Real Estate Housing Market – Just How Bad Is It?

washington mutual, WAMU, home loans, suck, deceptive, marketing, illegal

Like many of us, I am sure you too are wondering how bad the housing and Real Estate market is right now. You may own a home or some income property, or maybe you own one of the millions and billions of condos that have been built, converted and sold over value in the past 5 years. It is you, who has been propping up the US economy (in addition to the war in Iraq, which does a lot for the economy too) for the past 5 years and just to thank you, the banks and financial loan companies set the terms on ARM loans (adjustable rate loans that move with the market after a initial low intro rate for 1, 3, 5 or 7 years) set the terms for a very short time on all the ARM loans so that the forclosures would start rolling in right about now. So the housing market and real estate in general is a bit fucked right now, and they have pulled in the reigns on those adjustable rate loans which were targeted at below prime level customers. (people with low credit ratings and little or no cash on hand for a down payment. So guess what? No one is buying anything now. The number of people who can afford homes hasn’t changed or grown at all, and they all have either refinanced or moved within the past 5 years. And the people who had never been able to afford to get a loan or own a home one can’t again now either.

So the banking and financial loan companies notice their closings on new homes are down, and thus the revenue from them. They think that it isn’t a mater of the market being fucked due to how they set up the loans in the first place, they think it is because they aren’t pushing hard enough. They just need to push people harder, advertise more and force more through the pipeline even if it means deceptive tactics. Think I am making this up? I’m not. Here are 2 examples from my own life:

1. I get the same page in my morgage statement every month offering me a “free” refinance on a loan. Well it turns out it is only on their worst product which has the highest rate of default and makes all the money for the bank and none for the consumer. It’s only valid on an “interest only” loan. Fuckers.

2. Today while walking to the train I got stopped by a very nervous looking attractive young guy who claims that he wanted to ask me out for coffee sometime. Well, no one does this to someone who looks like me. Trust me, I had old jeans on, gym shoes, no makeup and I am a bit fat on top of all that. I was just trying to get into the office to get some work done today. (It’s obvious at this point I rarely meet in person with clients) This fairly attractive and very nervous guy would *never* have interest in me in a million years. I knew that and had to work hard to not laugh at him because it was obvious. He did his thing, I told him I have a boyfriend (of which I actually do, but would have told him regardless) and then he said, well, if you change your mind, let me give yo my card. Guess what it said? Banking Loan Consultant – Home Loans – Washington Mutual Home Loans For an office that was not even near the EL in Oak Park. It was for an office on Clybourn in Chicago, over a 1/2 hr away. The back of the card had a list of 9 things needed for a home loan application.  This schmuck thought he could pick up working professional women on the way to the train in Oak Park (where property values have increased a lot in the past decade) and turn them into clients? Not only is that disgusting, it doesn’t work. Especially since there are 500 condos for sale in Oak Park because it is completley over-developed and no one wants to buy any of them. The people who would want them can’t get one now, because they can’t get a loan.

So a note to Washington Mutual (wamu): rather than send your loan sales reps out on wild goose chases inapropriatley propositioning women on their way to the train, and trying to deceptivley get home owners to refinance into a dangerous and decieving “interest only” loan, why don’t you lower your rates and your credit requirements on the 30 year fixed loans so that low income people with less than perfect credit or no credit can afford them? Then you will have a landslide of new loans instead of a landslide of people hating your company and blogging about it on the internet for everyone to see.

Marketing & Advertising Blogs

I have a few blogs I have found latley that I wanted to mention here. Both to give them the link, but also to pass them on to anyone reading in case they are looking for this kind of information about advertising and marketing. It is always interesting that there are so many people willing to blog out on the internet and share their insight and knowledge with people around the world. Some may be traffic focused and making money on ads, others may be PR or Lead Generators for businesses, but all in all I think people benefit from this information and I am glad it is being shared. It is amazng how everyone has a voice on the internet and people are pretty open about it.

Bronte Media Blog , No More Landing Pages , Agency Spy , Make More of Your Job

Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien & Jay Leno – NBC Late Night Dance

NBC the tonight show, late night comedy showNBC used to be the leading network in ratings and in ad sales ala the Sinefeld and Friends years, but the last few have been tougher for the network and their Ad Revenue. They have found success in smaller niche areas like online advertising, “The Office”, Network Evening News with Brian Williams (who is the new Peter Jennings) and Late Night (comedy, variety, talk show) TV.  Jay Leno surpassed David Letterman for the lead in the time slot back in 1995 and has never looked back. Leno decided that in 2009 he will retire from the show after 17 years of tireless service to NBC and late night TV.  And in a suprise move, they named Conan O’Brien the next host of The Tonight Show in 2006. NBC wants to make sure that when this transition happens people keep watching and the ratings stay high. Part of that challenge is finding someone to replace Conan O’Brien.

There have been a lot of names in the hat, but the latest name that is being mentioned today is Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Fallon was a lot of fun back when he was on Saturday Night Live, but after a few not-very-funny movies he has kind of recedded into the background of comedy with people we haven’t heard from in a long time. I think he would be good based on the Weekend Update segments that SNL had him on with Tina Fey years ago, but I think the success of these shows has more to do with the “regular” comedy segments that they do daily or weekly. I think that many times those can be a bit weird and detract from the overall humor and intelligece of the show.  So, a note to Jimmy Fallon: don’t go too lowball with the comedy segments. Most of us didn’t get Conan the first 5 years because of that. Most of us also don’t think a plastic pooping dog is funny either, and don’t need the crudest humor allowable on Network TV. Suprise (with crudeness) is only one of the elements in why something is funny. Smart, clever identifiyable comedy with callbacks is also pretty good in anyone’s book. (remember improv?) Although, I do like some of what Jimmy Kimmel does too. 

