – do your homework first.  Never take someone’s word for who is right and who is wrong.  A few years ago, I made this mistake and published an article I ended up pulling down off the site.  Also, I recommend making your point tactfully rather than losing your cool with your prose.  Sometimes, we say things in anger that we later regret.  Certainly, we husbands know full well how amazing a memory our wives have when it comes to this – but Google’s memory is FOREVER!!!!  And Google knows more people than our wives too!!!

In closing, I wanted to loop back to the statement I made to open this article.  One hundred years ago, the press played a critical role in protecting us from injustice and exposing abuse in society.  Unfortunately, it seems that the American public sees more value in learning who got popped last night at the liquor store than we care about real issues… like tort reform!!!  Our media is slanted - either left or right.  But the power of the pen lives on in the form of blogging and social media.  We are living in very exciting times – where each one of us can really make a difference.  One regular guy at Google started a revolution that will reshape the future of a great nation.  One of my closest friends brought The Lones Group vs. Daniel Rothamel to my attention through his blog and together we’re making a difference too.  (Author’s note 3/9/11:  the firestorm that resulted in the blogosphere has been labeled as “cyber-bullying” by some.  I respectfully disagree.  In this article, and in many others I’ve read, the core message was… and still is… inspired by coming to the defense and support of a good man.  It also illustrates how flawed our justice system is – and how it can be leveraged to choke out the little people…as in… me and you.  I’m extremely inspired by the way Mr. Rothamel handled the situation.  On the other hand, I’m angry because I don’t think justice is being served.  And that’s the rub.) 

If you don’t yet have a blog, I hope this article helps convince you to start one.  If you are a Top of Mind Networks “Surefire System” client, you even get your blog built, hosted and maintained for you free of charge.  All you have to do is fill out the Lenderama Website Set Up Form and we’ll run with the ball.  It’s rewarding… and dare I say it… even a little bit fun!  Thanks for reading – and for sharing this story with others.  We need to take care of the good guys out there.

Mortgage Blogging 101 Presentation From MRev SF

May 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I just got back from Mortgage Revolution SF, where Naomi Trower and I gave a presentation on Social Media and Blogging Basics.

Since Top of Mind Networks and I are in the process of building a comprehensive Mortgage Blogging Tutorial Page on Lenderama.com, I thought I’d share the Slide Show from MRev.

We’ll actually breeze through a few of these key points in tomorrow’s weekly Mortgage Blogging webinar.

Be Where The Buyers Are – Write On High Traffic Real Estate Blogs

January 5, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

Diver-in-Middle-of-School-of-Fish-Bali-Indonesia-Photographic-Print-C13481597.jpegMost borrowers starting their home buying related research online generally end up landing on a real estate agent’s top ranking blog or web site.

If you’re in the purchase business game, it makes perfect sense to partner with agents that have high traffic sites which attract your target audience (Buyers).

My Las Vegas mortgage relationship-based business model had a slight set back in 2007 when the local market took a small turn for the worse.

Basically, all of my loyal agents ended up having to find new jobs, and the equity in my past clients’ properties disappeared.

While struggling to research new options, I realized that one of my close friends and Las Vegas agents was actually thriving as a result of his online presence.

Since we had already been working together on his sites for a couple of years, I decided to put all of my eggs in the online basket and go where the buyers were…. The Internet.

Over the course of several years, we chased shiny objects, built a real estate social network, launched some niche FHA and Property Management blogs and scraped our knees along the way.

However, the one thing we could always count on was that thousands of potential buyers were finding us in the search engines every month.

In our online evolution, we realized that the key to our success was getting found in the search engines at the precise moment our target audience was ready to make a buying decision.

In order to maintain those high traffic search rankings we have to invest several hours writing content and building links.

The Result

Thousands of unique visitors a month searching for homes and reading about the mortgage or real estate process on our blogs.

How Does That Traffic Convert?

Well, it depends on how soon these buyers need to close on a property.  Our typical sales cycle is about 4-8 months from the time someone lands on a real estate blog and then closes on a property.

Either way, the agents are busy closing transactions every month that are 100% generated from web traffic.

Keep in mind, these buyers aren’t typical Internet leads that get duped into filling out an online web form which generates hundreds of solicitation calls.

Instead, the people contacting us as a result of finding us online and reading our blogs are more informed and feel a sense of trust.

In essence, by providing valuable educational content on your agent’s site, potential buyers build a relationship with you before they’ve even made that initial phone call.

