The Importance of Life Events & Big Data – One More Time

We hosted a large Tech Expo recently and we had two presenters discuss the importance of “life events” again. I have discussed this numerous times now but want to hit again simply because the topic is so important; because data is so much more accessible now; and because the data can help ALL of us […]Read More

Simple Tech Solutions That Work! Insights from Top Agent Who Uses Them

I have attended hundreds of symposiums, talks, seminars, expos and events of every sort over the last 30 years – giving me more than enough exposure to learn what types of events are the most interesting and rewarding. The events I like the most are: (1) short overall (a few hours at most); (2) comprised […]Read More

Apology to Coldwell Banker! Rent Back & Max Financed Property Reminders

I want to extend my sincerest apology to Coldwell Banker, and particularly to all of the excellent Coldwell Banker agents we get to work with regularly! On Monday, I blogged about the shutdown of an excellent brokerage and brand (Climb) and my only point was to remind agents of the importance of fully establishing their […]Read More

Major Brokerage Shutdown in Bay Area – Biggest Lesson?

Realogy to shutter Climb, integrate it into Coldwell Banker That was the Inman headline and news that shocked the Bay Area last week. It was so shocking b/c Climb has done a beautiful job building a formidable brand in the Bay Area since its inception in 2010. We at JVM had been watching it closely […]Read More

Getting Good Reviews; Avoiding Bad Reviews; Best Platforms for Reviews

I love it when clients flame me or JVM about pretty much anything for two reasons: If they are flaming me directly, they are not doing so publicly on social media; and We use every morsel of feedback we get to constantly improve everything we do. We frequently discuss the importance of garnering authentic, five-star […]Read More

Online Reviews Losing Value/Can’t Be Trusted – Major Problem!

BIG COMPANY WITH BAD REVIEWS TRIED TO RECRUIT JVM A few years ago, a large nationwide mortgage bank was trying to recruit us. They had amazing technology and a very interesting CEO, so my wife Heejin and I agreed to meet with them to see what they had to offer. We researched the company prior […]Read More

Only 12% of Clients Use Their Agent Again! How To Stem the Loss

I sat on a tech panel recently with the founder of, and he shared some fascinating survey results. 88% of all homeowners surveyed said they would use their real estate agent again if they bought or sold a home. AND….. Only 12% of homeowners actually did. In other words, most agents are not tapping […]Read More

The Super Importance of a Well Crafted Bio!!

NOTE: Despite the cut in the Fed Funds Rate on Wednesday by the Fed, mortgage rates still remain at least 1/4% higher than where they were a few weeks ago. We frequently assist our agent partners with the enhancement of their “Digital Footprint.” An agent’s digital footprint is basically what potential clients see when they […]Read More

Big Companies Use A.I. to Push Customer Abuse to Its Limit; Lessons?

“Everyone Hates Customer Service” was the title of a recent and fascinating WSJ article about large companies using Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to abuse customers right up to the point where they’re ready to leave for a competitor. It is only at that point that the companies will bend to a customer’s wishes in order to […]Read More

Technology Working – Finally! Small Businesses Can Compete With Big!

SOFTWARE FIRM HONORS PROMISES – 20 YEARS LATE I frequently tell a story about a huge mortgage software company (now the biggest in the industry) that came to me in the late 1990s, offering me online app tools, drop-down fee schedules, awesome user-interfaces, customer portals, and everything else. And – 20 years later, they finally […]Read More

Predictive Analytics – Why You Need Them

On Friday I blogged about life events that influence a decision to move and big data and mentioned that I’d elaborate on Predictive Analytics today. I mentioned also that we used to work with SmartZip (the true Predictive Analytics pioneer) and that we have four team members who worked for SmartZip for years. So, we […]Read More

Glassdoor (Workplace Reviews) for Talent and Customers!

