Real estate rebels

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14, 2007 by stephenhuey

Don’t scroll right on past this in your subscription list!  Just hear me out for a second.  I even put in a link to a Lego symphony just to make this post worthwhile for the most apathetic among you.  🙂 

Because of my roommate, I’ve recently watched Why We Fight, the corporations documentary, and the Enron one.  He also filters the 60 Minutes episodes for me and points out any good ones.  As you might imagine, a lot of this stuff is about some little guys fighting the incumbent big boys and these nasty battles often impact the consumer (you, me, and our cats and dogs).  Anyway, check this out…

Say you sell your house for $300,000.  6% of that is the standard realtor commission, so that means he/she gets

300,000 x 0.06 = 18,000

eRealty wanted to save you some of that money, and they tried, but the head honchos in Austin changed up the local market rules to say that eRealty couldn’t post houses for sale on its website.  Since eRealty didn’t have a contingency plan in place to start selling cumquats or something else besides houses on its website, they were sued for breaking the rule.  Fortunately, they won the lawsuit.  After that, the National Association of Realtors (do you hear Imperial March from Star Wars?) said eRealty wasn’t allowed access to the housing database they lost $33 million dollars on their way to bankruptcy.  At least the Justice Department is protecting us by suing that assocation of fat cat realtors. 

So now there’s Redfin, and they want to be operating in every state by the end of next year.  However, several states have laws in place to keep online realtors out, so that’ll have to change for them to succeed.  Why should we be happy about companies like Red Fin, and why are so many commercial interests against them?  Well, remember that $18,000 you’d have to pay?  Get this:

Red Fin charges a flat $3,000 commission on every deal! 

Home prices have been rising for years, and realtors keep charging the same 6% commission (meaning they make more and more money).  Most real estate agents close no more than 8 deals per year, but Redfin handles almost everything online and their agents complete hundreds of deals.  Not only do they make money, but they also save all of us lots of money!  So who is losing out?  The fat cat traditional realtors who aren’t adapting to technological advances.  Because Red Fin is so efficient, they have even been refunding 2/3 of the commission that the buyer typically pays! 

Last fall, I wondered what all my realtor does to make the money she obviously has.  I’m sure she puts in many hours, and a company like Redfin obviously threatens her livelihood, but plenty of other workers have to adapt when innovation changes the way things can be accomplished in their industry.  No doubt this is up for debate, but one guy claims that real estate is the most screwed-up industry in America. 



Posted in Uncategorized on April 30, 2007 by stephenhuey

How amazing is my church, and even more fascinating is the God who led me there so many years ago.  I don’t deserve my “new” job or my cool new neighbors, and I’m thankful for all my fun, encouraging and quirky friends.  I enjoy spending most of my time in a couple of the coolest neighborhoods in Houston, and I can’t say enough about the people that I get to hang with.  There’s so much blessing in my life that I can scarcely take it all in. 

Here comes tomorrow…


Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2007 by stephenhuey

Hither come Andrew the Twin and Marian the Bulgarian ‘fore the light fades from Houston’s horizon.  And on the ‘morrow Ryan the Warrior shall follow and join us…

I yearn to do something for more than a paycheck or just because I’m supposed to be doing something

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2007 by stephenhuey

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood,
divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the
vast and endless sea.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2007 by stephenhuey

I’m not really back on xanga, at least not officially.  I think it’s bad for my health. 

So my parents didn’t come into Houston yesterday.  Delta recently started offering flights directly from New York to Accra, Ghana, and when the plane was about 2 hours out of New York, it had to turn back because of mechanical problems, so there was no plane on which they could flight out of Ghana.  In a few hours I’ll be taking them to my grandparents’ house about 80 miles south of Houston. 

Yesterday I emailed my Brazilian manager where I worked until I left last summer.  When I called him this morning, he was his usual upbeat self, and he sounded pretty positive about my prospects for getting onto a project over there.  Sometimes I really appreciated many of the aspects of building software, and sometimes things were just a little slow or the business topics involved were not as engaging.  I know the chances of me once again enjoying 10-to-4 days are slim, but that’s ok.  I’d rather be working and fascinated than just itching to get out of there the whole time.  But I also have no desire to give 60-hour weeks away, either.  All of us are already too busy, and as Dan recently pointed out, we Generation Yers prefer a balance in our lives and want to spend our time on something meaningful. 

My real reason for making the phone call to him is that no casting agent has picked me up the way Edward Furlong got his start.  You think I’m kidding.  It could still happen while I’m working downtown!

San Francisco

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2007 by stephenhuey

I need to send KJ that old song (If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair) because she hasn’t heard it!  At appropriate moments during our road trip, I introduced her to numerous other songs she’d never heard, like 500 Miles and Desert Rose and African Queen

Home sweet home in the Sunset District. 

KJ’s street made me wonder what’s wrong with all the developers in Houston who put up clumps of completely identical townhomes.  When I was house shopping in the fall, I hated how so many side by side would be the exact same color and design. 

Arizmendi Bakery for breakfast!  There’s a Mexican bakery around the corner from my house in Houston, but it closed long before I moved in, so I’ve got nothing. 

Nice and sunny in the 50s and 60s.

Palace of Fine Arts.

Buying a birthday present for Megan.

I saw the famous bush man who scares tourists near here. 

I particularly like crab.


San Francisco.  Well…what else am I supposed to say?

KJ showing me around the conservatory. 

Catching one last friend from Nigeria in Berkeley before flying home on the 3-hour nighttime flight. 

Posted in Uncategorized on January 20, 2007 by stephenhuey

The first person we saw in LA was Ahmadu, a schoolmate from Nigeria who was a classmate of my current roommate.  He’s a junior writer for Two and a Half Men, so he took us onto the set and we got to watch Charlie Sheen and the other actors taping part of the show. 

He took us over to the casino from Ocean’s Thirteen.  A friend of his worked for that movie, and when Clooney organized a basketball league, he and his friend were on the same team as George Clooney and Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. 

He drove us around all the Warner Bros sets and studios, and we saw the ER crew out taping (but you can’t photograph anything that’s copyrighted). 

Next we found the Love man and had a great time hanging out with him showing us Newport Beach and some other great hang-outs in the OC. 

Ted, me and Doug.  On the way out of town late that night, we hung out with some more old Nigeria buds in La Mirada.  They’d just gone on the Tonight Show that day (they had tickets for me and Kathryn, but I wanted to go see Steve instead), and Doug had friends calling him from all over because he had ended up on camera with Jay Leno when Jay had gone up into the audience to play a game or something.  Did you see him in his Manchester United jersey?

Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway!

We saw a bunch of elephant seals hanging out. 

KJ had run the Big Sur marathon around here last year. 

It was worth it, and I even got to see way2brite’s university along the way!

Julie had invited us to Google HQ for lunch, and another old Rice bud came over to visit as well. 

Toilet at Google.