Main Point:

If you’re in the purchase money game, then the most efficient use of your time online is to contribute some mortgage related content to a local high traffic real estate blog.

Benefit To Contributing Loan Officer:

Get in front of the agent and their clients on a regular basis.

Benefit To Real Estate Agent:

Targeted content, and a lot of it, will attract buyers online that are in their final stages of making a decision to move forward with a home purchase.

Content, Traffic and Links are the three things that a social media savvy agent care more about than anything else.

Benefit To Client:

Education and empowerment.  You may say that you’ve got great service and you’re a consumer advocate, but borrowers expect us to earn their trust and respect these days.

_______

I have the replay of a 60 minute webinar / interview about this strategy posted here:

Partnering With Social Media Savvy Agents Online

This isn’t a secret system with some hidden agenda we’re selling.  The reality is that very few originators will actually follow through with this.

The few that do will make powerful online networking partners.

As my friend Eric Blackwell says: Search Engine Marketing is a team sport.

Either way, it’s gonna take a strong army of mortgage professionals working together for a common goal if we want to bring some honor back to our industry in 2010.

Confessions of a Contract Processor: Freddie Mac Relief Refi-Can't Touch This!

December 3, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Mary’s True Confessions: Remember when M.C. Hammer sang: “You Can’t Touch This”?…..was he talking about “Freddie Mac backed upside down mortgages”???

MC Hammer

Let’s travel back in time (no, not to the 80’s and working our parachute pants) to Spring of 2009.  There was a waft of new optimism in the air when Fannie Mae’s DU Refi Plus arrived (sound familiar?  if not, check out my last blog!). 

Despite the onset of HVCC and sharp decline in home values, Fannie’s new program immediately allowed brokers the opportunity to streamline refinance Fannie Mae owned mortgages, regardless of which lender owned the borrowers current mortgage, to a new lender of the broker’s choice.   Within a few weeks I noticed that many brokers had rediscovered that portion of their database that they had long ago given up on…..you know, that part of your database that you never thought you would be able to refinance again???  It was the black hole portion of your database.  The chasm filled with those purchase deals you did during the height of the real estate market.  That portion of 80/20 loans or perhaps the guy you helped get a large 2nd mortgageon his property shortly after the purchase of his new home and prior to the needle bursting the housing balloon.

 Well, Wahh-Lah! DU-Refi Plus was your new government program designed to help off-set the crappy earlier government regulation.  So more than likely over the past serveral months, you have turned and burned and closed alot of deals.  Most brokers considered it a mini refi-boom-if you can believe that!  But, the excitement and earnings kept them from noticing the numerous deals that did not qualify for DU Refi-Plus.  So, up until now, MC Hammer was right.  You couldn’t touch Freddie Mac backed mortgages in upside down scenarios.

Well Hammer, “times have changed”!  Now, Freddie is out with their streamline program and it rivals Fannie’s DU Refi Plus.  Before now, those upside down mortgages backed by Freddie but owned by lenders that no longer have wholesale departments (such as Chase, Citi, GMAC or IndyMac) were not able to refinance to a new lender.  Now those tasty little nuts that have been hiding inside your database are ready to be cooked over an open fire this Christmas.  So, get with the program and review these Freddie Relief highlights:

  • max LTV is 105%
  • CLTV is UNLIMITED!!  This should help that customer above with the enormous 2nd mortgage!
  • Debt ratios up to 60%
  • minimum credit score is 620

A.E. Lowdown: Lia Webster of Plaza Home Mortgage, Inc. comments_”My office just started doing these and they are a huge hit! One little helpful tidbit, the subject property can also be recently listed.  It needs to be off the market prior to application date but it can be as little as 1 day off!”  That is huge!!

 

If you have any other questions or need direction on where to go to take advantage of this program, give me a shout.  Quick Close Processing loves to help you close more loans!

Got any successs stories, processing tips or questions?? Send them my way, I would love to share with our readers!

5 Quick Tips to Getting Your Blog to Produce

December 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Left to right, Eric E.
Image via Wikipedia

Blogs are great things. They make publishing our thoughts and services nearly free. Google loves them and all their fresh content.

But, there are millions of them. How do you make yours draw attention and produce results?

1. Have a Plan – This is the achilles heel of most bloggers. They have an idea or two that stirs there passion to publish. Unfortunately, that is often the conclusion of the plan. Without a clear objective and path to lead you there your blog is likely to be a ghost in six months.

2. Start an Editorial Calendar – A big part of that plan should be an editorial plan. Know and program out what you want to publish. This can be posts, podcasts, video, ebooks, or other creative content. Regardless of the format there needs to be a calendar, some deadlines, and the consistency that your audience will expect.

