What the BBC found mind blowing…

We’re almost out of the house (had to come home and do some last minute cleanup) but what stuck with me about the BBC was that they came over and watched me blog. They thought it was mind blowing that I could send my words out to the world (they checked out my stats and said that theirs weren’t much better on most of their Web pages) and they thought it was cool when I got three comments almost immediately after the show.

On the BBC

BBC World News Tonight

There’s a little microphone on a little table here in the Seattle Library.

It will take my voice to millions of people. All over the world. 

That is just mind blowing. What’s even more mind blowing is they are transmitting from the most beautiful building on the West Coast: the Seattle Public Library. When I arrived people were walking all around the table, not realizing that they were talking to an audience of tens of millions of people around the world.

You can listen in at BBC World Service’s Web site. I’ll be on at about 8:50 p.m.

It is my goodbye to Seattle. After my five minutes on the BBC, Patrick and Maryam and me will drive down to Silicon Valley. It’s our last hour in Seattle.

Update: well, that was fun. 3.5 minutes. Didn’t say too much, talked about the future of media a bit, but it’s hard to get into much depth into any topic in 3.5 minutes. The guy on the right of the picture is the journalist who interviewed me, George Arney.

Well, onto Silicon Valley. From the biggest of big media to the smallest of small. Call us along the way. 425-205-1921. We’ll drive for three hours to Portland tonight, then the rest of the way tomorrow. Of course we’ll have the Verizon wireless card.

Oh, and I wasn’t the only one on the radio tonight. When I was coming over here I was listening to my satellite radio and heard Chris Pirillo on David Lawrence’s radio show.

Zillow and housing prices

I remember back on June 27th that someone named Slashchick wrote that we’d never sell our house for more than Zillow listed it for. And, if we did, it would have taken weeks or months.

Long story short: she was wrong. It sold in four days. For way more than Zillow was listing it for. (We didn’t want to jinx the sale by blogging about it, but everything is pretty much finished up now, so I can blog about it finally).

This gets to something that I’ve noticed. Many bloggers and commenters are pessimistic. I’m an optimist! Well, that, and we have a real estate agent who looks out for us.

Remember how we bought this place? We were going to Stan’s office to sign papers to buy another house. Maryam had looked at 50 houses back three years ago. When we got there he said “another place just came on the market and I think you should see it.”

He didn’t go for the quick and easy sale. He didn’t need to do that, he already could feel his 3% lining his pockets. But, he decided to do some extra work. Something Maryam and I have always appreciated about Stan.

Anyway, that turned out to be a HUGE windfall for us. This house went up in price much faster than the other place we were thinking of buying.

It sold for almost what we were asking for the house (in the $440,000 range — Zillow listed its value as $414,000 — we bought this house for $295,000 three years ago). One thing Zillow can’t show is how much was invested in the house after buying. We put thousands of dollars in the house in repairs and upgrades.

Other houses in our neighborhood have not sold as fast. The market is switching from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market but some markets remain hot. If you have a great house that the market wants it’ll pay the price. Stan knew that because he knew our market. If I tried to sell myself I probably would have just asked for Zillow’s price, which would have been a mistake. One thing I learned in the camera store I used to work at: it’s very easy to lower your price, it’s nearly impossible to raise it.

Down in Silicon Valley I know a guy who just got into a bidding war over a house (he won, but paid FAR above the original asking price). So, even in “over priced” California the housing market is still strong.

Why did our house sell? Well, it had all the attributes that home buyers look for. Quiet street. Roomy. Great yard. Curb appeal. Nice neighbors.

So, why did we get a house in Half Moon Bay and pay WAY UNDER Zillow’s estimated price? We bought that for $900,000, where the owners were asking $930,000 and Zillow said it should sell for $1.127 million.

We win on both sides of this deal.

Why didn’t the owners of that home get what they wanted? Well, because the Half Moon Bay house was put on the market in the summertime. There’s a few things you should know about that. First, the heat in the valley pulls in ocean air. That means fog. Cold. Wet. We ignored that.

Second, there’s a major road into the Half Moon Bay area that’s out right now (Hwy 1, which is out at Devil’s Slide until late September). So, that means traffic. Traffic. Horrible commutes. We ignored that too.

But other buyers didn’t.

Oh, how did we find that house in Half Moon Bay? One of Maryam’s best high-school-friends, Katherinne Garzon, is now a real estate agent. She was looking for the best housing investments for us in the San Francisco area. She also encouraged us to low-ball our offer and see what happens. We held back our enthusiasm for the house (it was the first and only house I looked at because I fell immediately in love with it) and knew we were playing a game of chicken. If another buyer had showed up we would have lost that game. I’ve learned to listen to the professionals, though, and it all worked out.

Aside: I see George Ou talking about the heat and power problems that they are having in Silicon Valley right now. I can see nuclear power in our future. The pressure on the system to keep supplying us with cheap power is going to be extreme. We’ve gotten addicted to our computers and our air conditioners and our HDTVs.

Anyway, I’ve come to appreciate the Zillow blog. It’s informative, well written, and I love the heat maps. Not the temperature, but how “hot” a market is.

But, the lesson here is that Zillow’s prices are a guideline and you shouldn’t take them as gospel. Real prices will vary by neighborhood and, even, by house as we’ve found.

Personal note to Slashchick: stick to your day job. :-)

We’ll miss Bothell. I definitely have mixed emotions today.

Good news for Internet video content businesses

This is good news for those of us trying to build new content businesses on the Web: ABC tested out streaming shows online and found good success for advertisers, Ad Age will report tomorrow, Jeff Jarvis says.

In other video news? Chris Pirillo and Leo Laporte wants to rebuild TechTV. Um, Chris and Leo, the community is already doing that — albeit better. (And, Michael says in the comments below, Leo Laporte has already done an awesome job of replicating the best content in the This Week in Tech podcast).

Why? TV was limited by the massive audience it needed. Everytime I was on TechTV I had an image in my mind that they were burning $100 bills in the middle of the floor. Actually, if I had imagined $1,000 bills the image would have been more accurate.

How do you get a mass audience? By pandering to lowest-common-denominator stuff. Translation: you have to dumb down your content. I remember talking with Leo Laporte and this would drive him nuts. He actually wanted to make the content even geekier. Sometimes he succeeded in talking about how to setup your own Web server on a Linux machine, but that was about how geeky it would get.

But on the Internet I don’t need to dumb down my content. The costs of doing content are so low that if I want to do a cooking show for geeks I can. Just get a $300 camcorder and start putting videos up on Google Video or You Tube.

Translation: TechTV is already here and it’s WAY better than what was on the real TV network. Did TechTV ever put videos up to teach you how to do something really geeky like use ASP.NET 2.0? No. They couldn’t have. They would have pissed off 90% of their audience.

But we don’t need to worry about that and that’s a good thing!

NicheTV is here. It’s even better than TechTV. And the advertisers like it too!

Heheh, now we can crank call Eileen!

Eileen Brown, who works at Microsoft, in the UK, just added her cell phone to her blog. Alright, now we can all call her up.

Ahh, today is a busy day. The movers are here. I have a TON of email and I need to go into Microsoft to finish up some expense reports. Then we sign our house away. I’ll be on BBC radio tonight (they found me because I had my cell phone on my blog). And then we start the drive down to California.

And it’s freaking hot here again today. Hope your Monday is going as well.