Thursday, February 7, 2008 coming to Fla

CondoCompare, Inc. ( is coming to Florida. They host a consumer-oriented condominium (“condo”) database application with comparative tools and analytics. CondoCompare’s website,, is an on-line real estate brokerage that lists for sale tens of thousands of residential condo projects and units across its designated market areas with expansion plans across the continental U.S.

They are currently seeking a Broker for the Florida market.

New Seattle Area Condo Brokerage May 23, 2007

logo 1I just love all the Geeky Boys turned Real Estate Broker. I know I’m not supposed to love them. I’m supposed to be threatened by them, or point out their weaker points. But I can’t help myself. They bring SO MUCH to the party!

Truth be told, I like these new businesses better than I like some new agents who refuse to go measure the unfinished area of the basement, because they saw a spider web and they have their “good clothes on”.

I happened upon Condo Compare when someone posted a comment on my blog with their link in it. At first I was miffed that someone was putting a commercial for another company on my blog in the comments. I am human after all. But I visited the site and started an “online chat” with the “expert agents”. The person responding turned out to be “THE Broker” at the other end of the chat line. What I find most endearing about Redfin and other Geeky Boys turned Real Estate Companies like CondoCompare, is they are so full of energy and a sincere interest to bring something new to the scene. They may not, and I stress “MAY” there, know as much about real estate as many of the other brokerages, because their background is in the technology field and not the real estate field. But I say let’s help them out. Let’s put out an outstretched hand, wish them well, and help them get a foothold. They have so much talent to bring to the field in the way of exciting new, never been done before, websites. I say, put your arm around their shoulders and celebrate what they DO bring, rather than play “whack a mole” every time they take a mis-step. AS-IF every agent in the Country has never done anything wrong (rolls her eyes) and is perfect.

Anyway, back to CondoCompare. I rarely find a Public Website that presents info in a format that interests me, given I have access to “the real MLS” and Public Websites just fall too short of what I can accomplish in my Agent Access site. But this one is KEWL!!! I find the info, and the format of that info, to be quite PRICELESS! You can click on any condo building by name of building, and check the properties on market and the comps for EACH BUILDING separately.

Maybe there are other sites like this, and they just didn’t put their commercial on my blog :) But I haven’t seen anything like it before, and would be interested in your thoughts. I think it’s great! And best I can tell, they are not breaking any “rules”, unless someone made a NEW RULE last night or tomorrow, so they can break one.

Sure, I have a problem or two with their model, but I had a great chat with the broker. He’s figuring some of it out as he goes, like most people. We are trying to figure out technology (or not) and they are trying to figure out how to “get into the act” as Jimmy Durante might say. But if we embrace them, the marriage of “The Geeky Boys” and “Expert Agents” could push us up a notch or two into “The Future of Real Estate”. And that’s not a bad thing IMNSHO.

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1. Nickie - May 23, 2007

That is a cool site! I like how they have it organized by building and allow you to compare!

I also used the online chat (not sure if I spoke to the broker or not) and found out a bit more about their business and how they operate. It looks like they are refering out most of their leads to agents that are “experts” in their area. I didn’t get into what you have to do to be qualified as an expert.

2. ARDELL - May 23, 2007

Hi Nickie,

No they are not doing that. I expected that too, but at this moment in time, that is not the case.

3. Ben K - May 23, 2007

I like their concept & format of displaying information and have visited their site on a number of occasions. With innovation (creativity & technology) we’ll be seeing more consumer-friendly sites.

4. Nickie - May 23, 2007

Hey Ardell,
Sorry, should have clarified. They are doing that up here in Bellingham. They already have one agent from another brokerage that they refer to up here and they are looking for others. Maybe their agents cover the Seattle area and they only refer out in other cities?

5. Casey - May 23, 2007

Ardell, this is Casey… I am the CEO of CondoCompare. Thank you for your nice write up… I really appreciate your feedback minus the geek part of course :) In order… we are geeky boys that hired brokers and I as the head of the geek dept stay out of the brokerage piece. The last thing the market needs is geeks selling condos! Owen Lauerman is our broker and he and his partner Todd Shively are really really good agents. I recruited them because they know the condo market well… We are a brokerage here in Seattle and we do end up referring clients that are looking outside of the Seattle Core. We are serious about only working with Condo Experts and we do some back ground work but mainly we are referring to agents that have we have known for a while that have a great reputation in the condo sub culture. We work with some of the best agents in the area. This is part of the secret sauce that differentiates us from a typical facilitator. In Seattle we have 4 really good agents that work “for” CondoCompare and the rest are external agents working for Windermere, et cetera… As traffic has picked up we will more than likely add 5-10 more in the next 6-12 months.
We will be adding 3 more MLS’ in the next three months as well… New York, Portland and Atlanta.
Any more questions please let me know and than you again for your feedback…

