Monthly Archives: May 2011

Should We Fear the Beard?

This just in from the whimsical International News Desk at Real Estate of Mind Headquarters:

After 60 plus years of hard-line Communist rule, Cuba has decided to ditch the dogma and legalize the sale of both real estate and cars in an effort to breathe life into a sputtering economy.   Hit the applause app!  First the dance of the democratic rites of Arab Spring. Now this.

I had a feeling something big was in the works when Castro’s personal Twitter feed surpassed 100,000 followers.  Not bad for an aging octogenarian dictator!  The original “Fear the Beard” guy and former baseball player, way before Brian Wilson was on the mound for the Gigantes.  The guy who holds the Guinness Book of World Record’s title for the longest speech in United Nations history – a whopping 4 hour and 29 minute rant.

The fact that he’s been able to transition so seamlessly  into 140 character sound bytes,  gives me hope.  One day they’ll find a cure for my own fulsome brand of babbling ambiance.

Maybe some of our own undernourished Realtors can undertake a latitude adjustment of sorts.  Pack up shop. Head even further south than they’ve been, for the promised land of new open houses and greener ($$$) pastures. Re-expatriate to Havana. Ship over a fleet of shiny new BMW’s.  Sell a few keys for cash while setting up a branch-office of good old American real estate know-how and ingenuity. 

In Cuba,  there’s pent-up demand.   People are primed.  Ready to embrace the fruits of the free market system rather than recoil from it’s excesses.  Unlike so many of the erstwhile buyers and sellers milling around here these days. The ones who don’t seem to want to either come in or go out of the house anymore.  Oddly afflicted by some form of viral agora-phobia (fear of the marketplace).

But who knows?  Maybe the US will abandon Guantanamo Bay and open up 45 square miles of prime waterfront property to future development. Virgin real estate territory! After cleaning up a little left-over military ordnance and wrestling with a few thorny disclosure issues regarding its shadowy past, it could be an exciting investment opportunity.  Sort of a Del Webb meets Club Med kind of thing.  Caribbean charm infused with a double-down dose Dubai-style debt.  Everyone knows there’s no debtor’s prison anymore.

If we actually get around to formalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba, I’m throwing Alan Greenspan’s hat into the ring as the obvious choice for Ambassador.

They’re going to need a strong voice for unfettered, laissez-faire capitalism.  Someone’s got to make the case for putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse, knowing they can be trusted to self-regulate their own appetites.

Wouldn’t it be great to see Greenspan’s tarnished reputation get rehabilitated in Cuba?  It could all be spun as a huge Habitat for Humanity project fueled by the glorious return of subprime lending secured by government backing.  The lofty goal of leveraging 100% homeownership for all Cubans.

Funny how, if you wait  long enough,  things that once seemed so estranged and disparate tend to circle back and inch towards each other.  Like Cuba and the U.S.

Is it a symptom of an expanding world becoming more intimately connected and infinitely more complicated at the same time? Is it proof that the fabric of space-time really is curved just like Einstein predicted?   Or perhaps chaos really isn’t some dark confusing void after all but more like what the ancient Greeks envisioned it to be in their cosmology – a place of beginning from which order and possibility flowed. Not a bottomless pit of full of random bits.

But seriously folks,  there are so many countries out there trying to breathe life into troubled economies, I’m going to suggest some different food for thought. Why can’t the New World Order  adopt a few new breathing techniques from  Wiley Brooks,  founder of the Breatharian Institute of America.  (Google It). Breatharians are able to live without ingesting any food or water. They subsist and thrive solely on a diet of air!  Why can’t economies do the same? 

I know. Some of you will point out that Wiley was busted, right here in Santa Cruz, back in 1983. After a local speaking engagement, he was caught leaving the 7-11 on Laurel Street with a slurpee, hot dog and pack of twinkies.  But that was a long time ago and he’s explained all that since.  Periodically it is necessary to break his fast with a cheeseburger and a diet coke. When surrounded by junk culture and junk food,  occasionally you have to consume some of it just to maintain balance.