3. Repackage Content as Valuable Giveaways – Don’t forget that people are busy. They don’t have time to dig through your archives to find the masterpieces. It is your job to help them be efficient in finding your valuable content. I suggest routinely repackaging that content into rewrites, updates, or even better eBooks. This makes it easier to find, consume, and distribute.

4. Syndicate Widely – Use an RSS service like Feedburner to increase your syndication. Also, don’t forget to use other social networking venues like Twitter and Friendfeed to get the word out. There are services like TwitterFeed that can automate this syndication.

5. Don’t Forget to Ask Them to Come Back – Finally, never miss the opportunity to ask them to come back. That means closing every post with an invitation to sign-up for your RSS feed, email updates, or simple to call you.

Now take a quick peek at your blog. Is it clear what you want your readers to do and are you inviting them to be loyal followers? Probably not. So, go tune things up.

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Why I've Committed to Mortgage Blogging

October 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Okay, so my buddy Mark Madsen has been an avid mortgage blogger for the better part of three years.  For two of those years, I’d get a weekly phone call or email saying “Dude, you’ve gotta get on board”.  And for two years I resisted.  It just seemed like a waste of time.  But finally I relented and gave blogging a shot.  Now that I’m a year into the game, here’s why blogging has stuck with me:

1)  It keeps my mind limber

Above all, I find myself paying closer attention to everything around me, both personally and professionally.  When I set up my Google Reader and populated it with all the mortgage/real estate RSS feeds I could handle, I instantly doubled my knowledge base on our industry.  No longer was I relying on the misinformed mainstream media for my mortgage news.  Rather, I’m getting the story behind the story – my counterparts’ uninhibited take on current events.  Guys like Tom Vanderwell and Martin Andelman really cut through the BS.  Why?  Because they really don’t care what we think of their take – they’re writing for themselves first, us second – and I want my news delivered with some passion.  They don’t need to run their articles through an editor (like newspaper reporters).  They don’t have to worry about their story being cut from the day’s events (like TV reporters).  They can write for as long or as short as they feel.  They can use potty language if they want to accentuate points – try that in the New York Freaking Times!

2)  It helps with SEO

This was probably my initial motivator when I started blogging a year ago.  We created a quick down-n-dirty blog on the Wanna Network platform, and it instantly helped Top of Mind appear on the search engines for critical key phrases such as “mortgage crm”.  That was proof positive for me.  I figured, okay, well if I’m going to invest my time into blogging AND we might actually see some long term business from it… what the heck?  Chances are, this is why you might consider dipping your pinky toe into the blogging waters.  Obviously, people are using the internet to research mortgage and real estate options – it’s critical that they’re finding you.  At Mortgage Revolution, we’re going to cover advanced aspects of mortgage blogging and SEO – hope to see you there.

3)  It’s Addictive, Fun and Productive

Blogging is time consuming, especially when you’re first getting started.  The good news is that like everything else, you’ll get better and more efficient with practice and time.  If you’re like me, your mind is always wandering onto new ideas and topics of discussion.  The ability to publish my random thoughts – and the idea that others might join in a discussion – really motivates me.  I ran into Mary Schaber Eyler at a party over the weekend.  Mary just had a baby boy and is getting ready to pick her column back up on the Top of Mind Blog.  Anyhow, Mary was under the impression that people weren’t enjoying her articles because she hadn’t seen a lot of comments.  However, when I check the traffic statistics on this blog, Mary’s articles consistently show up among people’s favorites, and they are getting found in the search engines.  For us novice bloggers, if you’re not seeing a lot of comments on your articles, don’t get discouraged.  Just keep writing.  Mortgage people don’t really tend to comment – they want to get in, read, and get out as quickly as possible.

4)  Blogging Complements my Mortgage CRM Activity

Everyone reading this article is a marketer in his/her own right.  And as marketers, our ultimate goal is to attain “top of mind” awareness.  There are different levels of being “top of mind” of course.  I think I’ll write an article on that later this week (see, another blogging idea just came to me as I write this article!).  At Mortgage Revolution, my presentation will focus on creating synergy between your offline CRM (ie: meetings, phone calls, letters, etc) and online CRM (ie: social media, blogging, etc.).  That’s CRM nirvana baby.

There are other reasons to blog, but those are my top 4.  Yours might be completely different.  But make no mistake, blogging has a real ROI if you’re willing to commit.