6. ARDELL - May 23, 2007

Hi Casey,

I refer to many of “the guys” as “the Geeky Boys” i.e. Robbie Paplin, Galen Ward, Dustin Luther, the Zillow Crew and Glenn Kelman, to name just a few. So you are in “good company”. Most say “Traditional Broker” vs. “Discounter” plus “Bottom Feeder Site”. I have upgraded that to “Traditional Broker” vs. “Geeky Boys” :)

I would have called you a new “Alternative Business Model”, except you aren’t. I had wished that you were. Your main “claim to fame” is your technology, much like the original Redfin site. So please know that I put you into the “Geeky Boy” category as your pedestal, and not as a knock.

Being a former “Condo Queen” myself, I consider myself to be one of the foremost experts of condo sales on the “contract to close” end. Weakness of most agents being the part where they hand over the Resale Certificate or POS to the buyer, and then hold their breath for 5 days hoping the buyer puts it on a stack of papers, and never opens it until the time runs out on the contract “out” phase :)

I celebrate your website. Start a blog on the unique features of a condo sale, like how to break into the Condo Manager’s office and look at the Reserve Study, if the Summary Page is not in the Resale Certificate, and I’ll put you on the Condo Expert pedestal. For now…it’s a great website and I blow that trumpet to your benefit and acclaim.

If your method of picking “condo expert” is “sold a bunch of them and willing to pay the referral fee”, well then…you know. I can go buy “Number 1 Expert”. I think you should clarify that “expert” status for the benefit of your “clients” on the site. Until then…it’s not all that credible for me. I’ve seen that term thrown around a bit too much in this business to apply the dictionary definiton to all the “real estate experts” out there. It’ s like saying “I’m #1 (my Mom said so) :)

7. ARDELL - May 23, 2007

Hey Ben,

Since you wanted me to dub you “The Condo King”, tell me. What do you do when there is no Reserve Study Summary in the Resale Certificate? What do you do with the Resale Certificate procedurally?

Not trying to knock you, just giving you a chance to take the Crown.

8. Galen - May 23, 2007

Sweet site - pretty, easy to use and informative. Good work condo dudes.

9. ARDELL - May 23, 2007


I often say “Oh those Gee ky Boys!” Janet Jackson style. Is that offensive?

10. Casey - May 23, 2007

Thank you for the follow up email… I am not offended in the least, especially if you are saying it in Janet Jackson style. :) As for claim to fame we are still working on that… but I wouldn’t necessarily compare us with Zillow as we are a brokerage and not with Redfin as we aren’t trying to cut the legs off of good agents and we believe whole heartedly that working with a really good agent is well worth the price that is paid. I think it cost more to work with a Redfin agent than you could possibly save… Redfin has it all wrong, and you are right, they are/were just a technology backed by agents that couldn’t make it in real estate that took a 50K ish salary instead and pretend to be agents. The fact is, any good agent would never work there for the amount of money RedFin is paying. That is a whole subject worth diving into, and I am wrapping something up on our condo compare blog here shortly to go over it.

The difference is in the details and a mere technology won’t last forever, but I do think we are different than every player in the market in that we are putting condos in context, and giving potential buyers access to condos immediately via our condo compare agents. May seem simple, because it is… but it is a huge difference. Most companies that have MLS access have a Slow Time, I mean a Floor Time agent that doesn’t even know how to spell condo answering the phone. At CondoCompare, if a buyer wants to see a condo in the flesh, they can call, chat or email and within 30 minutes (in most cases) the door is open and the tour begins with an agent we have pre-screened. I do think that this is an “Alternative Business Model” in many ways.

I wanted to address the “Condo Expert” question… Here in Seattle I know a ton of agents (I have lived and worked here for 15 years) and it is pretty easy to tell the experts from the armatures both from their knowledge base, condo sales experience and their reputation. Since this is our first market, I think we are getting by very well via our existing relationships with good agents and the word of mouth referrals to good agents. We do have a “CondoCompare Certification” we are working on getting passed for continuing education credits. This class covers all of the condo issues such as the one you addressed above and will be the cornerstone as we expand into new markets. The point to the website is to give users the best information (format and function) with access to really good condo agents. Before CondoCompare, where would a buyer even begin? Condo blogs have interesting information for sure, but there is a gap between interesting and usable. The gap between blog content and live MLS data. We are hoping to create the bridge and come along side all of the condo experts (like yourself) who have great information but are limited without MLS data in a condo format. Does that make sense? Let’s talk offline if you are indeed the “condo queen” as we could definitely find a way to work together.

