Only 300 of the approximately 17.5 million million blogs in existence are for real estate. And of that number, even fewer are specifically dedicated to commercial real estate. The business argument for blogging, however, may be gaining ground.
Hanan Levin, co-owner of The Champion Co., a real estate brokerage firm located in Riverside, Calif., began his Web log in April 2003. It is a daily blog in which Levin collects unusual information from all corners of the Internet, including real estate investment. On Sept. 26, 2005, for example, www.growabrain.net posted an item entitled, “Umaibou: Delicious Stick,” a Japanese fast food that is cheap and resembles a cheese stick.
What does Umaibou have to do with commercial real estate? “It has helped me get clients because I have such a rich subject matter,” says Levin. “When I meet somebody and find they are interested in anything — like German beer mugs — I sign them up and sell.”
The topics are limited only by Levin's will to wade through the garbage of cyber space and emerge with only the cream. With more than 10,000 people logging on to “Grow A Brain,” there are a lot of potential deals to be had.
The Champion Co. brokers only investment properties and apartment buildings in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, better known as the Inland Empire. Because blogs are not limited by geographic boundaries, some business contacts can be made pretty far afield. In Levin's case, he received an e-mail from an investor in Brazil inquiring whether his firm would be interested in brokering 630 acres of waterfront property there.
Another Web site, www.curbed.com, launched in May 2004 and sells advertising to bring New Yorkers smart content and gossipy tidbits about developments such as French architect Christian de Portzamparc's design for the West 12th Street site of Dianne Von Furstenberg's former townhouse.
Blogging also is gaining ground with law firms. “From Bricks to Clicks,” for instance, is a blog posted by Jay Hollander, managing member of New York-based real estate law firm Hollander and Co. LLC. Located at www.hollanderco.com/blog/weblog.php, Hollander uses the platform to not only add his two cents to mainstream writers in publications such as Barron's or the Wall Street Journal, but also to bring perspective to recent case law and proposed legislation impacting commercial real estate.
“In contrast to static pages on the Web,” says Hollander, “blogs give people a chance to see the currency of a firm in terms of its knowledge, and a chance to come away with an idea of the personalities of the lawyers who represent them.”
While blogging costs primarily time and does provide a business showcase — including photographs of properties for sale and the personalities who broker and service them — it takes dedication and daily effort, according to Levin, and many blogs are shortlived.
For now, the best investment information may be found on localized sites through blog search engines such as Technorati or BlogPulse, where typing in the key words will yield mainstream news as well as obscure and Blogstar opinions on every topic from REIT stock tips to portfolio diversification.
And though even mega-developer Donald Trump recently started a blog, “most of the people who make a lot of money don't bother to share their information,” says Levin. As might be expected, The Donald uses his new platform to rant.