Tradeshow Season

Chicago is called home to a lot of trade shows every year. With the McCormick Place 1, 2 & 3 we have more convention space than we know what to do with. It is a billion dollar business in Chicago for hotels and restaurants and we appreciate the extra tourism. Click here to see a list of what conventions and tradeshows are going to be in Chicago this year.

If your company is coming to Chicago to one of these trade shows and you need new trade show displays check out Camelback Tradeshow Displays. They offer all types of trade show displays as well as the full spectrum of accessories from flooring to brochure racks that can be added to your exhibit. Some trade show displays can even ship the same day. Graphics, banner stands, flooring, furniture & counters can also be added to make your display more inviting and functional as well, they are the trade show display experts!

Simpsons Movie Marketing Everywhere!!

The Simpsons Movie comes out today and all the world is in a flurry about it. All I want is a big pink glazed donut!!!!

Seriously though, they have been doing some innovative marketing for this movie and this ADOTAS article profiles them.

The thing I noticed first was the Simpson Generator on the movie’s web site. The custom generated simpsons started showing up on all my friend’s Flickr accounts and I knew something was up. This show has a loyal fan base that still amazes me. They seem to bridge all ages and demographics and the people who started watching 20 years ago still tune in today. They all seem to identify with bumbling Homer (that embodies many women’s worst nightmares of a husband) and Bart, (who embodies most parent’s worst nightmares of what their child might become).

The site has a lot going on besides the simpson generator. There is an interactive map of Springfield that contains ways to interact with the simpsons through trailers, games and neat things they just thought up. (see: Bart’s naked skate)

Additionally they had a contest for all the towns named Springfield across the country to host the premier. They have the obligatory MySpace page, wallpapapers, icons, screensavers, mobile alerts, photos, downloadable tatoos and video. They have been all over online, TV and word of mouth media. I think this was pretty much a guaranteed money maker for both Matt Groenig and FOX based on the existing fan base, but when I saw it I was still pleasantly entertained even though I am not even a regular fan of the show. The theater all laughed in unison to the known gags that they are used to and the special suprises that were just for the movie.  It was a real community event created around the community that identifies with the show… because they are reminded of themselves. These americans don’t have much ambition, like low level jokes and beneath all those screw ups are just a heart of gold just trying to do the right thing.

Note: The Simpsons Movie made $71 Million in the US and $167 Million worldwide in it’s first weekend’s opening.

Newspapers Grow an Online Audience

Newspapers used to be the way that the majority of Americans got their news. Along with radio and TV they were unchallenged for about 50 years. Everything changed when the Internet gained momentum and people started just reading news and updates online rather than subscribing to a newspaper. Newspapers thought that just reproducing the same newspaper online would give people what they wanted and help them retain consumers, but it didn’t work that way. Online information is published differently and it is functionally different than in print. It is an active interface rather than a static one and people didn’t gravitate to newspaper sites automatically. Plus newspapers being older than dirt, had antiquated internal bureaucracies that stiffled growth and were seriously risk averse. So when I see the newspaper association of America stating that 59 Million US visitors (only 37% of the estimated internet audience) went to Newspaper Sites in Q2 2007, I am wholly unimpressed. That’s only 19 Million per month for all newspapers they added together, and you can see what the top properties get in monthly traffic below linked from the ComScore MMX top 50 web properties chart.

Like in my review of the Chicago Tribune Website Redesign, I feel like they only partially “get it”. What they don’t know is that there is a lot of “news” type information out there that people consume every day that is not a part of newspaper sites. They have a narrow view of what’s news, and on the web they should consider any content site as a possible media property to own and generate advertising revenue. They also still don’t optimize well for search engines, and that itself could raise traffic numbers 10%-15%. So when I hear about newspaper billionaires and conglomerates whining about their profit margins sinking, I don’t really have a lot of sympathy. They were risk averse and bureaucratic because they didn’t want to go online or accept a wider view of what’s news or how to organize and publish it. So, it’s no suprise that people go where they find what they want, and it hasn’t been at newspaper sites.

Top 50 properties on the web in June 2006, from comScore, MMX:

Burger King Potato Chips???

I just read in a MediaPost newsletter that linked to a USA Today article about Burger King launching a line of Potato Chips this fall. One is a Kethup and Fries flavor, the other is a Flame Broiled Burger Potato Chip. This scares and excites me at the same time. Personally I am not much of a fan of Burger King in the first place. Yes the Whopper is a good burger, but I’m not much into burgers these days. You can only watch “Fast Food Nation” and eat so many burgers afterwards. (maybe one a month) So, to hear that they are expanding into even more processed food arenas is not good, considering that in order to make a profit on really cheap food apparently it has to be manufactured and processed in China these days. So, the quality of something like fast food potato chips can’t be good from the outset.

The marketing side of my brain is a little excited though. I have run across flavored potato chips in Canada and other parts of the world that don’t exist here and I think they’re great. Why we only buy barbeque, sour cream & onion, cheddar and plain potato chips in Chicago or in the USA doesn’t really make sense. I have tried pickle flavored chips and ketchup flavored chips. The Herrs Ketchup ones were FANTASTIC!! I love anything vinegary so I guess that was a good flavor for me. So, maybe this Burger King idea that they are copying from the Canadians and bringing to the USA is good after all. Maybe it will get Lays, Jays, Ruffles and all the other potato chip brands to add more interesting flavors to their products. We like new things, remember, the US economy and marketing are all about what’s new. Nothing can bring us out of a recession like something innovative and new to buy. So bring on the new chips!!