Commentary: Assessing the REBAs
We'll be releasing the results of the first annual Real Estate Blogging Awards tomorrow, which means today is a good time to look back on the first blogging awards to be held within the real estate community. As editor, and without question, the number one thing I can say we noticed was the great positive response from across the blogos. Everyone was buzzing about the awards, which means the idea was a good one. I still remember having the initial thought to create the awards program just before New Years, wondering if anyone would really care. We recieved just under 3,000 votes in this first year of the REBAs, which I guess means people really do care. While I expected the response to be positive, the amount of feedback we received during the contest was literally overwhelming. Personally, I received so many emails -- about 200 of them -- that I found I couldn't respond to all of them. Most were from people who thought the awards program was a great idea. (If you wrote in, thanks for your support!). We also heard a lot of positive response from those who'd discovered some great new blogs through our contest -- so if you're a nominee, we'll say "you're welcome" now for the added traffic. We can tell you that editors at numerous major media outlets are now reading what you have to say, so make us proud! While positive response was the dominant theme around this year's REBAs, there was also plenty of discussion from certain corners of the real estate community that felt we'd missed something. Most of the dissenting voice was from "realtor-bloggers," who were ticked off that we recognized "bubble-bloggers." I can't say that the reaction entirely surprised us, but the vehemence we saw was surprising in some cases -- perhaps we'd underestimated the animosity that exists between realtors and those consumers focused on covering the decline in real estate during the past year. To those put off by our nominations of "bubble-blogs," I offer this in return: discuss market conditions frankly in your own blogging efforts, and there won't be room for the so-called "bubble blogs" to steal your reader's eyes. Housing slumped in a large way during 2006, and very few well-known "realtor-bloggers" were talking about it. That's not to say we didn't miss a few excellent blogs with our nominations; we did. A few prominent misses include Jonathan Miller's Matrix blog and Dan Miller's Mortgage Reports. Our decision to leave these two excellent efforts out of our final list of nominees was a clear mistake. (And to Dan, who had initially pondered if HW was really the first free source of mortgage news, we submit that there are two side of the mortgage coin: consumer-focused and business-focused -- compare the stories we cover here at HW with the Dan's well-informed commentary, and the difference will become crystal clear. If anything, I see Dan's effort as the ying to our yang, and I hope he'll agree with me on this.) We also noticed that Sellsius declined our nomination in part because they felt that Active Rain should have been nominated. I wanted to comment on this, because Active Rain isn't a blog -- it's a blog community in much the same way that Blogger is a blog community, or that TypePad is a blog community. It's clearly a vibrant community centered on real estate, and we considered numerous blogs published within Active Rain. But to suggest that Active Rain should have been nominated is like asking us to nominate a real estate-centered MySpace. Lastly, I wanted to comment on the strong write-in campaigns I saw during the voting period. If anything, the REBAs were a social experiment, and for me, seeing grass-roots efforts by blogs that felt they should have been nominated was one of the more gratifying outcomes of our little awards contest. The amazing thing is that it's possible that some of these write-in efforts may have impacted the winners of a particular category -- which is proof of the open nature of the contest we were shooting for. The bottom line is this: there are an incredible number of dynamic real estate blogs out there, and we couldn't nominate them all. Stay tuned for Monday's results!