Homescopes and the new local Blog Networks is a new website developed by a group of Coldwell Banker real estate agents in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sonoma County. Its mission is to draw in consumers who are interested in hyperlocal news - market conditions, neighborhood details - supplied by agent bloggers covering different regions around the Bay (and later Northern California).'s local "blog network" site architecture (code named "uber-blog" for those who have been working with us) was developed to bring immediate traffic to its individual bloggers. The layman metaphor is Homescopes acts as the "newspaper front page" to aggregate and distribute the published content of their blogging agent "editors". As a content repository, Homescopes is positioned as a search engine magnet, and the resulting traffic flows through directly to the participating agents' blogs. Think magnifying lens. Homescopes will initially receive greater traffic than the blogs due to its portal position, but in the long run, both the "uber blog" and the individual blogs will mutually benefit from the augmented traffic.


Homescopes automatically creates an excerpt of every article each blogger posts and includes them as content on Homescopes.

From Google’s point of view, Homescopes looks like a blog with minimum of 10-20+ fresh articles per week, far more than any individually written blog. Eventually, as more bloggers join the network, the number of articles may grow to 50-100 per week. Fresh, well written content (all bloggers are coached on the technology and art of blogging) will attract and retain traffic and enhance Google juice.

The blog network is an effective solution to one of real estate blogging's biggest barriers - generally no agents want to write 5-7 articles per week for 3-6 months to attain the traction for lead generation. Now bloggers can post 2 articles per week and rely on Homescopes, as an "uber-blog" itself, to draw traffic and drive it directly to each participating blogging agent. Moreover, after six months of writing 2 articles per week, each agent's blog will have a lot of content to generate leads for the rest of their career.

Note that each participating agent owns their own blog - the content is their possession, and they aren't writing on the broker blog or Active Rain or any other site where they don't own the domain name.


Homescopes is one of the first of the new local blog networks that are being developed. Each blog network will have specific marketing strategies for their participating members. For example,
  1. A blog network sponsored by a broker will want to highlight the blogs of their geographically dispersed agents
  2. State and local organizations like Women's Council of Realtors will want to promote their members' blogs to consumers. For example, the marketing message might be to offer expert information from the cream of the crop set of Realtors in a non-denominational way (regardless of broker affiliation).
  3. Local Association of Realtors may use a blog network as a business development platform to demonstrate their "value add" to their agent constituency.
The most valuable lead generation angle to a participating blogging agent is the option to join different blog networks and derive online traffic from each one, with the assumption that each blog network will attract a different consumer audience.


Blog networks do exist in one form or another... even Facebook, with its many groups that its members join, is a permutation of a blog network. The most prominent blog network in real estate is Active Rain. These blog networks however require their authors to w
rite on a Facebook or Active Rain domain name. The Homescopes blog network is different because each agents writes and owns their own blog as a lifelong property. This is an important distinction and points to some guidelines on how to develop a new kind of real estate blog network that is set up solely to provide benefits to the individual real estate blogger:
  1. Keep blogs under control. Brokerages understand they can't give every agent a blog to author on their broker website because it is a recipe for chaotic marketing. The result is poorly written articles, too many aggressive sales pitching blogs, and general cacophony as so many agents post articles all at once.
  2. Quality control. Blog networks should showcase great blogs... quality over quantity. To do that, bloggers require training and coaching - it's been often said, but roughly 10% of agents will have the technological skills, the writing skills, creativity and commitment to become consistent bloggers. Identify those 10%, coach them so their blogs are successful and don't die on the vine like so many others in the real estate blog graveyard. For Coldwell Banker and other brokerages, it's critical to ensure that blogs and their inherent marketing message are as professional as possible... Homescopes meets these conditions.
  3. Respect agents. Brokers must realize that agents want to own their own content. Agents don't want to contribute content to the broker blog because they might leave that broker and have to start all over with a new blog... a huge waste of time and effort. They don't want to pay brokers for leads generated by their blog content. It's disingenuous for a broker to have their agents write on their broker blog when eventually agents will realize that their content is not owned by them; they would feel exploited. The failed Active Rain acquisition by Move highlighted some problems of agent content contribution on a site they don't own.
  4. Keep it local. Real estate bloggers want to attract loyal local consumer readers for lead generation. Blog networks now are all national in focus. A real estate blogger really wants to participate in a blog network that has the mission to attract a local audience. Homescopes is that kind of blog network, so would an Association of Realtor's sponsored blog network.
  5. Keep it cheap and quick. Finally, establishing a blog network should be cheap so any entity - broker, corporation or real estate association - can start one quickly and without great expense. Fortunately Wordpress MU is a low cost alternative that can be set up for as little as three figures... and it's even possible to share the costs among a participating set of bloggers. Furthermore, it's easy to launch a blog network within weeks as long as the underlying individual blogs are ready to go.
  1. Brokers, real estate organizations, real estate associations can easily develop blog networks for agents without a lot of expense.
  2. Brokers are particularly excited about developing blog networks because they own the portal uber-blog site that will in theory receive much stronger traffic than their existing broker website. The other benefits:
    1. blogging agents achieve more for their brokerage.
    2. blog network supples organic lead generation to happier agents, and
    3. the highly trafficked blog network can be used for recruitment purposes
  3. Local blog networks are developed by committed bloggers who work as a team and are trained on the fine art and technical skills of blogging. Quality will breed credibility and keep consumers sticky to the site. Big national brokerages can breath easier at night with this level of professionalism.
  4. Local blog networks work best by limiting the number of participating bloggers so they have a better opportunity to brand themselves and bond with the consumer. On Homescopes, agents are given an exclusive area of their own to cover on their blogs.
  5. Agent bloggers control their marketing message and destiny with their own blogs.
  6. Agents need only contribute an average of 2 articles per week, but anything more only augments the power of the blog network for the other team members
  7. Agent blogs are "found" right away. They benefit immediately from traffic that flows to their blog through Homescopes.
  8. Blogging agents can finally leverage their content to create new lead generation opportunities by participating in other local blog networks. All for little expense!