11. ARDELL - May 23, 2007

Let’s go back to…WOW! You guys have a great site! :)

Now you say “Thank You, Ardell”

And I say, “You are very welcome.”

I plugged your site because I truly think it is fab and useful to our readers. Let’s get off the whole “my business model is better than Redfin’s” thing. I’m just sick of hearing about everything Redfin doesn’t do right. At least sandwich what they do wrong with a couple of things they do right. You lost me at, “we aren’t trying to cut the legs off of good agents”. I don’t even want to know what you were thinking when you said that.

12. Owen - May 23, 2007

A resale certificate with out a Reserve Study Summary wouldn’t constitute delivery or a complete resale certificate and wouldn’t start the clock on your 5 days for review. I would make sure the listing agent got it to me before her 10 days was up and advise my client on their options.

Where are the crowns at?

13. Jennifer - May 23, 2007

Great concept and a simple easy to use format! Definitely a great help to consumers and agents alike. It would be nice to see details on property features in the side-by-side comparisons such as pool, gym, extra parking, etc.

I did notice that you have only 4 buildings total listed for the Microsoft Bellevue and Redmond area (Harper Hill isn’t even on there). Are you still working on inputting buildings and establishing your database?

14. Louisville Real Estate - May 23, 2007

Great post, thanks for sharing the site information. It looks like a really interesting concept, and I’m looking forward to trying it out.

15. ARDELL - May 23, 2007


I know a Reserve Study Summary page is required in CA. Where does it say it is a requirement in WA? Do you quote “a law” when you tell the listing agent it HAS to be there? Thanks. Any references to good books on what the requirements are would be appreciated as well. I know CA has such a book listing all the legal requirements of HOA Boards. Does WA?

There’s only ONE Crown, and right now Matt Goyer has it and Ben wants it. Oh wait, I just remembered. There is actually an agent who calls himself the Condo King AND he has a crown on his head in his real estate photo on his business card. It’s a riot! I remember seeing his card in a condo I sold over in Juanita. But his is a “self-bestowed” crown, so I don’t think it counts.

16. Ben K - May 23, 2007

Hmm…since I write King tv’s condo section..does that make me King Condo.

The reserve study summary isn’t part of the NWMLS resale cert, so it would need to be requested by addendum along with board minutes. It’s my understanding a reserve study isn’t even required in WA.

Though, based on your comments above I checked out WR’s hotline and it states that a statement of reserves must be included in the resale cert. So I’m guessing WR has its own resale cert?

17. ARDELL - May 23, 2007


A “statement of reserves” could mean the amount of money in reserves, which does have to be, and always is included. But it is very difficult (though not impossible) to tell if the amount in reserves is sufficient, without the Reserve Study Summary page.

In CA a sizeable complex has to have a Reserve Study done once every 3 years or anytime there is a substantial need to do one in between. I wonder why WA doesn’t require that they be done and included in Resale Certificates and given to owners once a year? Given the number of condos being built and apartments being converted to condos, I think WA should beef up the regs regarding their management and transfer requirements.

If the complex is 19 years old it could have a 3 year old roof or need a new one next year. The former would require less to be in reserves than the latter. What good is it to know that a complex has a Million Dollars in Reserves, if the Reserve Study says they should have Three Million?

It’s not an exact science, especially when you have a flat roof. But I wonder how Owen can say they consider the Resale Certificate to be incomplete without one if it’s not a requirement that Board even have one?

I do agree, Ben, that the King 5 thing should give you a leg up on that Crown.

18. ARDELL - May 23, 2007

I found this article on SCL which appears to be the beginning of a series about the Reserve Study. It was right above Ben’s First Anniversary post. Happy Anniversary, Ben! Sorry we missed that.

19. Owen - May 23, 2007

I quote the addenda where I request it along with two years of minutes and some other tid-bits of info. :) I’ve gotten one a few times.

20. ARDELL - May 23, 2007

Thanks Owen. Good Answer!!!

21. Matt Goyer’s Real Estate Blog » Blog Archive » I don’t cut off legs - May 23, 2007

[…] However, when their CEO makes a comment about my company like the one below on Rain City Guide it really pisses me off: But I wouldn’t necessarily compare us with Zillow as we are a brokerage and not with Redfin as we aren’t trying to cut the legs off of good agents […]

22. Galen - May 23, 2007

Ardell, I am a geeky boy and I am definitely not offended when called as much. Perhaps they are “business dudes” - those guys don’t like being called geeky.