When someone Googles “JVM Lending” two of the most prominent search results are our Glassdoor reviews – and nothing could make me happier! Glassdoor is an extremely popular website where former and current team members share anonymous reviews. And team-member-reviews can often say far more about a company than all of its marketing and customer-reviews […]Read More

Nasty Fake Yelp Review – Follow Up; Yelp Horror Stories; Poor Yelp :)

I received so much feedback from yesterday’s blog that I felt compelled to follow up today. The responses were so overwhelmingly anti-Yelp, that I actually thought to myself: “poor Yelp” 😊 Yelp is, however, not exactly “poor,” as they apparently net anywhere from $10 to $20 million per quarter (although recent data was suspiciously hard […]Read More

Angry Competitor Gives Us Nasty Fake “One-Star” Yelp Review :)

Back in the olden days (circa 2004), when loan officers ran up against tough competition they had to buckle down and offer lower rates and better service to compete. In 2019, not so much. Now they just leave nasty fake Yelp reviews. What is amusing is that the loan officer clearly didn’t do his homework […]Read More

Your Clients Will Google You, And You’re Losing Them

We work with an agent who closes 150 transactions per year, and her “Google presence” is practically perfect. While her Google presence is not the only reason she does so much business, it is a major contributor. When people Google just her name (and nothing else), the search results literally dominate page 1 of Google. […]Read More

The Main Step To Becoming a Social Media Influencer

I watched WFG Title’s “Ten Steps to Becoming a Social Media Influencer” yesterday, and step #1 was the best by far! Every Realtor and Lender should become an “influencer” of sorts b/c it all but guarantees a loyal referral base. A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in […]Read More

Get More Deals by Telling Millennials They’re Uncool :)

There is a light bulb in Livermore, CA that has been burning since 1901! It was illuminated (no pun intended 😊)  in this recent Planet Money Podcast. Comically, the NPR reporter flew all the way to Livermore to look at it when she could have just googled it here. She pointed out how lightbulb manufacturers […]Read More

Eliminating Friction – Most Important Value Proposition?

The avoidance of “friction” is becoming one of the most important value propositions a business can offer. Uber, Amazon, PayPal, Venmo, iTunes, Instacart, TaskRabbit, and ZipRecruiter are great examples of businesses that exploded solely b/c they eliminated friction (they made shopping, securing services, and making payments vastly easier). Even more traditional companies have mastered eliminating […]Read More

JVM’s Hiring – The Most Talented People in The World :)

We are often asked how we so consistently foster such great client experiences. And while it is partly a result of our training, systems and culture, it is mostly b/c we hire extraordinarily talented people. And right now, b/c we are growing so quickly, we are aggressively looking for additional qualified candidates. Our current compensation […]Read More

Post Close Client Touches – Homebot Part II

“Hey Jay, Just wanted to let you know that I love this tool. Truth is I actually look forward to it. I like the perspective. Really good business idea. Keep it coming. Thanks! Nick” The above quote is one of many similar comments we get from our past clients in regard to Homebot. I blogged about […]Read More

Rethinking Yelp – Why We Hate Them and Love Them

Here is an irony – some of the worst reviews on Yelp are of Yelp. They average two stars, and you can see them here. Credit to Yelp for not filtering them. WHY WE HATE YELP We hate Yelp b/c they seem to randomly filter our best reviews, they charge a fortune for their advertising […]Read More

When “Pa” Didn’t Wear Underwear; Authenticity In Marketing

My daughter recently had me read a fascinating book called Prairie Fires. It was basically the “true story” about Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of all the “Little House” books. It turns out that the “Little House” books were almost entirely fictional and just carefully edited for mass read appeal; they were all about “a […]Read More

Digital Marketing Is NOT What You Think It Is

We work with an agent who closed 140 transactions over the last year, totaling over $100 million in sales. And when you google her, she literally dominates Page 1 of the search results, with everything popping up – Yelp, Google Reviews, Zillow, Reach 150,, Google Business Info, LinkedIn, her website, etc. Is this the […]Read More

Marketing Person or Someone in the Trenches On Your IT Team?