The new blog networks (say, those supported by brokerages or AoRs), real estate sites (, Trulia) and media companies (Yahoo! RE, Zillow) all monetize or derive value from online traffic - in essence, they are all media sites. The user generated content published by real estate blogs has the same real time value as news or current events, and are (or will be) highly sought after by these companie
s. Bloggers will be able to leverage their content (almost like reporters) as currency in exchange for accessing media site consumer traffic. This is the new wave of lead generation, and one needs to have a blog or some sort of web presence to participate. Cost-free lead generation is a big reason why I think blogging will reach a tipping point and then become the real estate marketing status quo.

Domus Consulting Group LLC and website developer Realivent, Inc. contributed to developing Homescopes with the Coldwell Banker agents.

Related articles:
Lead Generation Paradigm Shift
The Long Tail of Real Estate Bloggers
What Active Rain should do now - (one idea - they should leverage the content of their bloggers into a content network)
Homescopes - Agent blog portal launches - Inman News October 10, 2007 (thank you Jessica for a well thought out interpretation of Homescopes)

Although it's not policy at Transparent to request comments or feedback, if you're interested in learning more about local blog networks and how they fit into the marketing strategies of brokers, title insurance companies and real estate organizations like AoRs, please contact us. Also, if you're an agent interested in participating in one of the numerous blog networks we're developing nationally (and even one project overseas), please contact pkitano (at) gmail, or (415) 320-2844.

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  • 10/15/2007 2:12 AM Teresa Boardman wrote:
    Most agents are self employed independent contractors. What happens when they leave the brokerage? Who owns the content?
    Reply to this
    1. 10/15/2007 6:10 AM Pat Kitano wrote:
      Hi Teresa... that was a long article, but at Homescopes and other local blog networks like them, the agents own the content. It's in the article:

      Note that each participating agent owns their own blog - the content is their possession, and they aren't writing on the broker blog or Active Rain or any other site where they don't own the domain name.

      Reply to this

  • 10/17/2007 1:42 PM Dallas office space wrote:
    The agent may own the article, however who is getting the benefit from the articles?
    Reply to this
    1. 10/17/2007 2:53 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      The consumer who reads the article benefits, and that consumer can thank the authoring agent for the benefit.

      Reply to this

  • 10/17/2007 2:58 PM Dallas Office Space wrote:
    Well said, the consumer is who'll ultimitly benefit. Guess it doesn't really matter who's site the content is on.
    Reply to this
    1. 10/17/2007 3:09 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      If all that good content resided on one agent's blog, that blog will become popular and ultimately benefit the agent in more business. And that's why agents blog.

      Reply to this

  • 10/17/2007 6:04 PM Dallas Office Space wrote:
    I haven't gotten into the whole blogging thing, do you believe blogs are more beneficial than a website. I'm sure it would take years to develop a blog like yours.
    Reply to this

  • 10/22/2007 10:51 AM Josette Skilling wrote:
    This is intriguing. So would the plan be that many of these uber local blogs would form so that for my area in Bethesda, MD as I start to write very local content and be connected with other hyper local blogs about the area? I'm confused by the national connection to this with Trulia voices and larger association of xxx and ActiveRain. I can see how it will benefit the individuals to be banded together so that Google recognizes that content above others.

    Man, I still have a lot to learn!
    Reply to this

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