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EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Sound?  What sound?   Close your ears.  Sing La La La. Maybe it will go away.  Pay no attention to the man standing behind the curtain. He’s just another ghostly apparition trapped in the machine.

But really. What is that eerie, high-pitched noise traveling through the ether?  That strange sonic screech ricocheting around in the cloud? A giant piece of chalk getting scraped across the cosmic blackboard? Ned Beatty reprising the role that seared his image into the nether-realm of the American subconscious (cue the banjoy music please)?

Nah.  That’s just me and the symphonic cacophony of electrons grinding inside my head while I guzzle red bull and no-doze cocktails, trying to stay awake for the big test.   I’m cramming for my new online real estate designation:  eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -Pro expert.

We’re talking mega-e here.  A virtual vitamin supplement that extends e  exponentially to the 10th degree.  There are already lots of great Realtors out there who have earned their e-Pro credentials. Tech savvy.  Prepared to represent you in the brave new world of all things e.   E-business. E-commerce. E-finance. E -infinitum. E-nauseum.

But with the planet careening madly towards the SINGULARITY – that fateful tipping point when the computing power of all computers finally exceeds that of human brains,  forever changing what it means or doesn’t mean to be human, real estate is getting dragged along in its wake.  I can go kicking and screaming. Or I can get ahead of the e curve.

If you are like me, hardly a day goes by when you don’t get a call from some disembodied voice telling you your channel mix sucks. That your  internet presence is woefully inadequate. That you are missing hundreds of new listings a month because you’re not properly exploiting the benefits of social media.  The consistent message about the medium? Simple.  We’ll never amount to anything without plugging in further.

It takes a strong eeeeeego to survive that kind of onslaught.  And of course, it begs the question. Can today’s standard e-Pro designation possibly be e-nuff?   Is e-savvy adequate?  Or are we just churning out more village idiots for the global village?  Do all of us need to close our eyes and take a bigger quantum leap into the unknown?  Become idiot savants in an increasingly wired world?

Those currently suffering from debilitating cases of Facebook-envy, social media-phobia, information-depression know what I’m talking about.   Can anyone possibly survive the future without a 24 hour a day, two-way intravenous feed into the matrix? Which side of the digital divide do YOU want to be on?

I’ve made up my mind.  Hopped a ride on the e-train.   My  Agent Avatar is  enrolled at the New Anthony School of Holo-Real Estate right now.  Since most of my clients don’t bother to look at property anymore, except online, there’s a new software program that allows me to accompany people on their virtual drive-bys.   A new joy stick application lets me synch up and walk through all the rooms with them. Since I never leave their sides while they are virtually touring, my brand just  gets stronger.  My logo is tatooed on their retinas. My face becomes wallpaper on their desktops.

As a sideline, while going to school,  I’ve also started selling virtual product placement in all of my own listings. Quite a lucrative little revenue generator I might add.  Crate and Barrel has signed a long-term contract.  I’m negotiating deals with Wolf Range and an up and coming Chinese Granite importer.  My virtual stager will make sure all these products are prominently displayed in every single listing I put on my website.

I’m a little concerned though.  I recently got an e mail from the Politically Correct e- Police threatening a viral boycott of my site  if I don’t stop using product images created in 3rd world graphic sweatshops.

My favorite new IPAD App?  BOTTOM FEEDER.  You can drive down any residential street in America and instantly see who is behind on their mortgage payments.  My favorite new gadget?  Gucci 3D Virtual Tour Sunglasses. They take the glare off computer screens and get rid of the goofy fisheye lens effect most online tour products project. Plus they look cool.

There’s also a revolution in data mining happening as we speak.  Soon we’ll all be able to automatically tell in advance who is headed for divorce, bankruptcy, job loss or any other home-threatening event.  An instantaneous drip marketing program will kick into gear and start to farm all these pending life transitions.

ButŠbest of allŠI have applied for my Virtual Broker’s license. The first of its kind. Rather than using virtual methodologies to sell real property, I’ll be breaking new ground – using real methods to sell virtual property.  I’ve already got a virtual space station under contract, a planetary system in the Tadpole Galaxy listed  and three thousand acres in Farmville coming up.  Well-heeled computer junkies around the world are waiting in line!

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