Austin Tops Another List – #1 City For the Next Decade

Once again, Austin finds itself atop another top ten list.  This time it is Yahoo Real Estate’s 10 Best Cities for the Next Decade.  Austin grabbed the top spot based on it being a city of ideas and also its great opportunities for small businesses.  Along with it’s fun atmosphere and growth potential, Austin edged out Seattle.

What Can Real Estate Agents Learn From Vogelkop Bowerbirds

You’re probably wondering what a Vogelkop Bowerbird is.  I had never heard of them either until I saw them on Life, the latest Discovery Channel series.  In this particular episode, they profile these Bowerbirds.  The Bowerbirds win their mate by decorating their nest in different styles.  Each bird uses different ‘knick-knacks’ from around the forest to create their own style.  They are competing with several other birds in the ‘neighborhood’ doing the same thing. So whoever comes up with the nicest, most attractive nest wins the buyer, I mean mate.  So it appears the Vogelkop Bowerbirds are the original stagers.  Maybe we could learn a lesson or two from these veterans, although I recommend leaving the deer dung outside.

I couldn’t find a way to embed the video here so you will have to go check it our for yourself.

Careful if Using Google Voice and Skype Together

I recently got a SkypeIn number.  I also have a Google Voice(GV) number.  I thought this would be the perfect marriage.  When I am working at my computer I can just have Skype up and running and any calls to my GV number would ring my Skype number.  Then I could answer the call without ever taking my hands off the computer.  And it was great when I had Skype running.  But what I didn’t know was that when you don’t have Skype running, it’s voicemail kicks in.  This meant that all my GV calls that I didn’t answer personally went to Skype voicemail and so GV’s voicemail never took effect.  So I never knew I was getting the voicemails.  I had this setup going for over a week and had no idea what was going on.  Where were all my voicemails?  I finally figured it out the next time I logged into Skype and saw my huge list of voicemails.

So I did a little Googling and found a few solutions.  You can turn on call presentation in GV which is a nuisance when you are answering the call.  You can also set Skype to forward the calls back to GV, however this costs extra.

I decided to disable the Skype number as one of my GV lines for now.  But I have enabled call presentation to get used to it.  After a few days I will reenable the Skype number and all should be good to go again.  Oh, and I also enabled email notification for Skype voicemail so I am notified if someone does happen to end up at my Skype voicemail.

Google Voice and Skype

I recently got a SkypeIn number.  I also have a Google Voice(GV) number.  I thought this would be the perfect marriage.  When I am working at my computer I can just have Skype up and running and any calls to my GV number would ring my Skype number.  Then I could answer the call without ever taking my hands off the computer.  And it was great when I had Skype running.  But what I didn’t know was that when you don’t have Skype running, it’s voicemail kicks in.  This meant that all my GV calls that I didn’t answer personally went to Skype voicemail and so GV’s voicemail never took effect.  So I never knew I was getting the voicemails.  I had this setup going for over a week and had no idea what was going on.  Where were all my voicemails?  I finally figured it out the next time I logged into Skype and saw my huge list of voicemails.

So I did a little Googling and found a few solutions.  You can turn on call presentation in GV which is a nuisance when you are answering.  You can also set Skype to forward the calls back to GV, however this costs extra.

I decided to disable the Skype number as one of my GV lines for now.  But I have enabled call presentation to get used to it.  After a few days I will reenable the Skype number and all should be good to go again.  Oh, and I also enabled email notification for Skype voicemail so I am notified if someone does happen to end up at my Skype voicemail.

What does “Call First – Go” mean to you?

I have talked to other agents about this and was just trying to get a consensus.  And on the same note, technically isn’t that what the CBS code is used for.  Do any agents use CBS codes for other agents instead of just for Inspectors and other service people.

Rails respond_to issues when using IE

I was experiencing a bug in IE7 where my Rails app would return js when I was asking for html and vice-versa.  It worked fine in other browsers but just not IE.  It seems a few other people were having this issue long ago but I could not find any recent info or a complete solution.  I quickly figured out that the order of my format statements in my respond_to block affected the result that I got from my reqeust.  So I could rearrange those and get the result I wanted.  But the problem was that I needed both at different times in my app.  That’s why you have them right?  Anyway, after reading over  a related post at info.michael-simons.eu I discovered that IE was sending the wrong accept-headers.  So I checked out the Prototype API and learned that I could set my accept-header for my ajax requests.  So I added  accept:'text/javascript' to my ajax options and it worked.  This was a real stickler for me so I wanted to document it here for others that were stuck on it.

Here is what my ajax request looked like:


new Ajax.Request(url, {
method: 'get',
accept:'text/javascript',
parameters: params,
onCreate: function() {
$('listLoader').addClassName('on')
$('mapLoader').addClassName('on')
}
});

Update: Looks like Paul Stadig might have a cleaner option. I haven’t tried it, but it looks like it might be the better way to go.

Successful Internet Marketing Campaign

I recently had a listing for a client down on the Texas Coast.  The property was a very niche resort property that catered to hunters/fishers.  It was an empty home lot and the developer still had lots of their own to sell.  So, with the current market and the uniqueness of the property, I knew that the best chance to sell the property would be to grab the attention of someone who was already familiar with the development and already looking in that area.  There was no way we were going to be able to out-market the developer.  So since my seller was willing to sell at a great price, I went with an almost strictly internet marketing campaign.  I immediately setup a property-specific website for the listing.  I then wrote about it as well as my broker.  Since I was trying to rank the site for pretty specific keywords and didn’t have much competition, the site started to rank very quickly on Google, it was third on the list.  I made sure to make the title of the page mention that we were selling below developer’s cost.  So when someone searched for our keywords, they immediately saw in Google’s results that we had a lot for sale in the area they were looking for and at a better price.  Well, within a few weeks, I got a call from someone who said he had been looking for a lot in that area and came across my site and decided to give me a call.  Within 30 minutes we had struck a deal and three weeks later we closed.  It was a win-win for everybody.

Many New Laws Taking Effect September 1st

There are many new laws taking effect September 1st.  Many of them will effect you, especially if you have children.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • All passengers of a vehicle are required to wear a seat belt, even if in the backseat.
  • Any child younger than 8 years of age must be in a child passenger safety seat unless the child is at least 4 feet, 9 inches in height.
  • It will be illegal to talk on a cell phone in a school zone unless you are stopped or are using a hands-free device.  This one will be optionally enforced by the city or county.

For more information regarding these and many other new laws, read the press release from the Texas DPS

Disclaimer: This does not constitute legal advice.  I’m not a lawyer.  yada, yada, yada.

Mystery solved – blue satellite-looking structures at Mueller to “turn-on” tomorrow

Have you ever wondered about those blue, flower-shaped structures that resemble satellite dishes along I-35?  Well, those structures near the Mueller development are Austin’s largest public art project called SunFlowers – An Electric Garden. The so-called “sunflowers” capture solar energy during the day to provide light at night. They also rely on light sensors to determine when to begin illuminating. Any additional energy they produce will be fed into the electrical grid so they fit perfectly into Austin’s green-character and are a great addition to the Mueller area community. Don’t miss their illuminating debut tomorrow night, Thursday, July 30th.