Social Media Revealed

August 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

This is an awesome video someone shared with me over at Broker Outpost. If you don’t have a good website, a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook page, or a blog; YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS VIDEO. I am obviously a big proponent of social media and the statistics shared in this video even shocked me. Enjoy!

Are You Blogging Right? 5 Tips From the Pros

August 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Chris Brogan - Gnomedex 2009
Image by Randy Stewart via Flickr

Obviously all of the contributors on Top of Mind are bloggers. And I am guessing that a fair number of the readers are bloggers too. I don’t know about you, but I often wonder if I am doing it right. So, I took a little time last night to research that question: “How do you blog better?”

Here is what I found:

1. Write to be Helpful – This is the number one tip from Chris Brogan’s 10 Blogging Tips and I think it says it all. Blogs are simple publications and no one subscribes to a newspaper or magazine with gaining some value from it. Decide early on how you are going to help your readers and be true to that objective with every post.

2. Conquer Your Fear of Blogging – This is another goodie from Chris Brogan. Much like sales has phone anxiety; a lot of beginning bloggers have a fear of blogging. Will my post be good enough? What if I make a grammar or factual error? What is no one shows up? Guess what? Every blogger experiences each of these. Blogging is a growing and evolving experience for the author. Jump in! You will get better with age.

3. Learn to Build an Audience – Readers are humans, not stats in your Web analytics. Don’t forget that, it will go a long way towards your success in attracting and gaining their loyalty. We that being said lets look at the number one factor in building a strong audience on your blog-consistency. That’s right; people are driven by normalcy and habits. For a blogger that means delivering focused, consistent, predictable content. Of course that doesn’t mean boring. It just means you are posting regularly, on a similar concept, and using a predictable format.

(I swear I will quote someone other than Chris Brogan in a minute, but he is a master!)

4. Teach Your Readers to Subscribe – Very few people know what RSS is, even less know how to use it. However, increasing your subscriber base it critical to long-term blogging success. So, teach your readers to subscribe. Then make it easy and obvious.

5. Learn a Little SEO – “If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound if no one is there?” This is the sad state of many new blogs. You should learn a little bit about amplifying your blog and cornerstone posts in the search engines. This is the modern online marketing megaphone-learn the basics of how SEO works.

I don’t profess to be an expert (that is why I consulted the experts), but I do know that blogging can be a great business development and lead nurturing tool for your mortgage business. That is why I do and would encourage you as well to do a little reading on how to improve this marketing strategy.

What are your tips on better blogging? Who are your favorite blogging mentors? Please leave a comment and help us all get a bit better.

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Real Estate is Local, So Is Google

July 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

I was reading this article on Duct Tape Marketing this morning and got to thinking how realtors and mortgage professionals could put this strategy to use for them. This article describes how local business owners can use the Google Local Business Center to add their business to a directory within Google.

google-mortgageI am sure you have all seen search results from Google that look like this image, where they list out certain businesses that match your criteria and show them on a Google Map. This directory is how that comes to be. So the old saying goes, “Real Estate Is Local”, so why not use the tools Google is giving us to make our business more easily found by local people who are searching for it?

And if anyone is utilizing Google AdWords you can now link these to your Google Local Business Profile and have your physical address show up in the Ad based on the address of the person doing the searching. Check out Local Extensions for more information.

Based on your profile, Google will also show you some cool analytics. Within the dashboard you can view how many people clicked on your profile, what keywords they searched for to get them there, and you can even see their physical location if they searched for driving directions.

This profile also allows you to add more than just your company name, phone, and address. This is also another great spot where you can add a back-link to your website or blog and embed some additional keywords. I have not attempted to measure the SEO benefits of this, but I can assure you it will not hurt. All things considered, this is just one more tool you can use to help people find you. It takes about 5 minutes to setup and you are done. Other than checking your analytics from time to time you really never have to touch it again.

Replay: Mortgage Blogging – What's In It For Me?

July 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re on the fence about mortgage blogging, the following video will help answer the question:  What’s In It For Me?  We focused on “Googleability”.  In other words:

1)  Are you being found online?  Trust me, your referral sources and prospects are checking you out via Google before they decide to do business with you.

2)  What mortgage related search terms are people researching online?  This introduces the concept of search engine optimization – but we keep it very simple.

This free class is sponsored by NAMB.  Are you a NAMB member?  If so, thank you.  If not, please join today.  We all need to support our industry and it begins with your trade organization.  Thanks to my good buddy Mark Madsen for his energy and selflessness.  We hope you enjoy the class:

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