23. ARDELL - May 23, 2007

How about “Geeky Business Dudes” :)

24. Galen - May 23, 2007

No, I don’t think that would work. That’s like “positive negative comments.”

(By the way, GuestPerson, usually the spam filter catches long or link filled comments - just holler and one of us will fish them out. Especially nasty personal attacks get filtered by Ardell or another contributor - not saying yours was, just letting you know what does and doesn’t get filtered)

25. ARDELL - May 23, 2007


Apparently several troll comments come up with different names and the same IP address. Should that person one day make a “non-troll” comment, the spam filter will still recognize the IP address as spam or troll.

26. GuestPerson - May 23, 2007

Troll comments? Huh?

All I did was call out Ardell, not a personal attack by any means.

She’s really, really starting to get me angry.

27. casey - May 24, 2007

There were a couple of buildings that were labeled in the community Bellevue as opposed to Microsoft. It has been changed and everything should be accurate… For the record, we import from the MLS every 30 minutes, so… if the listings exist on the MLS they will exist on our site as well.

Any more feeback/questions please let us know…

Thank you

28. ARDELL - May 24, 2007


From my perspective, this is the only site I have ever seen that presents the info in a better format than the agent access mls site.

29. casey - May 24, 2007

Thank you… that is a huge compliment… A bunch of our agent friends prefer to use our site over the MLS as we have taken great measures to present the info in a more contextual way. Thanks a bunch for the feedback…

30. Ben K - May 24, 2007

Life is grand when one’s anonymous.

31. casey - May 24, 2007

Jason, it is hard to take anyone seriously that just posed as a customer in order to point out a few flaws. First I will tell you, the people running the chats are chatters not experts. In this case, you can see the chatter went from Customer Service to Owen when the chatter was a little out of their league and Owen happened to be in the office and was able to take over. The chat is set up for potential buyers to meet with an agent and get access to info immediately. It is not intended to be a fountain of knowledge for the condo buyer, or in your case the pretend condo buyer. Can you just imagine if we had all of our Condo Experts working our chat? We are expanding into quite a few more markets over the next few months and you can be certain that we won’t have highly paid, spooky smart agents working our chat. Like I said, if a buyer or seller wants access to a condo expert our chatters/receptionist will be more than happy to set up the appointment and a real life condo expert will show up at the meeting. Your argument that “Condo Compare isn’t all its cracked up to be” would be the same as me calling your office, pretending like I wanted to buy a condo, then doing a write up on your receptionist at your “anonymous office” not knowing nearly as much as I would expect. And you call yourself an expert… your receptionist knows very little… Good job waisting everyone’s time…

32. Owen - May 24, 2007

“#3: It’s not a bad thing that not all the units are sold in a building in pre-sale? Come on! that’s some horrible logic.”

I stand by what I said and if anyone would like further elaboration , my number and email is at the end of the chat.

33. Allen Benson - May 24, 2007

Id have to say nice job on the site very well done.

We do a similar site is SOCAL Condos Etc

I like the concept “High Tech Traditional”

34. ARDELL - May 24, 2007

Jason H.

1) I said I liked the site. What’s not “to believe” about that?
2) I was the one who gave Matt the crown, so what’s your beef?
3) We’re joking…there is no crown.

35. ARDELL - May 24, 2007

Special Announcement,

Since we have confirmed that the comments made here attacking Condo Compare were made by a Realtor who is a competing broker, I have decided to delete his deceitful comments. A licensee posing as a consumer, printing the conversation, attacking a competing broker, and doing so anonymously is clearly unprofessional and unethical.

I will not permit my post to provide the means for his deceit and mean spirited attack. We were able to identify the brokerage and office where the agent works, and we are positive that the reputable company for which this person works, would not permit the agent to not disclose his true identity when speaking with another brokerage.

Seems odd that the person telling everyone else that they are breaking laws, and not to be believed and not “good enough”, is the one committing fraudulent, unethical and unprofessional behavior.

At any rate, I refuse to provide a forum for his attack and deceit.

36. Jennifer - May 25, 2007

quick turnaround, I like that :) I also like how you list the HOD directly under the price. The ease of actually being able to search in the Microsoft neighborhood is a great feature. Thank you!

37. Justin Bowers - May 28, 2007

I love the CondoCompare website. I’m am a little jealous that it’s taken off so quickly. I’ve been building my website on downtown area condos for 3 years, and believe I have more content. But, thier advanced technology is great. Kudos

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