The end of real estate websites, agent journalism and more food for thought from last week

Posting has been light here. Work is intense and my daughter started Kindergarten last week. A double whammy.

Here are a few notable things that blinked across my screen amidst the chaos”

Flickr releases an iPhone app

There are tons of photo sharing apps for the iPhone. But Flickr, perhaps the best-known place to share photos, has lagged.

That changed last week. iPhone users can now browse and share the mammoth store of photos available on Flickr and, more importantly, can upload their own photos direct to their personal account.

Flickr is built for sharing. It’s super easy to embed your photostream or subsets of that stream into a website. Pair that with a mobile app and you have a marvelous tool for documenting the life of a place. Perhaps a neighborhood.

An agent or brokerage can write a million words about a place and still not capture its essence. The Flickr app makes that astonishingly easy.

You now have all you need to become a real estate photojournalist.

Ning launches app platform


Ning, the “build your own social network” company, launched an app platform for its base of 1.5 million social networks, some of which revolve around real estate.

In simple terms, what this means that you can not only set up a personal or company network or site, but can also trick it out with a ton of tools. Need project/transaction management? Plug in the app. Want to do a Web radio show? Plug in BlogTalkRadio. There’s a WordPress app too.

The point: Real estate websites as we have know them – particularly agent sites – have been dying a slow death for years. Ning’s new offering will speed this.

For those willing to think creatively, this is great news.

Bug Realty launches new website


Bug Realty, a discount brokerage that operates in several markets in the Western US, released a new website.

Here it is:

Bug Realty

A few thoughts:

Bug adheres to my “give them what we know they want” approach to brokerage websites. Access to listings is front and center. Great.

But if you’re going for utility, the site needs to nail usability. And this is where Bug misses the mark.

When the user hits this site, they can likely identify this as a real estate website of some sort. But that’s about it. A home page should immediately communicate to the user where they are and why they should stay. A strong call to action should usually make it into the mix.

Some of this information can be found on the Bug site by clicking through the left-hand navigation, but these links struck me initially as labels for the pull-down menus to their right.

Moreover, in both Firefox and Safari, the “Price range” label is nowhere its corresponding pull-downs.

The lesson: Simple can be good, but to pull it off well requires intense attention to the elements you let remain.