FINTECH COMPANY FORGETS TO ATTRACT CUSTOMERS A close friend of ours was the Chief Product Officer at a prominent fintech mortgage lender in Silicon Valley. The firm was very impressive, consisting of about 70 people, 28 full-time engineers and a war-chest full of VC money (about $70 million). They used all that money and all […]Read More

Marketing With Videos – Easier and More Effective Than You Think

ARIZONA’S TALLEST TREE Amanda Lee from our office recently took a Facebook Marketing class, and the teacher, Bill Hillestad, highlighted a prodigy of his teaching named Chris Prickett. Chris is a Realtor in Anthem, AZ who quickly dominated his target market b/c of his effective video marketing via Facebook. His videos are not professionally produced […]Read More

Real Estate Marketing – Tips; Lunch & Learn Wednesday

We are hosting a Lunch & Learn on Wednesday in Brentwood, CA. Everyone is welcome, and we promise it will be both informative and entertaining (we’ve tested it in front of ecstatic live audiences already :) All of the relevant info can be found here: Eventbrite Link to JVM’s Lunch & Learn on Marketing. Heejin and […]Read More

Why Elite, Awesome Marketing Company Lost Our Business

We recently sent requests for proposals to elite marketing firms all over the United States, and were pleasantly surprised by the reception. The firms wanted to work with us b/c they loved our website, focus, messaging, image, etc. They were happy to avoid the basics of “Marketing 101.” What was most interesting though was how […]Read More

Calling Listing Agents; From 2nd to 1st; What We Tout

Some of our selling agents have us call the listing agent every time they make an offer. They do this b/c it works. The effectiveness of listing agent calls was illuminated again this week when our phone call pushed our offer from a solid 2nd place to a rock solid 1st place, and we’re now […]Read More

Marketing Tips from Top Realtor Who Told Us Our “Website Sucks!”

One of the nicest things that ever happened to me was this – a super successful real estate agent pulled me aside and said, “I have to be honest with you – your website really, really sucks. I am serious. It’s awful…” :) It was so nice b/c it was the impetus we needed to […]Read More

We’re Embarrassed! Explaining Our Lowest Yelp Review; Social Proof

We are extremely embarrassed b/c we always tout the fact that all of our Yelp reviews (183 at last count) are “Five Stars.” But, yesterday we noticed that one is not “Five Stars” so we felt the need to explain it. Here is our one low Yelp review: 4 Stars – 1/2/2013 I had a […]Read More

I Was Wrong About Coaches; Belichick Wins! Consistency

A few weeks ago I blogged about how effective Coach Swinney’s looser and friendlier coaching style was at Clemson after Clemson won the National Championship. JVM’s Stake In College Championship Yesterday, however, my observation looked silly when the Patriots won, as Coach Belichick is the king of hard-nosed, serious coaches. He doesn’t care about millennials, […]Read More

Following Exact Recipe To Ensure Ultra Premium Service; Salad Bar

When I was 16, I was the “Assistant Manager Only On Weekends” at a Salad Bar Restaurant, and I loved really spicy food. And this is why it matters. I was “Assistant Manager Only On Weekends” simply b/c the restaurant’s owner didn’t want to work weekends. As the weekend manager, it was my job to […]Read More

American Girl Dolls; If Only Founder Had Listened to Market Research!

When I took my daughter to NYC a few years ago, the only thing more painful than sitting through Matilda and Annie was visiting the American Girl doll store :). American Girl is amazing b/c parents are willing to pay $200 for simple dolls and accessories. And, I might have missed that entire experience if the founder […]Read More

“Sticky Notes” Vs. CRMs; CRMs a MUST; CRMs for Realtors

Heejin met with a very successful loan officer last week whose Customer Relations Management (CRM) is sticky notes :). B/c he does not use CRM software (1) he loses leads; (2) he cannot track leads; (3) he cannot contact his database (costing him more business); and (4) his life is far busier and more stressful. […]Read More

Beware of Fake Reviews! Amazon Suing Fake Reviewers; We Like Yelp

When we first started requesting Yelp reviews, almost all of them (over 80 in all) were filtered and are still not shown. This is b/c of Yelp’s algorithms. We were very frustrated at the time, but are now happy with this b/c we think this helps to ensure that Yelp’s reviews are authentic. We love […]Read More

Everyone Needs to Differentiate Themselves; More Than Just “Service”

Business school professors constantly harp on the need for brands to differentiate themselves before they can grow. BMW, for example, differentiates by focusing on technology and performance. Other brands that differentiate themselves include Lush (makeup, pure ingredients, corporate responsibility); Airstream (trailers; cool, retro designs); and Whole Foods (groceries, “whole” foods, corporate responsibility; green). Differentiation of […]Read More

People Expect Responses Within 1 Hour; Simplest Advice: Call Back

One of the biggest boosters for our business was simply setting up systems to ensure that every email and phone call receives a concrete response within 60 minutes. We learned also that the responses need to be from somebody who is trained and seasoned as well; the responses cannot be “canned” or from an untrained […]Read More

High Pressure Sales Cultures – Counter Productive; Painful Too

I just listened to a great Planet Money Podcast about Wells Fargo’s brutal sales culture.  Planet Money – Wells Fargo Hustle The hosts interview a young woman who worked in the branch in the corporate headquarters building in San Francisco, right under the nose of the CEO (who recently played “dumb”). She was forced to […]Read More

Diamonds In Our Backyard; Sales Stats Important

“Diamonds in our own backyard” refers to the parable about a poor man who sells his home so he can go seek his fortune elsewhere, not realizing that there were actually diamonds already buried in his backyard. The parable illuminates how so many of us look outside our industry or area to find the next […]Read More

Established Brands Unnecessary; Upstarts Use Reviews; Yelp Obsession

Heejin and I spent most of the weekend watching “L2 Inc” videos on YouTube, and it wasn’t just b/c we are geeks (OK – that probably is the reason). BUT – the videos are excellent b/c they are short (3 minutes), and extremely informative and entertaining. They are also invaluable for every business in 2016. […]Read More

New Website Launches Today – Finally! And Frankly – It’s Awesome!

As the oldest guy in the office, I rightfully get made fun of for a lot of things. This included our very dated website that I helped create back in 2008. Fortunately, making fun of Jay’s website is now off the table, as we are launching our new website with much fanfare today. Creating a […]Read More

Tracking All Referrals and Leads; Necessity and Service

We often have Realtors reach out to us to inquire about referrals they sent our way. Years ago, we’d get back to them only after combing through our notebooks and piles of sticky notes :). Now days, however, we promptly send them full reports with the name, phone number and email address of every referral […]Read More

146 Five-Star Yelps – Responsiveness Is Recurring Theme

We recently notched our 146th Five-Star Yelp Review – unfiltered that is; we have at least another 80 or so that are filtered b/c the reviewers are not “frequent Yelpers.” In any case, one of the recurring themes throughout all of our reviews (on Yelp, Zillow, website, etc.) is our responsiveness. People want fast answers […]Read More

Customers Are Like Spouses; Way Easier to Keep The Ones You Have

Heejin often jokes that she only keeps me around b/c dating is way too much work :). I thought of this when I heard Joe Polish say that customers are like spouses; it is way less work to keep the ones you have. Many business owners don’t understand this at all, as they focus all […]Read More

“Dear Ms. Crabapple, We Will Miss You. Love, Herb;” 3 Lessons

Ms. Crabapple was a Southwest Airlines Customer who complained in a letter after every flight; she didn’t like the lack of meals, assigned seating, first class, etc. When Southwest’s founder, Herb Kelleher, saw all the letters, he penned this famous response: “Dear Ms. Crabapple, We will miss you, Love Herb.” We love this story b/c […]Read More

No Loan Officers; No “High Drive” Salespeople at JVM; Selling Has Changed

Years ago, Heejin employed a huge stable of loan officers who were mostly men with a lot of testosterone, attitude and drive. She reigned over them with an iron fist out of pure necessity to keep the company in line. Her managerial exploits were both legendary and comical, as she was frequently seen dressing down […]Read More

Patience; Non-Stop Marketing; Long Sales Cycles

In 2013, Heejin attended a competitor’s (friends of hers) office warming party and of course had her marketing hat on. She befriended a very dynamic title company rep who started to refer Realtors our way in 2014. We had great initial meetings with many of those Realtors in 2014, but they initially remained loyal to […]Read More

“Responsiveness;” Most Important, Simplest But Hardest

We used to have a business coach who told us to answer all emails and phone calls twice per day at designated times. That worked well in the 1990s but not anymore. A borrower just called me by accident (he was looking for Diandra), and raved for five minutes about how much he appreciated JVM’s […]Read More

Avg. Tech Wage: $240,000; Must Copy Realtors With Borrower Summaries

A friend emailed me a statistic that said the average wage at tech companies in San Mateo County is $240,000. This is amazing but not that surprising to us b/c so many of our borrowers work for tech companies. This is important to us as lenders and Realtors b/c these borrowers need to be treated […]Read More